Talking Cafe Del Mar

Posted on August 22, 2016

Words: Iain Thomson

Images: La Skimal

Ibiza has been at the forefront of the world’s dance music scene for as long as one has existed, largely credited as being one of the catalysts at the beginning of a youth movement that would change how we view a night out. The island is home to iconic venues that were influential at that time and that have remained so ever since, one such place is Café Del Mar. The waterfront destination on San Antonio’s Sunset Strip has been responsible for countless sunset experiences and the birth of a musical genre, as it soundtracked the passing of day into night with a truly Balearic beat.

Nowadays the charming Café has seen the introduction of a modern, arena-like structure to the side of the original space, a place where the new generation of Ibiza clubbers can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the sunset, refreshing cocktails and a mouth watering menu as well as performances from some of the island’s hottest underground DJs and parties. Ken Fan is a UK DJ/ producer that is part of the new team driving the famous venue these days, charged with programming the music as well as delivering numerous performances himself throughout the summer. No stranger to the island, Ken swapped the UK for Ibiza years ago but even before that, as a clubber he enjoyed the Café Del Mar vibe and as a touring DJ, he has played at many of the island’s cooler parties. Ibiza 2016 saw Café Del Mar celebrate its 36th anniversary, it saw the boutique take the fashion offering to another level, offering unique merchandising as a reminder of your time there and the famous Ibiza venue launch its first proper website! As relevant now as it was back in the day, Café Del mar continues to welcome visitors from all over the world, keen to grab a picture alongside the famous sign and check out that Ibiza sunset that is revered all over the world. We caught up with Ken at the Café to get an insight into life at one of clubland’s most famous destinations…

ken fan by la skimal

Café Del Mar is one of the iconic Ibiza venues, how aware of the history are you when you go to work each day/ night?
I have been going to Café Del Mar since 1998, I remember clearly, we used to chill out on the rocks at the front before the promenade was introduced, I used to buy the CDs and Vinyl which I still play there now. Everyday we go to work, we always have people coming up to us telling us about their old sunset strip experiences and about how the Café Del Mar music has touched and inspired them.

Watching the Ibiza sunset has become a rite of passage for every clubber heading to the island, what is it that makes it so special?
I think every sunset is special in the world but Ibiza has a rare, special, spiritual-like energy, which makes things extra special here on the island and listening to music tailored for those sunsets can be emotional at times. We often have people crying and proposing marriage around those sunset moments.

Is it fair to say that there has been a real focus on collaborating with some of the island’s best club brands this summer; what was the thinking behind that?
Well to be honest, we believe that people come to Café Del Mar for Café Del Mar not for whatever pre parties we have on, but in the past we have collaborated with the likes of Marco Carola and his Music On party, which has seen numerous DJs take over the booth, including Marco Carola, Joseph Capriati, DJ Sneak, Apollonia, Stacey Pullen, Richy Ahmed, Sean Reeves and Ryan Crosson, to name only a few. This year we have allocated a few dates to various promote friends of ours from the island, including The Unusual Suspects, who bring in a nice selection of underground artists who are all unusual to the normal island line-ups. We also have a few more dates for fellow Brummie Steve Lawler and his Warriors concept, which sees him joined by Denney, Guti and Groove Armada, as well as island residents such as Jamie Roy. Our good friends from Lucky Life TV and Lucky Life Music have been throwing some great parties at the bar, so throughout August we have given them a weekly Friday night residency, during which they have booked island residents such as Sarah Main, Dazzla, Heath Holme, Ben Fairhurst, Trevor Oneil, Rufus White and Donald O’Leary to name a few. Justin Harris has also hosted and will host his famous Music For Freaks label party. Our only weekly party is Saturdaze for which we have teamed up with Aussie residents DJ Mo Funk from Sydney, Olly Davis and live percussionist Gaz Kempster from Melbourne. This is a personal favorite of mine as we seem to attract a nice crowd every week and playing with such good friends is always good banter. We will also be adding our friends from Submission at HEART Ibiza, who have already hosted some naughty gatherings in the venue this summer.

ken fan by la skimal
ken fan by la skimal

The Café has welcomed the likes of Ibiza Soul Week playing a rare groove and soulful soundtrack as well as Unusual suspects and its deeper beats, how important is it to offer a variety of musical options to your clientele?
I cannot express how much our music has to be eclectic, from the day time we are all about the typical Café Del Mar sound, which is obviously chilled out vibes, then, depending on who we have on, after sunset we play anything from disco to house to techno, hip hop, jazz and funk, with a lot of classics throw in the mix. I think it really tests a DJ’s skills to play all across the board and do it well, its an art form for sure.

The evening schedule has already witnessed some fantastic talent in the Café Del Mar booth, who are you most looking forward to hearing play before the end of the season?
In September Global Riot and Correigh present Under the Influence with Crazy P September, which I am looking forward too, as well as some other greats which I am still in the process of confirming. Watch this space.

Is the late night programming designed to keep people in the Café after sunset or is it geared towards a separate pre-club crowd?
On a normal night we try to keep the music loungy, deep but still energetic enough to dance too but still subtle enough to chill out too and eat and socialise with your friends. We steer away from anything too banging at the bar as it doesn’t suit the place and we tend to find that our clients are a little more mature and sophisticated for the sunset strip, so we try to reflect that in our music.

ken fan by la skimal
ken fan by la skimal

What’s your favorite time of the day at the venue?
I would love to say sunset but I am normally doing something with the music around that time, but to be honest I love my job and most the time I am there is great, due to our great team there. I can be in the office, the bar or the DJ booth at anytime but we have a great time working there together, it’s all about the team.

Café Del Mar was responsible for launching an entire musical genre – chilled – through its early sunset sessions; what’s your all time favourite sunset tune and what makes it the perfect accompaniment for the sun disappearing below the horizon?
Oh that’s a tough one, I cannot answer that but I’ll give you a quick list of my personal faves…
Electribe 101 – Talking With Myself
Salt Tank – Angels Landing
John Martyn – Sunshines Better (Talvin Singh mix)
Miro – The Cure
Levitation – More Than Other People

The Café was never as famous for its food offering but the new menu has been a huge success so far, what was the thinking in changing it?
It was a no-brainer for us when the new section opened, and we have trialed various menus, from sushi to a more Mediterranean influenced option, including home made pizzas, beef and veggie burgers, prawn and chicken skewers, healthy quinoa, salmon, buffalo mozzarella salad, a personal favourite and a while lot more. Eating diner at sunset is a popular past time and one that has been a big success for us.

Describe your perfect day on the island?
Summer – Hanging out, chilling with some nice company listening to music, either at home or a beach or something.
Winter – staying in making music.

ken fan by la skimal
ken fan by la skimal
ken fan by la skimal