This winter has been a tumultuous one for Sankeys owner David Vincent. His name has made headlines through illness and the public dismissal of former Tribal Sessions ringleader Darius Syrossian, making it easy to overlook what’s truly important to the owner of Ibiza’s fastest growing club: the music.
With a highly impressive new weekly bill, which includes the newly relocated We Love…, season two of the forward thinking techno-centric night Tribal Sessions, throwback events like the US House & UK garage inspired Redlight, a new collaboration with Ibiza Rocks’ We Are Rockstars! night, and the return of mainstays like VIVa Warriors and Magna Carta, plus a new sound system, there was a whole lot to talk about with the man before the start of the season.
So we sat down with David Vincent to get the lowdown on what 2015 has in store.
So you've got a lot of new nights this year, the biggest of which is probably We Love... I think we know well enough how it came to Sankeys, but can you give us an idea of who's playing? It's more of a boutique-style approach of We Love.... You know, before We Love... was up to a 24 hour party, then it changed when the Terrace got covered and became less, so this is really the third stage of its life and its more of a boutique approach. We're going for more quality over quantity. Sasha's doing four shows, we've got Hannah Wants, Gorgon City, and there's gonna be a few Bugged Out! shows, a few curveballs thrown in.
There will be a few of the traditional names, but a lot of forward thinking names -- that kind of approach. They can do that more because of the size of Sankeys and the tradition of what Sankeys is.
Wednesdays are looking pretty packed on the island. Do you think that's gonna impact the night at all? As I always say to anyone in my team, this is the most competitive island in the world, and you can't ever mention the competition. You just need to get on with what you're getting on with, and we're gonna be getting on with what we're getting on with - and obviously look at what's going on and what other people are doing but you try and navigate around that, or, you don't try to go head on completely.
So We Love..., arguably - we talk about Tribal Sessions is 'music without prejudice' - but We Love... is probably the most 'music without prejudice', which means they can go any way. That's the advantage with that type of night or brand, so we're lucky to have We Love..., and We Love... can go in a way that no other brand can so they can navigate around those issues.
Tribal Sessions is now moving to Tuesdays replacing FUSE. FUSE was a pretty, I think, well loved and well connected brand to Sankeys. Can you tell me a bit about what happened there? Firstly, Tribal Sessions is not replacing FUSE. It has just moved to Tuesdays as we felt it was a better day for Tribal to do in the current market.
I think that in the beginning, where Sankeys sat, our aspirations as a venue were a lot less to where it is now. What we expected. And FUSE's music policy is amazing, but there's a certain limit to where it can go up to on a weekly basis because it's not as musically diverse as Tribal Sessions. In order to sustain a weekly night in a venue of a certain capacity like Sankeys is now, with the LAB and everything, you need to be a lot more musically diverse, especially on the island of Ibiza and a club the size of Sankeys now.
FUSE, you know, they've got a certain sound that they're very strict about, and a certain set of DJs. It's a lot harder for them to be able to sustain that on a weekly basis. They came to me at the end of the season -- as they were thinking having similar things -- we had four years with them -- and they said, "We don't think we can do a weekly anymore."
We tried to pair them up with other brands, which they didn't want to do, then we spoke to them about doing three one-offs, and they said, "Look, for us, we want to see an evolvement in what we're doing, and we are to go to Space," which we were quite surprised, we didn't want to lose them. But they felt that if they'd have stayed at Sankeys it would be a step back because they'd been so used to doing a weekly residency, better for them to do three one-offs (at Space).
I wish them all the best, we never wanted to lose FUSE, but it couldn't work in what we expected and in what we wanted.
But we're still very good friends, and I wish them all the best.
Tribal Sessions on Tuesdays is heading into it second year. What do you think is the biggest change between last year and this? I think Tribal Sessions is towing a line toward being more authentic to the roots of where the brand is. The heritage of it. We come from the Tribal Gathering organisation, which was primarily from the Universe days, which was a techno organisation that branched out and then became a festival... They had a night called Final Frontier where you'd always have acts like Carl Cox, or Hawtin, or Sven Väth in the '90s.
So if you look at the musical policy of Tribal, it's more authentic to the roots. I think last year it was more classic. We brought a lot of the legends back. But it wasn't as forward thinking as it is now. We've got more of a techy approach, while still being a 'music without prejudice' policy, and we're still gonna throw in a few curveballs. It's a more a more authentic approach to what the heritage of Tribal Sessions is.
The DJ I'm most excited to see is Levon Vincent. I know he's played at Kehakuma, but how do you think he'll go down in Sankeys? I think that inevitably - it's not be being disrespectful to the other clubs - but I would argue that Sankeys is the true DJ's DJs club. The way it’s set up and the way it’s built, it's all about the sound. And more importantly I think that a sound like Levon Vincent will work more in an intimate space like Sankeys, so I think he'll be more at home.
When we offered him the four shows, on a monthly basis - and he had other offers on the table but the agent came back and said, "We are up for Tribal Sessions at Sankeys." I think it will be a really good fit there.
Do you think the crowds in Ibiza know who an artist like Levon Vincent is? I don't think the young kids would, but a great artist like Levon, inevitably will make people know who he is. And what I've learned is, if you play in Ibiza regularly, as any artist, they get to know who you are.
Maybe if he played once or twice, but because he's playing once a month on a night like Tribal Sessions they'll get to know who he is. And we're really happy and proud that we've got an artist like that within the Tribal Camp.
There's a new system in the LAB, right? Yeah.
And that's from Booom? No - it's primarily near enough the same system as to what Booom had. It's slightly different, there's some modifications. You know, Pioneer maybe made a mistake or whatever, or trusted an owner who probably didn't know what he was doing...that club was more toward the VIP setup. So when Pioneer initially set up where the speakers were meant to be, the owner had already built VIP areas, so they had to build around the club.
Sankeys policy has always been different. Total opposite. We'll put the speakers in first, then build our club around it because we're a dance club. My sound engineer was freaking out when we were installing the Pioneer system saying it was way too big and it was in the way of the bars for us to sell drinks, I replied "don't worry about we don't well any drinks in any case". This demonstrates the Sankeys approach, music and sound above everything. With that approach, Pioneer will really be able to show what they can do because some people liked it and some people didn't. Some asked, "Why are you doing it," and I said, "You know, within Sankeys it will really show why it's the world's greatest sound system." Pioneer have got a big point to prove... I think by the end of the summer everyone will be saying that Sankeys had the best sound systems on this island for sure. And there'll be a big difference -- we'll reset how sound should sound on this island. That's my aim. I won't stop until we get there but by hearing the soundcheck last week, I can say we are already have the best soundsystem and we only had 2 of the 4 stacks switched on"
It's quite a proud moment for us to go and do, you know, not just the pioneer thing, but we've got a brand new VOID sound all around the whole club. So in the Basement we've rebuilt the DJ box, the Spektrum sound system is the system we had in The Basement. So there this progression. And we've got other little bits that people will see, so I'm really excited to see how it is.
So you guys have also teamed with W.A.R! this year. How did that come about? Andy Manumission, when I first started promoting in Manchester in 1994, and Andy did -- we started promoting at the same time -- we met each other flyering outside the same nightclub, The Paradise Factory, which is where I did my first event, and Andy was promoting his first Manumission event.
I went to the first ever Manumission, actually. I said to Andy one day, "I'm probably the only music industry person that you know that went to the first ever Manumission." It was in this place called Equinox. This small sweatbox in Manchester. Legend tells it was me and Mr. Scruff.
A few weeks afterwards there were these scallies that tried to set him alight outside a nightclub so they left and went to Ibiza. And '97 I was running Ministry of Sound at Pacha and he was running Manumission - never worked together but always had this real mutual respect. And this winter I went down to Pikes, had a little chat and said, "You know I think we should really do something together, I think it'd be quite explosive."
And eventually this came out of it. Just to start us having a relationship working together. Because he said, "How ‘bout me doing something at Sankeys, you know I'm not too sure about Pacha or whatever, and we came up with Shelter."
It’s been a really good response to it. Ticket sales, it's the best selling event we've got online right now. Originally we looked to do Mondays, but they said Fridays as a carryon after W.A.R!, and I like that. I thought, I can see that. Go on, go back to the Shelter. So I'm feeling quietly confident about that night.
When you work with a veteran like Andy who's been on this island for 20 years, he knows all the tricks - you know the whole flyering commission thing, they started off on this island. So when you work with pioneers, they can drive you, and that's why I like working with Darren, working with Danny, working with Andy - the team's getting nice and strong.
And with Shelter - Sankeys has been wanting to appeal more to a Spanish market, so we did a deal with Suara as well.
Oh that's right, they're taking over the LAB. Yes.
Very cool. Has there been any response to that yet? We'll announce in a few weeks, but Suara's a great label, they do well on Beatport, so I think it's a really good addition to the Sankeys family. It starts the first week of July.
I remember in years past, when there were certain parties, that there was a separate entrance from Sankeys. Will it be similar or will entry get you into the whole... yeah! No, there's not going to be separation. It's Suara hosting a room within Shelter.
Oh sweet. And so Redlight. That's got to be something you're excited about. Redlight - it's funny, I stumbled into a few old sticking blocks. Again, speaking to one of my old friends Avi, 'cause I used to be a promoter at The Haçienda in the '90s, and when I was at university I did a night called Colors. And one of my best friends from school started putting up pictures from the old Colors events, and I was looking at them going, "You know what? You're putting ideas in my head mate!" He said, "It was amazing," and I said, "Why don't we do a Colors party?"
Originally I thought, Colors, as a sound, would work well as a second room for CUFF. I just thought there was a compliment, because we broke the whole - we broke the early UK garage sounds in its early days up north in the UK. We had Matt Jam Lamont as our resident, our other artist was Sam Holt from Copyright, who was more on the US house tip, and those were the type of parties we used to do at the Haçienda. So I thought it would be a good complimentary room to something like CUFF. Then when I started putting together the concept and the type of DJs I was getting, I started thinking, "I can't let that be second to anyone."
And it just fell into place. We got enough artists for it to become its own night. We spoke to Matt Jam Lamont, spoke to Avi (Kogan), spoke to Sam Holt, and said, "Okay, let's reform it." After 17 or 18 years, musically, US house with that garage sound in Ibiza, it's not recognised, but it's coming back in a big way. It's sexy music that will appeal to the girls, and the guys will follow.
So I announced it, and this guy came out of the woodworks saying, "I own the name 'Colors'," showed me the trademark, and I thought, "Fuckin' hell."
He said, "I'm gonna do a trance night in Eden."
So I was thinking about how to get around it. Call it Sankeys Colors, or this, or Colors Sankeys, and I just thought there'd be confusion. And then I thought, "Wait a minute. Why don't I make the Colors organisation present a night that is still revered within Sankeys, and it's got heritage, and it's got like a colour name to it, and it was Redlight which was Sankeys Soap's Saturday night party in the 2000s. Redlight was born out of Tribal Sessions as it was the house side of Tribal.
Tribal Sessoins used do be really eclectic, but because our Tribal Sessions roster got so big, we took the house element out and started Redlight.
So we'll bring back the Redlight, but it's the Colors organisation, which we can't use the name, but it's behind it.
It's been amazing. Roger Sanchez is doing 13 dates, Todd Terry is doing dates, Matt Jam Lamont is coming back, Sam Holt -- I don't know if you know but Sam Holt is actually part of Copyright - and then we've got our newer artists like Tough Love, Low Steppa, who I really think is going to blow up this year. It's some really sexy house. If you want to go see a lot of girls, they'll be at the Redlight.
You know, where'd the name 'Redlight' come from? It came from a sleazy weekend in Amsterdam, basically!
But everyone's feeling it and it's been very well received.
And Magna Carta is returning for a second season. Magna Carta had a great first season.
They were a bit of a dark - a dark horse, yeah. No one expected anything. Joe Jackson is a dark horse, and he's one of the best promoters I know. He’s like a young me. I was a dark horse. And he's refined his music policy -- he's looked at what works and what doesn't work, and he's tailored it to a more impressive stable.
The interesting thing with Magna Carta is we've just done a deal to do the other room with Reverse, which is Alex Montoya. Reverse have teamed up with Ushuaïa, and they're going to be a part of Reverse. So we've got the support of Ushuaïa, and it will become a natural carryon event. So we're working with really good people, adding something to the Sankeys team. I expect big things from Magna Carta and Reverse this summer.
And then what's arguably the biggest night, VIVa is coming back. Steve's been there for four years. He's been there since day one. He did the first set of closing parties. He's supported us from the very beginning. I worked closely with Steve on building the lineups, and I'm very confident about VIVa this season.
Now We Love... is not on a Sunday as well, which always used to effect us. But I think VIVa is going to have a really big season this year. I think the whole club is.
I think it's going to be a real 'soap explosion' this summer.
The 2015 Sankeys Ibiza season kicks off with the opening parties part 1 and 2 on Wednesday May 20th and Thursday May 21st. Head to the Sankeys Ibiza website for more info on this summer's parties.