First learning to DJ in his early teens, Ilario Alicante is no stranger to the decks. After a record-breaking debut at techno festival Time Warp aged just eighteen, he’s gone on to release records on some of techno’s most respected labels — Bosconi, Tenax and, most crucially, Cocoon Recordings.
He’s long been touted as one of Papa Sven’s most successful proteges, with the pair playing Cocoon’s annual Ibiza residency together throughout Alicante’s career. On the brink of yet another marathon run of Cocoon dates at Amnesia, we sit down with the Italian techno wunderkind to find out why this might just be his best season yet...
Tell us the most important lesson you’ve learnt from Sven?
“Sven has always been a big inspiration for me. We have a good friendship, which I’m very happy about. I have learned many things from him, not only about music but as a person. He has a magical charisma and energy, which he transmits to the people around him."
"One of the lessons that I’ve learned is to always be respectful in the music scene. In this business, lots of people get ruined by success and money. It's super-important to keep the respect between DJs, promoters and agencies, without selling out.”
Why has the Cocoon party in Ibiza become so legendary?
“The secret is the quality of the music, organisation and the atmosphere that Cocoon created for all of these years. You can tell that the party is the one that brought our genre of music onto the island."
"Everytime I go to Amnesia when it’s not a Cocoon night, it doesn’t feel the same. Another important secret of Cocoon is that they kept almost the same team over the years, and this is super-important for the party's harmony.”
What's the craziest thing you've ever seen on a dancefloor in Ibiza?
”[Laughs] Well, I could write a book out of all the crazy things! Most of the things I've seen actually I can't tell you... but if I have to choose one, I remember a girl completely drunk flashing me during my set from the start until the end, without stopping.”
It's not all about Cocoon though, you've got your own labels, too...
“I have two labels. One is called Deepmoves, which is a platform where I release all kinds of music without boundaries. Those releases can range from techno — with artists like Nina Kraviz and Ryan Elliot — to house, with Dance Mania's guru Parris Mitchell, plus Matthew Herbert. I love to have a base where I can release the music that I love, without following the market."
“I released an EP under my alias ILL-R which was downtempo indie, and I get the opportunity to release music from new and almost unknown guys to the mainstream audience — guys like E, Inter Gritty, Liit. I’ve never done any big promotion for the label, I don't do digital and I want to keep it like that."
"Most people don't know that it’s my label, and I love that! And I'm starting a new label called Virgo. This one will be a techno platform, with a focus on the dancefloor. The first release is an EP from SLV, an artist from Berlin, with remixes by Keith Karnal and Border One.”
Do you prefer DJing or production? How does one benefit the other?
“I started to do both almost at the same time. Each time that I am in the studio, I’m always thinking of when I will be behind the decks playing it. It's a connected process, although DJing is my favourite thing to do in life — tell a story with the music, and try to make the people happy."
Aside from your Ibiza dates, what are you looking forward to this summer? Releases? Gigs? Festivals?
“The summer is always madness! Last year in August I did 28 gigs in 31 days! And this summer will be even busier [Laughs]. I have lots of good festivals lined up, too. In terms of releases I have an EP planned on Cocoon, one for Paul Ritch's label Quartz, one for Skyprom Records for KMYLE, a track on Krill, and I’m planning another Drumcode release. I'm really happy!”
Finally, tell us about one of the island's best-kept secrets?
“A real secret should be discovered, not revealed! The island keeps our secrets, our stories. This is the best thing about it.”
* Ilario Alicante plays Cocoon at Amnesia on Mondays throughout the season, running until 3rd October.