One to One with Simon Raine
Simon Raine, the man and the brain behind Gatecrasher and now of course Ibiza’s newest major league player in Clubland.
I had only met him once before in one of those hollered conversations inside a club when you come away unsure if you’ve just agreed a deal to buy a donkey and cart in return for painting someone’s house, or participated in a meaningful conversation regarding the loss of the vocal diva in creating music that will stand the test of time. The reality for many of us from the generation where ear defenders were brutes in number 5 shirts asking for the ball is that a large part of such exchanges are based on a bluff and a smile.
So what to expect. Here is a man who has opened a club in Ibiza, his first business in Ibiza, in a matter of just a few months. As far as I figured he’d likely fall into one of two types.
Either a stressed out frazzle of a man with a pronounced tick anytime the word hacienda is mentioned (the Balearic government Hacienda not the Manchester Factory club you understand).
Alternatively he could be a cold and calculating ruthless businessman who would never schedule a meeting for longer than 5 minutes and would suffer this interview forced on him by a PR manager for as long as I could maintain his knife-edge interest.
Neither description is even close. What I did instead find was a surprisingly relaxed chap, engaging and interested with a clear desire to take in as much knowledge about Ibiza and the way it all ticks at every opportunity.
A sound approach to what is a very different commercial environment to the UK. We started by talking about the Ibiza factor in getting established.
SR: To be honest I was very lucky. Eden had done all the hard work so what I’m involved in is more about progression than setting up from new. The Eden guys there have been so helpful, I have to mention Michael Van De Kuit and Rinco Soesman—they really have gone above and beyond to help us. Great guys—I have huge respect for them and what they have done with the club—what did you think of it?
I didn’t have to consider resorting to a sycophantic symphony of platitudes in singing praise of his new project—the work at Eden is amazing—the lights, the space, the sound.
A real coup—well it certainly took people by surprise anyway. By this time the Gatecrasher line-up was taking good shape. Still needing some tweaks as Simon put it to get the balance just right. You can see info on the full confirmed line up over the page. Of those already confirmed a Trance night or two, to be expected, Kisstory—great, a personal fave, but the one that had caught my eye from the list I’d been sent earlier in the week was Speakerbox. With Mistajam at the helm it is as eclectic a mix of styles and talents I’ve ever seen to be playing a single room event. Hip Hop, Grime, D&B, Dubstep, – OK most of it was outside of 4-4 house music but that’s about as much of a connection as they had—not house music. For me brilliant but you might expect a newly opening club to play safe in the early days.
Speakerbox—bit of a curve ball, bit of a risk?
SR: Yeah it is a bit of a curve ball. It’s not EDM, it’s not Trance It’s a little bit street, a bit Urban. It’s Eclectic.
Jungle too—it’s been a while since I’ve seen Jungle on a main room line up.
SR: Who’s playing Jungle?
SR: Yeah I don’t think he’ll be going all out on Jungle. Be a bit of Drum and Bass, bit of a mix up. I think it will work, but it will take a time to get it going. There are some great acts in there.
The opening was a sell out—you’ve got to be pleased with that.
SR: We were really pleased—but we were nervous about it. Should we or shouldn’t we, should we wait till the season proper starts, but we wanted to start with something special. The music was great we had three of our residents Mistajam, the boys from Crèche, a representation of the brands we are promoting. Really pleased with the turnout. Always good to see a queue forming, not so good if you’re standing in it but good tor us on the first fully open night.
The Crash night started this week, not as busy as the Crèche night but still very encouraging. Great to see all the Trancers, great atmosphere.
Do you still personally get off on Trance—like after all these years?
SR: You know what you get off on any night that’s full. When you’re in the nightclub business it’s always great when it’s busy whatever the music genre. You wouldn’t do the job otherwise, there are easier ways to make money. OK when you do well you can do very well, but you have to put the hours in to make it happen. It’s the same as most jobs though, whatever you do it’s usually better if it’s busy and successful, the buzz you get from that sees you through. It’s the industry I know and love so yeah I still get off on it. As far as Trance goes I still love Trance but Gatecrasher the brand moved on from being all about Trance many years ago. We’ve got the Gatecrasher club in Birmingham and that plays all styles of music—you’ll hear EDM, Hip-Hop, R&B, D&B.
I hear you and I’m sure you have to spend a lot of time in interviews overcoming the Trance association, but asking Simon Raine the individual not the Gatecrasher supremo, what do you enjoy, what do you listen to in the car?
SR: In the car, right, ha ha, well you’ve kind of got me there, not so much in the car actually as I’m in and out of different cars all the time, but if I’m at home in my office and want to get down to some serious work I always end up putting some Trance on. It helps me focus. My missus will come in and ask how the hell I can work with it, but I can, I love it, it puts me into the zone. So do I still love Trance, yeah I do, of course I do. You can’t be turning this into a Trance interview though.
I promise I won’t. I try to give Simon some reassurance on the grounds that it really does not do a thing for me—but at the same time it does seem to be having something of a Renaissance in Ibiza and you can’t meet the founder of Gatecrasher in interview and not want to ask his views on the scene.
There are now Trance nights at Privilege with the Driftwood lads and their big following, they run the Trance boat parties too, Trance at Amnesia, Judgement nights, Trance nights at Gatecrasher, any reason for the resurgence?
SR: Somebody said to me a little while ago that Trance is back, but did it ever really go away. For a time it just went a bit underground and a bit deeper, but you know Trance is Trance I think it will always have a following.
Have you ever been to one of the Ibiza Psy-Trance forest parties?
SR: Forest parties? No.
Do you want to go to one?
SR: Yeah, definitely, ha ha, when is it?
I’m no expert but I have been to the legendary Psy-Trance forest parties so I impart what information I have. It’s not relevant to this interview but I decided to note it down anyway for the general interest of any Trance types reading this—you can see it over the page. So our plan is hatched for a future excursion to the woods and I’m thinking I have started something here as our conversation continues along the trance train.
SR: Trance has always had an underground following. Goa Trance, probably the best trance mix ever was Paul Oakenfield’s Goa Trance mix—which I think he rereleased again last year. It’s where it’s at for me.
It still works for me but then house works for me too, and drum and bass, music is music, it’s all good. You can’t turn this into a Trance piece though..
I’m thinking we’ve been here before.
OK let’s move on, how have the early ticket sales been going?
SR: Ticket sales are varied, some nights better than others. The Island is a challenge. There’s deals on every corner and every corner has another corner with another deal. It’s only June though but it’s looking good, the island was busier in May than it has been for a long time, so it said in the paper anyway, it might have been your paper actually.
Have you got your head around the San An factor yet—something many businesses here struggle with is the idea that everywhere in San An is selling tickets to go to Bossa and elsewhere, taking the people away, but you won’t find people in Bossa promoting San An in the same way? Do you know from your sales channels what areas of the island your customers are coming from?
SR: I think 50% of the island’s clubbers are based in San An. Whether they are going to Privilege, Ushuaia or anywhere else they are staying here in San An. That was evident as when those big clubs opened and San Antonio emptied. But that is mainly as nobody has been putting anything big on in San An – with the exception of Pete Tong’s wonderland, Judgement Sundays back in the day. I’m not wanting to put anyone down by saying that, but I don’t think anyone has booked any really big acts or the sort of line up we’re putting together. So I hope we’ll be giving people a reason to stay in San Antonio. As long as the acts are big enough people will come from other parts of the island. San Antonio is changing and people will come here if they have reason to.
Many people feel Ocean Beach have been instrumental in improving the Image.
SR: I think those guys have done an amazing job, really fantastic. They are pulling the numbers in, they are getting the spend, people are even dressing up which we haven’t seen for a while. The shows are great, with the cranes and acrobats. Then you’ve got Pikes which is a legend in itself, obviously Ibiza Rocks, the new harbour. San Antonio is looking up no doubt about it. And of course the sunset.
Some people/businesses see that as a double edge sword in that everybody does the sunset till around 10, then it’s nearly clubbing time so they miss out on the pre-party business they would expect elsewhere. Sorry does that sound really negative, moaning about the sunset?
SR: Well no, you know I hadn’t thought about it that way but now you’ve said it, yeah I can see that problem for some bars. Competing against the sunset is a tough one to consider.
But that’s not an issue for you. You’re confident (stupid question really Nick—how is he supposed to answer?)
SR: Yeah, we’re confident, but we’re humble. We know we are up against the biggest clubbing brands in the world and it’s year one. Everyone is being really helpful We thought there would be walls going up and doors closing but exactly the opposite really—people are really keen to get onside. So for Gatecrasher to have a permanent home in Ibiza is fantastic, it’s the clubbing shop window to the world. It’s where all the best and top DJ’s come.
Sorry, that’s brought the inevitable Las Vegas question up.
SR: Well yeah Las Vegas is special, obviously the hotels , and where you had Elvis on back in the 60’s you’ve got Tiesto now. I’ve been to the clubs out there and they are amazing, the fit outs are incredible, the service is amazing, but to me it’s all plastic fantastic, Ibiza is not plastic. Ibiza is authentic, I mean look around you (we’re sitting in Pikes so it’s a pretty good place to illustrate his point). I’m not dissing Las Vegas though I think it’s great, would I want a club in Las Vegas hell yeah, would I take a deal if it was offered hell yeah, but you know I’d actually prefer Miami—Miami is a walking place, Las Vegas everything has to be by car.
But anyway that’s that, this is Ibiza, it’s where the Balearic Beat and Acid House started.
Did you used to come over back in the early days?
SR: Yeah the early days but then I took a bit of an Ibiza sabbatical as I was running other businesses. I used to go to Amnesia though it was really different back then. I think Pacha was my favourite and then I moved on to Privilege—I loved that big ‘wow’ look it had. I can’t remember where I came the very first time though. Probably San Antonio, I remember the place we went had no roof, cant remember the name. It wasn’t Es paradis, it had loads of trees in it.
You mentioned Es Paradis, it must be unique having two clubs in such close proximity
SR: It is but I think we’re going for very different markets, they have their water parties and foam parties, we’re going for something a bit different, hence the Future Sound of San Antonio we’re promoting.
Is sound the key. Is it your biggest selling point? Everybody raves about your sound system, how would you rate it’s pull alongside the Gatecrasher brand for example?
SR: Wow yeah that sound system is something else. When we first looked at the club I thought I love the sound system, but now I’m really inside the club I’m even more impressed. It is awesome. I absolutely love it.
You seem quite hands on from what I saw of you at your preview night. You were directing lights having people change stuff,
SR: Yeah you’ve got to. It’s quite a technical challenge to get it right. I love all aspects of the club system, sounds, lights pyros, well hey it’s all boys toys—who wouldn’t love it . There were a few teething problems with moving leds but the trouble with the sound is that DJ’s won’t go out on the dance floor and listen to what everyone else is hearing. Obviously they have a DB monitor in the booth with them., but it’s a trait of many DJ’s I’m always telling them to go out on the floor.
I’d have thought that good at a time in my life—I can honestly remember putting my head up against Motorhead’s PA stack—now I’m just another tinnitus head.
SR: Me too I’m half deaf.
Our thanks to Simon Raine.
CRASHER marks an awe-inspiring return to Ibiza featuring an illustrious line up of the finest electronic music talent within the house and trance spectrum each and every MONDAY NIGHT from 16th June onwards.
DJ’s playing across the season include the legendary EDDIE HALLIWELL, Egyptian masters of trance ALY & FILA; Global House Music superstar THOMAS GOLD Subculture label Boss and sonic superstar JOHN O’ CALLAGHAN.
TUESDAY – CRECHE
London-born house and techno night CRÉCHE will launch weekly from Tuesday 10 June and is set to bring big changes and plenty of underground cool to San Antonio. Each party will see residents ALEXIS RAPHAEL and COZZY D joined by big name guests from the world of house and techno, with the opening party featuring world-renowned electro DJ TENSNAKE, house purveyor BREACH and Nonplus Records head honcho BODIKKA.
WEDNESDAY – BEDLAM
Launching 4th June, Wednesdays will see BEDLAM take centre stage providing the best in house and EDM. From the depths of Liverpool’s colourful infamous Garlands club and hosted by infamous party promoter BARRY MAC, BEDLAM promises to bring off-the-wall delirium to The White Isle. Synonymous with glamour, craziness and its own unique ambience
THURSDAY – SPEAKERBOX
Thursdays from 19th June are handed over to island newcomers Speakerbox. Seasoned party pro and BBC Radio 1xtra DJ MISTAJAM and the Speakerbox crew are hosting a residency on the island for the first time this year, bringing with them innovative party production and a whole host of a super-heavy weight headline acts. BBC Radio 1 Xtra’s leading man MISTAJAM leads the way with them a whole host of huge headliners, TINIE TEMPAH,
FRIDAY – EL CARNAVAL
Launching 20th June, Friday nights go to EL CARNAVAL. A brand new night, created just for Gatecrasher Ibiza, EL CARNAVAL promises to be a full on Ibizian festival. Celebrating the original spirit of Ibiza, EL CARNAVAL will combine Ibiza’s best elements; incorporating a wild party attitude, sheer glamour, out of this world entertainment and full on flamboyance. Expect to witness amazing stage spectacles, circus freaks, midgets, fire and debauchery
SATURDAY – KISSTORY
KISSTORY is back in Ibiza for the summer Launching 7th June, bringing the island’s only Old Skool & Anthems club night to Gatecrasher in San Antonio. This will be the weekly spot for KISS FM UK DJ’s spinning Dance, R&B & Garage anthems every Saturday night in the San Antonio destination. For the third year running, this exclusive 17 week residency will see Kiss FM stars NEEV, SHORTEE BLITZ, WIDEBOYS, MAJESTIC, and more
SUNDAY – GATECRASHER PRESENTS
GATECRASHER PRESENTS will showcase the world’s top dance music talent and take the club to its full potential in terms of production and guest appearances. Known the world over for drawing in the biggest names in electronic music, the Gatecrasher team will be pulling out all the stops for showcase events on selected Sundays.
Psy-Trance Forrest Parties
Whether or not the music is your cup of tea, you simply cannot fail to be in awe of the technical and organisational feat undertaken in staging one of the Ibiza Psy-Trance forest parties. Unfortunately for me Psy-Trance is the musical equivalent of a cup of hot Bovril—I can remember a time in the dim and distant past when I did like it (or at least it’s warming properties during January away games, Bovril that is not Psy-Trance), but that time has long since passed. Despite this lack of musical empathy with those in the scene the events have an almost mythical status and so have still been keen to taken up invites to experience the experience. Our first and biggest forest party went a little something like this …
Having been sworn to secrecy we met in a Car Park miles from anywhere (by which I mean the North of the Island), and having confirmed that the morse-code-esque flash of the minibus headlights did not mean we had stumbled into some mass hippy dogging session, we were whisked around country lanes for 10 minutes in an entirely successful attempt to disorientate us. We then disembarked with other revellers ranging from our virgin state to those that seemed to approach the whole affair with an obsession that could only be described as geek. After a good kilometre or so—by when we were wishing we had enough geek in us to have brought one of their torches and stout walking boots/rucksack instead of the, well basically just a couple of carrier bags full of bottles that clinked to announce audibly to everybody our hopeless newbie status whenever we tripped over a rock, stump or stoned hippy.
Our route through the woods and hills was directed by fluorescent painted stones, arrows fixed in the boughs of trees, and the odd helpful pixie and goblin along the way (I wonder what was in that flask of tea we all shared at the car park).
Some way off our destination you could hear the unmistakeable thud of bass, further still and the higher frequencies came in range.
I suppose I was expecting one or two hundred watts running from a vw camper with a few friendly souls around the place.
In fact there were hoards of hippies. Is Hoard the correct collective for hippies? Pride of Lions, a murder of Crows, Hoard of Hippies? Sounds a bit aggressive. I like the sound of a Happening of Hippies.
So there was this huge happening of hippies (it works) but it was the equipment and staging that really got me. OK for all we knew 5 meters in the other direction could have been a main road but the way we had come made it feel like we were in the middle of nowhere. There was a huge sound system, massive bass bins, a lighting rig of impressive effect and the entire forest clearing in a natural hollow of the land was surrounded by huge decorated backdrops (lots more of that fluorescent paint and trippy patterns that reminded me of afternoons as a 15 year old sitting round Dale Jarrod’s listening to Ozric tentacles whilst feigning enthusiasm at colouring in his similarly drawn cassette covers knowing that our reward would soon be handed round in an inhalable form).
Really the whole set up was amazing.
What really seems incredible in Ibiza’s anti-everything-music and denuncia culture was that there could be a spot isolated enough to escape the reach of a party pooper.
Talking of party pooper the toilet facilities were rather less impressive —but it did seem kind of cute to have a separate girls bush area and boys bush area – though any preference as to which gender’s faeces and piss I would rather stand in would be marginal at best (if pushed girl’s obviously, they being considerably less ghastly than men in such matters).
One top tip is to take some toilet paper, you might not need it but you could strike up a pretty good trade with a desperate hippy who has lived on nothing but organic prune and sprout casserole for the last week. You might even get to swap it for some of that delicious tea. Also take more drink. However much you think take more. Lots of waiting around in car parks and cross country trekking left our copious supplies severely depleted on arrival and other than a lactating cosmic earth mother alternatives were slim. Finally do not expect hippies to practice what they preach when it comes to the end and there is one minibus and a few hundred people to get away from the area. It turned into a bun fight just as bad as the last Disco Bus from Amnesia—far more push n shove than peace n love.
Then of course there was the music. I would really, really, love to love it, but I don’t. If Psy Trance is your thing you must get to a forest party. I can’t imagine anywhere you could have a better time.
It’s just a case of asking about—there were a group putting on a night in Cala De Bou a few weeks back. Be cool and ask about. Sadly however, I just don’t dig it (man).
You need to see the colours so I have put a ‘typical’ photo on page 14.