Much has been written about the big changes made at Pacha this season. While social media outlets speculated and artists made their own personal statements, Pacha, remained silent. Now in an exclusive interview with the Blog, Pacha's program director, Steve Hulme, puts the record straight, stating confidently that, "Pacha is now ready to Speak". Steve is keen to emphasise, that he speaks on behalf of a team, a family of people at Pacha, that make everything happen. Steve Hulme, has an impressive musical pedigree, with over 20 years of experience within the industry. He started running dance events in the early 90's from Leeds Corn Exchange, to Leicester Square's, now departed Maximus. He then managed the subliminal label in New York for seven years, before joining Pacha, where he has been in charge of Pacha Recordings and the Multimedia department for the past eight years. In one of the toughest moments of his career, he had to make the call to good friend Erick Morillo, to discuss with him, the future direction of the Pacha/Morillo relationship. "It broke my heart" he laments, "but relationships in life move on and as the environment around us dictates....goals can change". We will come back to the Erick Morillo story later, as we talk about each night individually and why the team at Pacha, felt that in general, things had become "a little stale" and that it was important for "all voices" inside Pacha to be heard, and not have music policy "dictated by one department as it had to be in the past".
Pacha General Manager Francisco Ferrer
The first question I put to Steve, is why the club decided to make such dramatic changes to its schedule and embark on a new direction. "After Danny Whittle departed the club, we felt it was an ideal opportunity for real change. We did toy around with the idea of bringing people in, but we decided to do it internally.Younger members of the Urgell family, felt that it was important not to stand still and that Pacha should embrace new music and styles. The Deep-Tech sound was where we wanted to go musically and we set about designing parties around that genre. The whole team at Pacha were of the opinion that we should be part of the scene and not apart from it. We felt the time was right, to grasp that opportunity and step it up to another level". That level was certainly achieved as Pacha went to work designing a fresh schedule that would introduce five new concepts to the Island. "Lots of stuff was up in the air, as we tried to negotiate contracts" states Steve. There was a degree of apprehension inside the Industry, as the new Pacha Team set about building relationships with the Industry."It was not an easy time for the first two or three months and we did not want to throw fuel on the fire by commenting on what we were doing. What was very important to us was a commitment to our 20 week program and this was a deal breaker with some nights". We will talk about those reasons below, as we take a step by step look at each night.
The departure of Tiesto, came as a surprise to some, but Steve confirms it was a mutual decision by Pacha and Tiesto to leave. "There was no tears involved in the Tiesto move and it was an adult decision made mutually between both of us before the end of last season. Monday nights with Tiesto functioned pretty well, as hes such a professional. The supporting DJ's to Tiesto like, Da Da Life and Bingo Players worked out really well. However, I think for Tiesto fans, his new style was a little too much to swallow and they didn't really buy into the new venue and musical concept.... you got to remember he was a God at Privilege. As Tiesto could only commit to eight parties this season, we felt it was better to concentrate on the House music aspect that many of the Monday guests brought to the room. We also wanted to find a good home for Chuckie and his Dirty Dutch sound, so we developed an epic themed party, Epica. It will centre around great vocals, energy, big beats and wave after wave of epic peaks".
I then ask Steve about Tuesday night, now a permanent fixture of the Flower Power party. "We had always wanted Flower Power to go weekly for a long time, but the problem was trying to convince Pacha co-owner and its original DJ, Piti, to do it. Francisco, the General Manager, had many discussions with Piti to make a Flower Power weekly residency, a reality. Its Piti's party and we know how special it is to him and the people who love Flower Power. Tuesday night, was one of those nights that was not stable. Renaissance was musically savvy but it didn't really get a chance to get a foothold. For the the first time in many years, I think we now have a secure party for Tuesday nights and we are very proud, its one of our own in house productions"
Pacha's most loved DJ Erick Morillo
One of the big surprises in Ibiza this season, was the decision to change the Erick Morillo, Subliminal party on Wednesday, in favour of Guy Gerber's, new, Wisdom Of The Glove party on a midweek date. Its a question that Steve answers honestly, having worked with Subliminal for seven years, "it broke my heart to have to make that call. The team at Pacha did not want to loose Eric but we did want to change the night to a Deep Tech party. We offered Erick multiple Saturdays as a way to keep him in Pacha, as we felt his sound was more suited to a commercial night in season 2013, especially given the music he was playing with Subliminal and his Sympho Nympho Group, but Erick wanted to do the Wednesday Subliminal slot. It was a very hard conversation to have, but in the end, we both felt it was best for us to do our own thing. Pacha has the utmost of respect for Erick, everybody loves him here and we wish him the best, as he was an integral part of our brand for the past 10-15 years." On the introduction of Guy Gerber's, Wisdom Of The Glove night, Steve, was full of praise for the party "We are very excited about this party, the vibe Guy creates with the DJ's who work with him is truly special. He played a session at Delano in Miami last week, back to back with David Squilacce ,Martin Buttrich and others, that was as good as anything I have ever witnessed....the crowd were orgasmic for five hours. The place was full of the Worlds best Deep-Tech DJ's, from Solomun to Loco Dice, Tini to Droog, all loosing the plot to Guy and his mates rocking out. Previously I had seen Guy go back to back with Seth Troxler, at the Wall in Miami, where he blew the place apart also doing an after show at Art Department, that had to be seen to be believed." General consensus within the industry suggests, that this party will be the secret hot ticket for Pacha this season.
We then move to Thursday and the King of Pacha, David Guetta. "This was the easiest night to sign up" Steve replies. "Pacha offers a unique atmosphere for David, a place where he feels close to the crowd...he loves that connection" I then ask Steve about the rumour that Privilege wanted to sign Guetta for 2013 "David has always done what he wants to do. The choice wasn't ours, it was Davids and he loves Pacha, as its a perfect size club for him and what he wants to achieve here in Ibiza. He's such a good guy to work with and we hope he will always want Pacha to be his Ibiza home."
Friday nights and Pete Tong. While not a huge surprise, due to his close friendship to Danny Whittle, it had been expected that the Radio 1 DJ, would remain associated with Pacha. I question Steve as to why Tong was no longer involved with Friday nights at Pacha "Pete is a legend and is a great ambassador for Dance Music. He is an artist for all seasons and champions a lot of different styles through the years...just listen to his back catalogue of mix sessions and tracks, to realise that he has graced every style and genre in Club music. For Fridays, musically, we wanted to go down the funky Tech-House route and required specific, streamlined artists, for that style. We wanted artists solidly associated, with the funky Tech House style, like John Digweed, Fritz Kalkbrenner, Umek, DJ Sneak, Monica Kruse, Terry Francis, Uner, Coyu and Hosh....DJ's with pedigree in that sound. I want to be clear, that there is no negative ill-will directed at Pete Tong by the above comments. For me he's a real legend who has championed Dance Music for the past 25 years. We did offer alternatives to Pete inside Pacha, but utterly respect his decision to continue on the path he has chosen. We wish nothing but the best for Pete and thank him for his many years here at Pacha"
The Defected party was another night that was expected to hang on at Pacha this season, but with Pacha's new desire to change and freshen up its schedules, settled incumbents of another era, like Subliminal, Renaissance,Pete Tong and Defected were always going to be on shifting sands. "When Defected first joined Pacha, they were a Funky Disco and sexy house music party" comments Steve. "Thats what that label was. In recent years they veered away from that style musically, drifting towards a Deep Tech sound, which was doing well for them. Some of their nights last year would waiver from the original Defected sound of Junior Jack, to deeper Tech sounds like Denis Ferrer. Each individual artist was great, but the sound on the dance-floor would go from Bob Sinclair to Solomun, week by week, which worked well for a transient, holiday crowd. That is not what we wanted for Saturday nights at Pacha this year, so sadly, we decided to end the relationship and introduce a more cross over, House style for Saturday nights...... a real high street clubbing experience, with lots of anthems and hit driven house music. Its probably not going to be a night for the purists, as its designed to attract a fun based, Saturday night clubber crowd, that go out to enjoy themselves, people who make love heart signs or sing along to anthems. Pure Pacha, is designed to be the ultimate, Classic Saturday night Club, to be found anywhere in the World"
While many expected Luciano and Cadenza to ally themselves to Danny Whittles new club at nearby Bomba, Steve was at pains to stress that it was never any goal of Pacha to say Goodbye to Cadenza and Luciano. "We work to a 20 week program here at Pacha in the summer. Our business model is based around that.Unfortunately, Vagabundos could just commit to fifteen weeks, with Luciano, only appearing for eight parties. For us at Pacha, eight weeks is not a viable business, so we decided to change the concept and go with an artist that would commit to a 20 week residency. In Solomun, we found a person who understands what we are about here in Pacha and who is willing to work with us to achieve our goals. He made it known that he wanted to be at Pacha and we are very happy and honoured to have him at the Club as he came with a great Solomun + 1 concept." As we discuss the Luciano move, I mention that Luciano may be joining new club Bomba, which will be a close neighbour of Pacha this season. "It is definitely going to open, what date I don't know, but sooner or later it will open its doors " comments Steve. "On one hand it will bring more people into the area, perhaps it could be the best thing to happen, perhaps not. Its not something that I can control, but as ever, Pacha, will make the best out of the changes it brings to Ibiza. When other restaurants opened around the success of Lio, it did not affect our business negatively, in fact, we went from strength to strength. For me, there is no competition between Pacha and any other Club in Ibiza, we do what we do best and believe strongly in our product".
Solomun + 1
With regard to ticket prices and VIP areas at Pacha, Steve states that prices will stay much the same as last year and that the VIP areas would remain. "Here at Pacha we operate with the same costs as most Ibiza clubs but with half the capacity. Personally, I feel the VIP area is a great value way to experience the Pacha vibe. Five to ten people can book a VIP table with service, drinks and seating, for much the same cost as standard door entry and drinking at the bar. VIP at Pacha, is not about elitism, its more about a style of comfort and experience associated with our brand. Plus this season at Pacha, we have so many quality DJ's billed on the same night, that we feel, represents excellent value for money. If bought in advance, tickets can be as low as €30. We also offer complimentary access to the club from our adjoining Pacha restaurant and to guests of El Hotel, so we consider our ticket prices to be fair for what we offer"
Steve accepts that the 2013 pre-season, has been a difficult one for many reasons. "We had to make a lot of hard decisions, take one or two knocks, and move on. It wasn't our intention for Erick Morillo or Luciano to exit Pacha, but we are not in control of the markets changing patterns, or the DJ's who make their own choices based on their bottom line needs. Some we win, some we loose and good or bad, everybody has to do what best suits themselves..... but all in all, we feel we have come out of it all in good shape. We are excited and raring to get this summer started. Our free to Islanders party series in April and May, shows how united and purpose driven Pacha are in 2013. All the DJ's at Pacha this 2013 season, are fully committed and united with us...its a beautiful thing and it feels good to be part of it."
The Original Staff Of Pacha 1973
Its clear that Steve is a Pacha man, through and through, and along with General Manager, Francisco Ferrer, who he describes as the "Heartbeat" of Pacha, the Club is in the safe hands of experienced and talented people who love the place. Its direction now comes from within, as Pacha makes decisions as a united family, which was the original ethos of the club when it was founded in 1973. People like Jessica Capaz in the office, who Steve lovingly describes as his "Soldier Grrrl" and Tallyn, who assists Francisco, with the heavy day and night workload. For all these people at the Club and the many more unsung heroes who contribute to the collective health of the brand, Pacha, is quintessentially Ibiza, as it reflects a unique style that belongs to the Island. Its more than just a job, they see it as a proud tradition and bastion of Ibicenco style, that should always burn brightly. It sets the standard for others to follow and this season, it has pruned the shoots of its iconic fruit cherries, to stimulate fresh growth and new beginnings. We all look forward to a blossoming summer.
The Blog would like to sincerely thank all the team at Pacha, for their time and assistance with this interview.