“Improvisation is my biggest artform … A loud life needs also a quiet part,
but when the fire’s on, the fire’s on.”
A legend in his own time, a cultural leader and dark prince of the Techno underground, Sven Väth and his Cocoon parties metamorphosized Ibiza’s musical landscape. With an uncompromising passion for his art, the self-proclaimed “vinyl dinosaur” sticks by his setup; with “two decks and a mixer” he has no need for high tech frills and will never tire of going to record stores. For him the magic is in the tangibility of mixing, and with his singular ability to dive deep into epically mammoth sets, he transports the willing listener into strange universes of aural discovery.
Väth’s recent interview with Ben Turner at the International Music Summit in Ibiza is a fascinating peek inside his contemporary life and his early years as a free-spirited youth, starting from his first trip to the White Isle at 16. Once the unchained raver losing his mind on the dancefloor, Väth has spent decades there since, confessing, “a 20-hour set in Ibiza for me is normal.”
Few performers can boast that kind of joyful stamina. Reaching his “granddaddy” of Techno status, he’s nearly 50 and more vital than ever. With Cocoon he became an institution of the afterhours underground, and bore witness to the moment when “techno arrived in Ibiza.”
In the interview he touches on the island’s newer trend toward VIP club culture, waxing nostalgic for the purer days:
“Ibiza was never about VIPs… I love this hippie feeling here, this free spirit, no barriers between rich, middle class, no class… Cocoon somehow, we invented the afterhour culture… we don’t want to be Miami… the big business was never really our motivation here… it’s too much of everything… for me, the party is the dancefloor, and I make music, my music, is for the danceloor.”
On the topic of excess, he also speaks about America’s current EDM boom. He explains it by reflecting back on the irony of the Detroit and Chicago house heyday, which was bigger outside the US than within it: “That was always my big question, because I think, the main thing….in America they want to sell things… they need stars, they need hook lines, they need big themes…”
Despite the extreme changes in industry trends and advancements in equipment technology, he holds to his own special standard of excellence that will never be matched. With another Balearic summer upon us, there will certainly be too much to see every night, and too many parties to choose from. But amidst everything, VIP or otherwise, there’s only one Cocoon, and only one Sven Väth.