He is known as the godfather of the decks and ingrained in the fabric of Ibiza. As he nears the end of his 15-year residency at Space, DJ and producer Carl Cox tells us why he is still finding it hard to believe the world’s most awarded club is closing its doors and what life has in store for him now.
Lia Nicholls for Ticketmaster caught up with the man himself ahead of his main stage set at South West Four.
You played to a 80,000-strong crowd last weekend, does the amount of fans at your gigs not phase you anymore?
“I am always overwhelmed when people can not only be bothered to turn up but dig in deep and stay until the end.”
Sadly, there are only a few weeks left until Space in Ibiza closes its doors for good. It seems like people still can’t really get their head around the decision, do you agree?
“Yeah, no one can. Let me put it into some kind of perspective; I’ve been coming to this island (Ibiza) every year to the present day since 1984, I haven’t missed a single year. I’ve been DJing at Space for 25 years and I’ve been resident of the club at high level for 15 years. I have only four weeks left at Space. I am having a shock moment like ‘where has my life gone!?’”
The final set you play at Space will no doubt be incredibly special, do you already have the set planned?
“I never ever, ever pick a set, whatever comes out comes out. It is the only way I can give the club its true spirit.
“I do have a pile of records for the closing records, but what’s going to happen is, say we are going to finish at midday, as soon as they say ‘this is going to be the last record, Carl’, it isn’t going to be the last record as they are going to want another record and another record. It could be the defining track but it might not be. But whatever I play, they are all going to be tear jerkers.”
Space is a world-renowned club providing an experience to generations, but why stop now?
“No one is going to want to let go of that club easily, because the thing is it isn’t over, it isn’t broken. We have closed the doors nearly every single night that we’ve done our night, people want to be part of the history and what has made the club what it is today.”
“If you are booking tickets for Ibiza, you want to go to Space, you want to go to DC10, you want to go to Amnesia, it is part of the fabric of the island. But that is all going to go and once that’s gone, it’s gone – and then Ibiza will change. Space was the place that opened Ibiza and it’s going to be the place that closes it. You won’t have that anymore, some clubs will scramble to get themselves into that position but it won’t have the same heritage.”
There has been much debate over the commercialisation of Ibiza, what are your thoughts on it?
“Unfortunately there is no way of stopping it. Everyone wants to make as much money as possible now and it is a competition to do so. In the early days, it was purely to have a good time. We used to turn up at 7am, go in and have a great time, whether you were gay, straight, with your family or wherever you came from. The reason people turn up at 7am is because they want to be taken somewhere else. They don’t want to be at work, they want to be somewhere they don’t get to experience every day.”
Do you think club managers want to create a new Space?
“What Pepe (Pepe Rosello, owner and founder of Space Ibiza) did was that he enabled people to be transported somewhere else. His vision and how he wanted you to enjoy his rooms, and no, most club managers don’t have that vision anymore. They’re like, ‘book David Guetta, put those tables there…charge this on the door, job done.”
Surely there are more Pepe Rosello’s out there?
“There is only one Pepe Rosello and once he’s gone I’m gone. I’ve grown up with him and his ethos and he gave me what I needed to do the job that I do.”
Can you tell us about life after Space for you, there must be some attractive contracts on the table?
“(laughs) Yeah. For me, can you imagine it, I used to play discos for 20 quid, it’s surreal. I’m finding it very difficult to figure out my future on the island because I can’t replicate what I have done for so many years with Space.
“Yes I could go to Tuesday nights at Amnesia, or I could do Privilege and set up something there… but everyone who goes to those nights, I believe I will get, ‘it isn’t as good as it used to be, you aren’t as good as you were at Space’, I’m convinced that will happen.
“If I went back to Space, who knows what it will end up or what it will be called but it will be all a money thing. And there I’ll get ‘here you are Carl, have 300,000 Euros and make sure the VIPs have a good time by commercialising your music.’ NO! Not going to happen. I can’t do that because this will leave a legacy of what we’ve enjoyed over the last 27 years and I want that to remain intact.”
Name your price to be a resident DJ at Ushuaia?
“Nope. That won’t happen either. I understand it has a place on the island…you know what you are getting, you know you can jump up and down in the mosh pit and go crazy but it isn’t the true ethos of what the island stands for. That is the point that has been missed and that is why plenty of people are upset. Ibiza has turned into the new Vegas of Spain.”
Do you think the way people are partying has changed? Do you think clubbers only want to hear the headliners?
“No, I think it is more about the brands. I’ve always thought that if people are coming to Space, my name might be on the door, but it will be the people who play alongside me who are just as important because we all share the same vision.”
Can we look forward to an announcement after the final night of Space?
“Plans are on the table for it opening at another site but it won’t happen for at least two years and will it be the same? We don’t know. I don’t know whether I will be involved because there are so many variables.
At the moment I am quite looking forward to getting three days a week of my life back. I feel like I am ready to kick back a little bit and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Perhaps I might be able to have a girlfriend at long last…I’ve never been in this position before.”
Aside from music, you have a huge passion for cars with a 20-strong fleet. Have you any plans to pursue a career with motors?
“Ha! I just hope I can drive them, it has been a while.”
You don’t fancy a stint on the new Top Gear then?
“One of the reasons I’ve never done Top Gear is because I’ve never had time to do it. I’ve been asked to go on as a guest twice but didn’t have the time. Music in my life is one thing, being a petrol head is another. I have two bikes in Ibiza and putting on the helmet and getting lost on the island is a dream. Being stuck in traffic in my car can be a nightmare as people pull up alongside and toot me, although it is fun really.”
You are soon returning to your old stomping ground and playing the main stage at Clapham Common’s favourite carnival South West Four, what can we expect from you there?
“Doing South West Four in my own manor, it is a real privilege to play it. I’ve been on and off of the main stage for years and the line-up this year is one of the best.
“When you have quality acts like Maya Jane Coles, Black Coffee, Damian Lazurus and The Ancient Moons, you are going to experience sound, new music and a real vibe… to finish it off with The Chemical Brothers and their visual aspects as well as their music is just going to be fantastic. I’m really proud to be a part of the main stage line-up.”
You embrace social media and the latest digital trends, will you be live streaming South West Four as well as your final night at Space?
“Yeah, sure. I don’t notice the cameras and I don’t want to notice them. It’s a double-edged sword, I know the purpose of it all but I would always rather people be there to get the full vibe benefit. Some people tune in and when you are playing a record that continues for eight minutes they get bored. When you’re there on the night, it’s totally different. On streaming, people want the bangs and cannons, they watch 32 seconds but I’ve been spinning for five hours!”
Is your guest list always off the scale? How do you decide who gets in on what?
“(laughs) It can get pretty wild. I know people that were there at the very beginning, couples that met on the dance floor who have had kids. When they say ‘meet my daughter, meet my son, they’re 21 now’, that puts it all into perspective for me. It has been my life.”
Do you have anything special planned for South West Four that you can tell us about?
“Sometimes things just happen. I remember the last time I played the main stage and it pissed down. All day other DJs had blue skies and the sun was shining, I came on and the heavens opened, hoodies came up but they stayed until the very end. That’s what I love – true British grit. But hopefully the sun will be shining. At Space, unfortunately special things aren’t going to happen for that much longer.”
South West Four Festival will be taking place on Clapham Common across the August Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 27 and Sunday 28). Check availability and book now at Ticketmaster.co.uk/sw4.
For all things Ibiza, don’t miss our ultimate guide to the best parties and club tickets.