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Meet the ringmaster: Claptone in the circus

Dance music's biggest enigma talks lockdown, Pacha and new music.

Coming off the back of his latest BBC Essential Mix, his second full-length entry into the acclaimed series, Claptone is a DJ in between states.

Despite the distinct lack of parties and festivals, he has remained at the forefront of the public's consciousness thanks to his engaging social media presence.

For an apparition who has shown a fondness for the shadows in the past, Claptone is revelling in his new role front and centre, under the bright lights. It's a curious paradox for the enigmatic artist.

Someone veiled under the cloak of anonymity, and yet all too keen to steal the limelight. Perhaps it's just another slight of hand from our elusive performer?

Not only has Claptone been streaming into our home with his new In the Circus concept, but his weekly CLAPCAST offering has notched up an incredible 500,000+ plays in the last month alone.

However, it's that Essential Mix that is currently stealing the plaudits. The 120-minute mix really encapsulates the thrill of a night at Pacha Ibiza.

Unlike past meetings, our conversation was conducted under “new normal” socially distant conditions. To be more specific, we were on Ibiza while our gloved friend was bunkered down in parts unknown.


The world has changed much since we last spoke. What crazy times we are living in. Who would've guessed that your attire of choice, the 1600s doctor's plague mask would be back in fashion? How does Claptone the man process the events of 2020?

I am very much looking forward to the time when we will have overcome the crises. After every crisis to have ever rocked humanity, there is a period of recovery, rebuilding what had been destroyed.

Not only that, but it's a time of improvement as well. An opportunity for people to understand and appreciate much more what they had taken for granted before. That's what I am looking forward to. To reach that point of the cycle.”


Firstly, we should congratulate you for Pacha entrusting you with its flagship Saturday night slot. That tells us that the first year of The Masquerade must have been a runaway success. What were your highlights?

It's hard to pinpoint a single highlight. Every week offered something unique and captivating.

Whether it was the particular vibe of the crowd, a spontaneous back to back, as I did with Diplo, for example, or a dope DJ line-up. Playing great music with friends and guests creates the spirit of the night. I can't wait to get back.”


Last year saw some phenomenal guests invited to The Masquerade. Names such as Danny Tenaglia, Todd Terry and Kerri Chandler. Did you have any surprises up your sleeve for this year's roster?

Coming up with the line-up for The Masquerade Ibiza is always so much fun. Where else can you see Jon Hopkins, Diplo and Claptone at the same party? When I look at what I had in store for you this year, honestly, I almost start crying.

MK and Purple Disco Machine would have joined me on one Saturday, Basement Jaxx and Meduza on another, Gorgon City with Nora En Pure, Duke Dumont with Kerri Chandler, Sonny Fordera, Eric Morillo, Chris Lake - this list goes on. Now there's tears rolling down my chin. Well, it was a special first year. I'm excited for it to continue and evolve next summer.”


We always get giddy approaching Pacha. With the sense of theatre at the entrance and around the peripherals, there's such energy. We imagine this extra attention to detail played a big factor in choosing Pacha as The Masquerade's home?

It was really a no-brainer to choose Pacha.

Arguably the most recognizable name in dance music - certainly when it comes to Ibiza or clubs in general. But as you imply, it's not only about the music, it's about the interior design and last not least the world's best dancers and performers in the most imaginative wardrobe."

"It's about that special vibe that I am able to conjure, when working with true professionals who can look back on decades of experience. The unique The Masquerade concept together with a club like Pacha is a match made in heaven.

Up until today, it's been a wonderful ride. I'm beyond excited for the 2021 season.”


Let's talk about this year. You recently reworked Mylo's Drop The Pressure. How much pressure was there to reimagine a track that's such a fan favourite?

First and foremost, the original version has always been one of my personal favorite tracks, hence I decided to produce a version for my DJ sets. I played it out everywhere for months before we decided to release Drop The Pressure in March.

Great timing, as it went straight to number one on Beatport for Miami Music Week, which then got cancelled, like everything else that is of relevance in club and festival land.

So here we are with Drop The Pressure being the summer club hit record 2020 in a year where all the clubs are closed!

Anyway, it's a great track and with Purple Disco Machine and Sonny Fodera on the remixes, a dream release come true regardless of the circumstances.”


Even though the industry is on a worldwide hiatus right now, you've still been able to entertain fans through your In The Circus streams. The concept definitely fits your persona.

When the opportunity presented itself to share Claptone In The Circus with everyone, I just had to take it on! As ringmaster, my responsibilities are similar to that of my day job as an entertaining DJ: to conjure the moment of emotion and lead the audience though journeys unknown.”

Do you have a favourite circus act?

I've always admired those talented performers who swallow swords with such ease and grace.”

How do you try that for the first time? The mind boggles. There's rumours afoot you're putting the final touches on the third album. Any truth behind the whispers?

I am a perfectionist, so final touches can take centuries for me, but let's hope for the best. Maybe next year there'll be a new album.”

Intriguing. The lack of touring seems like the ideal opportunity to complete a project. Hopefully there will be a lot of exciting collaborations, much like the previous two records.

Some people say Claptone is best known for one simple dissatisfying answer to many questions you ask him: ‘It's a secret'!”

Ever the man of mystery. Thank you, Claptone.


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