Ibizan: A series of interviews with some of the island’s prominent Artistic, Business and Public figures where we’ll be asking about their private and professional Ibiza life.
Danny Whittle has rarely been out of the spotlight in recent years. Here he talks about the early days and family life, the truth behind Pacha, Booom, Eden and 123, plus an insight to his current projects IBZ Entertainment, the Ibiza Music Factory, and the hugely successful International Music Summit.
We are Ibizan …
Name: Danny Whittle
Family: Married to Sally. One Son, 5 year old Danny Junior.
Home: San Mateo, Ibiza
From: Stoke On Trent
Job: Owner & Founder of IBZ Entertainment and the International Music Summit.
NG: Take us through your Ibiza journey please Danny.
I first came here in the early 90s with Renaissance. I was working for them in the UK and we decided to put on some parties over here. We started with the one event in Privilege with Manumission, and then the following year we moved to Pacha. Then I moved to Ministry of Sound running their Pacha night. I then started Home at Space with Darren Hughes, The famous 22 hour parties.
The owner of Pacha’s son Hugo, asked if I would like to come and work for Pacha full time in Ibiza, and I moved here 5th of January 2000. We’d just done the millennium on Bondai Beach with Carl Cox and 20,000 people. It was a great way to mark the end of one era and the start of another completely different life. I started to programme all the nights in Pacha, everything except Flower Power really and stayed with them for 13 years.
NG: What was life like when you first came over?
As part of the deal with me coming here I was set up by Ricardo in a little house just outside Santa Gertrudis. It was a great place in the forest with a pool, a fantastic way to step onto the island.
NG: An important counter balance?
Absolutely. Working in Pacha was pretty full on. You need to get away from it all and be in your own little paradise. I quickly got a dog, I didn’t want one but a friend’s wife brought him to me and I’m really grateful for that. He was a fantastic dog. They were good times.
NG: Santa Gertrudis seems to have an enchanting effect on those who live there. How did you find it?
I love Santa Gertrudis. I like the history around there too. I was walking one day and found a roman coin. It’s incredible when you think 2000 years ago someone dropped that and there’s a link between that one guy two millennium ago, and you picking it up. I’ve got a great book, The History Buff’s Guide to Ibiza, you should read it. I love that about Ibiza, it’s got a great history.
NG: When did you meet your wife?
I met Sally when we were doing a Hip Hop and R`n´B party in Grial during the winter. It was great fun and a good change of pace from non-stop House. Sally came in one night with a mutual friend and after a few weeks I plucked up the courage to ask her out. On our second date we discovered we had the same birthday. We were married 2 years later on our birthday, which is great for me – I just have to wake up once a year and say Happy Everything.
Next came Danny Junior, he’s five now and its been the fastest 5 years of my life. They change so fast, I still think of him as a baby yet he’s running around speaking 2 languages.
NG: How are you coping with the Catalan from school?
Oh forget it, but he goes to Mestral in Ibiza Town which is mainly Castellano then English. It’s a fantastic school the teachers are absolutely awesome.
My wife is Ibicenco, as Ibicenco as they come, the Riera family. Her mother was English and came over in the 60s. Sally went to university to train as a translator and so in the family we have the older members talking to him in Catalan, Sally in Spanish and me in English. He has absorbed it, it is amazing how he can flick from one language to the other.
NG: And your Spanish?
Yeah it’s not too bad, I get by but in my business I deal with a lot of English people. If I have to speak Spanish I can, my wife makes sure of that.
NG: Where do you live now?
We live near San Mateo, but we still think of Santa Gertrudis as our patch. We found a nice piece of land on a hill overlooking the ocean, then had to wait 3 years to get the licence to start building. We’ve been in there 5 years and it’s fantastic, like a dream come true. For a boy that grew up in a terraced house in Stoke on Trent next to the pit to end up in a villa with views over the ocean—I consider it part of my evolution.
NG: Danny Junior is 5, how’s your Lego?
I’m amazing at Lego but more importantly so is he. He’s doing Technics and even reads the instructions, he probably gets that from his mum. It’s something I never do. I’m more the sort of person who just tips it out of the box and gets stuck in.
We also do a lot of cycling. We’ve just taken the stabilisers off, so up to now its been mainly round Botafoch which is a perfect area to learn. I’m sure we’ll soon be on some of the great cycle paths down near Salinas and around San Miguel and Gertrudis.
We also do a lot of swimming, he’s a real water baby now. It’s great to get past the stage when every swimming pool is a potential death-trap.
NG: What is a perfect winter Sunday for the Whittle family?
We all love a Sunday roast and at the moment our favourite pub is the Olive Tree in San An—they do a great one.
When it’s warmer we might go more for somewhere like Yemanja. I’ll get up with the boy and we’ll leave Sally in bed with a book while we go off to Mel’s on the prom in Santa Eulalia for a really good English breakfast. Then perhaps a bit of Lego building and out for a good Spanish fish lunch
NG: Some people might be surprised that you’ve any personal life at all. Over the past couple of years your name has been connected with so much at the centre of Ibiza’s Electronic Dance Music industry it was like there were half a dozen Danny Whittles out there. You must get tired of explaining it all but when we contacted you for an interview we talked about having an opportunity to set the record straight in black and white once and for all.
As far as Pacha goes I’ve no problem talking about it, but I do have a big problem with people making stuff up when they have no idea. The reality was I had taken things as far as I could go. I worked with Ricardo, Hugo and the family for 15yrs. Their ideas changed and their kids started to come through with their own direction. The relationship is so close that I will always have a very soft spot for Pacha. It was really a situation that it had reached a natural end. They are my friends, I won’t have a bad word said about them and they have done great job building one of the best nightclub brands on the planet.
After leaving Pacha I met with Giuseppe who is a very confident man with great drive and determination. Working at Booom was so stressful, just getting it open was such a struggle that every other man I know would have given up. Giuseppe didn’t, he kept going, and I have to doth my cap to him for that. The thing was I’d set up IBZ entertainment by then and it became clear I couldn’t give both the attention they deserved. Leaving was about what I wanted to be doing and where I needed to put my attention not about anything wrong with Booom.
Eden came up at what was a pretty crazy time. I met the new owners in May and they wanted me to join as a consultant. It was a very different demographic to Booom and I’ve always believed San An deserves a really good club so I agreed to get involved. Part of the problem is that San An has two good clubs side by side. What it really needs is one big one. They wanted me to use my experience and contacts from 20yrs working in electronic music and 15yrs in a nightclub. I started advising but it soon became clear that they basically weren’t listening to a word I said. I ended up putting in some of the DJ’s but I felt the point they were really missing in San Antonio was playing to your demographic. Ibiza Rocks do it perfectly, Ocean Beach Club do it perfectly, Tony Truman and the boys there have done a great job. They know who their customers are, they know what they want, they charge accordingly and the success has followed. I think the Eden people wanted it to be more of a club that would work in Ibiza town I think they were charging way too much on the door and way too much for drinks. The competition is different in San Antonio, and half the bars and shop there are promoting tickets for places outside of San An. The guys from Eden had their own ideas and I respect that. It’s not about saying who is right and who is wrong but it was clear they were going down a different path and so it was right to step away.
NG: do you think your views have been borne out by Eden’s decision to bring in Gatecrasher this year?
Yes I think it does totally. I’m sure Simon Rain from Gatecrasher has got a better idea of how to cater for kids of that age.
NG: the Ibiza 123 event had massive ambition, how do you reflect on that now?
The experience was difficult. You come up with all sorts of politics, not just from the government but also other businesses. It’s how the whole island ticks. There wasn’t the support you’d hope for. We were trying to attract another 20-30k people to the island in the first week in July. This would be to the benefit of everybody involved in the tourist trade. The reaction in Ibiza to any big plan is pretty nervous, people think is this going to affect my business negatively. Pino Sagliocco is a fantastic promoter. For somebody that put Freddie Mercury and Montserrat and Spandau Ballet and all the others into Ku to be involved was a big thing for Ibiza. People like Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Elton John, to be playing Ibiza was an incredible idea. It just became too difficult. People were spreading rumours about it being cancelled, artists weren’t attending, all sorts of nonsense. It was getting totally out of control.
NG: Do you resent that?
You know what yes I do resent it. It’s narrow-minded. For example I’ve always been a huge fan of Ushuaia and I know lots of people who are not. I’m a huge fan because I think they have attracted more people to the island. They have made a huge impact on Ibiza and I don’t see any of the clubs quieter because of Ushuaia. I love what the Matutes family are doing in Playa d’en Bossa. Tourist areas need that level of investment to keep re-inventing themselves, you can’t stand still. I’m a big fan of creativity and fresh ideas.
NG: The International Music Summit seems to carry universal support. You must be quite proud of that?
Sure but it wasn’t an easy start. We lost money for the first 3 years and it was made difficult to put on events around it. In Ibiza. if you stick at it, you’ll eventually become an institution and people leave you alone. It’s all about getting through those first few years. We did our first IMS in LA last year and we’re on our 6th in Ibiza. This year we’ll have 1000 delegates and we’re excited about moving to the new Hard Rock Hotel. The owners have really stepped up, in fact all of the team at Hard Rock are doing a great job for us.
Tell us more about your two latest projects, IBZ and IMF.
IBZ Entertainment is a management agency where we represent different artists. It’s not just electronic music, we have a rapper, music producers and so on. We also programme events and festivals. Its really about creating a sort of one stop shop for artists and people who need artists. An important part of the business concept was to build this place, the Ibiza Music Factory. It is a creative hub, where we could take the offices that we need for our company, then rent out the rest to young businesses that have some kind of link to electronic music / music in general. The idea is for an environment where likeminded people meet on a daily basis, exchanging ideas and potential business, plus the benefit in working among other creative people. We’ve already got a really good mix. For example Sankeys have their office here, we’ve got Ibiza Digital Media a young social media management company who are doing really well, then we have Open Lab Radio moving in right now, it’s a really good mix.
NG: And the agency?
IBZ is going really well. We are all very happy with where it’s at. We have 17 clients on the roster. We’ve brought in some great names, well known in electronic music and particularly the Ibiza scene.
We’ve got some really good up and coming new artists, and some guys are making a real break through.
We never wanted to go down the road of having an agency that covers one genre of music. If you do that you end up with a load of guys fighting for the same gig, so we’ve spread the musical genres from quite commercial main stage house down to underground dark room music and every thing in between.
We’ve signed people like Marino Canal from Malaga, a 23 year old kid who is firing on all cylinders at the moment. His productions are unbelievable. He recently got his first gig in Fabric London which is kind of a Mecca for underground DJ’s. The owner Keith is a very good friend of mine. He is normally very quiet about what he thinks and keeps his cards close to his chest, but with Marino he made an amazing statement by press release. It was something like “in this day and age we have such incredible access to new music online, but once a decade a special talent comes along and that talent is Marino Canal” Marino is also playing WE ARE FSTVL Festival in the UK and then the after party at the EGG in London.
We also signed a young kid from Birmingham called Samu.L who is just absolutely born to fly. He has just put a record out on One Records that Martin Buttrich remixed. His name started popping up everywhere and now we have so many clubs calling us on a daily basis to try and book him. So he’s doing really well too.
We’ve got Manu González, and I want to speak about Manu because he is that rare breed of DJ’s born and bred in Ibiza. His productions are absolutely fantastic. He is getting great support from people like Loco Dice and Luciano. We were very happy to sign him, again he’s a 23 yr old.
We also have some of your best Ibiza residents, people like Andy Baxter, Clara de Costa, Jason Bay, Alex Wolfenden.
We signed a young kid from Holland called Yax.x. We’ve got Hutch & Mason on board. Dene Anthony. The list goes on, we’re very positive about the kind of talents we take on board. They are all producers. We don’t really take on people who only DJ. We need DJ’s making tracks, that’s how you make it in this business now. You can do 10 gigs and have little impact, but put out one really good track and it goes out to the world. I’m really excited about IBZ. We’ve got great artists, a great team, really good ideas— the future looks really good.
IBZ Entertainment, www.ibzentertainment.com
Ibiza Music Factory, (contact via IBZ)
The Olive Tree, firstname.lastname@example.org, 971 34 09 07
Mels, www.melsbaribiza.com, 619 274 251
Yemanja, email@example.com, 971 18 74 81
The History Buff’s Guide to Ibiza, Emily Kaufman, Pub Tarita