Loco Dice, Pan-Pot and Chris Liebing are posing side-by-side on the rooftop of luxurious high-rise hotel The Ibiza Gran. Itâs not often that the three superstar DJs get together, though theyâre set to spin in tandem each Wednesday on the White Isle this year, as part of HYTEâs season-long residency at Amnesia.Â
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 Diceâs team buzzes around him as he changes outfits and tries on several sets of shades. Liebing is the older statesman of the group â thanks to a whopping 25 years behind the decks and his seminal techno imprint, CLR â as he stands sleepily to the side of the hotelâs whopping terrace. And who can blame him? Heâs just stepped off a red-eye flight direct from DetroitâsÂ Movement Festival, whilst Pan-Pot and Loco Dice have just jetted in from Berlin.Â
The four artists share a common bond: theyâre 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 HYTEâs ranks to start his own night at Pacha (pages 20 - 29), weâre scheduled to attend HYTEâs pre-opening party tonight â and itâs guaranteed to be one hell of a show. Ahead of whatâs 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 genreâs most seminal selectors...Â
Youâre all residents at HYTE this year at Amnesia. Chris and Loco Dice, we know youâve been friends for a long time but how did you all first meet?Â
LOCO DICE: âI actually donât remember how we met, it was a long time ago now thoughâ¦â
TASSILO (PAN-POT): âOh 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 â itâs all a bit fuzzy though [laughs].â
THOMAS (PAN-POT): âIt was our first and only ever live show, we were super-nervous, weâd been practicing for three months straight. And weâve never done once since!â
CHRIS LIEBING: âYes, Iâve known Dice for over ten years now, we all go back a little wayâ¦â
Dice, youâve got a lot of history with the island â why is Ibiza so special to you?
LOCO DICE: âBecause, as all the artists will say, on and on, Ibiza is the Mecca of electronic music. If youâre making electronic music, you have to fall in love with Ibiza â you have no choice. It doesnât matter what you are doing, you need to be here. For a DJ, first of all itâs very important for the inspiration, you get inspired and you listen to a lot of different styles â DJs from all over the world come to Ibiza. And, of course, the experience of watching lots of nationalities come together on one dancefloor â 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 theyâre superstar DJs. See how fast it goes!â
What about you, Chris?
CHRIS LIEBING: âWell, the first time I came to the island was in â96 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 â at this time I had just become a resident at the Omen in Frankfurt. I remember I bought my surfboard [laughs] and you definitely canât 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 wasnât just limited to that Balearic sound here, and I liked that.âÂ
Dice, youâve said in the past Sven Vath was a big inspiration to you when you first came to the island around â99 â whatâs inspiring you now on the island?
LOCO DICE: âYou know, itâs 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 doesnât matter. So now for me, itâs 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 â itâs incredible. Itâs 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 â 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 youâve been talking the whole time and then suddenly you stop and say, âOh my god, what is this music?!â This is the beauty of Ibiza!"
And what about you, Pan-Pot â have you found the island important for music discovery?
THOMAS: âTo be honest, I havenât spent that much time at official after-parties â only my own ones [laughs]. But the thing I really like about the island is that you can kind of be anonymous here â youâre someone but youâre also no one here, because thereâs so much history and so many DJs have come before you. It always feels fresh...â
Dice, you mentioned Carl Cox â what does everyone think about Space closing down?
TASSILO: âYeah, you know itâs a pity. Itâs a legendary name, not just in Ibiza but itâs a brand thatâs 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, weâd never met him before and he was so warm-hearted. To see that, and to also be part of Spaceâs history is amazing for us. Itâs a little bit sad, itâs the end of an era but letâs see what happens nextâ¦â
LOCO DICE: âNo disrespect to what was created there or what happened there, and I had so many great moments there myself, but itâs just an evolution â this is a normal process. Nothing is forever, maybe itâs a good thing that itâs stopping now.âÂ
CHRIS LIEBING: âIn the past 20 years Iâve 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!â
So you think itâs better to go out on a high?Â
LOCO DICE: âExactly! Itâs been amazing, itâs been perfect, but every club goes down in the end. Itâs like a DJ career, or a football player, or anything. Sometimes you just have to say, âLetâs pull the plugâ. It was a great time but maybe thereâs a moment when you think it might be time to do something elseâ¦â
THOMAS: âMaybe the crowd has moved on, perhaps the scene has changed, tooâ¦â
LOCO DICE: âI mean, they went for decades, with the biggest names in house and techno, what else is there to be done?â
Many Space fans are worried that it will be turned into another VIP, bottle service club once theÂ UshuaÃ¯aÂ Group takes over. Do you think Ibiza is too VIP-focused?
LOCO DICE: âI hate this argument â 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 â remember what was going on at the Pikes Hotel, excess, luxury! You want to tell me anything has changed? Okay, maybe itâs a little more in your face, but this island and its infrastructure is changing. Itâs not an island anymore, itâs a mega city! It pisses me off because if you talk to old school guys like David Morales or anyone whoâs been on the island for longer than a decade, theyâll tell you, âExcuse me, it was always VIPâ.âÂ
Ibiza is a place where you can get lost â how do you handle the temptations of the island?
TASSILO: âI think it depends on your character but itâs really easy to lose yourself here. At the end of the day, if youâre driven and you want to get stuff done, you make it happen.â
THOMAS: âThe first time I came to Ibiza wasnât 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, thereâs two sides to this island. Not everyone here is a raver, thereâs beautiful things to do outside the clubs as well.â
LOCO DICE: âMan, I got lost here for a whole season once. I didnât call my friends, I didnât call my mum, I didnât call my manager â nothing. I did whatever I wanted, I didnât 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 youâre like, âHey wait, where is everybody?â â thatâs really getting lost [laughs].â
Pan-Pot, youâre relatively new to the island. Does this residency feel like a big career goal thatâs been ticked off for you?
TASSILO: âOf course, itâs 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 â as Dice put it â superstar DJs. To just make money from doing what you love everyday, thatâs what we wanted. This island thing is actually very new to us, we havenât played that often here over the last few years and I have to say it is a dream for us. Weâre so excited!â
Chris, youâre playing a pretty short set by your standards tonight. How do you prep for a session at HYTE?
CHRIS LIEBING: âTo be honest, I donât really construct sets as such [laughs]. I was always used to travelling with records, so youâd 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 â you always have those staple tracks that you love to play, plus everything else youâve collected. Itâs really easy for me to make choices in real time.â
Surely thatâs something that comes with experience?
CHRIS LIEBING: â[Laughs] Yes, I hope finally after 25 years of DJing Iâve learned a thing or two! Itâs a combination of improvisation and routine, Iâd say, particularly when something goes wrong during the set, or something unexpected happens! When I say routine, I donât mean as if it gets boring â I still have so much passion for DJing. Itâs weird, I feel like my passion is only getting stronger as the years go by. Iâve also worked hard on having a strong balance between my private life and my professional life â thatâs very important, ask any DJ!âÂ
And why do you think HYTE has been so successful on the island?
THOMAS: âThe thing I like about this party, about HYTE in particular, is that itâs not just one theme. Itâs got loads of different faces, loads of different characters coming to play every week. Itâs more flexible â I love the sound of this party.â
CHRIS LIEBING: âI 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, itâs just a group of very nice, very driven people with a similar vision. Donât get me wrong, it can be really chaotic and crazy, but thereâs a lot of love there!â
Do you think the new 6:30am closing time for Amnesia will affect things this year?
TASSILO: âFrom what I can tell, thereâs always loads of politics at the start of the season about what will change â lots of arguing and discussion. But at the end of the day, itâs always the same. If it stops earlier, we just start the after-party earlier [laughs].â
LOCO DICE: âThis exact thing happened a few years ago and the parties were forced to close earlier. Itâs 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 thatâs when they get off work. Itâs a nice thing to try though, letâs open the doors earlier and see what happens!â
THOMAS: âPerhaps itâs better to go to bed earlier. Save some energy and play the next day â much better than you would have normally [laughs].â
HYTE runs every Wednesday at Amnesia throughout the 2016 season.Â