Sven Väth is a music fanatic, an aesthete and a visionary – and over the course of his 35-year career he’s not only encountered everyone from Madonna to Mick Jagger, but taken cutting-edge techno to a big club stage – and onto the global map – by bringing Cocoon to Ibiza back in 1999. And Sven’s love for the island has informed everything he does since the day in 1980, aged 16, when he flipped a coin in Barcelona and it told him to head to the White Isle rather than stay where he was…
When Sven arrived, it didn’t take him too long to acclimatise. After hitchhiking his way to the island, sleeping on beach chairs and giving out flyers to make cash, he built a makeshift campsite with a friend. “We were downright broke!” he says. But during those three months, he connected all the musical and spiritual dots, inspired by the people and the places he saw. He never looked back.
Cocoon at Amnesia was the first underground party on the island to cater to 6,000 ecstatic ravers each and every Monday. It was also the first party to cultivate an after-hours scene in Ibiza, a timeless tradition that continues to this day. Sven, Richie Hawtin, Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano (all still close friends) became electronic icons, not just in Ibiza, but around the world. While Loco Dice and Marco Carola helped usher in the next wave of techno superstars at the club, then decided to splinter off and start their own events, Sven remains the one true constant for Cocoon. Sven is Cocoon, and Cocoon is Sven. And for 18 years, things remained pretty constant. Always playing vinyl, and never for less than three hours.
“When it comes to what we do, it’s about consistency. There were always people around me saying, ‘This is new, this is coming; I used to play vinyl, but you have to check this out.’ Just leave me alone! I’ll do my thing with the way I feel it. Feeling: that’s the keyword.”
Sven ruled the Amnesia roost alongside Ricardo on the terrace, with a bond that remains to this day. But behind the scenes, things were changing. In January of this year he made the decision to leave the environment he’d called home for an entirely new one at the island’s oldest club, Pacha. It was a move which shocked some and intrigued everyone, and was one of the biggest changes to the Island’s interconnected club ecosystem in years. Some of Sven’s own staff took time to be convinced, but “it’s my job to be a leader,” says Sven. “Now they understand.”
So from May 30 until October 3, Cocoon will take place at Pacha for the very first time. A smaller, more intimate space, half the capacity of Amnesia, the club – perhaps influenced by the opening of Hï Ibiza last year – has been refurbished over the winter, with a bigger dancefloor and the booth now in the centre of the floor. Ricardo Villalobos plays twice, a first for the club; Nina Kraviz also plays once, another first; and Gerd Janson, Adam Beyer and Mano Le Tough all return. Equally intriguing, there will also be a series of five daytime parties at Destino: Sven’s appearance back in 2013 is an after-hours people still talk about now (hearing him play Stardust while plates of free fruit floated by is not an experience easily forgotten). Oh, and the night itself has moved to a Wednesday, which in a previous lifetime belonged to US house night Subliminal Sessions. “For me, it’s a different situation because usually I always came back on Monday from somewhere after a heavy weekend. But now I start the Wednesday very fresh and ready for the night,” Sven says.
It’s early April when we fly to the island to meet him and his team. The plan is to take Mixmag to some of his favourite spots and discuss his love affair with Ibiza. “It was a life-changing experience I had here. This place showed me a bigger picture of what is possible,” he says. “It was feeding my fantasy muscle!” Dressed all in black (of course), a modern-day pirate in heavy fisherman’s jumper with fashionable frays and holes, he meets us for lunch at Es Xarcu, a completely unspoiled (and music-free) family seafood restaurant next to Blue Marlin. Tucking into a plate of john dory, Sven is in a good mood. “I mean, I’m sitting in the sun here at one of my favourite beach restaurants and I have to say, I’m quite excited about what’s coming! It’s so fresh. After 18 years, it’s so inspiring for me to do something new.”