Since launching in 1999, UK label Defected has become a cultural institution in house music, led by Managing Director Simon Dunmore's ability to sniff out artists that maintain that pristine balance of newfangled aesthetics and old-school vibes. Everyone from MK to Gilles Peterson to Loco Dice has found a home on the label, and now the label has found a new home in Ibiza––Glitterbox, a Friday night house and disco series hosted on Space Ibiza's legendary terrace.
Dunmore's disco baby, now in its second season, is a reaction to rigidity of the Ibiza club scene. "There's a polarization of dance music in ibiza between ultra-commercial EDM and underground techno," says Dunmore from Defected's UK offices. "We don't want to replicate what's going on at the other clubs. There's a real gap in the market for people who enjoy straight-up house music. Obviously, Defected in the House and our events at Amnesia cater to the younger generation of clubbers in Ibiza, but there are people who have been going to Ibiza for fifteen, twenty years. There was really nothing there for that kind of community."
It's rare that art is taken out of the box by looking to the past, but the Glitterbox aesthetic hearkens back to a time where the lines between genres and scenes were not so rigorously maintained. "There's definitely reference to records that have been played in Ibiza since the mid-80's. Balearic music is very specific to the early days of Ibiza," says Dunmore. "DJs like Alfredo or Pippi, they were very eclectic. It wasn't about playing just house music. Glitterbox isn't necessarily about playing retrospective classics. There's definitely an element of that, but it's about playing great music. It can be contemporary, as long as it fits into a cohesive DJ set."
This season, everyone from Fatboy Slim to Todd Terry, Hercules and Love Affair, Tensnake and Louie Vega have taken on Glitterbox's decks, and revelled in the freed expectations and mature palates of the Glitterbox audience. "They know their house music. They know their classics with a greater depth of knowledge," Dunmore says of the crowd. "And DJs become DJs because of their love of music. A lot of people have tastes that are broader than the music they have a reputation they have for playing in clubs. Glitterbox gives a DJ an opportunity to reach back into records that influenced them."
In fact, the current self-aggrandizing, arms-race of DJing prevalent on the island and elsewhere rankles with Dunmore. "It always puzzles me when DJs are really obsessed with playing upfront and current records when they've got three decades of amazing records they could choose from," he says. "A lot of DJs are preoccupied with their mates and their contemporaries in the room, rather than being occupied with the 2000 people that are in front of them. It's a disease that runs rife through the DJ community."
Dunmore's insistence on intimacy at Glitterbox has made for some transcendent moments. "Two weeks ago, we had Louie Vega play and Barbara Tucker did PA," he beings. "At 6 in the morning, Louie's said to Barbara, 'Jump on the mic and let's jam.' They were completely lost in the vibe of it. It was spontaneous. It wasn't anything that either of them had planned. That's something I feel is missing in clubland. That was definitely a moment."
With Soul Clap, Joey Negro, The 2 Bears, Aeroplane, and Dunmore himself still to grace the decks at Glitterbox this season, it's entirely likely that there are few more moments yet to come. The party brand's fast rise to relevancy has highlighted Ibiza and dance music's desire to enjoy classics without veering into retrospective. It might seem like rocket science, but it's just par for the course for Dunmore and Defected. "Our remit is taking really great underground music and trying to broaden the awareness of the audience," says Dunmore. "That's all we've ever tried to do."
Jemayel Khawaja is Managing Editor of THUMP - @JemayelK