We saw tINI last month for her first-rate tINI & The Gang party at Sands Ibiza. A weekly beach event in its fourth season, tINI's gathering offers one of the purest underground experiences around. And guess what? It's free of charge. Yes, on an island now notorious for its rampant commercialism and pursuit of the bottom dollar, here is the one get-together that sets out to give back.
THUMP caught up with the Queen of Desolat one week later to not only talk about the Gang, her musical style and current status, but her big break and how she's paying it forward.
As we soon found out, giving back is perhaps the most important item on tINI's agenda.
THUMP: I'm sure a lot of people ask you what you remember about the first gig you played. I was hoping I could actually do the opposite and tell you instead about the first gig I saw you play?
It was one of Loco Dice's Used + Abused jams at Ushuaïa Ibiza last summer. You closed after him. I've never seen such a big crowd so absolutely spellbound. You took them from Dice's wild style into in this total state of rhythmic hypnosis. I've been hooked on you since.
I was so nervous, you have no idea. I mean, taking over such a party from Loco Dice is just massive. He had to leave and I knew it was going to be my big day for that place. Ushuaïa is huge. The party was packed. And I was so nervous to take over. I'm glad you liked it so much.
In the last year I have started to appreciate what separates Desolat from the other labels. Unlike Minus, SCI+TEC or Hot Creations, I can't think of a home base where there is such a wide spectrum of different sounds from different artists. I am talking about you, Dice, Martin Buttrich, Guti, Hector, Livio & Ruby, Yaya… everyone.
Dice chose us very well. Because we all fit together. We can play at one event together but still be diverse at the same time. I think this was very important for him when he selected the main label artists. For me, it's amazing. I have the absolute freedom to do what I want to do. I can grow as an artist and I'm never stuck feeling I need to do something. I mean, of course there are times where you have to change your sound a little bit in order to fit in the night. It could be a massive venue and I wouldn't be able to play knee-deep if the set's before Dice, obviously. But in total, I have the freedom I never expected.
Desolat is also one of the few that really lets its musicians grow into true headliners. On a lot of other big imprints, the main talent peak as support on label showcases. Or they are kept at a level clearly below the boss. That's not the case with Desolat artists.
Absolutely. Desolat gives us the push. Sometimes a little bit of help is needed to grow as an artist. And this is what I definitely got from Dice. There is never an ego happening. You can tell by him letting me close his party which was so important. A massive responsibility. He put it in my hands, full-on trust. This lets me grow as an artist and even look like a bigger one. You can see the kind of respect Dice gives us in this case.
You got associated with Dice many years ago because he liked your music so much and asked you to play with him one night in Germany. So what made you more nervous: playing before him as a rookie in a small club or playing after him as a veteran like at Used + Abused?
Oh my god! It was definitely before him. It was crazy. I was so anxious. I remember the night, my best friend Tessa was there with me. I had been playing, then he came to the set and was really digging it. And he told me he was going to play for a few hours and then I was going to hop on back-to-back. This was actually the moment that I got the most tense. I had to go to the restaurant across the street and have a drink. I was like, "I cannot handle this!" Him asking me to do this was a very big thing.
On that topic, there are a lot of established back-to-back duos in the business. Dice and Marco Carola, of course. Richie Hawtin and Dubfire, Luciano and Ricardo Villalobos,Adam Beyer and Joseph Capriati. But you can play back-to-back with everyone and they sound like your perfect match. There's Bill Patrick, Guti, Guy Gerber, Enzo Siragusa, Robert Dietz,Dice, of course. And even more!
Thank you, yes! Exactly, it is like this. And I would say for myself that I am ten different tINIs at least. Because I have such a big love for music that I collect and dig for it all the time. Then my range goes from ambient to dub techno to deep house to tech house to minimal. So I can adapt easily because I have so much material that I will always find something. When someone plays a track, I'll know how to answer right away. And since the artists that I play with are experienced with nice records, it makes it way easier. All of them think like I do and they themselves have a response to my tracks. I love it!
Any big artists you have played with at an after-party behind closed doors that your fans might not know about?
Oh, secret back-to-backs [laughs]? I did a really nice deep house one with Dubfire. He played with vinyl. That was really, really, really great.
As the season closes, you remain one of the most in-demand acts in Ibiza. There is your tINI & The Gang party, plus you've been booked at all the other superstar ones on the island: Music On, ENTER., Paradise, FUSE, We Love, the list goes on. Do you find switching from party to party means having to adapt your style at all?
It is not so much adapting the style, it's more about the set time that I have. Or how big the venue is. Like if I play a warmup for Music On, then I will play completely different than how I did at peak time at DC-10 for Jamie Jones. At peak time, you play the techy stuff. And during a warmup, you play the deep stuff. But then in Ushuaia, you play other stuff because it's open air. Or at my beach party, I can play anything I want but it also depends on who is on before me or after me. There are just so many things that are important from where I decide how I'm going to play.
Can you take me inside that process?
I just decide in the moment how I feel about the crowd, the people, what is going on. It's not just that I have this one bag or folder and just throw out the tracks all the time. No, I really care about each and every moment. Because I have a lot of people, for example, who come every week to the beach and ask me how I do it. Saying how they never hear me repeat the same songs or anything. As a DJ, it's really nice. And I have so much fun doing this because I hear tracks again that I haven't heard in a long time that I dig out.
It sounds like you also play very much according to mood. Not just your own, but the mood of the atmosphere.
It's the energy of the sounds. Sometimes if it's a very happy party and you go too deep, it can be hard work for the people. Or the other way around if you play a basement party. But I would say the taste is the same and you will always hear the tINI out of it. And this is what I love. To play all these clubs and to show all the different tINIs that I have. This is how you can best prove if you're a good DJ or not.
tINI & The Gang provides an important stage to establish newer names on the underground circuit. How satisfying is it for you to grant relatively unknown talent this opportunity?
It's one of the biggest joys I have at this time. Besides the Gang parties, I'm taking some artists with me to Europe as support. And it's incredible that I have the chance now to give something back. This is how I came up. Dice gave me the platform, Dice took me on tour. Without him I would not have the visibility like I have now to give something back, and that for me is everything. It's also about the music I like and care about. They go and represent the Gang out there. It's really special.
You can follow Christopher on Twitter and Instagram at: @theCMprogram