Hello Alfredo, it is my utmost pleasure to finally welcome you in dub, especially in this issue that we call ‘the music edition’ with three great artists, Acid Pauli, Kölsch and you. On top we got Christian Len with a great editorial about musical styles in Ibiza, so this will be one issue to remember.
For those who don’t know you, please tell us how you came to Ibiza knowing you have your roots in Argentina.
I arrived to Ibiza by boat at the end of September 1976.
Did you hear anything about the island or why did you come?
Friends of mine who already lived here were sending me letters. We had a change of government in Argentina very much to the right, better said to fascism, so I had to leave the country. We came in search of freedom and just by leaving the boat we knew we weren’t wrong as it was the perfect place to stay.
How was the island in those years?
It was a very pleasant and relaxed place to live and we all knew each other by first name, not the surname. Nobody knew surnames as there was no need for it. It was very Hippy, a lot more solidary than today, the people that lived here had to deal with technological and mechanical disperfections, so we helped each other in any way in order to solve it all.
Before you got to play a DJ booth you did a lot of different jobs, like so many of us arriving to Ibiza, tell us about it.
Before I became a DJ I did all sorts of jobs, from making candles to having a shop which worked well until another shop called ‘The End’ opened its doors, it was the beginning of brands selling their fashion items in Ibiza. As we produced locally it simply killed us.
And your first job as a DJ, how did you get behind a booth?
I was playing Rugby in a team in Ibiza consisting of Frenchmen, Argentinians and a few English. The season was over and one of the guys who always came to see us was the manager of a bar called Be Bop. He told me ‘Hey, i saw you playing and was impressed, i like you – my wife stays her alone as i will move to Thailand to live, would you like to take over the bar?’ So I went to the bar, still dressed in Rugby with the boots in my hand, knocked on the door and he said ‘well, you got to serve drinks and be helpful with everything’ but what I saw were two decks and a mixer, and a record collection. As I was always into music back then in Argentina it klicked in my head and I said “ok, perfect”. So I started to serve drinks and played tapes and records until the moment I realized that if I move one fader up and the other one down I could actually mix the music. That was magic to me. I started to mix all sorts of music, Reggae, Jazz, Funky, America and Jethro Tull, records I was really into, J J Cale, Pink Floyd – all that was popular back in those days, mixing it with Soul and Funk. I worked for one winter and knew I wanted to become a Discjockey and I want to work in Amnesia.
Because it was the alternative club, the only one without a privé, it was the place my friends went to. It was the patio of an old ibicencan Finca, open air, just fantastic. But no people came until one day my girlfriend at that time asked me ‘why don’t you play some music for the workers while we are here waiting to get paid?’ It was 6 am and I started to play ‘Moments in Love’, ‘Love to love you baby’ and all people being there stayed – first day we were 50, the second 100, the third already 300 and on the fourth day we had 1.000 people… They told the owner to open the bars because the club was full, he opened his window and saw it himself saying ‘i can’t believe it!’ From that day we started to open from 3 am to noon, that was the beginning of August 1984.
So it all started in Be Bop, you discovered the record collection and the decks and started mixing it all together – it was your destiny to become the creator of Balearic Beat!
Also my musical background in Argentina was a cultural colony full of Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards, English, so my basic musical understanding came from Rock n’ Roll over Italian, French, Brazilian and Southamerican music up to Argentinian Rock. In Ibiza I listend to J J Cale, Lou Reed, Reggae, Funk and Soul – all wonderful. I was never into Disco- or Italomusic. Out of all this the Balearic was born. Neither was I much into Dance music, I played some concerts in Argentina and listened to music rather than to dance to it. I realized in Ibiza music was for dancing, so I started mixing it all together and the Balearic Beat was born. It meant breaking up barriers between black music, white music, dance or no dance, mixing it together how I thought it would make sense. There was no Bpm mixing so I did it like telling a story, words inspired me a lot, more than a bassline, and the flair of a track. That era was the end of Discomusic, mixing Italomusic with Eurotrash until people got very bored of it, so they came and listened to some serious music, made by great musicians like Pink Floyd, Isaac Hayes, Caetano Veloso, Amina and national bands like Radio Futura and they very much liked it, everybody started to dance and didn’t stop…
I remember seeing you in ’86 when Sola did all the decorations…
It was very exhausting, she was director of the PR team and the music, she had all on her back, we became very good friends. She had to know if all tickets got sold, buy my music as obviously music was the most important for me, besides of checking if all the bars are open, so she was constantly running up and down the club.
After so many years of DJing, how do you maintain the urge to keep playing?
Sometimes it is difficult as I don’t find my people anymore. I told you about a time that was a dream coming true for me, after that I had other very good times in Pacha and Space. As well in Privilege with Manumission it was fantastic. Then I returned to Space with We Love… so I had lots more great years. Nowadays I don’t have a place like this to find my people, I am elderly, grown with the years and my people don’t go to the clubs anymore. Now this is a place for the young, like in the movie ‘No country for old men’ – old in spirit. Another thing that helped me immensely in Amnesia was the crowd, from 17 to 60, young women and old, white, black, poor, rich, of all nationalities and with a very very open musical understanding, and I felt just great. That is why all this feelings were expressed with the very last track in just a few minutes, melancholic and full of joy at the same time.
How do you see the island today?
In my opinion the island has changed a lot, with a huge amount of people, mass tourism, and a great urge to make money off everybody. My daughter is eight years old and my son is a Discjockey, Lola likes Ibiza and I think the young people who come to Ibiza have the same impact than we had back in our first days, and this is what counts. They come to Ibiza making it the epicenter of amusement and pleasure for people with a young spirit. To compare seems stupid to me, if I start comparing I lose. There are new places completely over the top, very expensive, offering cheap music and entertainment in my eyes, which will sooner or later offend the others. Without mentioning names I think a hyper commercialization is taking place, only looking at the tree, not the forest. People arrive in private jets or in first class and it seems like all is tailored for them. They come because they know they can party here. A party is not about 50 tons of Cocaine, 2 million Acids or Ketamine or whatever, it’s the people who make a party. People that, in one way or another, have developed their spirit, their mind and soul in order to be able to celebrate, to share and enjoy the party. If we forget those people we fuck it up. It is like having a girlfriend, once she is gone she won’t come back, and this girlfriend here are the young, you can’t squeeze them so much. That’s what I believe, I don’t own the truth, it’s an opinion. And I hope it all goes well for the sake of my children, and the young people can keep celebrating and enjoy this place which is marvelous and always has been.
As Sven Väth says, all you need is two decks and a mixer. Do you agree?
Totally, one hundred percent.
Talking about new technologies, somebody like Richie Hawtin uses many machines to make music, how do you see that?
I find it very good, when we started in Amnesia we didn’t even have Technics, buying two of them and a good mixer really helped a lot, the former ones were motor-driven so you had to push them, it was all but handy… If technology can help us it is very welcome. But there is a long way from there to premix plus having a laptop in front of you watching it all the time not seeing what is going on, and a bad way on top. If you mention Richie Hawtin I say Carl Cox working with four CDJs mixing all of them constantly, means he has immense skills actually using technology. It is quite similar to what I did back in those days or what I do today with the decks, even if I as well play pendrives on CDJs. Why? Because vinyls are very expensive and some music you do not get on vinyl, and because travelling with a record case is not funny. And because nowadays lots of places don’t even have Technics or they are in a bad state. But there is one thing to observe, why some go back to the roots with all the technology availabe. Maybe out of an excessive ego trying to step out somewhere because to have decks and vinyls you need to have a lot of money. I would be enchanted to keep travelling with my trolley and three record boxes with everybody helping me out, today you are fucked because you have to check them in.
Talking about gadgets, Technics is not producing the player any more, it is Pioneer DJ, who last year, released a new player including all that a Technics offers, in an advanced way.
The Technics was and still is perfect, it keeps the velocity to perfection, you start the record and it runs impeccable, this for me means perfection. Now that Pioneer DJ released a new version this sounds great to me, and if they could improve the Technics even better. With a vinyl player you work with material that allows you to observe and see what is going on around you, if you work with a lot of technology you have to be constantly observing all machines, therefore the connection with the crowd is different. And what happens if you got thousands of people in front of you holding their smartphone over their heads without looking at you and you don’t look at them, on top they don’t even dance… all this comes out of an overvaluation of the DJ, and those capitalize exactly this. Everybody wants to be a DJ, it is a profession that is living its peak time right now. No idea on where this will lead to, with all the machines and gadgets everybody can become a DJ…
Even Paris Hilton can become a DJ…
Well, this is a marketing product, she comes over creating a huge PR without even having to live of it, she lives of doing things to make people talk about her. That is why one of the things she obviously has to do is to become a DJ. Even the son of ‘la Pantoja’ wants to be a DJ but he is not and i doubt he will ever be. This all is part of this paraphernalia that is automarketing lived in Ibiza during two months in summer. All those people come for forty days having it all planned to perfection. From the 15th of July until the 25th of August the island is at its peak. One day after you already notice the downdrop as it happens every year, because school is on again, or they go back to work. Those people come to take advantage of something already existing, they don’t introduce anything new. Well, four paparazzis to make pictures of them.
Talking music again, you also produce?
Yes, I made a record with Valentin Huedo where my daughter sings, leading us to adjust her voice a bit as it is House music. Then we did one with Adrian 911 that we finished last Saturday, I played it in Vagabundos and it worked pretty well. Right now I am working on a remix for some English and Jaime and me might start working together again as ‘Heritage Project’.
Talking about Jaime, having a son who is a great Discjockey and a producer, how do you get along?
Sometimes we work together, sometimes we debate, he has a different musical perception and another vision of life, he needs things to be more tidy. It would do me good as well but I don’t know how to get there. Apart from that he has a regular job giving him financial safety, so he can go out and play as he did when they called him to perform at Carl Cox’ party, he enjoyed it big time as he has no financial pressure. As we all know if we from here play anywhere here we get paid nothing, while he was enjoying playing vinyls. On top he doesn’t care about what is in or not, he doesn’t want to play what all the others play, having his record collection and own style the music he plays has his groove.
Penultimate question and a very personal one – how is your perfect day?
My perfect day starts with an extent breakfast at home with my daughter, then we’d go to the beach, eat a paella, spend the evening at a pool, dinner in the Fish Shack or other place in style, followed by a quite night.
Sounds great. And last but not least – what do you think about dub magazine, now that we do it for fifteen years?
Incredible that you reached fifteen years, that’s great. It is a huge achievement and you got all my respect. And the fact that you do it bilingual did pave a new way for the others as they started doing the same. So far so good, keep doing it for many more years.
Thanks so much Alfredo, a pleasure talking to you.
Thanks to you Andy.