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An interview with David Vincent

We get the Sankeys Ibiza season lowdown from the club's owner

Usually when David Vincent and I get together for our annual chat it's still mid-winter and everywhere is quiet. For one reason or another, this year it only happened in mid-May, and the club's already open so we're meeting at Sankeys on a sunny afternoon. The venue isn't completely empty and there are people working, but we find a quiet spot that's normally one of the loudest places on the whole island...

Hi David. Here we are again, gearing up for another manic season. We'll of course mainly be talking about the summer to come, but first things first, Sankeys Ibiza has just come out of being open all winter long - a first. How was it?

"It was a massive success - beyond our expectations, and it wasn't really planned like that. I had my birthday party on a Tuesday night at the end of January and we had around 900 people in the venue, and this made me think - if we can get that amount of people through the door on a midweek night in Ibiza's quietest period of the year, how would it then work on a Saturday for the rest of the winter? I knew it had to be a free concept – you can't charge people entry here in winter, and the only way you can then actually deliver this is by not spending loads on talent. So apart from Manu Gonzalez and Matt Jam Lamont, who both did us favours, we just thought let's support local talents that normally don't get the chance to play. They are all great DJs, but they often get overlooked because no one has the balls to support them. There are two more points to consider. One, there is massive unemployment here in winter so it was a great chance for us to provide work for DJs, bar staff, security, the whole lot. Two, I had gotten a bit bored of the winter scene here. I'm not having a go at Pacha, they've been doing a great service to the island for 40 years now, but I do think people were thirsty for an alternative - another option apart from the winter parties at Pacha, Lips and Sushi Point to only enhance the winter scene even more. It was then my flatmate Junior Brown who said let's support the females, and with that the Sankeys Sabados concept was born. In the end we averaged over 1000 people every Saturday, so we had a great winter!"

..and then there were the monthly midweek Unusual Suspect sessions too. I've been living here all year round for a few years now, but apart from public holiday eves I've never seen a midweek party in winter happening the way they did. A proper novelty for the island.

"Yes, Unusual Suspects really took off. It was actually those parties that gave us the confidence to do Saturdays. If it wasn't for Unusual Suspects we wouldn't have done Sankeys Sabados."

Now let's have a look at Sankeys Ibiza summer 2016. One thing is obvious: at first glance, musically it's the most diverse programme we've ever seen at your club. What's the reason behind the diversification?

"Well, you learn from your mistakes. Turns out that what I thought wasn't too similar musically was too similar for others. See what happened last summer, we put on The Redlight - a garage night - and we completely smashed it. Over at Hard Rock Hotel they put on Children of the 80s and it was a roaring success. When I saw that I just realised that programming on Ibiza is different than anywhere else. I guess we've now all seen that the island really doesn't need another tech house night, instead I think we should be more diverse again. So my approach is telling people the history of dance music within a week's line up. With Applebum we've got a hip hop night and this style massively triggered dance music. Then we've got the Balearic and acid house covered with Dance 88/89. And from there we go to house and tech house (Warriors, Tribal Sessions and ABODE) and techno (Unusual Suspects), of course not forgetting garage (The Redlight) on the way. So we put together a programme that covers all bases without being cheesy – I felt that was our duty."

OK, now put your hand on your heart. Last season was by no means a bad season for Sankeys, but your growth has slowed down quite a bit. Is the change up in programming a direct consequence of that?

"Yes, absolutely. We did grow 10% last year, but I wanted to grow 30%. So yes, obviously to me last season wasn't exactly brilliant and therefore I spent a lot of effort on our programme for 2016, and I really think we have our best line up yet. Seeing where we are; the club we are, I feel we couldn't have a more perfect programme right now."

Then let's go have a look at all those nights... The Redlight changes to Mondays...

"Yeah there was a debate about this for a while. But I wanted Unusual Suspects to have a good slot and suddenly it was clear that it had to be Thursdays. The consequence of that meant that The Redlight had to change to Mondays. We'll see whether that was the best move, but I'm sure it was the best we could do for Unusual Suspects, and I also think that The Redlight crowd isn't essentially a crowd that goes to Circoloco or Cocoon."

We'll find out soon. Applebum on Tuesdays...Ibiza's most manic day of the week this year.

"I think anything house and techno will get fried by Carl Cox this year, apart from maybe Maceo Plex at Pacha. By putting on something completely different we're not being any competition to that night. The response so far has been great and with Grandmaster Flash, Coolio and Jazzy Jeff we have some fantastic bookings. Snoop Dogg's appearance at Tribal Sessions last year gave us the confidence to go and do a hip hop night. It's not just for the tourists, but also for the locals who love their hip hop but hardly ever get the chance to see a decent hip hop act on the island."

Then you take a trip through time on Wednesdays...

"...and bring back Acid House and Balearic House with Dance 88/89.. Alfredo and Bushwacka! weekly, plus lots of very diverse guests. Very excited for that!"

Speaking of excitement, I guess for many people the most exciting new night you have this summer is on Thursdays, Unusual Suspects.

"Oh for sure. It's not like we haven't done similar things in the past, we had FUSE and we had Next Wave, but we missed out on this very sound last year and now we have it back for a record breaking 23 weeks of Unusual Suspects. Also, I can't wait for the Mindshake Records takeover on the IMS Thursday with Paco Osuna!"

The Sankeys weekend kicks off with ABODE. Friday's a big night on the island...

"We're aware of that of course, but what can I say about ABODE? They are the single most hottest night in London currently and those shows sell out weeks in advance. We did two parties with them last year and they were good enough for us to go forward and offer them a weekly residency. I think the time is right for them. I don't want to overhype ABODE, but I have a good feeling for them. They have a dedicated following."

Tribal Sessions on Saturdays has turned into a pretty local talent-heavy affair for this summer. Was that the plan right from the start?

"This is something that happened organically actually. We knew very early that we wanted to move Tribal Sessions to Saturdays, so the night was set. Then we started doing the Sankeys Sabados sessions in winter and they worked extremely well as I've said earlier. We really built up something there - a loyal crowd evolved, and of course the local DJs we got to play, both male and female, helped with that. So to me it would be stupid not to keep using that power for summer. So it's actually turned into Sankeys Sabados presents Tribal Sessions for the season and the line-ups include both the residents we built up in winter, as well as the weekly international guests on top. Tribal Sessions has opened with a bang and is bigger and better than ever."

Last, but not least, Warriors. Even without VIVa in the name, Sundays will probably keep being the busiest night of the week, don't you think?

"I feel very confident for them yeah. I think they have their best line ups ever and I just think they'll keep getting stronger. Steve Lawler is the undisputed king of the basement!"

This year you have a number of legends coming to your club to play. Alfredo, Danny Rampling, Graeme Park, but also people like Grandmaster Flash and Coolio. Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Sankeys?

"Matt Jam Lamont. He totally destroyed it in winter and I think it's going to be his year. He's one of the pillars of The Redlight's success. Keep your hands off him, Pacha!" [grins]

Are there any big surprises you're still working on for this summer? Is Snoop Dogg coming back?

"We've got plenty of great hip hop acts at Applebum this year so I don't think Snoop's back. We are working on a few things still... Kurupt FM have just agreed to do a date for The Redlight,...but basically our line ups are 95% out, what you see is what you get! Detroit Love is still to come though."

You've had your earliest opening party ever. How did it go?

"I was happy with it, even though I had to be carried out of the club an hour before the club closed. It's a good sign if you had to be carried out of your own club I think." [another fat grin]

And what's your general feeling of the season to come?

"Ticket sales are going really well for us. I really think we've nailed it with programming this year. After years of trial and error, I feel we're there now. Then the island is already very busy and everyone agrees it looks like a very, very busy Ibiza season. Also, we've tweaked our sound systems yet again, so they're even better. We are ready."

How did Sankeys Tokyo come about?

"My partners who own Sankeys in Manchester are Japanese, and they asked me whether I want to open a club in Tokyo. I said why not, so I went over in November and by April the club was open. It's a franchise, so I'll keep my own focus firmly on Ibiza right now… We've spoken for half an hour and you've still not asked me about my videos!"

Of course, David Vincent goes Hollywood, it's all over our social media channels right now. Give us the lowdown on that then.

"Well, it's basically chapter 22 of my book The Eccentric, but filmed instead of written down. It's no secret that all my life I've always created drama around me – very intentionally. So all of my life I've been the director of my own movie. Sankeys is my film set now and doing these movie chapters comes really naturally. So anything going on in my life, in the dance music industry and in the world in general, I'll satire it. It's obviously my view, but with a joke in it. I've always been a piss-taker and I'm just taking the piss out of stuff. I can really see myself moving away from the club and getting more into acting, I'm enjoying it very much and it comes really easy to me."

Those are quite some plans! Well, thanks for your time and see you soon on the Sankeys stage!

WORDS | Michael Stivanello PHOTOS | James Chapman

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