I kind of need to write this while still in the glow of the last week which was spent at the Love International festival in Tisno, Croatia. It’s been three years (I think) since we’ve been back and it felt so good to be there again. On arrival I made a mental note to sort of take it all in as I knew I’d be leaving before I knew it and that it would fly by… Which it did.

Tisno is a lovely little town on the south coast of Croatia with a population of about 3 - 4 thousand. It’s walkable from one end to the other. It has a few bakeries, some lovely restaurants, a nice coffee bar and the sea right there in front of you. It also has an old holiday site which hosts festivals over the summer one of which is Love International.

This year Love International had a strong line up of DJs. A brilliant mix of talent from the US, tons from Europe and beyond. On arrival at the site it was quite a young crowd all getting down on the Beach Stage and then a mix of the tribes arrived over the next few days and thats what makes the festival so nice. You see the same faces year in year out and always make new friends along the way. This year my new mates were a few people from Berlin and a crew from L.A who were just a walking good time (shout out to Karey, Stacy and Michelle).

We were there primarily to host three Morning Sessions. If you don’t know the Morning Sessions they were started about ten years back (I think!) and are there to give people a a place to come and chill after a night at the amazing Barbarellas night club. The club runs till 6am so at that point we start down by the sea playing a nice mix of deep house, balearic cuts or whatever people fancy from 6am to midday.

Originally the Morning Sessions consisted of us playing pretty ambient music from a wooden table mixed with some live acts. Over the years we’ve gone purely into just playing nice music with a pulse that keeps the crowd happy and arrives at a safe landing for tired legs to just lay back, wave their arms in the air, bliss out or just generally continue the good times. You can dance to it but its far more floaty and chilled than anything you may hear elsewhere...

Our first morning was on the Friday and had me (Apiento) then Powder back to back with 5ive, Lovefingers and the Croatian duo Adriatic Social Club to round things off. It was a perfect start… Not being there for a few years there was that slight nervousness as to what its going to be like but walking round the town to the site whilst watching the sunrise at 5:30 in the morning that all disappeared and I couldn’t wait to get in that DJ box next to the sea and hear the music coming through. The first session worked perfectly. I really enjoyed it, 5ive and Powder spun it out and got all trippy on it, Lovefingers started with a lovely live piano version of Joe Jackson’s 'Stepping Out' and then Adriatic Social Club came with their lovely mix of electronic and Croatian balearic business rounding things off perfectly. Loads of people stayed till the end and we were off. If you want an idea of how idyllic it is this is the DJ box just before 6am with some pictures from the first session.

It's really hard to take yourself away from the site as there is so much good music happening around you but I tried to get a few hours sleep before it was up at 5am again to get to the site for the second of our sessions. This time it was me, Jonny Rock, Piers Harrison and Begin. Again it was just perfect. I had loads of the young ones from the festival there before I started playing asking if it was going to be ‘funky house’ so I was like ‘it’ll be fine’. After playing them a load of whooshy Chez Damier and deep house stuff they all got it and were in. It was so nice to see them all there dancing away by the sea at 7am properly loving it. Jonny Rock came and went well eclectic in a good way. It was pretty trippy and went from here to there in a spun out fashion. Piers was great and played the good chuggy stuff with Begin rounding things off just perfectly with his mix of worldly electronics.

Later that day myself and Piers played on the main beach stage and tonked it out with some fun records that people seemed to like. It’s always nice to get to play the more uptempo stuff on the Garden Stage as its one of the best places to play music for me. We are spoilt at Love International on that front.

The last morning session was so good and we ended on a high… It was me then Alex Kassian, Budino, Paramida, Vladimir Ivkovic and Begin. It was just brilliant music for the whole 6 hours (well I can’t say that about myself but I enjoyed my bit too). I did my thing (I think I played kind of electronic but need to listen back), Alex Kassian was brilliant and played an earthy mix of organic electronics mixed with some Talk Talk and a lovely Babyface mix of an old After7 track. That one sounded super nice there. It’s always those ones that surprise you at how good they sound with the cicadas in the trees overhead. Vale Budino was just brilliant and played her way… A trippy cosmic style that worked perfectly ending on a soundtrack disco record that chugged away with amazing strings. Paramida was superb getting to play a sound she doesn’t often get near as her star rises higher and higher in clubland. She was just lovely. And Vlad just does Vlad. He was (as ever) brilliant. One of my favourite DJs who just creates real atmosphere in what he does. To round things off Begin nailed it once again moving from an electronic start and then leaving people on a happy note with a version of ‘Mas Que Nada’. I mean it was literally just perfect. I know I keep saying perfect but it was.

So those were our sessions… Other than that big shouts out to Felix Dickinson who played a wicked mix of electronic wonky disco on the Beach Stage, Dave Harvey, Felix, Christophe and Ellie on the Futureboogie boat which was great fun. Dave teasing in Weatherall’s scat mix of Primal Scream’s ‘Don’t Fight It Feel it’, Christophe playing some wicked house, Felix playing his arp’d disco and Ellie roaming across the board. On getting off that boat I heard the sounds of Revelation’s (my favourite dance record) coming across the water so wandered over to see who was playing that and luckily got to hear the end of Phuong Dan’s set… He was just brilliant. You know when you can feel a DJ whose persona comes through their style then thats him. Just doing his thing in his vibey way. He sort of reminds me of Lexx like that. He ended with a few lovely slow things and was just perfect.

Other than that I saw Ben UFO and Craig Richards give a masterclass in restraint at Barbarellas. You know what its like these days... You hear a lot of people play at 130bpm and its tune after tune and arms in the air. This was a different approach. It was held down. grooving, vibey electronics that just lifted as the sun came up around 5am. It was a joy to experience and it was a set of music that will stay with me not just because I loved it but purely as it was so different. Fine work. Other people I loved seeing was Peach at Barberellas, Frank, Bill and our very own Bruce on the Lowlife boat dropping 'Brighter Days', Budino at the Garden stage in full flight, Alison Swing playing lovely house on the same stage, Mic Fantastic Man and Paramida on the island, Alex Kassian on the boat on the way back from the island playing 'Land Of Oz' by Spooky and far more which I've probably forgotten. There are lots I missed one of which was Prosumer (a don) but I needed to rest before a session the next day.

So there we go. Hope that gives you a flavour of what It’s all about and a heads up to come next year and find your place in the festival. It has got a real family vibe and as ever it’s the meeting new people that makes it such a joyful place. There was a point when I was sat at this house over looking the sea with my friends Dave and Sanky and we all just said how it felt pretty special to be back. It was so nice to meet all the American contingent from the 2 T’s of the Warehouse Preservation Society to Lloyd and the rest and really nice to get some proper time hanging out with all the crew from the UK. Shout out to the ladies of the White House for their pure positive good time ways. And big up Dave, Tom, Ben, Lyndsey, Dorja and all the crew for just being brilliant. Nice. x. x.