Interview / Hostel La Torre
Cafe Mambo have acquired Ibiza`s Hostel La Torre, employed Secret Life`s Pete Gooding as Musical Director, who in turn has recruited International Feel`s Mark Barrott as one of his resident DJs. All have the aim of recapturing that original Cafe Del Mar magic. To help promote proceedings La Torre have also started a record label and its first release is a compilation of sunset favourites selected by Pete and Mark. In keeping with the Balearic ideal of “including everyone, excluding no-one” (copyright Leo & Alfredo) they`ve cherry-picked music from Australia, California, Cameroon, England, Germany, Ibiza, India, Italy, Latvia, Libya, Spain, and Sweden, encompassing poetry, counter rhythms, library strings, a Disco Waltz, and piano-tinkling breakbeat / Rave nostalgia, chants, drum circles, paintings of a sleepy old town - blue sea and sky framed by white stucco - dos aguas soaring - Kosmische / Cosmic classics, Mark`s own tribute to those Cafe Del Mar comps on React, and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Extremely interested as to “why?” and “why now?” in the face of the island`s spiralling commercialism I asked Pete and Mark a few questions.
Where is La Torre?
Mark / In Cap Negret on the West Coast of Ibiza, above San Antonio and below Santa Agnes.
When did it open?
Pete / La Torre has been there for years actually. I personally came across it in 1987 on my first holiday to Ibiza but the current owners from Cafe Mambo took over at the start of last summer so its our second season.
How & when did you get involved?
Mark / When we were working on the Jose Padilla album, Henning (Telephones) wanted to see a sunset and Jose recommended La Torre. A year later, in the Spring of 2015, when it was bought by the Mambo group and Pete became Musical Director, he contacted me regarding a weekly residency. Having already seen the view / sunset and the potential for playing the type of music I make and love, I jumped at the chance.
Pete / I was offered the position of Musical Director when Javier the owner took over, as I`ve been playing sunsets for him at Cafe Mambo for 20 years now. It was a natural step for me to take and I felt I knew exactly what it needed as I was a huge fan of the venue and, as sunsets go, I have played more of them than any other DJ in Ibiza’s history so it was my dream job to be honest.
Musically what are you aiming to do?
Mark / Overall, thats a question for Pete. On a personal level I’m soundtracking the sunset, which is what I call it, as opposed to DJ’ing which I’m not. I suppose you could say that each of the residents and guests are playing their own version of what they feel “Balearic” should sound like. I’m taking what I do in the studio and with International Feel out and about. Every week I break it into segments…the first hour, leading into sunset, the immediate pre- and post- sunset period where I’m going for maximum drama with the music and additional nature sounds and spoken word and then the final section when it’s dark where I try and create a very intimate atmosphere.
Pete / Well I have been coming to Ibiza for nearly 30 years now so I wanted to create a vibe that I felt has been missing from the island for a while. In the late `80s and early `90s I loved Cafe Del Mar and musically Jose was a big inspiration, and the same with Alfredo from my early trips to Amnesia, so I wanted to find a team of great residents who all had a wealth of experience and great record collections so that we could create something authentic. Another factor that separates us from other sunset bars is that after the sun goes down we don’t turn it into a party, we just keep things more experimental and alternative throughout allowing more musical freedom. La Torre is not a party place, we are not going to do pre-parties. It`s an escape from what everyone else it doing. Thats the whole point. When it comes to my own DJ sets in this environment I have always seen it as putting music to a film. The mood of the view sets the tone for the journey you take people on. I always aim to end my main sunset track the exact second the sun disappears as this really compliments the vibe and people really appreciate this when its done to perfection.
How does this differ from other venues on the island? Are there any other venues trying a similar thing?
Mark / From living here and taking a look around, I really don’t think that there is anywhere else doing what we’re doing at La Torre in terms of the attention to detail with the music policy and the type of music itself. Music is melody and atmosphere and that’s what La Torre is about, with the inspiration coming from the incredible sunset. Sure, on a very basic level, we’re borrowing from the early days of Cafe Del Mar, but reframing it in a modern context. There is no where else on the island doing that – with even the sanctity of sunset is broken with Tech-House or Tropical House or floaty face cream advert Chill Out – La Torre is the sole flame keeping the original spirit of Ibiza alive through the music that gets played. A bastion of purity standing against the barbarians at the gate of Las Vegas consumerism that’s threatening to envelope this beautiful Island.
Pete / Firstly, nowhere has the kind of view we have, its second to none, and I agree with Mark and he put it beautifully. No one is dong it like we are, its clearly the best sunset venue in Ibiza.
What other resident DJs play there?
Pete / Mark was an obvious choice having a great reputation with his label International Feel and we`d worked together on Jose Padilla’s album. Through that process I got to know him and It was clear that he would be right for the job. Andy Wilson is the main man at Ibiza Sonica Radio and a long standing island resident. I have know Chris Coco since he was the editor of DJ Magazine and we have been mates for years and made music together and he has always championed all things Balearic and his Melodica radio show in my opinion is one of the best in the world. Neil Macey was a pioneering DJ in the `80s and `90s in Birmingham where I grew up and has been a DJ for 30 years, so he has a serious record collection. Tim Angrave has a very popular chill out podcast and Dutch DJ Rich Ears has great taste in music and is very passionate about what he does. Another key factor is they are all great people which is very important as well. Musically its based around the sunset and the unique setting we have here. It`s very easy to feel at one with nature at La Torre.
Do you book guests?
Pete / Yes, I`ve had some great guests this summer, who are usually friends or like minded DJ’s. Highlights this summer have been: DJ Harvey who did the compilation launch with me and Mark which was a great night. Then we had people like: Leo Mas, Phil Mison, A Man Called Adam (live), Rune Lindbaek, Paul Daley, Wolf Muller, Lovefingers, Balearic Gabba Sound System, Coyote, Graeme Fisher, Simon Mills (Bent), Rob Garza (Thievery Corporation), Craig Christon, Dean Sunshine Smith. Then we had a few DJ’s who are huge in the Techno world playing alternative down-tempo sets like Matt Edwards (Radio Slave / Quiet Village), Maceo Plex and Kolsch, and I already have some amazing new things lined up for next summer which Im really excited about.
When was the compilation suggested?
Pete / Before we even opened I suggested it to the owner. The idea was kicked around for a few months last summer then in the winter I asked Mark if he wanted to get involved. Then we had a few meetings, playing music and discussing ideas at Mark’s house and it came together and Hostel La Torre Recordings was born.
Were there any tracks you wanted but couldn’t get?
Mark / One from a US label that I’ll not mention `cos they answered VERY rudely! Pete has great connections in the major label world so we were able, for once, to licence everything officially, even tracks like the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Ahmed Fakroun – for which Pete deserves a medal in diplomacy and perseverance!
Pete / There was a great Japanese track we wanted as well but I never give up and I`m very hopeful we will get it next year, even if it takes us 6 months to clear it. You need real determination sometimes doing the licensing, especially when the music is more obscure. There were a few others we couldn’t get but it was a relief in a way as that made some very tough choices for us. We were both very happy with the final track listing in the end.
Is Volume 2 already underway?
Mark / In our heads yes. I’m always adding to my La Torre playlist and there are some really wonderful new tracks in there that deserve a wider audience, but right now (mid Sept), there are two more Thursdays to go. I’m still in “summer mode” but finally seeing the finish line. So I want to get into October, take a little break and then sit down with Pete with a clear head and see what happens. I’m also itching to get back into the studio and make some new music, although despite the summer madness, I have actually completed a new semi-secret album – it’s a bit like my “Zooropa” – completed over the summer in between gig’s and a total one-off in terms of what people normally expect from me musically.
Pete / Me and Mark felt we had so many great tracks we wanted for Volume 1 that there are already a few in place in our heads, but yes the summer is such a busy time so when it`s over me and Mark will get together and play each other some tracks sitting in the countryside, which is the perfect setting.
I have to ask, is there a significant audience for this kind of music in Ibiza, when the vast majority of the island`s visitors appear to expect and want big clubs, big names, big price tags, and big sounding House and Techno, probably unaware even of Ibiza`s history?
Pete / To be honest, things change and people move on. I`m not too focussed on nostalgia really and there is only a relatively small market for this kind of music in Ibiza as 90% of people have no idea about the history of the island’s musical heritage, but I try to fly that flag as it`s what I grew up on and love. Now it is largely about all the big Techno artists like Solomon, Dubfire, Marco Carola, Ritchie Hawtin, Carl Cox, which is great. It`s a very healthy environment in Ibiza as there is so much variety.
Is there any chance that a small pocket of “resistance” can affect a larger change – especially with so much money being made?
Mark / Yes! Yes! Yes! People are returning to the source, the true and original Spirit of Ibiza. I see it every week at La Torre. People are responding to melody and nature. Balearic music, like no other, brings people together and we really need that now, more than ever. I am extremely passionate about this. We’ve gone TOO FAR into technology and consumerism. As Oscar Wide said “Pity the person who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”. That is 99% of the modern day Ibiza. We’re the 1% . Making a stand with love and beautiful music. If we stay on this path….where next? Arrogance on a level that makes us think we can interfere with our host, Nature? Arrogance that creates trans-humanism and destroys the very essence of what we are? On an instinctive level, even if it’s deeply buried, people KNOW that this is wrong. We’ll look back on this period of human history of junk food, big pharma and globalism in 100 years with total horror. So small though something like La Torre is in universal terms, IT IS a pocket of resistance and that’s why I’m so passionate about doing it and doing it right. The challenge facing us right now is how to marry the advances in technology with of our consciousness and basic dignity as humans and figure out a way through the maze individually and collectively, and that’s why places like La Torre are important. They are a way-station, a resting place on that map. Or to put it more simply – there is still a lot of work for love to do.
Pete / I`ll leave that one to Mark.