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Pacha 2014: Steve Hulme Interview

We went for coffee with Pacha's Steve Hulme to get the lowdown on the coming year, in Ibiza and beyond.

It's a lovely sunny afternoon in Ibiza and I'm meeting up with Pacha's Musical Director, Steve Hulme. Remember the season preview we did with him last year? Seems like yesterday to me but here we go, it's that time of the year again, so let's see what's planned for Pacha in Ibiza and on a global scale for 2014...

Hi Steve! When we had our chat last year, Pacha was renewing the majority of its weekly programme for the 2013 season. I think everyone saw the rejuvenation generally worked really well with some successful new parties and a few clever changes. At the same time, not all nights were a ten out of ten, so what's Pacha's official conclusion about last summer?

"Pacha had a good season last year; what I mean is that it was in line of how 'good' the island was for every club in Ibiza in 2013. Ibiza last summer was very busy and there was a lot going on, but people generally spent less - across the whole island - which was totally understandable given the global climate. With all the changes we had last year I think people expected us to fall behind, but we managed to hold our own, we brought in some new things, experimented in some areas, and tried our best to be as good as we could be under the circumstances we faced."

"As for individual nights, doing Flower Power on a weekly basis was long overdue and works extremely well on Tuesdays. People just love it! Then Thursdays, David [Guetta] is David, F*** Me I'm Famous has been our most successful night for years now and 2013 was no different, so no complaints there. The new Insane night on Fridays was a great party that we curated completely ourselves and we loved to see artists such as John Digweed coming to Pacha on such a regular basis. Now we're looking forward to seeing how it grows this summer. Pure Pacha on Saturdays was absolutely massive, getting in to FMIF territory from time to time - it was the night that grew most compared to 2012. It was a massive success and such good fun clubbing. The DJs who helmed some of those nights, Bob Sinclar and Martin Solveig, simply did a fantastic job. Then we were extremely proud to have Solomun at Pacha each and every Sunday. He had a very solid first season and brought some amazing guests such as Âme, DJ Koze, Miss Kittin and DJ Hell. The funny thing with this night is that it first reacted with the VIP and then with the dancefloor. The VIP sold extremely well for this party right from the start, but it took a few weeks until the dancefloor really kicked off. You know, normally it's the other way around, first you win the dancefloor, and then, when people know it's a good and busy night, the VIPs arrive. Solomun has been having a great winter on a global scale, and we're looking forward to an even bigger season with him in 2014."

Likely the only view of the outside you'll remember - the view as you cross the road towards the club and the start of your night. Looking good. It's downhill from this point.

Two nights didn't work as well you might have hoped for. First up, Epica on Mondays, an EDM-night that went up against David Guetta's Ushuaïa residency and a generally very busy night in Ibiza last summer with AVB, Cocoon and Circoloco - It just wasn't as epic as anticipated maybe?

"Musically it was epic. We got it right from that angle. If you see who's headlining the big music festivals at the moment, we had all of those big EDM players in there: Bingo Players, Dada Life, Chuckie, Zedd, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Showtek, Danny Howard, you name it, all have had massive winters since their Ibiza summer - Zedd and Showtek both had global smash commercial hits over the winter, UK National Chart Number 1 entry positions, since last summer Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike jumped in to the top ten DJs on the DJ Mag Top 100 poll and are bonafide festival headliners, Chuckie, Bingos and Dada Life all maintain headline billing from Vegas to festivals across the word and is there a faster growing artist from that scene than Radio One shooting star Danny Howard, who is now generating real relevance on an international footing?"

"So, although I appreciate the play on words, musically it has proved itself to be worthy of the name Epic/Epica, because musically it simply was epic. What we didn't get right, and we have to take the blame on ourselves for this one, is how we presented it. It was Epica, but then again it was Dirty Dutch on a lot of dates when Chuckie was here, so there wasn't a coherent message surrounding the Monday in Pacha, and being a Monday we realised in retrospect that the message should have been clearer and we should have forced the issue of the name 'Epica', not rotating it with 'Dirty Dutch'; the same artist that played last year should have all played under one banner, Epica. The execution of it just wasn't perfect last season and in Ibiza, on such a strong night, we really needed to have pulled it off better than we did. We certainly want to continue with many of those artists, Showtek, Danny Howard and so on, but we need to give them better vehicles, to be done differently."

Wednesdays was Guy Gerber's Wisdom Of The Glove. Personally it was my favourite night at Pacha last summer, the music was the best I've heard at the club in many years. But unfortunately it was simply not busy enough. So what are you going to change? Many people said they hope Guy & co will be back somehow?

"Wisdom Of The Glove was named, musically, as the best night at Pacha - that message came from almost all media last summer, magazines and online, and in-house the whole team, including the owners, had a lot of affection for WOTG. Musically it was as savvy as anything that you're going to find on the island. It was also the night most industry people and DJ buddies such as Dice, Carola, etc., came to Pacha to hang out at. The big challenge with that night was getting the masses to believe in that kind of music in Pacha, and also getting the underground music aficionados to accept Pacha as a venue for that music to be enjoyed - we were trying to get two worlds to blissfully collide under a beautiful soundtrack of tech beats and freaky theatre decor."

The man who proclaims to posses the power and the Wisdom of the Glove. The latest word is that the glove is being protected by a posse of mythical creatures from Guy Gerber's mind. Comon, with Guy that is actually believable.

"That said, if we dissect the entire project, the good and the bad, the goals we set, what hit and what missed, then overall that party has by no means been a disaster for us. We co-own that night and co-curate it and we definitely want to continue the love of the glove! The night has since seen some brilliant winter parties around the world and we want to give it a bigger and better platform for 2014. We all believe in Guy Gerber, and steadily Guy is growing and growing, he is within touching distance of the next level. Our aim is to help Guy as smartly as we can, he is a musical genius of the tech scene and sometimes it takes a while for the bigger audience to recognise that, this season we have developed a strategy with Guy for him to shine inside Pacha."

Let's talk about the Pacha Ibiza 2014 programme then. Most of it is confirmed now, give us an overview of the Pacha week.

"Mondays - TBC - I hope we can reveal Mondays any day, hopefully during, or just after, Miami Music Week/WMC. Fingers crossed we will all sign off and then blow everyone's mind, in the best way possible, when we announce..."

"On Tuesdays Flower Power will be on again on a weekly basis. We're the only big club offering such a different night compared to all the electronic music nights and it's just such good fun. One of the benefits of going weekly was that it had an effect of bringing in many new people with new energy and enthusiasm to get involved and get dressed up."

"Wednesdays - We are extremely proud to have secured the force of nature that is Steve Aoki to his first ever Ibiza Residency with 'Aoki's Playhouse' - this is going to be a lot of fun, neon-flower power with cake and confetti! There is no other performer like Steve Aoki, his set last season with David Guetta was as good as anything the venue has ever witnessed, the picture Steve used to announce his residency is from that party. All I would tell people to do is to look at how many people on that photo are smiling, the answer is everybody. The night is pure hedonism, escapism, interaction, energy and fun. People forget that Steve's first ever play in Ibiza was in the Global Room at an Ibiza Rocks after party in 2007, that set won 'set of the season' in that years DJ Awards - his guests are massive and his supports are the the new breed from that musical scene, including The Chainsmokers, Deorro and R3hab... It's gonna be a blast - if you want to party, party, party, then this is the night to do."

Breaking the world record for the most photographed DJ set in history - David Guetta doing his Thursday thang.

"Thursdays will be F*** Me I'm Famous again. David Guetta will bring a lot of the new big stars to Pacha, we'll see artists like Showtek, Martin Garrix, Nicky Romero and Glowinthedark joining David in the booth this summer. The cool thing is that Guetta often gets busy in the studio with these artists too, so it's not just a guest DJ coming to play at his night, but rather a proper collaboration, a real project, between those artists. FMIF is an institution and we're proud to have him back for another summer of sold-out Thursday nights!

"I really have a sense that David is super energized and excited to share his new album, new collaborations and music with his fans. He is always a top class professional, never lets his fans down, and that's why he is simply the number one artist on the planet in this scene."

"On Fridays we'll continue with Insane. The first season was really good and we're building on last summer's success. It's definitely going to go up a gear, I say that with the utmost respect for everybody that played last season, all those artists helped build the foundation in 2013. We had two artists at the helm of Insane - John Digweed and Fritz Kalkbrenner - but for 2014 we'll have 6 main protagonists. John Digweed returns, which we are delighted about, then the man of the moment, the artist blowing away every venue he enters, MK, joins the Insane resident roster, something we're extremely happy about. He's a very hot act and is loved by lovers of House music. Dennis Ferrer is coming onboard too, again an artist we're super proud to have involved in the project for 10 shows."

"Reboot and Tensnake will be playing lots too, again a big thrill for us at Pacha to have them on board, DJ Sneak will return for four Sneak shows, Shadow Child will make an appearance and there are other surprises to be revealed. However special mention goes out to last, but definitely not least, Guy Gerber, who will also play an imporant part on Fridays. Guy will play four guest Wisdom Of The Glove...goes Insane takeovers, which allows Guy and his team to curate four amazing parties that have the Friday audience, and we have him scheduled for a few other special events to be revealed, but suffice to say we're really excited about welcoming Guy back."

"You know, depending on the composition of the night, it can be either a classic house night, say with Tensnake, MK and Dennis Ferrer, or then, go down a more techy route with Guy Gerber, Reboot and John Digweed, so we'll have the chance to cover a lot of different tastes with one event and as it is the second year we have a solid footing to step off from, so we are confident of growth in this party for 2014, it simply is a great party with great music."

Is Fritz Kalkbrenner not coming back then?

"We're in talks with him of course, we have a plot for Fritz but it's not signed off so I don't want to talk too much on that, also we think we could also present him at Destino this year, depending on all being resolved. I think it's a place and an environment that would suit him, like it did Nicolas Jaar for example - let's continue with the weekend..."

Let's. So, Pure Pacha back for Saturdays?

"Yeah, Saturdays will be all about Pure Pacha again. It was our second busiest night last year, just after Guetta's night. It was absolutely massive. Bob [Sinclar] and Martin [Solveig] are going to be the main residents for Pure Pacha, with a lot of guests coming of course. There will be some surprises, and some of them rather shocking too, so it's gonna be fun to see the reactions on this!"

"Some I can talk about include the return to Pacha of MAW as MAW and individually as Kenny Dope and Louie Vega, also excited to welcome The Magician, also multiple shows from John Martin, our young resident Danny Wade will continue his journey on Saturdays, but one of the main additions we have is that Danny Howard from Radio One will be the resident star DJ to close the party every week."

"Solomun will be back again on Sundays. We're sticking to the 'Solomun +1' concept we started last summer. The DJ booth is gonna stay down with the clubbers, only with a slight, but improving modification. The party worked so well last summer, with Solomun letting his guests shine and both him and his guest being in the middle of the Pacha dancefloor. It's really a great story we started here and we certainly want to continue it this summer and for many more after."

Just look at him! If that face doesn't make you want to dance then you need to have a word with yourself.

Last year Pacha was also facing the challenge of having a new venue right on their doorstep. And even though Booom didn't exactly have an easy season, their weekend nights (Defected on Saturdays and Cadenza on Sundays) were still busy. How much was Pacha affected by Booom?

"It honestly didn't affect us at all... I mean our Saturdays were stronger than the year before and our Sundays were very successful too. Dont' forget it was the first season for Solomun at Pacha, so you can't really compare it to the figures Luciano and his Vagabundos brought into Pacha the year before - they got them after a season or two, so you know, all things need a little time to cement and grow, Solomon+1 will be very hot again in its second year."

What else is new at Pacha? Any exciting refurbishments in the club?

"Well yeah, we're always changing a few bits and pieces and I'm very happy with what is being changed right now, but you'll have to wait until you see it (grins)."

Now let's talk about the other Pacha Group properties. What's the plans for Destino this summer?

"We're just waiting to get the final decision of what type of licence Destino will be granted. This will obviously affect how many events we'll be able to do at the venue. But we are certainly aiming to keep the quality of the artists up at Destino. We've had some amazing parties last year with people like Nicolas Jaar and Solomun just to name a few, and we want to continue in this line."

With Destino having neighbours living so close to the venue, it's probably never going to be an easy situation, so how do you wanna tackle this?

"We've been very careful last year and at the same time, we've also learnt a lot in the first season of Destino. In regards to noise complaints, over the whole summer, there was one single time when the music went over the decibel limit - and that was the Nicolas Jaar event. That's why the sound system got confiscated two events later. So it actually wasn't the Cocoon afters everyone thinks it was, but rather one of Nicolas' compressors he uses which peaked. It's sometimes pretty difficult to level the sound limit for a live show, so yeah, it was too loud and that was a legitimate complaint and we are working with everyone involved to fix it for the good of all."

"The other thing we had to learn is the traffic situation. There was a traffic jam for the opening party when everyone arrived with their own cars and all at the same time. After that we started running free busses from various points of the island and that helped a lot, so for the rest of the summer it wasn't a problem anymore."

The beautiful Destino Pacha Resort above Talamanca. Suitable for glitz, glamour and Sven Väth afterparties in equal measure.

Tox was also a nice little secret last summer. Will you continue to throw afters there?

"I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about!"

Me too. And are Cocoon going to be back with a few of their big outdoors afterhours at Destino? Their closing party afterhour was the stuff legends are made of!

"We'd absolutely love to do that again yeah. We're also planning to run some smaller and sometimes private nighttime events in Tox, so there are definitely ideas around."

Pacha also bought Toromar close to DC-10 a year ago. Any plans for some cheeky daytime raves soon?

"This is another project of ours, but we need to watch and see what we can do there. Everyone who knows the venue agrees it would be a perfect place to do some celebrations or parties, but we're doing everything by the books and at present we don't know whether anything comes to pass - maybe we have to rip it up and start again, we shall see."

We're sitting in a café just next to Lío (what used to be El Divino) right now, what's the plans for Lío in 2014?

"Lío has been nothing but a success since it opened. People love the venue and what's offered there. In my opinion it was a genius direction the Pacha family took when they bought the place and turned it into what it is today. The concept combining high quality dinner with high quality shows was a runaway success and we won't change anything about it other than to keep making it better."

What's the news on a global Pacha scale?

"The Pacha franchise business is going really well. We've just opened Pacha in Poznan in Poland and the next big thing will be the opening of Pacha Dubai, right after the Ibiza 2014 season."

"The third edition of the Pacha Festival in Amsterdam is also happenig in May this year. Apart from that we'll also run some smaller boutique festivals around the world, but more on that later. Generally, with the franchises and the festivals, we'll be streamlining a lot of the processes. A lot of the artists that will play Pacha Ibiza this summer will also play in other Pachas around the globe as well as at the festivals. Obviously right now we're also preparing for the Miami WMC, we'll host two parties with two afterparties there, with a lot of the Insane DJs I've mentioned playing - go on line to check out the massive line ups for those parties."

Last, but not least, how has the Pacha Ibiza winter been?

"We've had one of our best (if not the best) winter so far on the island. New Year's Eve was amazing. You know, with Music On at Amnesia and DC-10 the day after, we thought let's do something different and so we brought Lío into Pacha for one night. It turned into the best New Year's Eve Pacha Ibiza has ever seen. But generally we've had some really great Friday nights in the last few months, for example Mr. C was just here and M.A.N.D.Y. came down to play earlier this winter. Saturdays were on the more commercial side, so we had both musical sides reflected in the club and it's been working really well. Can't wait for the summer now though! One to get excited about is the return of Solomun on the 26th of April to Pacha for a second workers/islanders party...last year was crazy, this year sure to be crazier... April 26th, it's revealed haha"

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