issue 87

Monthly newspaper and online publication targeting 18 to 35 year olds. The ultimate guide to the hottest parties, going out and having fun. Music, fashion, film, travel, festivals, technology, comedy, and parties! London, Barcelona, Miami and Ibiza.

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Page 32 of 57

So Defected are heading to Croatia in August for your own festival. What can people expect from the event? I think that if people decide to go they're going to have a chance to get a broad experience of house music across the board. A lot of nights DJs are very specific about other DJs they play with, sometimes the music isn't as eclectic and as broad as I would like it to be. I think hosting a festival, especially one that runs through the daytime on the beach, and having a main stage and then having an after party at Barbarella's, allows us to really book a lot of DJs. Because the environments are so varied, we can make the music varied and we can make the experience varied, so yeah, a very eclectic DJ line-up and a very eclectic selection of house music I'm hoping for. A lot of people feel like they're getting a bit priced out of Ibiza now, and a lot of the free parties on the beaches keep getting shut down, it seemed like it last summer anyway, so it's making it really difficult for younger people who maybe can't afford to buy tables at all these clubs, to go there. That is a factor and that is a reason why Croatia is becoming a popular destination. The fact is, if you look there are cool places to go in Ibiza. Yes some of the beach parties did get closed down, I mean some of them because of the politics I mentioned earlier and some of them because you've got 5,000 people on the beach and they don't have the proper facilities, you obviously have to have health and safety concerns as well. It's not just the VIP aspect of the island that caused those fee daytime beach parties to get closed down, sometimes they were so popular, I'm not saying they were dangerous, but there were concerns, so there were a number of factors obviously involved. But I think the appetite for people to go out and club in the daytime, and go to a beach and listen to dance music, it's clearly there, that's why the parties are so popular. So for them to just go "oh we're not going to let them happen, we're going to shut them down", I think it's burying their heads in the sand a little bit. It's something that they have the facilities to do there and I think the people that were there were not necessarily out of hand or causing trouble, they were just having a really good time, so why not embrace that and offer people that kind of opportunity. That's where Ibiza needs to look at itself. And yes, a lot of the clubs are way, way, way too pricey, admission, drinks etc. Eight, ten euros for a bottle of water, it's not great. Yeah I agree. Do you think then that there's a way to come past that? The prices have gone up so much, is there going to be another side of that? Are they going to fall off or keep getting more and more expensive? I think the problem is there's no balance. San Antonio was a really good entry point for a lot of people to go to the island, especially when you're young, first time going over there, there used to be a reasonably vibrant club and bar scene. There's been a huge migration from San Antonio to Playa D'en Bossa, and I think that now everyone populates Playa D'en Bossa apart from Sankeys, who do I believe offer a good entry point in terms of admission prices etc. Everything is still geared up for that high end and people that need to acknowledge that not everyone that goes to Ibiza is a high roller with extraordinary salaries and can afford to pay €60 every night to get into a club. Actually I was in Amnesia last year and a young kid went to the bar and ordered five Jagerbombs, the bartender bought him the drinks and said, "that's €110". I literally saw his jaw drop. I'm lucky, I had some drinks tokens and he just looked so distraught that I said, "do you know what, I'll get these for you". Actually it was a real moment for me. If you're a kid and you're going to Amnesia, and we as a label are driving people to this club, and they're going to the bar and that's their night out gone, in one go. So all of these reasons make Croatia a good proposition for us to get involved with. When I say all of these things, I'm not the first person to say it, and I'm not saying don't go to Ibiza, but I think that at some point the policy that they have with looking after VIPs and drink pricing is going to hit them in some way. So what would you say is the biggest challenge you've faced since Defected started? Oh wow, have you got a couple of hours? I think the transitions and changes that the music industry has gone through have been difficult to navigate at certain times. The challenge we're facing at the moment is the migration from people that were buying downloads to the streaming model, which the major labels have really aggressively pushed people towards, and the return that you get from releasing, making and promoting music is not what it used to be. You just have to look at your business and make necessary changes to get through these periods of time. We had a similar experience when we used to sell 12" and CDs and the odd music cassette, and that industry and that part of our business died, and people started downloading, so it's something we've experienced before. The problem is we have to make the changes before the customer or the consumer or the people who end up buying our music are necessarily ready to populate those platforms. When people are streaming and happy to pay their subscription, we need to be there and ready waiting for them, so we have to make our changes now, and there's always a lag between the revenue we need to see coming back in for us to be able to sustain our business. Running a business is no joke, it's difficult, so they're the biggest challenges. As a label owner, we employ 30 people at Defected, DJs and writers and people that are relying on us to succeed so that they can get paid and earn a living, so it's quite a big obligation. Sometimes when you sit here and you haven't had a good month in terms of sales, you realise how responsible you are to these people, and that's quite daunting. They are the biggest challenges; navigating the business and also the responsibility you have to the people you employ and the artists that are signed to you. You talked a bit about the biggest challenges you've faced but what about your proudest moment since Defected began? Oh wow, overall the proudest moment is to successfully run a business for 17 years. I left school with no business qualifications, I literally made this up as we've gone along, we've made many mistakes, some have cost more than others but we've learned from them. A lot of labels don't last as long as what we've managed to make Defected last, so that is actually what I'm most proud of. And the fact that the brand is still very, very popular, probably as much as it ever has been. Other significant things are residencies at Pacha for eight years in Ibiza, probably one of the best clubs in the world; a number one record with Roger Sanchez - 'Another Chance'; a number one record with Storm Queen – 'Look Right Through'. As an independent label to have two records top the charts I think is a significant achievement I'm quietly very pleased about. And to have long term relationships with people who work here, some people have worked here for ten years, some artists have recorded records for the label for ten years, and people that buy our music, some people have bought it for longer than ten years. That is, I believe, a reasonable achievement. My aim was when I started Defected, which I could never, ever get close to, was in my record collection I have certain labels - Philly International, Strictly Rhythm - they stand out as sections in my record collection and in 15 years time if record collectors have Defected sections, then that's when I will have achieved what I set out to do. I've seen you talk about the fact that Defected stands for "real house music". Can you just clarify what you mean by that? I'm always interested when people say "real house" because it means different things to different people. Yeah and of course it absolutely does. It's more club music than dance records that are necessarily played on the radio. We have had records that are played on the radio but normally because they're hugely successful and popular in clubs first. A lot of the dance music that gets made now gets made with the intention of getting played on the radio. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, people can have success and fair play to them, but I think when the EDM thing happened, to me that wasn't really about house music or club music, those records were novelty records in the same way the Vengaboys were novelty records, and they seem to get confused with club records. So me stating that Defected was about "real house" music was just me kinda putting my flag in the ground and saying, "we make dance music but it's different from the stuff you're hearing on the radio". When Guetta was having hits with Kelly Rowland, I'd be DJing and kids would come up to me and say "can you play some house please?" and I'd be "well I'm playing house", and they'd be "no like David Guetta". I understand why they're saying that but it's really hard to argue and reason that out with people. I'm never going to say to someone that their taste in music is inferior to mine because music's a very personal thing but that's all it is, it's more of a club based dance music than a commercial, radio based dance music. EDM sometimes, to me anyway, feels a bit soulless. When you hear it on the radio it's not really about anything or to make you feel a certain way. When you hear a real record that's made to make you dance in club, that does something to you, and I feel like EDM doesn't do anything. Yeah I think it's functional. House music can be functional as well, for sure, but I think that's why it's started to decline in popularity. Everybody knows what's going to happen. There's no surprises. There's gonna be a breakdown, there's gonna be a drumroll, track's gonna kick back in, the fireworks are gonna go off, and you've seen it all before. The DJs are playing to the show they've produced rather than it being spontaneous. DJing to me is not about, I'm not going to be cliché and say you've gotta take people on a journey or whatever, but it's going through your record box or folder and going "that record might work now, I shouldn't be playing that record but I'm gonna take a chance". And if you take a chance and it works, it's an amazing feeling. That doesn't happen with EDM, everything you see is absolutely syncopated and programmed to go off with the visuals that are going behind you or the fireworks that are going to go off in 30 seconds time. It's like when a band knows they've got a crowd in the palm of their hand, they go on a jam and maybe do some improvisation, and for me that's the human element that's missing from EDM. And from a lot music. I think that tech house suffers from the same thing, the same formula and same scenarios that EDM suffers from - drums, bassline, breakdown, track comes back in, drums, bassline, breakdown, track comes back in - and there's no soul in it. What would you like to do more of in 2016? Sleep [laughs]. Maybe just try to enjoy it more, I'm not saying I don't enjoy it but to stay interesting for 17 years you've always got to be trying to do something different. Even if it's not radically different there needs to be an evolution, so we're always under pressure to move things forward. That's why Croatia is absolutely important, it gives us the opportunity to do something new and make us leave our comfort zone. But I've got a family, I've got three children, as I said I've missed occasional birthdays or sports days, things that are important to people as they go through life, so to have a little bit more time for myself and my family. Again I'm not saying, "oh my god, it's terrible". I've actually been clubbing with my son several times now, it's a real experience and something that I've really enjoyed. The other thing is as well is maybe to start to give something back to the kids. We talked about doing workshops for school kids, maybe in the summer holidays and stuff like that, because being a DJ, being a producer, it's a great experience even if you just do it for fun. If you make a living out of it, even better." ISSUE 87 / 20016 33 In Defected, Simon Dunmore has built one of the most long-running and successful house labels the music industry has ever seen. Now he's getting in the festival game with Defected Croatia 2016. Following the first festival announcements, we got his thoughts on Ibiza, EDM, real house and the record industry follow @SimonDunmore HOUSE Christina Dean | Guestlist

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