The Heritage Project is an Ibiza family affair, spanning two generations of DJs and a multitude of musical genres. Meet father and son duo Alfredo and Jaime Fiorito – the former, an ex-journalist from Argentina who fell into DJing and was dubbed ‘the godfather of the Balearic beat’ and the latter, born and bred in Ibiza, growing up as the famous nightclub scene exploded around him.
Alfredo takes us back to where it all began – the year was 1976 and he was arriving via boat to the port of Ibiza, escaping the political repression in his homeland and seeking a new beginning. ‘I wasn’t expecting much from Ibiza to tell you the truth,’ he admits. ‘I didn’t know much about it. But from the moment I stepped foot on the port, I discovered the hippy atmosphere, felt a lot of compassion and real freedom. I loved it.’
‘We lived in houses without electricity or running water, there were no telephones, video, nothing. There was a television in a bar, with just two channels but other than that there was no type of communication. People just knew each other by their first names – many people came here for a new beginning and the Ibicencos were very welcoming, as long as we respected the island.’
Wanting to distance himself from his former life and journalism career, Alfredo took on any job to make ends meet, after Jaime was born in 1977. From painting houses and working in markets to running an independent fashion store that ultimately became quite successful. But as the island started changing and big fashion brands like Levis took over the industry, this too came to an end and one fateful day in 1982, he started work as a bartender in ibiza’s port, where he discovered his next calling in the form of two turntables and a mixer…
‘The mixer to me was just magic’ he says. ‘In Argentina I had also been organising rock and roll concerts but this showed me a new way to experience music – your own way. To discover that you could use music to make a living, in a way that was really quite successful – I got the idea that this really could become my job.’
Thanks to Alfredo’s eclectic selection of international music, the little bar was a hit. After being given a collection of old records as a gift from the bar owner, he began to seek out music of his own, collecting records alongside his good friend and musical mentor, Leo Mas, hunting down records in warehouses in Milan that would go on to become Balearic anthems like Why Why Why by the Woodentops.
Eventually he decided to throw his own party – dubbed ‘Impossible’ – in Amnesia in 1983. While the party was a hit, Alfredo would have to bide his time for another year (moving to Formentera to work in a bar in the meantime) until the owners offered him a full time position.
‘We had a terrible sound system and there was absolutely nobody in the club!’ Alfredo recalls of the beginning of the season. ‘Pacha and Ku (now Privilege) were the biggest clubs on the island and they were playing disco. People would go out to Pacha until 3am, then onto Ku – Amnesia was an alternative, but there were just no clientele. But then casually, in the middle of summer, I started to play some music while the club was closed and I was waiting to get paid and it just worked!’
People starting popping in from Ku – first a handful, the next day 100 and a few days later 500. It seemed that good news traveled fast! ‘We had to open the club after 6am and it was like an after hours,’ Alfredo says, never aware that he was at the very centre of Ibiza’s musical revolution. ‘People would pass by on their way home and I had to really concentrate on keeping them there with the music. I was really happy to be there, just making people dance.’
Forget the Amnesia that you see here in Ibiza today. At the time, it was open air, there were no VIP areas, the price of drinks and entrance was very low and the fusion of people was a multicultural hotchpotch who found language was no barrier – it was Alfredo’s music that connected them. ‘I was playing pop, rock, soul, South American music, Italian, French, TV and film soundtracks, Flamenco, salsa – everything! Amnesia broke down the barriers between the English crowds, who were looked down upon, and the rest of the island. The integration and interaction at Amnesia was so important.’
Meanwhile, for seven-year old Jaime, Amnesia was like a giant playground, tagging along after his papa, who was quickly becoming one of the island’s most popular characters. ‘I loved hanging out there,’ says Jaime. ‘I used to go in the afternoons and dance around disco balls, playing with the lights… older people treated me like a buddy and I never wanted to go home!’
Alfredo interrupts. ‘Until Papa said “OK. Jaime, now it’s time to go.” He used to get totally pissed off and wanted to stay even longer.’ It’s no surprise that the musical gene was passed down this way – with luminary babysitters like Adamski and Ricardo from KLF, Jaime inherited his father’s love of music and skill for reading a dance floor.
But it wasn’t easy. After moving with his mother to Switzerland, Jaime’s summer holidays would be spent in Ibiza, where he found his dad’s popularity overwhelming. ‘We couldn’t go to the beach without 50 people coming and saying hi to him, and nobody knew my name. I felt a bit of a backlash towards Ibiza at times, like I was annoyed my dad was a DJ! He was so much of an icon at this time everyone wanted to be around him, so it was difficult for me. I thought it was quite superficial and a bit of a cultural clash for me.’
Rather than initially becoming a DJ himself, young Jaime saw a business opportunity in the clubbing industry, and when Alfredo made the move from Amnesia to Pacha, he started to work alongside his father – selling cassette tapes of the party mixes to eager fans. ‘That was a fun summer – I made loads of money and started having a great time, I was also rapping, on the mike at Pacha.’
It seemed working in the music industry would be inevitable for Jaime, who bought his first set of decks as a hobby in 1994, though he admits to initially rebelling against the idea! Back in Switzerland, he became a party promoter, organising warehouse raves for which he would fly his father out as a guest star.
Slowly but surely, they started to play together and Jaime was enticed back to Ibiza for the 1999 millenium parties, when Alfredo suggesting to the Manumission team that his son had what it took to man the decks in the La Vaca Loca back room at Privilege.
Jaime admits there was a certain pressure in being ‘Alfredo’s son’ and that people had very high expectations, which resulted in his self confidence taking a blow and putting a lot of pressure on himself. ‘I used to feel the pressure for him!’ says Alfredo. ‘But I knew all those people would have swapped places with him in a second if they could.’
Over the next few years, Jaime and Alfredo played together at El Divino in its heyday, and the legendary Manumission at Privilege and its epic Carry On parties at Space at the height of its success. ‘Ultimately, it was when I turned 30 that I learned it’s not about the music you play but how you play it and how you communicate with the crowd,’ Jaime says of his decision to leave Ibiza and study music production in London. ‘I learned from my father to respect the classics and not be influenced by trends.’
‘It took me a lot to teach him that! I’d been nursing him in a way,’ says Alfredo of their time in the main room at Privilege. ‘One mistake there and you’d lose 1000 people, so I’d really push records on him.’ Jaime interjects, ‘Sometimes I do that to you now!’
‘I’ve learned a lot from Jaime,’ says Alfredo. ‘I’ve been playing music for 35 years and it’s easy to lose contact with the younger generations. He showed me a new way to listen to music – many times – and to appreciate sounds and trends and even ways of mixing. For me, switching from vinyl to digital was hard – I wasn’t born with a computer in my hand like Jaime was.’ After Jaime returned to Ibiza in 2007, the duo discovered a new lease on their musical life at the famous We Love Sundays sessions at Space in 2007, when they began playing together again… purely for fun!
Fast forward to 2012 and the musical partnership is stronger than ever. The Heritage Project was born from the idea of sharing two generations of knowledge and perspectives, uniting nostalgia with modernity and a true nod to the island’s rich musical heritage – not simply a brand name to DJ under. The ever-expanding concept incorporates a blog, radio show, videos and a series of parties presenting a cross section of music spanning the ‘90s until now, plus special gigs at We Love Space and the all-new Ibiza 123 Festival.
‘Music is something I learned from my father, and something I can pass on to my family,’ says Jaime. ‘For me, if I have children and they like music, I’d find it cool if they wanted to be a DJ and we played together,’ says Jaime. Alfredo is quick to point out the age gap, ‘It would be much more difficult – you were born when I was 26!’
Going back to the topic of their Ibiza roots, Jaime has an analogy to explain the reason both have remained true to the white isle after so many years. ‘It’s a cliché, but Ibiza is like a virus,’ says Jaime. ‘Once you get touched, you always have it in you and you can go wherever you want but there’ll always be a moment when you realise you miss it and need to return. It’s a feeling, and I’ve never been able to recreate the kind of freedom I have in Ibiza anywhere else. I was born here and I’ll always be attached to it – it’s home.’
‘That virus Jaime speaks of, it’s all over me,’ agrees Alfredo. ‘Family for me is a very important tie for me too. I think Ibiza is so special. Over time I’ve seen places like St Tropez – at the same stage of progress as Ibiza is now – fall out of favour when it expanded too quickly, but there’s something about this island… even its position on the map. So many generations and cultures have conquered this island and left their mark, creating its core… The new generation of children here are charged with a new energy, plus a lot of power and resources we didn’t have – who knows what will happen next!’
Photography by Eva Kruiper