When it comes to Ibiza, Luciano is a man who has been there, done that and developed a very clear vision for the future. The free-spirited DJ, musician and producer felt an affinity with the island from the very first, fortuitous moment he sailed into the port on a ferry from Barcelona in 1997 and has played a major role in shaping the island’s electronic music and party scene ever since.
Contrary to popular belief, Luciano didn’t simply begin life on the island as that Circoloco resident with the handlebar moustache, known for infusing Latin rhythms with techno to a packed room every Monday afternoon. Like many other influential island DJs before him, he spent summers lugging vinyl all across the island playing in smaller venues – including iconic beach bar Sa Trinxa – trying to make his musical mark. Back then, he saw a niche in Ibiza for the genre of music championed by himself, Ricardo Villalobos, Sven Väth and a handful of others and doggedly pursued it. He was a man with a vision – a vision that grew from residencies and guest DJ slots into the creation of his own Vagabundos parties, headline slots and festival appearances alike.
Despite intentionally taking a step back from the Ibiza hype over the past year, Luciano remains one of the key players in the industry and in 2017 holds one of the most highly coveted residencies in the world, for In the Dark at hot new Ibiza club Hï Ibiza on Thursday nights. At the same time, the talented Swiss Chilean is focusing his thoughts and plans on creating more unity within the Ibiza scene. Returning to his roots; the halcyon days where there was no division on the dance floor and where freedom and expression could combine to create pure magic on the dance floor.
Do you remember your first Ibiza experience? It was in 1997 and I came here to visit Ricardo Villalobos, who was living here for the summer season and working in a tiny record shop in Plaza del Parque. I came because we were supposed to finish a track we had started working on together and I was really judgmental about Ibiza. I was like, ‘Ricardo, I am NOT interested in this super touristic place – we’re going to finish the record and I’m leaving!’ In the end, I stayed for six weeks and I really fell in love with the island.
What turned your thoughts around? I took the ferry from Barcelona, and as it was arriving into Ibiza there were dolphins swimming next to this big boat. For me, the ocean and sea has a really important meaning in my life and when I saw them, I thought, wow, it was like a God’s call, a sign. Ricardo was waiting for me in the port and I was just so impressed. Not by the clubs – back then, we were not playing here, we were not known and our genre of music was very different to what was being played. But it was the nature and the people. There was no social pressure, no judgement, it was so free. Someone who had money was next to someone who didn’t have money and no one cared. I kept calling home to Chile saying ‘I might be a little bit late’.
The magical first glimpse of Ibiza’s old town as you sail into the port on the ferry.
And you’ve been here every year ever since? After that, it became almost like a ritual, that I would come to Ibiza every year. I would have changed my whole life, but that part of it, I wouldn’t change. It was extremely important for me to be here. Not because of the musical thing, that came a little bit later, but more for the energy. I felt attracted to Ibiza.
Why do you think creative people, like yourself, feel this strong pull to the island? I think it has all the elements you need in order to have a proper good time, and that is the creative part. They speak about an energy and I am not really someone who believes in these esoteric type of things, I am very scientific and a down to earth, person, but the attraction is absolutely incredible and I do feel very connected to Ibiza. I was already doing music when I came here, but when I arrived, I really had a vision and knew that this could be my chance to make it happen.
The energy and nature and blue skies of Ibiza are an undeniable part of the island’s attraction.
How did you get your start on the island’s music scene? Our genre of music was really fresh. It was just a time when things were different, everything was just starting. It was super exciting and also a challenge. I was playing here and there, small spots, like Sa Trinxa – once we did Privilege and got kicked out because our music wasn’t working! And then I became resident at DC10.
Since that time, you must have seen the island change a lot? It’s been 20 years and there has been a LOT of change. During the first 14 years or so, the changes were slow. In the past seven years, sometimes I would leave at the end of the summer, come back the next year and feel like I’d missed a chapter, like I missed three years of the evolution of the island. I think money played a big role, and really divided people. I used to always tell people what I loved about Ibiza was that there was no division. What used to make creating something here incredible was the fact it was chaos – now everything has become so militant.
What do you mean by chaos? You know, you’d go somewhere to play and something would be missing, a speaker would be on fire, there’d be no cables… that was the magic! That’s why people loved it so much. Then it became, you can’t do this, you can’t do that and in a way, Ibiza created its own little prison. And now it needs a big slap in the face!
Small but legendary: Sa Trinxa, the free-spirited beach bar at the end of Las Salinas beach.
Do you see it changing in the future? Yes! But we need to all stick together – if we don’t stick together, we will destroy the island. That’s what took me out of the Ibiza scene – I’m absolutely not against music, or DJs or even what happened, but I am against division. I am against anything that creates division, whether it is one promoter having more money than another, or forming closer relationships in order to have exclusivity with artists when really, everybody is digging from the same pot. Ibiza is not about that. It’s about being together and expression. I thought the energy had gone, but then I went to WooMooN this year, just to see what everybody was talking about and the energy was like wow! It was very magical and I came out inspired. It reminded me of those first parties we did on the beach for Ushuaïa.
How are you contributing to a positive change? I stepped away from Ibiza in order to come back to create unity. Even if I have to risk my career, I will take the chance. I am like a free bird and I don’t want to just be attached to one place or a brand anymore. I don’t want to be repetitive or fall into a routine. I want to be with everybody. I want to fulfil the people who have trusted in me over the past 20 years. I have so many ideas and I work so hard with my team – that’s my freedom. It’s like, when I compose music, I don’t just compose one genre – I compose all genres. And now that is important for me in the clubs too. When I played at WooMooN last weekend, I gave my fee to a children’s cancer charity. I just wanted to do something different, creative and inspiring.
Luciano plays a one-off set for charity at WooMoon at Cova Santa
In addition to your own parties, you’re also part of the In the Dark family at Hï Ibiza family. How did that come about? Yann and I are really old friends, from the very beginning. We started this journey together and when everything went up with Ushuaïa, we went our separate ways. But now it’s the right time to get back together, with more experience. And Hï Ibiza was an incredible technical proposition – all the energy they have put in is amazing and I felt like it was the right thing.
What was your first impression of Hï Ibiza? WOW! First of all, it’s a big change. A huge change compared to Space and what it was. What I really like is the idea that they’ve created a smaller space, but there are more places to go and breathe. It’s a different proposition. It needs time to breathe, to transform, to adapt to the island of course. It’s like a baby – a baby doesn’t know how to walk in its first years, but I have had a blast every time I’ve played. It’s absolutely incredible. At the opening I played until 10am and I just couldn’t believe it.
The open-air Magic Garden at Hï Ibiza– a space where clubbers can feel free to go and breathe.
Does Ibiza feel like work or a holiday to you these days? It feels like home. My mother lives here, I have family here, so it’s definitely more like home. Every year, I go out less and less, but do more and more activities and trekking around the island… I love it. You know, I lived the last 20 years of incredible amazing parties in Ibiza but it was quite unhealthy. I ask myself every day now, how did I do it? I have changed my life radically, 360-degrees, in the past six months. I really wanted to have a healthy lifestyle and so now, in summer, I give my body a good treat in Ibiza in order to stay healthy. I do a lot of sport, I swim, I go trekking, I dive… I am outside a lot. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done in years – it’s hard, because of the surroundings I work in, but I am really, really enjoying life like this.
What’s your favourite part of the island? [Smiles] The WHOLE island. I do love the inland. I’ve been doing a lot of mountain biking, where you go on dirt roads and suddenly you arrive at places – farms that look like they have been the same for 40 years – and you think, I’ve been here 20 years here and I had no clue this existed. It’s incredible.
The unspoilt, rural countryside of Ibiza, where life hasn’t changed in decades.
What do you do to relax in Ibiza? I love swimming, so I do a lot of snorkelling. I snorkel all around the island and I’m I am a super passionate diver too. I dive almost everywhere. There are fantastic spots for divers in Ibiza; the chimney in the north, Es Vedra, Formentera and the Don Pedro wreck are all pretty cool spots.
Can you share your favourite beach with us? You know… I have been asked that a lot. But Ibiza is about discovering secrets and I feel like if I keep repeating them, then I am not contributing to that! Maybe I should say Las Salinas? [laughs]
Ibiza’s home of health and happiness: Passion Cafe – Marina Ibiza.
Do you have a favourite place to eat breakfast here? At Passion. I love coming to Passion to have my little flu shot, it’s like my ritual. Now I’m not drinking alcohol, I’ve really gotten addicted to them! I also love the pesto eggs…
What about a lunch location? You know, it’s nothing new but I love going to El Chiringuito to see Jonathan and Olivia, they are really old friends and it’s a classic on the island. They always play really great music there, so it’s really cool, I really enjoy it – it’s still untouchable.
What would be your dinner recommendation? Pastis – it’s absolutely the bomb! Now, when I go out in Ibiza, it’s for a nice dinner like this, or a concert or exhibition or something interesting. These are the things that give me air. I am a very simple person. I always feel super blessed by all the love I get, but sometimes, my sensibility is touched and I feel a little uncomfortable when I go to a club. I like the freedom of being Mr Noone, without being judged.
Iconic Ibiza beach restaurant El Chiringuitoon the beach at Es Cavallet.
Do you have a favourite place to DJ? I love open air. I am transforming my career at the moment, and 95-percent of my gigs during the summer are in the daytime. I realised that people are different during the daytime. The smiles are true, they are honest, the energy is different and there’s less aggressiveness. And music sounds better in the day – I’m a solar person.
What’s your ultimate Ibiza track? It’s one of the records that first got me into electronic music: Manuel Göttsching – E2 E4. For me, it has that Balearic sound, before Balearic was even a thing. The magic of that music…
Best Ibiza memory? Nooo…. I mean, memories of Ibiza? I can tell you memories from every other place I have ever been, but here it’s so hard to just choose one. I do remember one really incredible time, such a long time ago, in those first years when I was resident at DC10. I played a 14-hour set at Blue Marlin, back when it was a tiny place under the trees, nothing chicy chicy. That was really, really magical.
LUCIANO PLAYS IN THE DARK ON AUGUST 10, SEPTEMBER 7 & 21, 2017, PLUS A VERY SPECIAL ONE-OFF VAGABUNDOS EVENT ON SEPTEMBER 5, 2017 AT HÏ IBIZA.