Loco Dice, Pan-Pot and Chris Liebing are posing side-by-side on the rooftop of luxurious high-rise hotel The Ibiza Gran. It’s not often that the three superstar DJs get together, though they’re set to spin in tandem each Wednesday on the White Isle this year, as part of HYTE’s season-long residency at Amnesia.
Pan-Pot (real names: Tassilo Ippenberger and Thomas Benedix) are the goofballs of the bunch, laughing and smiling constantly as they joke playfully with one another in German, whilst Loco Dice’s team buzzes around him as he changes outfits and tries on several sets of shades. Liebing is the older statesman of the group — thanks to a whopping 25 years behind the decks and his seminal techno imprint, CLR — as he stands sleepily to the side of the hotel’s whopping terrace. And who can blame him? He’s just stepped off a red-eye flight direct from Detroit’s Movement Festival, whilst Pan-Pot and Loco Dice have just jetted in from Berlin.
The four artists share a common bond: they’re all German, as is the HYTE brand itself, which took over Amnesia for the very first time in 2015. Originally headed up by our cover star Maceo Plex, who has since left HYTE’s ranks to start his own night at Pacha (pages 20 – 29), we’re scheduled to attend HYTE’s pre-opening party tonight — and it’s guaranteed to be one hell of a show. Ahead of what’s set to be a wild night of techno-tinged debauchery on the White Isle, DJ Mag Ibiza sits down with Loco Dice, Chris Liebing and Pan-Pot for a rare roundtable with three of the genre’s most seminal selectors…
You’re all residents at HYTE this year at Amnesia. Chris and Loco Dice, we know you’ve been friends for a long time but how did you all first meet?
LOCO DICE: “I actually don’t remember how we met, it was a long time ago now though…”
TASSILO (PAN-POT): “Oh I remember, it was the first time we ever played Cocoon, must have been about six or seven years ago now, at the artist dinner — it’s all a bit fuzzy though [laughs].”
THOMAS (PAN-POT): “It was our first and only ever live show, we were super-nervous, we’d been practicing for three months straight. And we’ve never done once since!”
CHRIS LIEBING: “Yes, I’ve known Dice for over ten years now, we all go back a little way…”
Dice, you’ve got a lot of history with the island — why is Ibiza so special to you?
LOCO DICE: “Because, as all the artists will say, on and on, Ibiza is the Mecca of electronic music. If you’re making electronic music, you have to fall in love with Ibiza — you have no choice. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, you need to be here. For a DJ, first of all it’s very important for the inspiration, you get inspired and you listen to a lot of different styles — DJs from all over the world come to Ibiza. And, of course, the experience of watching lots of nationalities come together on one dancefloor — this happens only in Ibiza. Some people can manage to do business here too, to become superstars on this island, you can definitely use it as a platform for a breakthrough. You take Pan-Pot, for example. They came as a live act and now they’re superstar DJs. See how fast it goes!”
What about you, Chris?
CHRIS LIEBING: “Well, the first time I came to the island was in ‘96 and I had a gig at Space. There was a German party going on on Thursdays, I think. I knew these people from Cologne who were throwing after-parties out here — at this time I had just become a resident at the Omen in Frankfurt. I remember I bought my surfboard [laughs] and you definitely can’t surf here. I was a bit clueless. From the beginning, I always thought Ibiza was a very interesting place to be musically, even though I came from more of the industrial side of dance music, or the rock side of music, even. It wasn’t just limited to that Balearic sound here, and I liked that.”
Dice, you’ve said in the past Sven Vath was a big inspiration to you when you first came to the island around ‘99 — what’s inspiring you now on the island?
LOCO DICE: “You know, it’s almost the same. For me, I grew up on the dancefloor here, listening to DJs perform here, watching how they handle situations like playing after-hours compared to peak-time in a club. Or a rooftop party compared to a pool party, it doesn’t matter. So now for me, it’s very exciting to see new talent on the island but also old talent. Carl Cox is the perfect example of this. How much enthusiasm this guy has spread on the dancefloor — it’s incredible. It’s beautiful to watch, that someone after so many years still has this kind of flow, this kind of energy, this kind of love for the music — this is something that keeps everyone going. Then, you go and discovery a no-name DJ at an after-hours party playing amazing tracks and you’ve been talking the whole time and then suddenly you stop and say, ‘Oh my god, what is this music?!’ This is the beauty of Ibiza!”
And what about you, Pan-Pot — have you found the island important for music discovery?
THOMAS: “To be honest, I haven’t spent that much time at official after-parties — only my own ones [laughs]. But the thing I really like about the island is that you can kind of be anonymous here — you’re someone but you’re also no one here, because there’s so much history and so many DJs have come before you. It always feels fresh…”
Dice, you mentioned Carl Cox — what does everyone think about Space closing down?
TASSILO: “Yeah, you know it’s a pity. It’s a legendary name, not just in Ibiza but it’s a brand that’s spread all over the world. You know what Dice said, I can literally confirm everything and agree 100%. We met Carl the first time about four years ago when we played at Space, we’d never met him before and he was so warm-hearted. To see that, and to also be part of Space’s history is amazing for us. It’s a little bit sad, it’s the end of an era but let’s see what happens next…”
LOCO DICE: “No disrespect to what was created there or what happened there, and I had so many great moments there myself, but it’s just an evolution — this is a normal process. Nothing is forever, maybe it’s a good thing that it’s stopping now.”
CHRIS LIEBING: “In the past 20 years I’ve witnessed a lot of legendary club closings and you are always really sad when it happens. But things have to finish, you know? Things always need to end, and change needs to come. Tresor, Omen, so many clubs in New York have closed in my time, but ultimately we can conserve those memories of these legendary venues, and look forward to even better memories in new venues too!”
So you think it’s better to go out on a high?
LOCO DICE: “Exactly! It’s been amazing, it’s been perfect, but every club goes down in the end. It’s like a DJ career, or a football player, or anything. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘Let’s pull the plug’. It was a great time but maybe there’s a moment when you think it might be time to do something else…”
THOMAS: “Maybe the crowd has moved on, perhaps the scene has changed, too…”
LOCO DICE: “I mean, they went for decades, with the biggest names in house and techno, what else is there to be done?”
Many Space fans are worried that it will be turned into another VIP, bottle service club once the Ushuaïa Group takes over. Do you think Ibiza is too VIP-focused?
LOCO DICE: “I hate this argument — Ibiza has always been VIP-focused. Think about who was dancing on the Amnesia terrace throughout history. Grace Jones, the Rolling Stones, Naomi Campbell, they were all on the island in their heyday. Not to mention Tony Pike — remember what was going on at the Pikes Hotel, excess, luxury! You want to tell me anything has changed? Okay, maybe it’s a little more in your face, but this island and its infrastructure is changing. It’s not an island anymore, it’s a mega city! It pisses me off because if you talk to old school guys like David Morales or anyone who’s been on the island for longer than a decade, they’ll tell you, ‘Excuse me, it was always VIP’.”
Ibiza is a place where you can get lost — how do you handle the temptations of the island?
TASSILO: “I think it depends on your character but it’s really easy to lose yourself here. At the end of the day, if you’re driven and you want to get stuff done, you make it happen.”
THOMAS: “The first time I came to Ibiza wasn’t as bad as when I moved to Berlin when I was 20. Then I got lost for two years, that was really getting lost [laughs]. Seriously though, there’s two sides to this island. Not everyone here is a raver, there’s beautiful things to do outside the clubs as well.”
LOCO DICE: “Man, I got lost here for a whole season once. I didn’t call my friends, I didn’t call my mum, I didn’t call my manager — nothing. I did whatever I wanted, I didn’t care, I was free! I never thought about tomorrow when I first came to Ibiza, there was no labels to run, no kids, no responsibilities. Suddenly it was the end of September and the season was over and you’re like, ‘Hey wait, where is everybody?’ — that’s really getting lost [laughs].”
Pan-Pot, you’re relatively new to the island. Does this residency feel like a big career goal that’s been ticked off for you?
TASSILO: “Of course, it’s something we always dreamed about when we were at music school together. We were both studying at SAE in Berlin as audio engineers and we had the dream obviously to be — as Dice put it — superstar DJs. To just make money from doing what you love everyday, that’s what we wanted. This island thing is actually very new to us, we haven’t played that often here over the last few years and I have to say it is a dream for us. We’re so excited!”
Chris, you’re playing a pretty short set by your standards tonight. How do you prep for a session at HYTE?
CHRIS LIEBING: “To be honest, I don’t really construct sets as such [laughs]. I was always used to travelling with records, so you’d always have those favourite vinyls that you would play. Now, I have a new set-up with computers and what-not but the principle is the same — you always have those staple tracks that you love to play, plus everything else you’ve collected. It’s really easy for me to make choices in real time.”
Surely that’s something that comes with experience?
CHRIS LIEBING: “[Laughs] Yes, I hope finally after 25 years of DJing I’ve learned a thing or two! It’s a combination of improvisation and routine, I’d say, particularly when something goes wrong during the set, or something unexpected happens! When I say routine, I don’t mean as if it gets boring — I still have so much passion for DJing. It’s weird, I feel like my passion is only getting stronger as the years go by. I’ve also worked hard on having a strong balance between my private life and my professional life — that’s very important, ask any DJ!”
And why do you think HYTE has been so successful on the island?
THOMAS: “The thing I like about this party, about HYTE in particular, is that it’s not just one theme. It’s got loads of different faces, loads of different characters coming to play every week. It’s more flexible — I love the sound of this party.”
CHRIS LIEBING: “I was around when HYTE was kind of forming, a lot of us are all connected to each other in some way. When you look at the Berlin office where HYTE is based, it’s just a group of very nice, very driven people with a similar vision. Don’t get me wrong, it can be really chaotic and crazy, but there’s a lot of love there!”
Do you think the new 6:30am closing time for Amnesia will affect things this year?
TASSILO: “From what I can tell, there’s always loads of politics at the start of the season about what will change — lots of arguing and discussion. But at the end of the day, it’s always the same. If it stops earlier, we just start the after-party earlier [laughs].”
LOCO DICE: “This exact thing happened a few years ago and the parties were forced to close earlier. It’s not always been this super-late party time in Ibiza. I remember dancing on the Cocoon terrace 10 years ago and it was packed by 1am. Only the locals come at 4am. Why? Because they work in Ibiza Town and that’s when they get off work. It’s a nice thing to try though, let’s open the doors earlier and see what happens!”
THOMAS: “Perhaps it’s better to go to bed earlier. Save some energy and play the next day — much better than you would have normally [laughs].”
HYTE runs every Wednesday at Amnesia throughout the 2016 season.