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New Music Policy

Club audiences in Ibiza have often been accused of lacking discernment when it comes to music. However that hasn't stopped Andy and Dawn McKay pushing the envelope, or indeed the whole stationery cabinet, when booking acts for their party, Manumissio

Club audiences in Ibiza have often been accused of lacking discernment when it comes to music. This is a party island and if you're part of a crowd that went absolutely apeshit to the big dumb summer choons, then it's likely you did too. But in these more evolved times everyone's a critic and no-one wants to hear the same thing twice. Innovation is in, and this renewed emphasis on auditory advancement is attracting audiences beyond those dwindling numbers of mentalist sheep who do whatever the dance mags tell 'em.

Manumission's king hitter, Andy McKay (right, with Dawn): "We're not actually that bothered whether Mixmag comes to cover us or not. Great when they do it, we're on the cover this month and it's fantastic, but that is Ibiza's core market. What we're far more interested if we can get Xfm [www.xfm.co.uk], or if Kerrang! [www.Kerrang.com] wanna come and do something on god knows what band. We were trying to do the Darkness on Friday the 13th but we couldn't get them."

Which is a pity, but local audiences have been treated to guys like the Loose Cannons (lead singer pictured below) and genuinely fresh Welsh (!) rap crew Goldie Looking Chain instead:

Andy: "We booked Goldie Looking Chain for the opening party and both NME [www.nme.com] and Xfm covered it.
Dawn: "It's fantastic because Ibiza's getting the coverage by all these bands coming on it's actually opening up a market. NME would never report on any of the djs like two years ago in Ibiza.
Andy: "Eddy Temple-Morris [a dj at Xfm] can't shut up about Manumission now. He loves the place. We live here in Ibiza, we've got families here. We feel a duty beyond the scene. If the fashion changes away from the big name djs and a lot of the promoters leave the island, we've got no intention of doing that. We want Ibiza to be interesting not just to a niche, we want it to be interesting to everyone."

Ibiza gets a lot of stick for its mass market approach from people who feel threatened by unsophisticates. It's as if they think if they hang around people they regard as less than cool it will somehow rub off and they will become less than cool too.

Modern Ibiza is more inclusive than that. The clubs have no dress codes. No decent night is populated exclusively by one nationality, and now the unhelpful "uncovered" hype has ended a greater proportion of hipper, richer people are in attendance. Take for example Jonty Adderly (pictured below right, with dj Tasty Tim), the man behind the London-based widely syndicated press agency Skrufff (www.Skrufff.com), who was in town recently:

Jonty: "I forget this when I'm away, but there's so many beautiful, beautiful people. You do forget there are more beautiful women here, it's a fact. You get exposed to so many beautiful girls, there [at Space] and here at Manumission."

But it's not all about image. Jonty found the sounds at the 'Mish quite compatible with his personal taste too:

"I've done Manumission a few times in the past and I like it. I like the back rooms obviously, I like what they're doing with their music policy. The kind of music we cover in Skrufff is kind of alternative electro, we're into that big electro scene, the Nag Nag Nag, the Cock kind of theme. I like the mix of people here."

Jonty wasn't so keen on Pure Pacha (which lacked "atmosphere"), but thought Judgement Sunday at Eden and We Love Space had their good points. In the past Skrufff's news has taken an occasionally sarcastic stance regarding the White Isle, and the fact Jonty's here and enjoying himself after four year's absence is positive, and testament to Manumission's farsighted approach which doesn't revolve around preaching to already converted house heads.

Now that their much publicised spat with Privilege has been resolved and a four year contract with their host venue has been signed, we sat down with Andy and Dawn for a big long chat about music mostly.

How does it feel now with two parties completed? How many had you done at this time last year?
Andy: "Five. By this time last year we'd done five and this year we've done two. We were forced into it this year, but that aside it's kinda nice. We feel like we'd like to push the season back earlier again if we can but certainly the performance of the opening party is a good argument not to. But I think we can push if forward and still get a great performance. It was phenomenal - we went straight into August figures for our opening party. We've not seen any effects of the supposed recession. Nothing. It's been two weeks so it's too early to call, but so far - fantastic."

How has the critical reaction been so far and how much do you care?
Andy: "It's difficult not to care. It's nice to listen to it all and not get too upset."
Dawn: "We've had a lot of positive feedback especially with the show element. That has come on so much this year. We have professional directors and we've refined it a lot and it's so much better than it's ever been. The only sort of negative feedback is with the fact we weren't going to open, people saying 'Oh my god, maybe you're affecting my business because you're opening late' but that was sort of taken out of our hands."

What part does the music policy play in Manumission?
Andy: "I think an increasingly important one. I guess we're natural born rebels in one sense, people only have to tell us - 'Oh of course Manumission's only about the sex show' and we'll get rid of the sex show, or 'Manumission wouldn't pack the numbers if we didn't get the big name djs' and we'll get rid of the big name djs. And now we're hearing 'Manumission's all about the show', and we're not going to get rid of the show but very much what we're doing is about the music."
Dawn: "We started the Music Box three years ago and it definitely acts as a little research and development lab and it's where we see the music moving at the moment. And that all came about really because personally we because very bored with the music that was being played. Same old djs, same old stuff and we went to a few clubs and experienced music that seemed to be moving forward and that wasn't stuck in a rut."

What clubs were those?
Dawn: "The main one was the Cock in London which was run by a friend of ours."
Andy: "We had Tasty Tim from the Cock this week.
Dawn: I remember going in and it was this punk gay night. It was the most bizarre thing we'd ever seen. I'd not seen such an enthusiastic crowd in years."
Andy: "But also there was a musical energy. A lot of the early music wasn't that good but the energy was there. I'm certainly not a musical snob. I'd far rather listen to bands and music that isn't great but you just feel the energy. You knew something was coming out of it. And something really has come out of it. The quality of the music is getting better and better and the energy is staying with it. And that's far better than having really polished pristine music without any energy."
Dawn: "The first year we did the Music Box we managed to clear the room in fantastic fashion. Last year it definitely progressed. The first year it was a bit ahead of its time and there were people there trying to do things people had never heard before. The second year a lot of people were catching up with that whole scene and it was happening and djs like Ewan Pearson and Ivan Smagghe and guests like that I think really captured the sound."

What did you think of Tim Sheridan's comments on Ibiza Voice: 'Colin Peters (right) is one of the best djs in the world but because he works for Manumission nobody knows this. Great for Manumission, bad for Colin. It's hard at Manumission, they have vision but don't think their success is tied into their DJs.'
Dawn: "If you're a dj and you want to push your name as a brand, Manumission probably isn't the place to do it. Manumission is a party and the music is as important if not more important to any other element, as the soundtrack to our party. We don't want to have a competition between the djs and the theatrical element, we want everything to work together, and part of that is we're not saying to anybody 'Come because of this dj'. We're saying 'Come and experience Manumission and we're always guaranteed to have an amazing dj'. We back our residents, we've had the same residents for years but we're never going to sell our party on their name. We stopped doing djs when djs where at their height, when they were getting outrageous fees, when it was the same five or six djs doing the circuit and unless you booked those djs nobody wanted to go and we said 'We're not going to go for that. We're not going to pay somebody ten thousand, twenty thousand pounds to play somebody else's records.'"
Andy:
"That stage is the demonstration of what happens when we chose another path. We diverted the budget from the huge fees. That stage is phenomenally expensive to build, but put it in comparison and it's probably cheaper than having Tiesto as a resident dj. Whilst in the past it hasn't been a career move to be a Manumission resident dj, I think with the way the scene's moving maybe perhaps we can help bridge what I feel is a massive transition time in music and maybe it's not such a bad time to be associated with us."