Spanish influence on house and techno music has grown in recent years, epitomised by Elrow’s prominence in the British clubbing set-up. In wake of the party’s Halloween ‘thriller’ at The Warehouse Project (WHP) in Manchester, James Bate spoke with Spanish producer and Elrow resident, Bastian Bux, to get an insight into the Spanish dance music scene and whether it has mirrored the house revival we have witnessed in the UK. Bastian shares his first clubbing memories, which include anecdotes of Ibiza, and discusses the similarity between British and Spanish electronic musical cultures.
But firstly, there is one Spanish party that has changed raving forever and I’m not referring to the celebrations taking place in Gareth Bale’s mansion (following his new lucrative contract for Real Madrid). I am, of course, talking about Elrow – the best Spanish export since San Miguel.
Elrow, es más loco fiesta en el mundo. Elrow, the craziest party in the world. Quite the claim from reputable electronic dance music source, Resident Advisor, but they do have a point. The award-winning multi-sensory rave has become the go-to event in any city across Europe, transforming dancefloors into psychedelic playgrounds supplemented by the sounds of tech-house playing overhead. Elrow have inherited a new realm to raving, much to the appreciation of everyone in the scene, and its expansive global popularity has ensued bookings at the world’s best venues and festivals.
Elrow descends from the Catalonian region of Spain and yet upon closer inspection of any Elrow parties, particularly ones over the summer at Space Ibiza, many UK producers were at the heart of action. Edible label manager and ‘house’-hold name, Eats Everything, held a residency at the infamous Elrow City Terraza. Unsurprisingly the Hot Creations crew, consisting of Patrick Topping, wAFF and Richy Ahmed (see video below), have been Elrow favourites since its inception and local Leeds lad and Knee Deep In Sound creator, Hot Since 82, also featured. Since it’s reincarnation 5 years ago, house music has dominated the UK electronic music charts, in the mainstream and underground, exemplified by the prevalence of British house DJs around the globe. Naturally, this is because house music was founded in the UK (despite what Americans from Detroit may say), with Elrow-newbie, Bastian Bux, describing the genre as “UK house”.
Bastian Bux is a name that doesn’t permit such familiarity as with the DJs previously mentioned, and yet the 29-year old producer spun the decks more frequently than any other DJ at Elrow Space Ibiza this past summer. He and Spanish compatriots Marc Maya and Toni Varga are the new residents of Elrow, and their inclusion has become a recurring feature of their events.
Even though the world’s best DJs usually occupy the prime slots, artists like Bastian have become integral to Elrow’s development in ensuring that a Spanish influence is forever present at their raves.
The Spaniard has previously released on Barcelona-based underground house and techno label, Suara, with ‘Screenshot’ and ‘Stay’ arguably being his best tracks (see below). Luckily I had the chance to briefly meet up with Bastian in Manchester before his set at WHP, and I felt honoured interviewing an individual who had recently played at Space’s closing fiesta.
“When I first visited Ibiza just over 10 years ago, I always dreamt of how good it would be to play in Space” Bastian recited. The Balearic Island has been the hub of dance music for more than 27 years and obviously left lasting impressions on ravers of all nationalities and ages. “When my friends came to Ibiza this summer and watched me play at the main room of Space, that was my favourite Ibiza memory” Bastian added. DJs from all over the world have fundamentally established Ibiza’s musical legacy, but more recently the majority of producers, label managers, club owners, promoters, ravers and seasonal workers on the White Isle have come from Britain and Spain. Italian techno ambassadors Marco Carola and Joseph Capriati will go down in Ibizan folklore, but for the past 3-5 years house music has been most influenced by Anglo-Spanish culture.
Bastian was incredibly mature, and knowledgeable, about what is currently happening in house and techno, appreciating that it is attracting a different type of crowd – much to the criticism of the ‘experienced raver’. “I think everything changes and I don’t want to bring up the debate that Ibiza was only good 20 years ago and now it’s just about the money,” Bastian commented. “There are a lot of new clubbers that have the right to enjoy Ibiza. In the future there are going to be different opportunities, but people will always take care of the die-hard clubbing scene”.
What Bastian is alluding to is a common question in dance music: Is Ibiza as good as it used to be? Many bigoted individuals will state that dance music is now mainstream and “the drugs just aren’t the same”. While this in parts might be true, you have to appreciate this so-called house and techno ‘revolution’, and take it as a positive for the scene. Mostly British / Spanish contributors have driven this revival and their successes on the White Isle were pivotal.
“We both love straight-up groovy music, particularly the functional tech-house that UK producers are best at, and we love to mix it with all kinds of techno music”, Bastian affirmed. This was evident in the sets of each Elrow resident at WHP as Marc Maya, Toni Varga and Bastian Bux all flirted with minimal techno infusing its bass with house-influenced build-ups, which in essence, is tech-house. Judging from their high calibre mixing skills it is no surprise why these three have been chosen to represent the Elrow brand. Their regular inclusion at some of the UK’s biggest, and most exciting raves hosted by Elrow, shows that Spanish producers are playing a massive role in the progression of UK House. And vice versa.
Elrow’s takeover of WHP was a perfect example of this, as an ensemble of British and Spanish DJs played the very best in house and techno to a crowd upwards of 3000. Solardo’s ‘Tribesmen’, my track of the week in October, was again the hit of the night with the Mancunian boys coming back to their hometown for one of the best raves in WHP’s season. This has been quite the year for Solardo, who have already released on VIVa MUSiC and Hot Creations, and the tech-house duo even travelled to Leeds straight after Elrow to play at Mint Warehouse. Bristolian, Eats Everything, and techno legend, Pan-Pot, typically performed like routine fashion and the event as a whole can be considered yet another success in Elrow’s busy ‘post-summer’ calendar. With sell out events at Motion (Bristol) and Tobacco Dock (London) to come in the next few months, Elrow’s coveted rave is in my opinion the best event in Europe and it is at perfect timing considering the summer closure of Space and the retirement of Carl Cox.
(Images: facebook.com/ElrowSunday, facebook.com/thewarehouseproject and aranda-estudio.com)