After showcasing their sound in the intimate surroundings of the Experience Bar at Hotel Es Vive, it was time for this year’s BURN Residency contestants to explore one of Ibiza’s largest dance music Mecca’s, the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel. With French megastar David Guetta, Dutch production sensation Martin Garrix, and Diynamic label boss Solomun all hosting parties at Ushuaïa this summer, it’s no wonder this luxury open-air party complex is considered one the most important clubbing institutions in the world. With unparalleled access to the venue courtesy of Ushuaïa founder Yann Pissenem, the tour offered the 26 BURN Residency contestants an opportunity to envisage a future on dance music’s biggest stage.
Danish contestant Nikolaj Lund, who performs under the alias Milu, was particularly inspired by Yann’s delivery. “We toured Ushuaïa and also Hard Rock Hotel,” the 27-year old Dane explains. “I’ve never seen anything like it. And Yann was so impressive. I was amazed that such a powerful man with so much responsibility could be so down to earth. It was inspiring to see. He told us how Ushuaïa started life as a small beach bar. He told us how he worked hard, had ambition and ultimately made things happen. Personally I live and breathe dance music and I totally get him. He gave me an idea of how far I can go one day.”
Hungary’s Mira Joo was also captivated by what she’d just seen and heard at Ushuaïa. “It was a very unique situation,” Mira smiles. “Yann showed us the whole complex and gave us some secret business strategy tips. It amazed me that one guy could do so much.”
After taking dinner together back at Hotel Es Vive, BURN’s young hopefuls were treated to a visit from one of electronic music's most influential DJ/producers, John Digweed.
“John doesn’t care if you are a big artist or an unknown,” Austrian contestant Ayman Awad beams after Digweed’s lecture, which included expert advice on how to approach a major label. “If he likes a track he will release it. He also doesn’t offer long term artist contracts because he doesn’t want artists to feel forced into producing a track every month. If you make a song he likes, he will sign it; if he doesn’t like the next track you make, he won’t. This way the artist doesn’t feel forced to make new tracks every month and the label isn’t releasing tracks just for money. John stressed that he is looking for good music, high quality productions and this is the Bedrock strategy. He knows so much about the music industry, but you can also tell he’s a really nice guy.”
When we caught up with John later in the evening he was keen to emphasise the importance of doing whatever it takes to get spotted in an increasingly competitive industry. “Sometimes you only get one chance to impress and I think it’s really important for the new DJ/producers coming through to understand that. When I first started it was hard to get booked. Everyone said, ‘We like your mixes and we like your DJing, but no one knows who you are.’ So I started club nights in Hastings. Carl Cox used to play for me regularly on a Thursday night. I booked LTJ Bookem, Grooverider, Pete Tong and Eddie Richards. Then I could show people the flyers and say, ‘Look I’m playing with all these big name DJs.’ I’d be out the week before the party going round all the shops in Hastings, putting posters up, putting them on car windscreens. There was no social media then. The only way I could connect with people was to literally get flyers in people’s hand. But that’s what I had to do.”
To survive the BURN Residency bootcamp and win a regular timeslot at one of Ibiza’s most revered nightclubs, the future heroes and heroines of the electronic dance music scene will need to be every bit as determined.