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Steve Lawler on embracing change as he joins Hï Ibiza

The British veteran on reinvention, David Lynch and why Hï Ibiza will be incredible for the island.

Steve Lawler doesn't dwell on years gone by, and while in discussion with the venerated veteran of the once-vilified beat, he asserts that “there's no future in the past.” Having been a child of the acid house generation in the early '90s, he's been busy bolstering the beat's global dominance for over two decades, and with that level of exposure he's had to adapt to the changes that have steered the dance music industry's booming evolution.

Dubbed the King Of The Terrace at Space Ibiza, in later years he earned himself a second regal nickname at Sankeys with his weekly residency, Warriors. Holding the title King Of The Basement at the Playa d'en Bossa haunt for five seasons, with a party reputed to be Sankeys´ most popular, returning clubbers may have assumed that it was guaranteed to be back in its regular slot in 2017. However, having not only become accustomed to change, but also an artist who proactively pursues change, Lawler began seeking his next reinvention. I was at the stage when I felt the need to change, which is what I've always done in my career,” he explains. “I've always embraced the future, and it's one of the reasons that I believe I've stayed relevant after all these years, because I'm not one to dwell on the past. I love the whole creative concept of something new, and the energy that comes with that not just from yourself, but from everyone involved.” While he was hungry to dig into a fresh creative concept on the island, he was uncertain on what that change would be exactly. And it is here where Ibiza´s newest superclub, Hï Ibiza, enters the discussion.

I've always embraced the future, and it's one of the reasons that I believe I've stayed relevant after all these years, because I'm not one to dwell on the past."

Warriors' steady dominance is what caught the attention of Yann Pissenem and Leslee Clarke of Ushuaïa Group, and they offered a tempting proposition at a crucial point in Lawler's contemplation of the future. The offer was to build a brand together, and with deep deliberation Lawler accepted, as not only was it the energising opportunity he was craving, but regarding Warriors, he had a new vision for the event series that would see it concentrate on inhabiting warehouse spaces across the world, and that would give him the freedom to start afresh on Balearic soil. For him, there was no one better to do that with than Yann and Leslee. “I'm really glad it kind of all came together so organically,” he says with enthusiasm. “People that don't know Yann probably don't realise that he's an extremely intelligent, creative person himself, and it's always nice to work with people that you can share a vision with. With the strong arm of these guys it would give me the opportunity to really see through a project and do the kind of things that I might not have been able to afford to do before.”

If you haven't already caught the newsdominating social media channels today, the brand is In The Dark, and joining Lawler between Thursday 8 June and Thursday 28 September is a powerhouse collective of seasoned Ibiza DJs who've poured some serious sweat into their sets on the island. You've got Luciano, Joris Voorn, Nic Fanciulli and Kölsch completing In The Dark's roster of residents, and each of these artists are hell bent on ensuring that underground clubbing culture continues to have a strong voice in Ibiza. The idea is to build a night around the concept rather than one specific artist, and the club space will be presented to the residents as a blank canvas, giving them license to create something truly unique. What'll be splashed across that canvas isn't public knowledge, but Lawler did his best to feed my intrigue by bringing iconic film director David Lynch into the mix. He suggested that the air of mystery that will envelop this weekly instalment could be likened in some way to the distorted, elusive realms explored by Lynch. We can only guess at what he means by that, but he predictably shot down the idea that surrealist body horror film, Erasure, would be a source of inspiration – admittedly that would be just that little bit too dark. And he sent out the bait yet again, as he hinted at what's coming for us in regards to the internal layout of Hï. “The club is going to be absolutely incredible. What they're doing is insane – it's an adults playground, and In The Dark is going to be the underground night for really getting stuck in.”

Getting stuck in was an activity that Warriors' revellers were adept at. Its following undoubtedly became one of the most fervid on the island, and the fervour that devoured Sankeys´ basement every Sunday was palpable. So, when pushed on if he'd succeed in gathering his pack of Lawler loyalists and send them spiralling deep into the depths of a room he'd make his own at Hï, he candidly said, “to be honest with you, that's all I've ever done.” Admitting that he'd sound to be blowing own trumpet, he added, “whatever size of the room it is - whether it be a small basement or a large terrace - I´ve made that room my own.” For him, the art lies in getting to know the room, and understanding how sound works in that space. “I know it sounds very nerdy. You're not consciously doing it with a calculator, but it's something you consciously notice if you're passionate and put a lot of thought into what you do. And that's how I've always approached every residency. It's important to me that I understand the room and the more I understand the room, the more I can deliver the kind of set that'll have people's jaws dropping and have them sweating.”

The club is going to be absolutely incredible. What they´re doing is insane – it's an adults playground, and In The Dark is going to be the underground night for really getting stuck in.”

While he might be moving onto new pastures and hitting stop on Warriors' Balearic journey, Ibiza will still be getting its taste of the event series this season, as it will return to host two pop-up nights. “I think it's important not to just end it,” he assures me. “I think it's important that Warriors still has a place because it still has a shit load of fans.” And as Lawler recognises, “if you leave something on a high it will be remembered, it will carry some legacy. It will only ever be seen as something that was successful, good and positive.”

Looking forward to the season that's hurtling towards us, all eyes are on Hï Ibiza as it takes over the grounds that were occupied by Space Ibiza for 27 exuberant years. It's been difficult to avoid some of the negativity that has been launched its way since announcements began rolling out. However, plenty of clubbers are behind it, and like Lawler, they accept that Space will have a place in their hearts for decades to come, but they're also open to embracing Ibiza's future. For those less willing to see that the iconic club had its time and seize the benefits of change, Lawler empathises to an extent, in that he understands that “new scares people” and that “people like things as they know it.” But he pushes for them to see that what will follow on from Space´s legacy is going to be fantastic for the island, and that while it's evolving, Ibiza will never lose its essence. “The island has changed. The world has changed. There's no future in the past.”

You can get fill your bags with Lawler's venom at Hï Ibiza from Thursday 8 June and Thursday 28 September, Ushuaïa for ANTS' Pre-Season Warm-Up on Saturday 20 May and the venue's official opening party on Saturday 27 May, and finally, stay tuned for Warriors' takeover dates.

Until we get our Lawler fix, check out this newly released beauty that landed on his record label, VIVa Limited. Produced by Manchester-based duo OC & Verde, Solomun has already been quick to give it an airing, and in roughly two months we'd imagine you'll be hearing it blasted in Ibiza. Not long to go, folks.


WORDS l Aimee Lawrence

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