Dunmore in the House: Defected’s Boss on Ibiza 2012
Head honcho and founder of one of music’s most successful house labels, Defected Records, Simon Dunmore cuts a powerful figure.
HAVING risen through the industry ranks via record stores and journalism, he’s now a significant influence on the Ibiza club circuit and one of dance music’s most durable forces.
His label spawned the eminent Defected in the House parties plus countless hits and compilations, both commercial and underground, while simultaneously nurturing the talents of the likes of Roger Sanchez, Dimitri From Paris, Bob Sinclar, Kings of Tomorrow, Dennis Ferrer and Copyright. Yet despite his considerable clout Dunmore has an unruffled demeanor and a composed eloquence that immediately puts you at ease.
Born in Northampton in England’s East Midlands, Dunmore moved to London when he was 12. He first visited Ibiza’s party isle in 1986 and founded Defected Records – inspired by his disco and soul roots – in 1999 with their first gig at Pacha in 2001 and an Ibiza residency further established in 2006.
Last summer saw a Saturday Defected double-whammy at Ushuaia and Pacha, while 2012 has them streamlining their party appearances with a focus solely on Pacha plus their regular Mambo sunset slot.
Expect a host of new talent on the label’s line-up this year, including Italian duo Flashmob and releases from Murk, Copyright and The Shapeshifters, plus a new album by Junior Jack and a new record by Pirupa, whom Dunmore signed off Loco Dice’s Desolat label. “It’s a track called Party Non Stop which was huge in Miami and we’re gonna really push it hard into the season.”
It’s this incessant ‘push’ and Dunmore’s unremitting drive to raise the bar that has propelled one of dance music’s most reputable brands to stratospheric success. Yet despite scores of hits and more than two decades in the business, ultimately it’s his fundamental passion for house music that keeps the momentum alive. “Seeing a producer or a record develop from being something that you give an opinion on from the very first moment it’s kind of born, to it being played around the world in clubs, on the radio, or that DJ being somebody who no one’s ever heard of to being a household name, is an amazing buzz.”
What are you most looking forward to in summer 2012 in Ibiza?
“I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s gonna pan out musically actually. Two or three years ago there was that kind of mishmash of the underground and mainstream clubbing, it seemed to collide quite ferociously and I think it confused a lot of people – DJs, punters, clubs even – and I think that over the last couple of years it’s started to separate out again and there’s real definition between what is deemed to be commercial dance and more kind of underground discerning club music. Last year I think that was really apparent and this year I think it’s going to be even more so.”
Can you explain the Defected House Odyssey theme for this year?
“Well my long-term thing about house music is it’s never really about one vibe or one sound. We like to represent house music and DJs across the board, and respect where house music originates from. I think that we do that in our line ups with people like Murk playing, David Morales, Dimitri From Paris; the thing that gives people a sense of the heritage of house music. And then also we have people like Solomun, Noir and Denis Ferrer, who are more underground in their productions. So I think we’ll have to be quite acute with our programming to make sure that the night flows musically. I mean, I don’t think you can have people butting heads style-wise but I think from one week to another the music could be quite different, and for me that keeps the season really interesting rather than when there’s a residency based around a DJ.”
What is it about your ongoing partnership with Pacha that keeps bringing you back?
“Pacha’s a great club and it’s one of the original Ibizenco clubs. When I first went to Ibiza in ’86 it was Amnesia, Ku and Pacha, which were the clubs to go to, and so I think that Pacha has enormous kudos because it’s one of the original clubs. And I think it suits our sound perfectly because it’s a mixture of clubbers and the kind of people that have gone on to do quite well for themselves, whether they be designers or journalists. If you look at early pictures of iconic clubs like Studio 54, it was a mixture of fashion and clubbing, and Pacha is kind of the modern day equivalent of that.”
Why is it that Defected is not at Ushuaia this year?
“It was very tough for us to do two parties in one day last year. We did the daytime party at Ushuaia and then we went on to Pacha. It was a lot to ask for all of us really: for the DJs, for the staff and for punters to shell out twice you know. It’s an expensive thing going to both Ushuaia and Pacha. So ideally we wanted to do Ushuaia on another day other than the Saturday and from their programming perspective it didn’t allow it. They were great parties. Hopefully we’ll get to go back.”
Will you put on a beach or pool pre-party this year?
“We’ll do Mambo and we’ve done Mambo since we’ve been on the island, and we love doing it. I think it’s great if you’re going to Ibiza – especially if you’re going to Ibiza on a budget. You know you can go and see some of the best DJs in the world for free, and I think a lot of DJs kind of like playing there because of that reason, because they appreciate that going to a club with a €50 or €60 entrance and paying €15 for a drink is out of range for some people, especially if its on a regular basis. So you can get a taste of that at Mambo. The guys there are great guys and we love doing it, so we’ll be at Mambo every sunset.”
What do you think about the major changes in Ibiza since last year, for example the high ticket prices?
“Well it’s like an unstoppable juggernaut Ibiza isn’t it? Every year you think ‘oh my god it’s really expensive and it just can’t continue to go this way’ and then you just see it all over mainstream media, whether it be magazines or pop stars singing about it in their records. Personally I think that there should be a balance between the VIP money aspects of the island and the clubbing aspect of the island because ultimately people go there because it’s a party destination. So what I’m hoping is that the more opportunities people have to go clubbing and the more competition that there is will actually drive prices down to some degree because it’s unsustainable if it keeps increasing in price.”
Do you think the island’s lost any of its charm because of those VIP aspects?
“No, not at all really. The world is a fast changing place and I think people have to develop with that and I think that you can get whatever you want to get from Ibiza. There are underground clubs, there are VIP mainstream clubs. If I go back to when I first went out to the island in ‘86 there was Ku, an outdoor amazing club, and there was definitely table service and VIP areas within that club so in some respects I don’t think it’s really that different, I just think it’s probably better documented these days.”
In your eyes how have you seen it change since ’86, for better or for worse?
“I can’t say whether it’s for better or for worse because I think if I was 20 years old now and I was going to Ibiza for the first time I believe I would be absolutely wowed beyond belief, you know. It would be ‘this place is incredible, look at all the DJs I can go and see’, the parties and also the beaches, the restaurants, the people watching aspect of it.
“It’s an amazing place and it’s easy for people who have gone there year on year to get cynical that it’s not like it used to be. It can’t be that bad because people keep coming back. Everyone who says ‘its’ not like it used to be’ well they’ve gone back again. They’ve gone back for something, and that something must be still a great thing.”
Do you think that it’s a positive thing for Ibiza to be taking a more high-end, commercial course with new luxurious venues like Lío and Ushuaia?
“I think the thing with Ibiza is that a lot of people go there very early in their lives and they go on to do very well for themselves. And, you know, when you’re 40 or 45 years old and you come back to the island, you don’t wanna go to the places that you were going to go to when you were 20.
“The element that there is underground and VIP mixing side by side is a really good thing. In the same way as EDM and very commercial dance music mixes side by side with underground. They both need each other to coexist. The popularity of EDM and your Swedish House Mafia’s and your Tiesto brings people to the island who then also discover underground music. And so it’s really important that the two coexist really well.
This year is really shaping up to be incredibly busy on the island. Every bill’s jam-packed, with places like DC10 opening four nights a week. How do you compete with the other main clubs?
“It’s tough and I think that you have to constantly reinvent yourself to be interesting to all aspects of the community. House music is a genre of music that consistently reinvents itself. Other genres, whether it be guitar based or even pop, I think that they become very predictable after a short period of time and they stagnate, whereas dance music’s ever-evolving.
“You just have to keep your line ups interesting, keep it very musically current and fresh, but also respect where you’ve come from. House music evolved out of disco and the aspect that people just wanna go out and have a great time on a Saturday night, let off steam. And I think that the spirit of people going to a disco is alive and well and I don’t see it ever ending.”
What do you think about the return of the vocal in electronic dance music?
“For me it’s a godsend because I grew up listening to soul music and I love vocals and my soul music in house. I think it gives it a real uplifting vibe and makes people really happy on the dancefloor and in the club. When the minimal scene was very prominent I think it kind of reflected the way that a lot of people were feeling at the time. And I think now obviously everyone’s talking about doom and gloom and the recession, and when people go out they kind of want to get away from that. For me to hear songs and melody in dance music again is great because, you know, that’s where I’m from.”
Which acts will you be watching closely on the island this year?
“I’m really excited that we’ve got Solomun playing four dates. I mean his remix on the Noir and Haze, their Around record, is an absolute pure underground record. But it’s had two and a half million hits on YouTube, so it can’t really be that underground if it’s that popular. But that’s the great thing about the fact that you can have a record that’s not trying hard to be commercial that it ultimately becomes popular.
“Noir is playing for us a couple of times, and then there’s obviously all the hype around your Jamie Jones and your Crosstown Rebels and people like Lucas C that are making records that are great, deep and soulful records but immensely popular.”
What do you most like to do in Ibiza when you have down time?
“Chill out, you know. I mean there are great beaches, there are amazing restaurants… and just kick back really. I think you have to have balance in life, and that is the amazing thing about Ibiza. There’s total balance. You can go let off steam, party really hard until you’re fit to drop and then you can just go find a beach, chill out, get a great massage, great food and detox and recuperate.”
First published on I Voice, Ibiza, May 2012.
© Abbey Stirling