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Review: DJ Awards Ibiza 2013

A rundown of the 'Ibiza Oscars' and an interview with Tech-House category winner Luciano.

The wine has now been drunk, the canapés inhaled and the awards delivered for the annual Ibiza DJ Awards for 2013 which took place at Pacha last night. As if specifically designed for the event, Pacha effortlessly transformed its main room into the perfect ceremony hall, complete with raised tabled areas for nominees and friends, red carpet, stage, press pit and standing room for the rest of the industry and friends. When we arrived it was mingling and canapé time, so the next hour was spent evenly between socialising and pouncing on the large silver trays gliding across eye level every few minutes. A collection of Pacha dancers in black and silver stood valiantly motionless on the stage, while below, we stuffed our faces and placed bets on winners as long-time Pacha resident Graham Sahara provided the tunes.

With a nationally appropriate lack of punctuality we began the ceremony, our hosts Lora and Des introducing themselves and the night to come. Commentary began on a sombre note, as Des acknowledged the terrible accident to have befallen one of Armin Van Buuren's A State of Trance production crew on Monday, which forced the cancellation of their closing event. The room also took the moment to give a solid round of applause to their team, and to all production teams across the island for the risks they take in creating the experiences that make Ibiza famous.

Then it was time to roll through the awards, beginning with Best Electronic Live Act, which went to Hot Natured. The crew bounded up to the stage and a chuffed Jamie Jones said he genuinely “couldn't believe it”. Next was Best Newcomer Award, as voted by the public, which went to Uner. Support for Uner was extremely strong in the room as he thanked “music lovers, supporters, haters… to all of you, I love you.”

The media award went to Boiler Room (Spotlight is coming for you and your children), Best Record Label was taken out by Damien Lazarus' consistently quality Crosstown Rebels, and the Tech-House category was topped by Luciano. We nabbed a quick interview with Luciano before the ceremony, which you can read below.

Other recipients of the Kryptonite trophy (best described as petrified green gunk) were Solomun for the Deep House Category, Hardwell for Electro House and Kathy Sledge of the Sledge Sisters for Outstanding Contribution. Solomun did a little jig, Hardwell sent a video message in a darling navy cable knit, and Kathy gave us a live rendition of We Are Family. Christian Varela knocked out big guns Richie Hawtin and Carl Cox for the Techno award, Willie Graff won Ibiza DJ and Hector accepted an award on behalf of Mexico for Dance Nation, innocently requesting the trophy be exchanged for a bottle of tequila. Track of the season went to Francesco Rossi's cover and remix of Angus and Julia Stone's Paper Aeroplanes, which was sung live by Matt Henry whilst Francesco hopped on the decks and twiddled some knobs. Completely unnecessary but, much like Fatboy Slim DJing in a giant octopus at the Olympics, it was a nice touch.

Other winners included Maceo Plex, tINI, BPM festival, Jerry L Greenberg and Richie Hawtin for ENTER as the best night on the island. Then it was time to usher Richie's black-clad team off the stage, who he had invited up to share in the achievement, saying, “when any DJ plays there's a great fucking team behind him!”. It was now time for the ‘family photo' of winners and after a short moment of anarchy, all the lucky winners found themselves embracing on stage and raising their trophies proudly. It was like Christian Varela said upon accepting his award, “Ibiza is Hollywood for DJs and this – this is like the Oscar!”

Earlier that evening I grabbed the soon-to-be award winner, Luciano, for a quick chat.

You're looking forward to tonight?

"Yes, for sure."

If you had to place a bet on who would take out your category, who would you back?

"Well I think it's strong competition, there are a lot of professionals. They all love and are passionate about electronic music and they all deserve a prize."

Very diplomatic. So can you tell me what are the good and bad things about juggling two different nights on the island in one season? (Luciano and Friends on Tuesdays at Ushuaïa and Cadenza on Sundays at Booom)

"First of all it's a challenge. I always did that because I consider myself as a free person and a free spirit and I wanted to keep it that way. I always try to give something during the night and during the day, which has different energy and different people. We are very proud and very grateful to be able to do this."

What different ideas can you explore at each venue?

"Daytime the energy is different, people act differently to nighttime. It's an alternative perspective of music and regarding the energy that you put in."

You made the move with Cadenza and the Vagabundos from Pacha to Booom this season. It wasn't an easy season for the club but your night stayed strong, so how did it all go for you?

"As you said it was very difficult not only for Booom but for us also because we are loyal to the people we decide to work with. We were with them from the beginning to the end, and we were just working and hoping that everything would function the way we wanted. It was a hard season but it worked and we are really happy and proud."

What sort of changes and adjustments did you and your team have to make for the new venue?

"Well we always have our decoration vision, our vibe, our sound and technical stuff… and this is what we worry about [in a new venue]. Constantly. We always try to keep an eye on these details."

Your own style of DJing is always rich in melody and live instrument samples; I know that genres outside of electronic music interest you a lot. Can you tell me what styles or artists are influencing you at the moment?

"Well I grew up in South America and was very influenced by Latin music. That's the music that my heart lives with and I always try to represent the feeling that this music brought me in electronic music - that's why there is a lot of melody and a lot of instruments. Before being in electronic music I was in acoustic music and that's why I have this connection with instruments."

Can you tell me about the Zakes Bantwini booking for Luciano and Friends, and how that went?

"It was arranged when I went to play for Bridges for Music in some towns in South Africa. I had licensed a track off him some years ago, because I'm a big fan of his music and not many people know about Zakes Bantwini. When I went to South Africa he flew to meet me in Cape Town. I really wanted people from back here to know such a character, such an incredible musician, and that's why I brought him here. I think everybody loved what he did here, it was absolutely fantastic."

We've reached the end of summer, so what's the focus going to be for you over winter?

"Studio. From the beginning of October I start to work in the studio and I'm going to shut myself down there."

Sounds like that's a common seasonal pattern for many artists...

"Yeah it's a creative process, it's very important to me because my first will was always to be involved in music, and that's the way I do it."

2013 WINNERS:

ELECTRO: HARDWELL
TRANCE: ARMIN VAN BUUREN
TECHNO: CRISTIAN VARELA
NEWCOMER: UNER
DUBSTEP/DRUM&BASS: KNIFE PARTY
ELECTRONIC LIVE: HOT NATURED
DEEP HOUSE:
SOLOMUN
TECH HOUSE: LUCIANO
INTERNATIONAL DJ: ARMIN VAN BUUREN
MEDIA: BOILER ROOM TV
IBIZA DJ: WILLIE GRAFF
IBIZA NIGHT: ENTER
CUTTING EDGE:
PIONEER CDJ2000nexus
DANCE NATION: MEXICO - HECTOR
RECORD LABEL: CROSSTOWN REBELS
PRODUCER:
MACEO PLEX
TRACK OF THE SEASON:
PAPER AEROPLANE - FRANCESCO ROSSI
BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST:
tINI
INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL: BPM FESTIVAL
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION:
KATHY SLEDGE
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: JERRY L. GREENBERG

Words by Jordan Smith, Photography by James Chapman.

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