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Ibiza 2018 summer in retrospect

The winners of this year's DJ Awards share their thoughts on season 2018.

In the latest from our retrospective series, we return to Tuesday 11 September for the 2018 edition of the DJ Awards. The glitzy bash at HEART Ibiza and Hotel OD this year centred around the theme of the dawn of disco. Dive in.

Trailblazer Carl Cox won Best International DJ and whimsical German selector DJ Koze best Electronica, while island-based Clara Da Costa was recognised for her devotion to Ibiza's scene. But what did the winners think of the previous four months?

Season 2018 was certainly a topsy-turvy summer with many talking points. Here are the views of the stars who helped shape it.


alex kennon

BEST NEWCOMER WINNER

Amid a plucky bunch of thirteen other international nominees, Alex Kennon was recognised as Best Newcomer. With lots of change happening at Pacha during the last off-season - both in terms of look and program - as a former resident, we were eager to get Kennon's thoughts.

"My favourite change in Pacha is the sound system. It's one of the strongest in the island and clear - super clear. Amazing. In July, Labyrinth with Hot Since 82 was great, really special."

"In Ibiza, just be yourself." - Alex Kennon believes individuality is the stand-out factor.

Kennon's win is no fluke. Ever the grafter, this summer he has put the hours in - both on Ibiza and further afield.

"I was touring a lot this year. It's been a really good summer. The Social in Mexico, BMP Festival, Moscow, Egg London with Nic Fanciulli - lots of gigs, all exciting shows.

Music-wise, I have some real solid releases coming up on Saved Records, Crosstown Rebels, from now all the way to 2019. I've been working really hard in the studio and now it's time to get this music out so very exciting."

Signing-off, did Kennon have any advice for the next generation of island DJs trying to break through?

"I could give a lot of advice, but in Ibiza, just be yourself. Try to follow your senses and be true to yourself, always. Don't try to push too hard. Just go with it."

Sound advice from an individual we'll surely be seeing and hearing a lot more of in coming seasons.


ARCHIE HAMILTON

BEST PRODUCER WINNER

One of the ten awards chosen by the panel, Archie Hamilton walked away with Best Producer after consistently churning out groovers in the studio.

Although they popped up for a room takeover at Pyramid, the FUSE crew was without an Ibiza residency for the first time in several years. The key members featured heavily elsewhere, but did Archie miss that camaraderie?

"I really have, yeah. It's a tough one because the island is changing a lot. There are so many other options for 18-year-olds to have fantastic clubbing holidays and musical experiences, but I'm not going to lie, I've missed Ibiza.

It's sort of holy grail for most people in dance music. Anyone who's starting out and says that he or she does not want to play in Ibiza is fibbing. Regardless of the changes, it certainly plays a massive impact on me and everyone I know making music."

"Ibiza is the holy grail for everyone in dance music." - the island is still massively important to Archie Hamilton and the industry as a whole.

Despite only playing a handful of dates this summer - and irrespective of FUSE also playing a bit part - it's evident that the island means a great deal to Archie.

"I think I was quite a latecomer. It was about 2008 - so about 10 years ago. I came here with 15 friends and we rented a villa and a sound system and we went out every night. We went to Cocoon at the time when Marco Carola was still playing for them.

That was the first time I've seen him play. My god. From there, we went to Underground, and then The Zoo Project, before we went to Space. We literally went out every single night. And that was one of the real pinnacles of my life.

I'd been clubbing in London for years, so just coming out here and feeling the energy of it all, the scale of the thing and meeting all these people - these mad people - from everywhere: Geordies, Scouse, Mancs. Everyone together. Every religion, colour, sexuality, just fuckin' having it – that was a massive moment for me."

The chat later returns to the FUSE crew and how tight-knit the members of the East London collective are. Even so, the best of friends and their habits can sometimes grate on each other.

"Rossko is the longest man I've ever met in my life. He'll be late anywhere. We will be in a hotel room and should've left 15 minutes ago. We'll get downstairs and get in the taxi and he'll go, 'ah mate I've left my headphones' – how have you left your headphones?

He'll go up – be another 15 minutes. Enzo Siragusa is immaculately punctual. And I'd like to think I am, too!"


CAMELPHAT

BEST HOUSE ARTISTS WINNERS

Having won the prestigious Track of the Summer category at last year's ceremony, the two CamelPhat are no strangers to the DJ Awards.

It could be argued that the global success of Cola paved the way for them to become an integral part of Eric Prydz's residency at . So when the superstar missed a date last minute, Dave and Mike were asked to step up to fill the void at the eleventh hour.

"It was pretty last minute. We were actually scheduled to play back-to-back with Solardo in the other room. Eric has a very passionate crowd that go especially to see him, so we were fearing the worst."

"In the end, we just dropped a few Eric Prydz classics which seemed to keep everyone happy. Fortunately, there were lots of people who came to see us as well. It was just about keeping the balance. I think we got away with it!

"As soon as you leave, you're thinking about when you're next back." - CamelPhat on the lure of Ibiza.

The tandem's profile has skyrocketed in the past two years thanks to a slew of big releases. Yet the boys have been coming to Ibiza for years, way before their recently found success: first as visitors and later to play themselves. Their relationship with the island continues to move forward.

"We've been clubbing here for years. We're clubbers at heart. We know the island inside out and we always love to party. It's one of those places that if you stay too long, you want some normality, but as soon as you leave, you're thinking about when you're next back."

"It can be love/hate sometimes, but this summer has just been incredible. It's our first island residency and it's just been mad. We now look forward to Tuesday nights rather than the weekend! It's like a concert with the whole show and the production. It's been wild.

We drive from the airport to where we're staying and to the gigs every week. We're not on a billboard yet, so it would be nice to see ourselves there as residents at our night in Ibiza in the future. Maybe the season after next? It's definitely a goal of ours."

With a debut album in the pipeline ready to drop in the new year, it would be easy for CamelPhat to look ahead to the future. It's been a long time coming, and Dave and Mike look back fondly on their education.

"Manumission or even The Zoo Project - we loved them both. As young guys discovering underground music, the Seal Pit was incredible. We were listening to psychedelic techno at like 86 bpm and it was incredible!

Erick Morillo at Pacha with his Subliminal Sessions and even David Guetta back in the day. The whole island was constantly on a buzz. It was unique."


hernan cattaneo

BEST PROGRESSIVE HOUSE ARTIST WINNER

Few artists have accomplished as much in their career as Hernan Cattaneo. Yet the celebrated Argentinian keeps a modest profile in comparison to many of his peers. Nevertheless, his contribution has not gone unnoticed by the industry, who voted for him in huge numbers.

An artist who doesn't get invited to play on Ibiza nearly as much as we would like, luckily we had two incredible opportunities in 2018.

"My favourite Ibiza gig this summer was probably the one I did at HEART with Nick Warren and Behrouz for Do Not Sit. It was my first time playing in the club.

The bigger clubs are amazing, don't get me wrong, but I never felt quite comfortable playing there. You feel pressured into playing bigger records. A club like HEART is the perfect size. The sound system is amazing and the people running it are passionate and very experienced. It's super cool.

I don't consider myself to be a super popular DJ. I always prefer small to medium-sized clubs. I feel they better accommodate the kind of clubbers that we play for, you know? For me, HEART is a great addition to the island. It isn't like the big clubs, but it is still a true Ibiza venue."

"I understand why it's important for the industry to have tags, but I don't care. You can label me whatever you want." - Hernan Cattaneo on the gift and curse of genre pigeon-holes.

"I also played another great show with Nick at Km5. We liked it, because at 17:00 in the afternoon we played open-air with a house-y vibe, and then we went inside to play more banging stuff. It was very special."

Hernan is open to sharing his thoughts on the DJ Awards itself. In particular, this year's expansion and the recognition of melodic house & techno as a genre in its own right.

"I'm an old school DJ, right? I grew up playing all the records I could get my hands on. I've never been into labels. At the same time, I understand why it's important for record companies and the industry to have these tags.

And, actually, in the case of awards like the DJ Awards, it's a good thing.

The problem with DJ charts and rankings, in general, is that everybody is often lumped in all together. With this method, there is little point in asking you to vote between super popular, massive EDM DJs and everybody else."

"The good thing about these categories is that it gives every small scene get a fair representation. This is why we're here. Otherwise, it would only be for commercial DJs.

I really appreciate the way the DJ Awards has organised itself like this - like the Oscars or the Grammys by style or by category. Not only for DJs, but for events, for producers, for all components - the entire club music industry."

"I think there was a lack of representation for melodic music in the past. I've always played melodic music - and continue to do so. Some people might say I'm a progressive house DJ. Others might say deep house. For me? I don't care. They can label me whatever they want.

If you asked me what music I play, I would answer groovy and melodic. Progressive, deep, techno, downtempo - I play it all. Even sometimes I might find a trance record that sounds great if I pitch it down to 118 bpm.

So, the more categories we have showcased, the more scenes we give exposure to, which can only be a good thing."


ILARIO ALICANTE

BEST TECHNO ARTIST WINNER

After keeping his head down and stealing the show for the past few years, Ilario Alicante is now blooming into a certified A-lister. As well as featuring heavily for Cocoon Ibiza again this summer, Ilario has been integral to the party's other Balearic residency on Formentera at tipic.

"At tipic in Formentera, the crowd is different. There is a strong Italian crowd on Formentera. Of course, there are lots of Italians on Ibiza but on Formentera there are even more.

I love tipic a lot. It's one of my favourite places to play because the owner is a good friend of mine. It's a small club, but you can play whatever you want and the crowd are really receptive to it. They trust you."

"I love to play long sets. They give me free reign to play whatever I want." - Ilario Alicante on why player for longer is better.

Another season-defining achievement was his handful of all-night-long sets for elrow at Amnesia. Playing open to close in the Elrow City club room, Ilario excelled in a venue he has grown very accustomed to down the years.

"The all-night-long sets for elrow were amazing. I played from 23:00 until 07:00 in the morning. I love to play long sets, especially for elrow because they give me free rein to play whatever I want. Of course, it's mostly techno, but I like to play other stuff as well - tech house, classic tracks - and the people really enjoy it. It was a great opportunity."

I've been playing lots of material from my own label, Virgo. In particular Hush & Sleep, a couple of guys from Amsterdam that make really, really good music. It's been great to introduce them to a new audience.

After the season, I really can't wait to get back in the studio. I feel the time is right to get working on an album now. I've been thinking about it for a few years, but now is the time.

The album will be mostly dance-floor focused, as it's my first one. I will vary a bit - there might be some ambient tracks - but the core of the album will be aimed at the dance floor, for sure. First, I'll start this project and then I will continue touring."

We can't wait to hear the new material. Equally, we can't wait to see what Cocoon's fabled 20th season on the island looks like - though we're sure Ilario will play a big part.


paul van dyk

TRANCE MASTER WINNER

Paul van Dyk has always been held in high regard by the worldwide trance family. But his stock rose even further at the start of summer when it was announced he was going into partnership with former Cream CEO Nick Ferguson.

Together, they brought sun-SHINE to the island - giving trance music a much-needed home and taking over Privilege's panoramic Vista Club on Mondays. Trance fans finally had something worth getting excited about.

SHINE is a home for our music. It was amazing. You can see how much the audience appreciates there's something for them - something for people to go and listen to the music they love and really enjoy themselves, something essentially Ibiza."

"SHINE is a home for trance - something essentially Ibiza."

Trance music's devout fans are currently scrambling over each other to get word on whether SHINE will return in 2018. Success this summer surely warrants a return next year, but would Paul give anything away?

"All I can say is that we obviously had a lot of expectations. We knew how we wanted it to be. From my perspective as one of the resident DJs, we succeeded.

After the season, the whole team will sit together and see if there are any improvements to be made. Could we have done any better? We're still really at the beginning, so let's see. I'm really looking forward to coming back next year."

That sounds like a resounding "yes" to us!

A celebrated Ibiza veteran, Paul made his name on the island in association with Cream. After a change of venue and of direction last winter, it was no longer a relationship that made sense.

"Cream changed its music policy and I also decided for myself that I didn't want to be a part of its new vision. We just simply didn't fit. In a way, that division gave us the opportunity to start something brand new."

"The music and the people that come to listen to it are the main elements of SHINE. That's the focus. Everything else is secondary. The future of trance music on Ibiza is at SHINE.

It seems pretty clear to us that SHINE catered to a niche sector in the market in 2018 - as well as providing such much-needed variety. We'll definitely be rooting for them next term.


ROGER SANCHEZ

HOUSE MASTER WINNER

Few personalities in house music command the respect and adulation of New York's Roger Sanchez. With no less than nine appearances at plus a couple of dates for Defected, Roger kept as busy as ever. His dedication was recognised as - a frankly undisputed - House Master.

"My favourite Ibiza gig of the summer has been Glitterbox. Specifically, I think it was the third weekend. The energy was just unbelievable. They've managed to recapture the vibe that we used to have in the late 90s or 2000s."

"I would love to get in the studio with Sade" - The S-Man has his sights set on working with the legendary vocalist at sometime in the future.

Roger pulls from an extensive back-catalogue of his own music and a deep record collection that spans a thirty-year career. We can attest that we struggled to pull ourselves away from the dance floor on many occasions at Glitterbox this summer. What were those tracks that worked for us?

"I'm going to be totally honest with you. In terms of new music, the collaboration between myself, DJ Sneak and Junior Sanchez called Who We Are has been working really well all summer."

It's evident that Roger understands the power of collaboration.

"For me, I would love to get Sade in the studio. That's one I would love to do.

In terms of what I would call a 'Glitterbox track",' my throwback track of the summer is probably World Go Round by Sandy B, but Ninetoes' Finder has got to come back around."

Ibiza is in a constant state of change - and veterans like Roger Sanchez have seen a lot of changes down the years. 2018 has been no different.

One such talking point has been Pacha's 38-year Flower Power residency incorporating dance music and booking traditional house DJs to play. Roger still needs to be convinced at the change of direction.

"I think disco makes sense, like proper soul and classic disco. I think that the 90s pop house classics probably lean more towards Glitterbox than Flower Power. That's just my personal opinion, though, not gospel."


From left to right: Elle LoFaro (clubbing editor), Faith Keller (social media manager), Holly Woulfe (clubbing intern), Jose Pascual (DJ Awards founder), Stephen Hunt (staff writer) and Kane Allen (clubbing intern).

So there you have it. Some really insightful and maybe even contentious comments give us food for thought as we head into the colder, quieter months. Would you agree?


PHOTOGRAPHY | Michael Tomlinson & Pablo Borboroglu

You can revisit season 2018 by checking out other features in our retrospective series, including the recent summer in 21 photos.

Of course, you can keep up to date with all the latest news regarding summer 2019 by visiting our magazine or by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

In terms of discussion, that's about all until IMS International Music Summit rolls around in May next year.

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