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Young British DJs are Taking Over Ibiza This Summer, But Why Now?

With young UK acts set to dominate Ibiza this summer, we spoke to Bicep and Dusky about this new wave of dance stardom.

Ever since 'Latch' swept into the UK charts at No. 11 in 2012, it's been hard to dispute the domination of Disclosure in the UK pop consciousness. Being one of the most talked about dance acts around means personal success for them, sure, but they're also heading up something of a moment for young UK producers and DJs. With SOHN, Tourist and MNEK bridging the house-pop landscape, and Katy B, Duke Dumont and Route 94 racking up UK No. 1s, Disclosure's rise has occurred in tandem with - or even spurred on - a recent spike in the popularity of dance music culture in the UK, which has had far-reaching implications at clubbing destination in particular: Ibiza.


For some, Ibiza remains a dirty word. The ultimate party island now conjures up images of the DJ Mag Top 100 (names like David Guetta and Avicii, both of whom are indeed playing at Ushuaia this summer), and a sun-kissed stomping ground for Watford Oceana regulars in polo shirts and smart shoes, drink-driving home in their mums Volvos. But renowned club Space - voted last year's Best Global Club - have long been fighting the good fight against those who turn their noses up at the island.

Speaking to Northern Irish house duo Bicep, two of the newly appointed Space residents, they're quick to defend the island as a destination for holiday clubbing: "It offers pretty much the full spectrum of music options, every single week. You can see great disco, hard techno and uplifting trance all in a few days, which is a big draw for people who maybe only get one holiday a year". Much of this is down to the booking policy at Space, and their residency announcements for the 2014 season at We Love… Sundays could prove to be some of the most timely and revelatory in the club's recent history.

We Love… has always prided itself on being a cornerstone for underground acts amongst the overarchingly commercial environment of Ibiza (with previous bookings like Skudge, Machinedrum and Shackleton), but this year feels different; more of a long-term commitment to UK underground artists than just a one-off party. Alongside veterans James Zabiela and Sasha - whose Last Night on Earth line up will include Scuba and Julio Bashmore - and Space regular Paul Woolford, there will be main room appearances for Ben UFO and Bicep, as well as Dusky and Skream, debuting his Skreamizm tour.


Moving such talent from backroom duties to the main room feels a significant sea change. As Dusky points out, We Love… "lays a good foundation and opens people up to some of the more experimental acts on offer". On a personal level, Bicep's evolution has also been mirrored in their progression as DJs at Space. "It's great to have come from the being a kid in the crowd, to playing disco in the back rooms and then closing the terrace and playing techno. We've had plenty of time to learn the crowd and get comfortable. It wasn't very daunting by the time we got up there - really fun, actually".

At face value, the selection of these young residents for We Love… is a measure of the changing attitudes of clubbers accustomed to seeing global superstars like Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada take centre stage; a willingness to invest in younger, less commercially obvious and challenging artists. The DJs too seem happy to embrace the idea of Ibiza as a mecca for dance music; crucial in the cultures genesis and evolution since the halcyon days of acid house. "It's part of the fabric of the island", explain Bicep. "Someone we knew went to a chemist to buy some paracetamol, and the Ibizan check out lady was just jamming to some techno: it was like the island equivalent of Magic 105.4 here."

Add to this the global EDM boom facilitating underground darlings' leap from UK clubs to gargantuan festival crowds without necessarily having global hits or major label deals, and UK names like Bestival and Beacons now splitting their line-up announcements between live acts and DJs, such line ups are placing a greater emphasis and weight on the DJ like never before. As one of the leaders in the game, Space's more challenging and open-minded line-ups will arguably benefit the continued growth and respect of club culture back in the UK.

"Ibiza is a world of it's own and is really only getting better" say Bicep. "The bookings We Love… have been doing are a breath of fresh air amongst all the stagnant, white noise, "cappuccino house" (thanks for that one, Jeremy Underground Paris) that's dominated there for a few years." Its status as a festival destination that caters to both the discerning clubber and the person who goes to there for the sun and sand, "a coming together of different tribes", helps foster a party vibe where "everyone's there to have fun because, at it's core, they're on holiday. The people who'd normally be standing in the corner chinstroking are letting their hair down a bit". Rightly so.

You can follow Lev Harris on Twitter here: @levharris1