Jamie Jones’ Paradise party at DC-10 has risen to become one of the island’s most popular, but it’s the family ethos behind the successful brand that really sets it apart. DJ Mag Ibiza joins Jones and his Paradise crew on a sticky Wednesday afternoon at DC-10 to talk family values, building a brand, and what Paradise really looks like behind the scenes...
Words: Charlotte Lucy Cijffers
Pics: Tasya Menaker
UK DJ/producer and label boss Jamie Jones has built himself an impressive empire over the last decade — but he hasn’t done it alone. It’s thanks to his crew of like-minded pals that Jones has been so successful, running labels Hot Creations and Emerald City with his buddies Richy Ahmed and Lee Foss, plus setting up playful party brand Paradise, which holds down a sell-out residency at DC-10 each summer.
It’s Jones’ family ethos that’s particularly touching, describing his group of friends as the main reason he’s been able to stay so admirably grounded, despite his stratospheric global success. Keen to take a peek behind the scenes, DJ Mag Ibiza meets up with the Paradise crew on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon at DC-10 — as the whole team prepares for their latest Paradise party — to find out exactly what the famous rave-up looks like when all the lights eventually come on...
FOUNDER & RESIDENT DJ
How did you first get involved with DC-10?
“I first came to the club in 2000, I was doing seasons and at the time had just started DJing around San Antonio. One of my friends brought me to DC-10 for the first time and that’s where I met Dionne — one of the managers in my team. It was pretty simple — there was a piece of cloth over a hole on the side of the road, and you walked into the club from there. Inside was cool music and a football table. Then outside there was just a big space with cardboard boxes to sit on on the floor [laughs].”
Tell us about the Paradise team?
“Dionne is one of my oldest friends and I met her during my first season. It was around the time I started Paradise that I started needing a full team of people. Dionne started as my assistant and now she’s basically my right-hand person. Then there is Kim Nolan — she came up to me on the DC-10 dancefloor because she liked my shirt, she was fresh out of fashion school. I think one thing that really connected us was that we all had a strong connection with the Italian crew in Ibiza at the time — they were very glamorous, we really liked their vibe. The way that they go clubbing and dance was so different to the British people we knew, plus I think Kim was dating an Italian guy at the time [laughs]. Another key player is Richy Ahmed — I met him on the island, I think he’d been DJing in Newcastle for a few years playing terrible R&B records but we just hit it off through raving. When he started to take DJing more seriously I supported him and he started working really hard on it — it really fitted in with what we were doing, so we took him on for the parties. Then, of course, Nick Yates who is a booker and event manager — he’s an amazing host.”
Why is this idea of a family important to you?
“The success that I have had has been very gradual. Even though I’ve been releasing music since 2006, I didn’t start touring probably until my mid-20s. I think it’s very hard for young DJs to know who to trust, especially now that there’s so much money involved. But I have been lucky that I’ve always had a strong group of friends who have consistently supported me and who I trust. I know I can rely on them because at the end of the day we’re all just a bunch of ravers who are here for the music!”
How do you deal with your public persona?
“Well, I can’t go into the dancefloor without having to take pictures for 30 minutes — that can be tough. Sometimes I just have to say: ‘Listen guys, I’m really drunk or really tired or whatever and I just can’t take pictures right now — is that cool?’
"It’s funny because back in the day you would have had to get out your disposable camera to take a picture — it’s a lot easier with the whole iPhone thing now. That said, the people you’ve been hanging with in the green room aren’t the ones that bought tickets to come to the club. The fans are the ones that have given me this lifestyle, they allow me to travel, to have nice clothes, whatever — they’re the people that put me here. So it’s a very small price to pay to go and take some pictures at the end of your set. Even if it’s just 20 minutes or whatever. I always do that and take the time to do that.
“One thing that really annoys me is when I see DJs fobbing fans off or being rude to them — I don’t get annoyed easily, but that annoys me. It’s your duty to realise why you’re here and pay your respects to the people that put you there.”
What about the young acts in the crew like WaFF or Patrick Topping, for example. Do you see yourself as a mentor to them?
“I wouldn’t say a mentor as such, but I definitely try to be there for them. I’d like to think that there is a cycle. I’ve been able to do everything before them and perhaps pass on some experience, and in return having my friends around me in this crew helps keep me very grounded — I don’t think any of our acts would ever dream of being too diva-ish [laughs].”
What kind of music can we expect from Paradise this season?
“It’s an interesting question. When we first opened Paradise, we had a predominantly British crowd but now I think it’s become much more international. Not just at our party, but everywhere — there’s literally people flocking to the island from all over the world. I want to make sure that I have a diverse night. I’ve spent a lot more time touring around Europe in the last year than I have ever before. The rhythms that European people dance to is different, they dance to rhythm rather than music a lot of the time. Of course, they like songs, and every song is a different moment for them, but I think particularly the more latin sound of house music focuses on the rhythms of the track — of the overall groove. You know, when we first started Hot Creations if was kind of a backlash to the whole minimal scene — although I was a fan of that, I was always into minimal techno. But just to do something different, we infused disco into it. Then when that had run its course a bit and music started to become harder — everything is much more techno now, it’s huge.
“What we’re trying to do here is bringing what we built in the UK and what we’re about to the island. You know, musical basslines, interesting vocals, more groovy sounds, connected with the harder side of things. That’s why it’s important for us to have a wide range of DJs, from Daniel Bell and Alan Fitzpatrick to Guy Gerber or Mood II Swing. It’s a very across-the- board booking policy.”
You play here every week — how do you mix your sets up so it doesn’t feel monotonous?
“Recently I’ve been thinking about who I’m playing with every week a lot more. When I’m here playing with the Martinez Brothers, for example, I’d focus my set way more on skippy, old school house sounds, skippy techno. This week, we’ve got Luciano, which is huge. As much as I love techno, it’s all starting to sound a bit cold to me, you know? If I’m playing with Dubfire, it works over the story of an entire night, but I’ve really been working on digging out all of my percussive, tribal-style tunes. So with this new approach it’s allowed me to keep things a lot more interesting from my side, and also to be able to smoothly transition from the person before me.
“You know, there’s so much amazing music out there, from minimal techno, to skippy house, to darker techno, to classic stuff, tribal deep house, and we want to represent that in some way. That’s one great thing about music now, even though trends come and go, people have been exposed to so many different dance music trends over the last five or six years — they’re much more open to new things.”
One thing that’s always been consistent about Paradise is this sense of fun. In Ibiza’s current techno-dominated market, do you think that attitude is more important than ever?
“When we first started Hot Creations we made the logo a palm tree because it represented my background, and I read somewhere once that the palm tree is the plant at the gateway to heaven [laughs]. It was all very cosmic, it was just fun — the night’s called Paradise for a reason. Obviously, we’re very serious about the music, but it’s about having a party. We’ve always had that aesthetic about us.
“At every step, you’re always wondering if you should follow the trend or stick to your guns, after that initial moment of hype has passed. We’re thinking, ‘Wait, should we start making all our posters black?’ [laughs]. But no, we’ve always stuck to our guns. I’m very into fashion but I’m not really into the transient style of fashion. I even said to Dionne last night, ‘Are we just stuck in the eighties here?’ [laughs]. Obviously we put a new twist on the parties every season, but this is what we are, we are colour!”
“Honestly, there’s so many people in our group that are just so happy and bubbly and colourful — they really are just lovely people. There’s a lot of darker, more serious and moody parties on the island, and I love that side of it too, but I think Paradise is a bit of a contrast to that. I think it’s good for the island and it separates us out from the other brands that are here. Plus, I love colour — so it’s mint!”
RESIDENT DJ & A&R
Can you give us a potted history of how you became part of the crew?
“I met Jamie in 2004 in Ibiza when we were doing summer seasons here. When I ended up moving to London a few years later, we ended up living together — at the time he’d just started Hot Creations with Lee (Foss). I started DJing in around 2010 and he always really supported me and pushed it, he saw I had talent. They also took me on as the A&R for Hot Creations and made me one of the partners. When he got the offer to do Paradise we came up with the name, as a hint to the Paradise Garage and also a nod to Jamie’s track of the same name. It just gradually grew from there, really organically.”
Why is the idea of a collective so important to you?
“To be honest, more than it benefitting my career, I’m just happy to be doing the job with my mates around me. It’s absolutely priceless. I know so many kids on the scene who’ve been really successful because they’ve plugged away at it, but they’ve always been a one-man band. Jamie did it by himself for years but I think when the chance came to do this as a crew, he really snapped it up. It can be a very lonely job, if I’m honest. Out of ten gigs, I’d say five or six of them I can be with my friends, sometimes even more.”
You’ve been a platform for younger artists too — is that something you pride yourself on?
“Yes, absolutely! I’ve found many of the boys with us now over the last four years. I’ve got a real hunger for new music, and so does Jamie. Jamie knows I’m addicted to new music, I think I’ve really got my ear to the ground — even though I’m now pretty busy. I play a lot of parties — I just did 13 parties in 14 days! And I’m not one of those people who’s scared to go up to a resident DJ and ask, ‘Hey, what’s that track?’. I’m dead forward, I always ask what something is if I think it’s wicked. I’ve kept my same email I’ve always had so it wouldn’t get forgotten, just because I give it out to so many people when I hear good tunes [laughs]. I think that’s the only way we can grow, otherwise you stagnate and just get too stuck in your own clique. You need to find stuff that’s new and vibey, we’re about being open. We’re not cliquey or snobby or super chin-strokey.”
Do you give acts any criteria for when submitting demos?
“Funny thing is, people always ask me: ‘What do you want it to sound like?’ — it’s like just do what you think is best. I want people to do what they think sounds great, to be themselves. That’s what we want!”
“A friend of mine sent a track randomly to the Hot Creations SoundCloud page and Jamie heard it — from there he just started signing my music. Later, he asked me to play at Paradise and then I became a full-time resident the year after. This is my third summer being out here as a resident. It just grew really organically. Jamie and Richy’s mentorship has been important to me — it’s always great to get advice on tracks, to find out tweaks or whatever. Watching them DJ as well, it really influenced my style. Jamie also played some of my really early tracks that were unsigned, and to have someone of that level playing my music when I was still finding my feet musically — that really influenced me and inspired me.”
BEHIND THE SCENES
How did you get involved with the brand?
“I met Jamie in Ibiza fifteen years ago. I was working as a stylist when Jamie decided to do the first Paradise party and he asked me if I wanted to do the costumes. It was tropical theme mixed with futuristic touches. I was pretty nervous about bringing dancers in costumes to DC-10, to be honest. I wanted it to feel very fashion-y, more than glamour. I think it worked, and we’ve been together ever since.”
What is a typical day like in your role?
“In the winter, it’s obviously very office-based. There’s about six of us in there now. There’s not just Paradise though, there’s Hot Creations, there’s Emerald City, there’s lots of moving parts. We spend a full six months planning these parties, from the concept, to the design, to the costumes. Jamie is really involved, which is great. And then in the summer, obviously we’re out here and it’s totally full-on!”
What’s the secret to Paradise’s success?
“There’s a few, actually. Mostly it’s because we’re all friends and it’s something that’s grown organically out of love — it really sets us apart from other party brands. We tried to be different, a lot of parties went down this minimal route. You know, everything was black and everything was very serious, and we wanted to stay away from that. We think partying should be about colour, and fun, without it being kitsch-y. And obviously, the music!”
BEHIND THE SCENES
What is your job role at Paradise?
“I’m the event manager at Paradise for all our parties around the world, and I also handle the bookings for events. I’m a busy man!”
What does a typical day in your professional life entail?
“On event day, it’s about looking after the DJs, dealing with riders, organising all the tech specs — and basically everything on the ground. Day to day it’s about making sure the team is running smoothly, making sure the PR stuff is done, organising the line-ups and checking the set-times are right. Basically, my role is just to make sure the event goes the best it can, and that usually takes all week.”
What’s the hardest part of your job — any pitfalls?
“Well, there’s a lot more positives than pitfalls, of course. The only downside really is long hours and it can be very stressful at times, and obviously you are away from your family a lot. But it’s an amazing job!”
Paradise runs every Wednesday at DC-10 throughout the season. Jamie Jones plays DJ Mag's 25 Years of DJ Mag party on 8th October. Tickets here.
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