WITH summer on the horizon, Carl Cox brings Balearic magic to London on May 26 for a Space Ibiza party in Creamfields’ Steel Yard superstructure in Finsbury Park, a colossal venue holding 15,000. Carl will be joined by Eats Everything, Nic Fanciulli, Richy Ahmed, Steve Lawler and Clara Da Costa, all of whom played a part in the legendary Ibiza club over the years before it closed its doors back in 2016.
We caught up with Carl off the back of Ultra Music Festival in Miami earlier this month and ahead of the 25th anniversary of Time Warp to chat about the forthcoming Space Ibiza event, Keith Flint, mental health in dance music, his new label Awesome Soundwave and what he thought of Colonel Sanders finger lickin’ appearance at Ultra.
Check out his mix for The Night Bazaar Sessions below.
Let’s start with Miami. What did you make of Colonel Sanders?!
It’s kind of funny but it’s not funny. People have come a long way to hear this music and to be subject to a scenario like that I think is quite shocking. I think for Ultra it’s one of those ‘don’t talk about moments’ because if you do they are going to cringe! You have to just laugh in the face of adversity. It was only five minutes but it was terrible to say the least because it makes a mockery of our culture and of our work. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are and then you have this guy with a Colonel Sanders mask on taking the piss. I’d have rather they gave out party buckets or something. It was shocking that they allowed that to happen on their watch. I don’t think they will be doing it again.
Let’s park that there! From what I saw and heard streamed live from the mega-structure in Miami, your sets looked amazing. Can you tell us how it all went down for you over the weekend in Miami?
I’ve grown with that mega-structure and this year it was located in a different park. Now when you look out from the mega-structure you now see palm trees and water. It’s a beautiful sight to look out on when you are DJing in the day time. When the lights go down though, it takes on its own energy based on the production of that room.
Another thing about where it is now located is that it’s quite a walk from the main stage and takes about 45 minutes to get to You have to want to come down to it from there, you don’t have to. So the dance floor is full of people who really want to be there. Before we were the first room you came to when you brought your ticket, most people went past us first to get to the main stage. This time round it was different and it worked better. The sound system in there is of the highest level, it’s a Function One Zero system and the production was the best I’ve ever seen it in that room. The atmosphere was very high.
I played over three days. On Friday I played quite a varied set and ended with a section dedicated to The Prodigy and Keith and then Saturday played back to back with Marco Carola and then Sunday I gave them full force techno right between the eyes. Then I went off and did my annual disco party which was the fifth year I’ve been doing that and was very, very good. So that was my weekend, I did not stop working from Friday till Monday morning!
Ending your set on the Friday night with a tribute selection of tracks from The Prodigy must have been an emtional moment?
I grew up with The Prodigy, it was always Carl Cox and The Prodigy doing all the raves all over the UK back in the day. I remember once driving in my BMW 1800i from Crawley to Carlisle to play after them and I arrived two minutes before they were finishing and I literally got out of my car with a box of vinyl, climbed up into the DJ booth and as they were finishing got a track on and played! Then I drove all the way home straight after. I don’t even know how or why I did that! But they have always been that important to me. I’ve lived and breathed their moments all the way from then up to the present day and to hear about Keith was absolutely shocking. Everyone loved him.
They played Ultra a few times, the last was two years ago. It was very fitting to end my set with a medley of their tracks to remind people how brilliant they were. I wasn’t going to play just one track and wanted to take a section out of my set to dedicate to them. People were crying and it was important to take a moment and realise how lucky we are to be enjoying that moment. When I was playing those records the emotions were running high. They sounded really big in the room and Keith’s voice was right there with you, you know? It was a great moment but very, very sad and as you can hear it’s hard for me to talk about it.
Mental health is a big issue not just in the sphere of dance music. How do you keep yourself healthy in that way?
I’ve tripped the light fantastic. I’ve been around the world a million times and I’m still going round the world and I have bookings on the highest level and I have amazing things to look forward to. I lost my mother two years ago but I take great strength from it in that I believe she still resides in me and is watching over me and knows I am doing what I love and am good at what I am doing. I have had to slow down a little however as I can’t do everything anymore and took the opportunity a few years ago to live in Australia to get away from it all.
Is dance music doing enough to protect the mental health of DJs and artists?
There is definitely something wrong. Take Avicii who was screaming out for help the whole time. I remember the first event with me that he played at Street Parade in Zurich. This young guy with a hit record was playing before me, bright eyed, bushy tailed and I thought I’m sure you are going to get there and he got there alright! But then I saw him two years down the line and he looked gaunt, drawn out and like he had been through the wringer. I remember seeing his tour schedule for a month touring round America and he was playing every day. I remember thinking you are never going to make that. I mean who even thought that would be a good idea? And that was only about two years into his career. It’s crazy that no one saw the signs. He even said it himself many times.
I don’t think anyone is immune to succumbing to mental illness in the entertainment industry whether it be Keith, Avicii or Robin Williams in a different part of the entertainment world. But with DJing people are finding fame younger and younger and the question has to be how do they handle all the elements of the fame that comes with it in such a short period of time? I mean my fame came at a fairly late stage in my life when I was about 27 so I was primed to take on what happened to me and took me to the place that I am at now. I’m lucky as there is no way I feel I need to deal personally with a mental health issue. I never got to that point. I have problems like everyone else but I’m quite a happy, go lucky person, very sociable and I have my interests outside of this like my bikes and I keep myself busy with my friends.
There is no point in being swamped by the music industry. It’s not going anywhere. This style of music and electronic music culture is not going away. There is no rush. Everyone is rushing around at the moment, trying to get a hit record, trying to keep up an intense social media presence and the pressure of it all is really high. I think the key is to take a breath and do things in your time and not when people want you to do them in their time. It’s not their name that’s on the billboard. I’ve never taken on anything that I can’t do or had to cancel anything.
I do think this is a conversation that we need to keep having.
We are speaking ahead of the 25th anniversary of Time Warp this weekend. Are you excited for the event and can you tell us what the party means to you?
Going back in time to the start, Time Warp was very raw. We still have the old guard playing, me, Richie Hawtin, Sven Vath and Laurent Garnier. What’s amazing is that it has always stood the test of time as a techno event. There is no real commerciality to any of it. There aren’t many places that you can get up and have breakfast and then head over to see Richie Hawtin play until two in the afternoon!
I’ve always played right in the midst of it playing between 1am and 4am or 6am – 8am something like that. They are celebrating 25 years this year but for me this will be my last Time Warp in Germany. I’ve only missed two Time Warps but I believe over a quarter of a century I have given it my all. It will also give another DJ the opportunity to come forward and fill my space and enjoy the fruits of the labour of Time Warp into the future.
We are looking forward to Space at The Steelyard in London for Cream on May 25th. Are you any closer to bringing Space back to Ibiza?
We are still no further with the plans for the new venue for Space in Ibiza. We are waiting for the new elections which take place at the end of May and depending on the outcome we can look at applying for the license for the new venue. We are just playing the waiting game at the moment.
For Space at the moment I am concentrating on Space worldwide events. The first of which is going to be the Space event at Steelyard for Cream in London on May 26 and this party looks to be going great guns and people are really excited. My idea is to keep the flag flying for Space for worldwide quality.
The party in London is going to be amazing with Clara Da Costa, Nic Fanciulli, Steve Lawler, Richy Ahmed, Eats Everything and me. It will be solid from beginning to end. All things house and all things techno. The venue is awesome and the production is second to none. We will be giving a flavour of Space to the dance floor and will remind people what has been missing. We are doing it at Kappa Futura festival and Tomorrowland also and looking at taking it to Dubai and Croatia as well. We will continue flying the flag and showing people we are still very much active and hopefully it will all culminate back in Ibiza when we get the go ahead.
Can you tell us a bit about your new label Awesome Soundwave?
Thing is with Awesome Soundwave is that we didn’t want it to be Intec 2.0. We already have that as a great outlet for producers and DJs to release music on a single by single basis. Now I know ver well there are quite a few live electronic music artists out there that need a shot at being heard. The way this works is that we will release an album by a live electronic music artist we admire and then we will put together some dates where you can go and see them perform the music. Christopher Coe who I run Awesome Soundwave with is a great example of this.
We are doing out first showcase at ADE this year and will feature some of these live artists. I don’t think the world really needs another DJ but when it comes to live artists it’s nice to see how each individual artist performs live and we don’t get to see that very often. My idea is to collate these kinds of artist through the label and create a roster of acts. We aim to push the button on getting these guys and girls out there into the industry so they are seen for what they are. If you look at guys like KINK! and Paul Kalkbrenner who are top of the tree, what they do is something I’d like to see more of so people can feel more attached to the artist rather than just another DJ.
I love the new single on Awesome Soundwave from Mat Playford which comes with an amazing remix from the fabulous Octave One who are of course an electronic live act with an incredible legacy.
This is really exciting. Octave One have been around a long time as you know. When you see those guys perform live, WOW, it’s electric! Mat felt compelled to get involved and be attached to the project, exploring what it means to be a live artist with Octave One and supporting each other in this way which is just amazing. So I’m really pleased for Mat. He’s been around a long time and will be great to see him with Awesome Soundwave step out of the studio to perform live with us. Sometimes people forget how talented these guys are and I’m really excited to see this project come to fruition based on this live element.
Another stand out artist on Awesome Soundwave is Saytek whose tracks you have been hammering in your sets. Can you tell us a little about when you first came across his music?
I’ve been playing Saytek’s music over the last 6 years. When you hear a Saytek tune there is no niceties about it, its in your face! It’s a raw sound. He really is an amazing live artist. I felt compelled to have him on the label. I really like the idea that he doesn’t waver on commerciality with his sound in any way, shape or form, if anything he goes deeper into his sound. I really like him and what he is doing. His output is so extensive too and its kind of hard to hang on to it in some ways as he just on the march but I love the fact he is totally the sound of where we are at the moment and I’d like to bring him to the forefront of it.
Carl Cox presents Space Ibiza on Sunday 26th May taking over the 15,000 capacity Steel Yard Superstructure at Finsbury Park. For tickets & Info head HERE.