There's no doubting Ibiza's importance as a centre of electronic music. But, inevitably, the more commercial end of things can mask what is happening at the other end. The massive size of clubs on the island acts almost like a natural barrier to really true, progressive bookings. It would be wrong, however, to ignore the efforts being made and the successes that occur annually in "breaking" underground electronic music. For that reason, we spoke to one of those doing the most to ensure ensure new music comes to the island, Mark Broadbent, promoter and principal booker of We Love, the institution that takes place every Sunday at Space.
What's your philosophy or attitude to breaking new music/artists at your parties in Ibiza?
Well, first off I'd have to say that the acts we try and break in Ibiza are not exactly new per se, but new to Ibiza maybe. We try and bring something different to the parties every year, acts that our crowd may not have had the chance to check out in a bigger club setting at home. Showcasing talent on a big sound system, with all the other trappings that a club like Space has to offer really gives the acts the chance to show what they can do and what the music they play really sounds like. We feel that it is very important to bring in new talent for ourselves as much as for our customers. It would be pretty boring to just book the same people every year.
What are the challenges in breaking new music in Ibiza, especially compared say to other clubbing cities/destinations?
Ibiza is pretty stuck in the mud when it comes to new sounds/styles and this is a challenge that sometimes works really well and sometimes really falls flat on its face, but I'm sure this is the case anywhere in the world in a big venue. People like what they know for the most part, but this must never stop promoters from taking the odd chance and putting on what they themselves like. It's easy to forget what your job is as a promoter and just go for the old tried-and-tested approach. We obviously book a lot of the bigger names that will hopefully pull us a good-sized crowd and we use these acts to enable us to bring in newer names as support.
Can you give some examples of what has and hasn't worked and why?
You can generally get away with booking DJs and it is never a total disaster, but we have had a few live incidents that have not worked at all and it is so embarrassing for everybody concerned that I'd rather not mention any names. I think that in these cases it was my own fault for thinking we could get away with anything and our customers would just trust us and like whatever we liked ourselves. You live and learn, and I would book the acts again for the most part, but maybe think about programming them differently.
I am however happy to discuss a couple of our recent successes! We worked with Foamo and the Applepips guys—Appleblim & Al Tourettes—for a good few years in the Red Box and it was not working for them at all, but I had a feeling that what they were doing was pretty special and that the room simply was not right for them, so we took the chance to move them into the main room at Space and they blew the place apart. Foamo is now a monthly resident and plays the peak time slot when he plays for us, Appleblim & Al Tourettes had their first foray into the main room this year and will certainly be getting a few more dates with us next summer. Both Jem Haynes and Ryan O'Gorman started out as residents of the Red Box and have now moved down to the terrace and the main room, so this arena at space is really starting to look like our testing ground.
How do you define when a particular artist/music has "broken through" and isn't new anymore?
By the time I get to hear about them, they are generally pretty well known somewhere! I live on Ibiza year round and although I go on plenty of fact finding missions around Europe in the winter months, you're never going to be in the zeitgeist moment if you live on a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean. So I'm probably not the best person to be asked this question. But if the act has had articles in the dance press and has releases on Beatport or whatever then they are not really a new act are they? They have, in fact, broken through to a certain extent.
Which other events, parties or clubs in Ibiza would you say play a role in breaking new music on the island?
The Tonight parties at Amnesia this summer have had some names on that I was surprised to see here but I'm not too sure how those parties went, so it will be interesting to see what they do next summer and if they did, in fact, manage to "break" new acts here. Ibiza Rocks have played a massive part in introducing new music to the island. In the past Manumission did an amazing job and I now book quite a few of the acts that they championed back in the day.
Ewan Pearson and Ivan Smagghe are two of our regular guests that I first saw at Manumission and I have huge respect for Mike, Andy, Dawn, Shane and the rest of that team—old and new. And of course Andrea of Circoloco fame has always done his own thing really well and kept things interesting within that certain scene. It's easy to see that with other nights cropping up around the island that have basically taken his template and run with it. He really is a shining example of a promoter who breaks new acts/music on this island.
Anything further you want add on the subject?
Lots of other nights/promoters give new names a chance once in a while but they don't seem to fully understand that if it does not work straight away, they have to believe in their choices and keep on plugging the act until it either works for them or they really do see that it's not going to. You can't do this after one booking or even a season. If you have been bothered to make the booking in the first place, trust your judgment and try it again next year....unless they were totally shit, which of course sometimes happens!