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Carl Cox: The Best Gift

Jordan Smith talks to the most famous grin in dance music about the coming season, the history of his residency and the joy that keeps him going.

Coxy is the man everyone likes to like. He's the safe fixture on our dance floor, the guaranteed good night, the familiar face, the technical master of the turntables, the prized antique and the all-round nice guy. He fulfills so many different roles for so many different types of clubbers and seems to do it all with famously good humour. And wouldn't you? It only takes a few minutes with Carl Cox for a squirt of envy to bubble up through the admiration; this feller is truly living the good life.

“When people are happy about what I do, I'm happy,” Cox explains simply. “When people come up to me and say ‘I met my wife when I listened to one of your sets,' that's the very thing that gives me a reason to be doing what I'm doing and I really enjoy that because I'm sharing what I love - a love of music. That's probably the best gift I can give to people.”

Having affirmed what all we Coxy fans want to hear – that our adoration is not only appreciated, but essential to him – the beaming baron goes on to assure me he's not the type to reach a creative boiling point and retire to recline on a mound of treasure.

“If you think about how long I've been doing what I'm doing, from when I started DJing when I was 8 years old to present day, and I still today have that same passion and belief in what I'm doing … Some people would be like, ‘you know what, I've made it; I've been to the top. I've made all this money and now I don't need to do it any more' and I basically could have done that twenty five years ago… but I just keep going out there, keep smiling and enjoying the fact that I've been given an opportunity in life to make other people happy by what I love doing. I don't know how long it's going to go on for, all I know is I'm still enjoying it because of those moments.”

Though he was champing at the bit to talk about his plans for this season's Carl Cox Revolution parties at Space, I first squeeze a little information from Cox about how his first season at Space compared to now. Though the party made a tactical switch to its Tuesday home after only one year, originally the night was on a Thursday. Now such a critical room in Space, at this time the main Terrace had not yet been conceived, nor was El Salon functioning, or the main room boasting its vast present day dimensions. The biggest night for Carl Cox at Space – usually an opening or closing party - would rake in three and a half to four thousand people, whilst these days clocking up six to eight thousand revelers is an average Tuesday. Unsurprisingly Cox's music has changed too.

“Then I was playing a style of music which was a lot tougher than the music I'm playing today. When I go back and listen to those early 2000, 2003 sets, my music was BPMed up to about 135, but the fastest I'd probably go these days is about 128BPM - maximum. My energy has slowed down but the power of the sound hasn't.”

Quite apart from unleashing the Tuesday beast that has raged for twelve years now, Cox's residency at Space provided the first real opportunity for Ibiza to hear his true style.

“When I was playing at Pacha my sound would be a bit more, well, Pacha-ish, when I played Cocoon on a Monday for Sven that was straight up techno and it was pounding, when I was playing for Manumission it was a bit more of a commercial, rounded sound. So everywhere that I was playing, people didn't really know what I really played - until I took on this residency at Space.”

Whilst trawling through the history of his residency, Cox skips onto a slight tangent about his back-to-back set with the incredible Laurent Garnier, one of the few who rank with Cox in skill, longevity and charisma - even if he is French.

“We did it three years ago in the main room and it was just sensational, I mean I push him real hard to bring out some amazing music and he does exactly the same to me so you can imagine the sound on the dance floor was just immense… you can't buy these records on Beatport, you can't just download them off a mate of yours, we have this knowledge of music and the crowds going crazy for it.”

Carl Cox's Space parties have hosted some particularly grand moments over the years, and the leading man is at pains to assure me the quality would continue. “We've got the whole night running like a well-oiled machine,” he boasts. “This year, we're stepped up our production – with a few surprises that no one has seen anywhere in the world - and concentrating on getting a lot of DJs that haven't played for us, like David Squillace, Steve Rachmad, Paco Osuna and Uto Karem, just to name a few.”

“For my night at Space people do expect that I have a diverse line up. So this year for us to have someone like Gilles Peterson, who plays Bossa Nova Jazz into Latin House, or Andy C, who's full on drum'n'bass … these things don't happen anywhere else on the island in such a way and I'm not scared of putting on these type of DJs.”

Whilst Cox maintains a loyal and successful relationship with Space, he continues to sneak out for the occasional cameo at alternative venues across the island, for example last year Dalt Vila (for IMS), Ushuaïa and DC-10 all played host. “I think it's important we have that kind of camaraderie between the DJs and the clubs, so you can say I can play at Pacha, I can play at Ushuaia, it doesn't really matter as long as everyone's happy. I'm more conscious about that than anything else.” And then there are his celebrated funk and soul sets at Sands… “Oh yeah I keep forgetting! Always a head turner that one. We haven't made the official date yet for that one, but it will be probably be in September. I love doing that party: on the beach, open air, free and a lot of music that I grew up with that I really enjoy sharing.”

Carl Cox's The Revolution: The Party Unites returns to the island on the 9th of July, preceded by a party from his label Pure Intec on the the 2nd. Commence countdown.

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