Interview / Pete Gooding / Hostal La Torre

In 2015 Cafe Mambo acquired, refurbished and rebranded Ibiza`s Hostal La Torre. Located in Cap Negret, above San Antonio and below Santa Agnes, commanding spectacular views, a large part of the venue`s mission was to recapture the magic of the original Cafe Del Mar. To help achieve this they appointed veteran DJ Pete Gooding as Musical Director. A dab hand at sunsets himself, Pete’s guests have included A Man Called Adam, Marco Gallerani , DJ Harvey, Rune Lindbaek, Lovefingers, Leo Mas, Phil Mison, Nancy Noise, Jan Schulte, and Timm Sure. A veritable “Balearic” Who’s Who. 

I guess partly as promo, La Torre also launched its own record label. Pete, together with one of his resident DJs, International Feel`s Mark Barrott, set about a series of compilations. Their selections reflecting the sun-worshipping playlists of the Hostal. Due any minute now is Volumen Tres. An eclectic  collection for sure. There`s global Dub from Jah Wobble and Bill Laswell. Nu Guinea`s Nuova Neopolitan Funk. An Alt. Country anthem from Kurt Wagner`s Lambchop. City-Pop influenced Indie from Mac Demarco. Malcolm McLaren`s classic Duck Rock. Ambiente`s sitar-tastic Trance. A haunting from Ghost Box` Advisory Circle. Funky Folk. Swing Out Sister. Mark’s remix of Tears For Fears` Head Over Heels. Music spanning the 1970s to the present day. Woodwind-driven “Hippy” Fusion to Dub Techno. 

I figured now was a fine time to get a bit more background on Pete, La Torre, the comps, and the label. 

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Solihull in the West Midlands.

When did you first visit Ibiza?

In 1987. My parents had been coming here since the early 80’s on holiday and a few years later they decided to bring the whole family over with them. We stayed near Cap Negret. I spent my time going to beaches like Cala Gracioneta in the day and the hotel disco with my brothers and sisters at night. I was only 14. It had a lasting impression on me, though. I felt a connection to Ibiza from the start and always had it in my head that I wanted to live here when I was older. I found Hostal La Torre when I was out on a bike with my brother as it was near the hotel and we sat there looking at the view regularly, since it was breath taking and it always made me feel happy being there.

In 1987 my experience was limited to the hotel disco due to my young age but two tracks stood out and defined my holiday. These tracks conjured up a strong atmosphere in my head that has always stayed with me. At the time I had no idea that these were Balearic tracks that Alfredo and others were playing at places like Amnesia and Ku. The tracks were Electrica Salsa by Off, one of Sven Vath’s early releases and Jungle Fever by Chakachas. 

If I fast forward to 1989 when I was on another family holiday in Ibiza but this time I had a broader view as my older my sister and brother took me to Amnesia and Es Paradis. I remember hearing Alfredo and another DJ called Lolo play amazing music. A real mixture of genres that I`d never heard before. From African music, World music, early House and more unusual quirky European Pop music that was alien to me. Down-tempo stuff as well. This combination was a huge inspiration to me and set me on a musical path that has stayed with me ever since.

When you visited the island where did you hang out?

From 1989 to the 1994 for me it was Cafe Del Mar. For sure around sunset. It had a scene. The right people went there. It was considered cool and from 1991 onwards you went there to hear Jose Padilla. He played music like no one else. It had the spirit of what I heard Alfredo do in Amnesia but in a different way. Alfredo played this unusual mix of music that you danced all night to, and Jose played a similar mix of music but more for listening to. It was perfect for watching the sunset. At night there was a lot less going on then than there is now. I recall there being just a few good nights per week. One at Amnesia, one at Pacha and one at Ku. The same crowd moved around between all the right parties so you got to know people which also made for a great vibe as the scene was underground at the time. You needed to be in the know. Very similar to the early rave scene in the U.K. There were no outside promoters either. It was all in house stuff. These clubs did great parties that were themed with amazing decoration, it was a great time. People were naive in a way compared to now. The scene didn’t feel like a big business back then. It felt way more free and the music was varied unlike the narrow sub-genres a lot of people play all night these days.

Who did you hang out with?

I went with my brothers and sisters. Also, me and Steve Lawler went to school together so we would always go out to Ibiza at the same time. We had our own crowd of people, since Ibiza was very popular with the people we went to raves with in Birmingham. It was in Ibiza that we met other DJs and promoters, like Charlie Chester.

Where you aware of the island`s bohemian history?

At the time no. I was totally unaware. But there was a definite hippy vibe going on, which did make it different to other places. So I was aware that it was different from say other places we had holidays like, Tenerife or Mallorca. Ibiza had something special. It wasn’t just another place for me. It was life changing.

How did you end up DJing, etc out there?

Well, when Cafe Del Mar got so busy that you couldn’t get a drink, in around 1995, we opted for a new and quieter bar next door called Cafe Mambo. Me and Steve got friendly with the resident DJ Jason Bye and he let Steve play a bit during that Summer. This resulted in Steve becoming resident and the following year in 1996, Steve got me in as resident aswell. I`m still there after twenty-five years. I met Geoff Oaks in Mambo as well which lead to becoming a worldwide resident for Renaissance, including their Ibiza gigs. From these gigs I met a load of other people who booked me. I was Pacha terrace resident, Amnesia, Privilege, Space all at different times over the last twenty-five years.

Were you DJing in the UK before DJing in Ibiza?

Before Ibiza I was a club promoter in Birmingham. Putting on various events to create gigs for myself, with people like Phil Dockerty, who went on to be one half of Futureshock, and Steve. We did stuff all round the West Midlands. From running weekly parties and booking people like Tony Humphries, Erick Morillo, Graeme Park, Ashley beedle, Calvin Andrews and many others. We also put on free illegal parties under motorway bridges in the countryside in Warwickshire that went on all night in the open air. I`d also been a mobile DJ – playing in local wine bars. Basically doing anything to be able to play music. But in reality my proper break came from being in Ibiza,  being heard by the right people and meeting promoters who were hanging out in places like Mambo in the mid 90’s.

With all the Ibiza residencies you’ve had, were you always playing chill out / sunset music?

No not at all. At Cafe Mambo I played up to ten hours per night, every night. So naturally I played film soundtracks, Classical music, Downtempo stuff, Latin Jazz,  Jazz-Funk, Soul, early Hip Hop, Trip Hop, mellow Drum & Bass, Deep House, a total mixture. Then for another long term residency for Renaissance from the late 90’s to early 00`s at various clubs, including Pacha, Amnesia and Privilege, I played Deep House, Progressive stuff and dreamy Techno. I played for We Love at Space on the open air terrace and played more House stuff plus the odd classic as the atmosphere was crazy there. It was maybe the best gig of my life! More recently since 2015 La Torre is purely chilled music, so very Balearic, and the regular gigs at Pikes were also very Balearic.

Can you tell me more about Secret Life and the Pikes parties? Is it a record label?  When are the Pikes parties? What guests have you had? Who’s lined up? 

Secret Life was an idea Phil Dockerty and me had just to give us a reason to hang out more. Phil had been busy being Futureshock and I`d been doing my stuff, so this was an idea to get us together again after running so many parties in Birmingham. Secret Life started as a blog in 2012, then we ended up managing Jose Padilla and signed him to International Feel which is how I met Mark Barrott. Then we became a label and started releasing music. Then the events started. We did stages at Bestival, various bits around the world, and then we did Pikes in 2014 with people like Jose, Richard Norris and Lulu Rouge from Denmark. These went OK so we did the following year but for this we wanted to book Greg Wilson. So I called his agent Matt and he wasn’t available so a discussion started about booking Harvey and the Mercury Rising residency was born, with Harvey playing every week in Ibiza, which was and still is incredible. The best night in Ibiza in many years in my opinion. Harvey looked after Freddies and we booked the DJs round the pool. So we had people like Phil Mison, Rune Lindbaek, Phil South, Steve Cobby, Balearic Gabba Sound System, Mark Barrott, etc. We no longer run events as I`m too busy managing artists now, but I still play for Harvey every year at Mercury Rising and this year I`m doing the opening and the closing which will be great fun. It’s a great party with proper music.

Are you still making music?

To be honest no not really. Since I started to manage artists I`ve not had the time, but I made a lot, so stuff was still coming out until about a year ago. Music that I made with Steve Miller aka Afterlife. But I`m creatively involved with my artists, so I get to be creative in another way, which I love.

When and why did you decide to move to Ibiza?

Well I was visiting on annual holiday from `87 onwards. Only missing 1988, though until 1995. From 1996, I spent six months every year here as a DJ, and four times in the last seven years I`ve lived here all year round. Now I run my management business from here and am permanently settled here. Like I said, it was always my dream to live here and now I do and its amazing. The Winter is even better that the Summer. I live in San Juan in the North off the island. It`s beautiful. There`s no light pollution so you can see the stars so clearly. I just can’t imagine why I would live anywhere else.

Do you have a piece, or pieces, of music that hold specific memories of Ibiza?

Yes I have strong memories of Jose playing Papermoon by 51 Days and  Nova Nova D.J. G.G. at Cafe Del Mar, hearing the Hardfloor remix of Mory Kante`s Yeke Yeke at a full moon party when Jose was also playing on Cala Jondal in 1995. Nalin & Kane Beachball which I played in the main room at Manumission as the sun came up. Hoomba Hoomba by Voice Of Africa in 1990 as the last track of the night in Amnesia at 7AM. Kariya Baby Let Me Love You while dancing in the rain at Es Paradis in 1989, since the clubs had no roofs back then. Playing Age Of Love`s Age Of Love to close the main room at Amnesia for Cream. To be honest there are too many to mention. Other huge highlights for me would be all the times I played on Pete Tong’s Essential Selection radio show live at Mambo. All the sunsets have been amazing. It`s been a beautiful thing to do this so often. I`ve done around three thousand sunsets to date.

When would have been a high point for the Island, for you from a personal perspective, your favourite years, and why?

In many ways I’m having the best time right now, but in terms of it all being fresh and exciting the late 80’s were about discovering it all and I recall them as great times and life changing, since they shaped what I would do with the rest of my life. The early 90’s were my Cafe Del Mar years which really influenced me, the mid 90’s established me as a DJ and in the late 90’s I held major residencies for a ten year period. Now I`m musical director at Hostal La Torre. So it`s all been amazing and my experience keeps evolving, which is great.

I’ve never been to La Torre. Can you tell me is it a hotel, bar, restaurant? 

It`s essentially a restaurant and bar inside a small hotel perched on the edge of a cliff with the most incredible, panoramic view of the sunset, its breathtaking.

Hostal la torre by la skimal

Photo by La Skimal.

What are the opening times?

Being a hotel, breakfast starts early and then DJs play 7-11PM.

What guests have you had so far this year? Who’s scheduled for the rest of the Summer?

We are so lucky to get great people and I love being the musical director as it`s a dream job having DJs you love play with you. Firstly residents joining me this year are Mark Barrott, Jose Padilla, Alfredo, Pippi, The Brothers Grim, Medusa Odyssey, Buda, Phat Phil Cooper and Andy Wilson. All great selectors with an amazing knowledge of music and a wealth of experience. Guests so far this year have been Leo Mas, Don Carlos, Paul Daley, Coyote, Nancy Noise, and later this summer still will be Jon Sa Trinxa, Harvey, Lovefingers, Heidi Lawden, A Man Called Adam plus a few big names who have never played before that are still being worked on.

Does La Torre close in the Winter?

No we stay open. I just cut the team of DJs down, as we only have DJs Thursday to Sunday. We get really dramatic skies in winter and weekends are packed all year round.

Can you tell me more about the fire? Was it serious?

It was pretty bad, but looked worse than it really was online. No one was hurt which is what matters. The outside area has been rebuilt and we have new furniture, and to be honest it looks better than ever now.

Is Volume 4 being planned? Will the compilations be an annual thing?

It was supposed to be annual in principle but Mark and me felt we should only do we when we feel we have the right music. So last year we didn’t do it. Clearances take ages, but yes in principle number four will be started late Summer, so we`ve got a bit longer to get the tracks we want.

La Torre Ibiza Volumen Tres, compiled by Pete Gooding and Mark Barrott, should be in shops within the week. 

In the meantime if you’d like a taste of the music played at La Torre check out the Mixcloud archives. 

There’s Phil Mison`s stellar mix from a few months back (which Phil and Pete very kindly donated to Ban Ban Ton Ton).

But there’s also a growing number on La Torre`s own page (Pete tells me he has at least another 50 to upload – so watch that space). 

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