Hi Ryan, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Before we start, we wanted to ask – how did an Irish guy end up in Ibiza in the first place?
I arrived with a record box and a head full of dreams like many others in 1999. I booked a two week holiday and was lucky enough not to have to board my return flight. The rest as they say, is history.
How has the island changed for you over the years? Many people think it’s lost its magic?
The rest of the world has caught up with the island. It’s more regulated now, it’s not the lawless island of unbridled hedonism it once was but a lot more people know about Ibiza now so I guess the old way was unsustainable. There is still something for everyone here, the bigger commercial elements are just a bit more in your face, the good stuff needs to be sought out.
You’re now the musical director for Octan Ibiza, what experience do you have in the music industry? What led you to this point?
I’ve been organising and programming events pretty much since I arrived in Ibiza twenty years ago. My longest-running stint was working with We Love at Space where I probably learned the most about the industry, how to run a club properly, how to program an event that runs for 22 hours to an international audience that changes every week, how to deal with agents, how to look after DJs, all the things that go into putting a good program together and keeping everyone happy.
Working under Darren Hughes and Mark & Sarah Broadbent was my most significant apprenticeship. In terms of musical programming, there really wasn’t anyone close to We Love in terms of diversity, scale and boldness.
For anyone that might not know, what exactly does a musical director do?
In my case, I work with artists, management, agents and promoters and oversee the general programming of the club.
And what are some of the biggest challenges you’ll face on the island this season?
Just opening the club is a challenge in itself. We have been conscious of the challenges we faced opening this summer (so soon after acquiring the venue) so we made the decision to only open the club on the weekends and for special one-off events in the first year. We wanted to make sure we got things right for our event partners, that we didn’t overreach and that when we open the doors it’s all killer, no filler for our customers. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
In terms of programming the line ups for different nights, what do you look for?
Overall, diversity is what you want if you don’t want the nights competing against each other when the program starts to get a little busier. Some might not think that the house and techno acts we have initially announced are radically different to what people can find in Ibiza already, but it was really important for us to launch with programming we could be confident would work in that space first – and then introduce the more experimental elements around that.
You have to find the balance for a club to work in Ibiza, we are not trying to reinvent the wheel but we are looking to address the balance.
What makes Octan special compared to the rest of Ibiza?
I think the venue is what makes us special, the physical makeup of the club dictated how this project would work. What I mean by that is the modular nature of Octan’s multitude of rooms invites diversity, we are programming to 800-1000 capacity in our larger rooms and 50-500 in our smaller rooms. That in itself allows for more niche and diverse musical programming within the club.
The trajectory of Ibiza clubbing has been getting bigger each year, bigger artists to fill bigger venues, bigger artist fees making higher prices for clubbers etc. We didn’t want to compete in that arena so we have taken a slightly different direction. The scope of artists who you can book to fill a 4,000 capacity room is quite small, but the scope of artists you can book to fill a 1,000 capacity room is much wider – and in my opinion – a lot more interesting.
In your opinion, what does the future of Octan look like?
I think it’s bright; it’s a long term project and it’s exciting to be a part of these early stages. Right now the biggest thing we have on our side, at least from a PR point of view, is that we are the new thing in Ibiza. There was a huge amount of speculation about the club, so all eyes are on us to see what happens next. But once the dust settles on that and people see where we are going with it I think things will get really interesting.
Find more information on Octan Ibiza here.