Carl Cox is a man who never stops smiling. When DJ Mag Ibiza speaks to him down the phone-line from his part-time home in Australia, we can tell the legendary British DJ is grinning from ear-to-ear.
He lives half his year in the land Down Under, locking himself away in a sprawling property just outside Melbourne to focus on music-making and his vintage motorbike collection. For nearly two decades he’s spent the European summer in Ibiza, playing his much-lauded club-night Music Is Revolution at (now sadly deceased) nightclub Space Ibiza.
This year that’s all set to change with Cox choosing to throw just two parties at Privilege, both titled Pure Carl Cox, instead of a full season of events. We catch up with the affable selector for a candid one-on-one interview to talk big pay-days, failed residencies and what it takes to make it in Ibiza...
We’re diving straight in with the tough questions, Carl! Do you think there’s any promoters willing to take risks left on the island?
“Well, whether we like it or not, DJs are in a field of entertainment. And the island is run and often defined or influenced by DJs who have often played there year in and year out, like myself, for example. There is a level of underground, a level of mid-underground, then there’s something in the middle, and then full-on commercialism. I think you can find all of those scenes in Ibiza, and also strong examples of what has and hasn’t worked for DJs and clubs on the island in the past…”
You’re playing Privilege soon…
“Privilege is one of the world’s biggest clubs and I’m definitely going to know about it when I get there (laughs). But the thing is, when you’re on that island, you really need to live and breathe that place. You can’t just swan in and take all the money and go, ‘Right, this is all about me and now I’m off!’ If it works on the island it’s because you’ve become one with it, you understand the locals, you understand what’s going on, you feed the essence of what the island is about — and you exude that. I went there from ‘85 to ‘92 and I didn’t DJ, I just went there to feel it and to understand it. So when I do play there, I feel privileged to play there, I’m just so glad to be part of the island life.”
Is Ibiza defined too much by the prospect of a big pay-day?
“Absolutely. But the problem is that money goes back onto the punter, they’re the ones funding the big pay-day. If you’re paying a lot to get into the club, lots to get into the VIP area, lots to pay for expensive drinks, you know, all of this — this is how people end up spending so much money on the island.
“A lot of people don’t necessarily have that much to spend in the first place, but they really want to be there — of course, the nights out in Ibiza are amazing! I think it’s important to remember that the island only survives because there’s such a huge injection of money in those three big summer months — that’s potentially why it’s always been a little more expensive than other parts of the world.”
And the line-ups this year, what do you think of them?
“I think this year we’ll really see where we’re at. Most of the line-ups on the island are pretty damn good! The Cocoon line-ups, the HYTE line-ups, Music On, our own line-ups are all so strong, even Privilege’s other line-ups (besides ours) — they’ve really steamed ahead when it comes to the DJs this year. Also, all the DJs that do play in Ibiza are the best of the best, and I think this year we’re seeing that more than ever!”
Do you think you’ll ever have the same relationship with Privilege that you did with Space?
“No, definitely not. Thing is, all the people I had working with me at Space, I’ve taken them to Privilege with me (laughs). It’s the only way I can do it, that’s the only way it will work. It’s always difficult to inject your own ideals onto a new club like that.
“Privilege is an absolute animal, it’s a beast that needs to be somehow tamed (laughs). We’re going into it with our eyes wide open and I’m just going to dip my toe in the water and see how it goes. We’re looking for a night where people who might not have been there for a while will say, ‘Wow, look at this!’. Manumission, which used to be on Mondays, for example, used to make people go ‘Wow!’ — and we’re hoping to do that again!”