Pepe Roselló, owner and founder of Space Ibiza. A businessman with a long and interesting career.
I am the dean of the businessmen of entertainment venues along with Pepe from Las Dalias, who together with others founded in the sixties the Businessmens’ Association of Ibiza and Formentera of which I was president for more than 20 years. So, that is why, I am talking to you about a period since which 45 years have gone by. That was when disco music began, which we then mixed with live music from bands such as Briks, Fussion, Evolution, Lorenzo Santa María among others.
Space Ibiza is a club, a brand, loved and respected all over the world. How did you get to here and manage to stay on the top of the wave?
There is a long way to go to get to here. It starts off with a musical project which cannot be stopped once you have started. Music is like that, it envelops you and does not let you get away; always after more and better and when you discover that you are getting across well to a public that is excited to go with you then all you want is to see it having fun and continuing doing what you like most.
What is the most difficult part of managing a big club like this?
Managing the human team which on one hand needs to be inspired and creative and, on the other, have to coordinate their efforts towards a real goal without tension and in harmony.
What fills you with pride if you look back and take stock of the last 20 years?
Our public.These 20 years are the result of the thanks shown to Space for the ideas and innovations that we have put into practice; Space is the best discoteque in the world and, therefore, the one that deserves this award is the public of Ibiza.
Space Ibiza created a new concept that spread throughout the whole of Europe, that of an afterhours club. What light goes on in your head and leads you to open a venue where you can dance in the daylight beneath the sun’s rays?
I don’t like the word after-hours because it carries with it a meaning of transgression as if you were dealing with something illegal. Until the law changed Space always operated within the permitted hours ….
The light that went on its in day was to provide an answer to a demand that was easy to recognize. If we look at ancient cultures the sun was always the symbol of festivities and glorious, life-affirming rituals to the sun god. The moon and the night is another thing altogether.
And in only three years, as the international press at the time reported, Space becomes the most famous club in the whole of Europe, in the place you had to be. Did you ever imagine at any point just how big your invention might be end up being?
When specialist magazines in the 90s started to mention Space and its huge repercussion the first ones to be surprised were us; we were riding on the success and we had not realized. From then on awards and international recognition arrived. We have got eight international awards in our showcases which testify to that recognition. Now we are a classic and we move in the same turbulent waters as all the rest; no comment.
In spite of being an ode to music, dance and fun, the provision of top level entertainment on the island has come in for a lot of criticism and more than a few attacks. Why?
There are two factors here. The Ibiza which is harmonious and musical, beautiful and magical that is promoted abroad and manages to be the point of reference for everyone. And the other Ibiza, the one of the politicians, who have chosen to be in favor or against depending on the circumstances and what seemed right to them; always some against the others in a permanent fight of good against evil. And nor do I wish to overlook the contradictory statements from Mallorca regarding the promotion of tourism, making us all the same and ignoring the characteristics of each island.
Space Ibiza. From day to night. How do you deal with this forced transition? Has anything been lost on the way?
Of course. Ibiza has had part of its magic removed with this new law, nevertheless, it seems that the current governors have taken on board the added value which music brings to the island’s cultural wealth.
What memorable moments do you have of what I imagine have been 20 marvellous years?
At the closing party in 2001, after September 11th, I asked Erick Morillo who was in New York to bring the Frank Sinatra CD on which he sings ‘New York New York’. They played that record on the terrace in the afternoon; I personally announced it to the public as a show of solidarity with the city that had suffered the attack. People were moved; they cried and shook with their arms up in the air. I don’t know how it happened but some American flags floated over the crowd and it gave us all goose pimples. Music can say and express so many things…
Is there any chapter-episode you’d like to forget?
Yes, because manipulation of the media is pernicious. I remember the A3 programme that was even broadcast repeatedly as if it was some kind of achievement when it was really a cheap mock-up, harmful to the island.
Which artists do you recall with special warmth?
Reche, Toni Oneto, Juan Suárez, José Padilla, Alfredo, Alex P, Brandon Block, Sasha, Paul oekenfold, etc. Now there is a new generation of DJs, big names like Danny Tenaglia, Tom Novy, Wally López, Steve Lawler and others, but there is a special star who I believe is the youngest and most spectacular number 1 and that’s Carl Cox.
Apart from the quality of its music, Space Ibiza is fascinating from an architectural point of view.
In the past the discotheques were set up in basements to make use of spaces that might have been used as car parks, at times with disagreeable consequences. At Space we have gone after the light, whether by day or night. We don’t like to confine people with habits and trends acquired in the 70s, concealed corners, mistaken privacy. We want to offer alternatives whether they are decorative or musical.
You don’t like controversy. Lately, there’s been too much talk about Space and, let’s say, with a certain ingratitude. Got anything to add for once?
I don’t want to be controversial in public but it may be that the day arrives when there is no alternative. We will see…
How are things between the discotheques? Why is a union impossible?
When the union supposedly had to exist on that golden occasion to smooth out differences and harmonize actions, it turned out to be a dead-end to corral us and stop us from getting into the nightlife world. It all came to an end.
What is your opinion of Ibiza Music Island?
If they manage to get deeper into the project and its main aim is to protect music and the professionals – or amateurs – and creative people that make it, it will be positive and, at last, music will occupy the place that corresponds to it as the cultural element it is. It is a vast undertaking; there is incalculable scope for innovation and production. This is the present given to all the governors in the world from music in Ibiza, from songwriters to the artists but don’t forget to emphasize the public who follow us and choose Ibiza as the place to buy their home or come on holiday; it’s a vital public for the island.
Can you imagine your life without music, far away from a dance floor, from a booth, a box or a stage?
I am the luckiest person I know, an Ibicencan of farming stock who manages to get into Piccolo in Milan at the hands of Nina Vinky and Giovanni Streller as director; into La Scala in Milan at the hands of G. Tenconi, who allows me to visit frequently Renata Tebaldi, my great star and the best voice of the last century, who with Paolo Grassi invites me to accompany her on tour through Poland and Russia. I have experienced sublime moments, like those spent with Ricardo Mutti and his beautiful wife Cristina, who organizes Ravenna festival; to be invited to the Requiem Mass conducted by Mutti in St Mark’s Cathedral on the one hundredth anniversary of G.Verdi’s birth and to the Vatican for the concert performed by the Verdi Orchestra that the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, offered to Pope Benedicto XVI; to see Elena Obratzova perform in Carmen or an Aida at la Scala by the Bolshoi… Can anyone ask for more? These are moments. But music is all one.
To finish up. If Ibiza is tolerance and freedom, Space would be…
Light and energy. Thank you Ibiza!