The 2016 ALFREDO Interview by Atle Bakken
Photos by Henryk Pietkiewicz, Nelly Loriaux and David Holderbach
40 years after choosing Ibiza as his homebase, legendary DJ Alfredo a.k.a Alfredo Fiorito, does not seem to slow down. Crowned the "Godfather of the Balearic Beat" by colleagues like Paul Woolford, Alfredo (63) looks trimmer than ever, having recently started a new residency at Sankey's Ibiza and appears frequently at Ushuaia Tower, KM5, Pacha and Savannah. In addition he is also playing regularly in Japan, UK, Asia and Australia.
Has the EDM Craze changed Ibiza?
Not really. It's a fashion. And it's now changing again. Personally, it has not affected my business or playing because I never played EDM in the first place, and was not in contact with that scene.
How did you land on Ibiza?
I left Argentina in 1976 at 23 when the militants made their coup d’état. They threw out the Democratic government starting a process that finished with 30.000 people disappearing. At the time I had been organising Rock’n’Roll concerts. They tried to stop any kind of artistical activity coming from the youngsters or anything alternative. I was also writing about entertainment as a journalist. Even that was hard, everything was hard. It was like a fascist revolution. I left because I couldn’t stay there. They were following me, they put me in jail for a few days, so with my ex-wife we decided to leave the country.
Then maybe it saved your life too?
So what happened next?
I moved to Spain because of the language; at the time I could only speak Spanish. With my ex-wife being Swiss, we moved a bit around Switzerland and France but it was a bit cold. Then somebody told us about Ibiza, we took a boat from Barcelona, and when we arrived we decided to stay here in the end.
That was in 1976?
That’s right. It was fantastic. It was a feeling of freedom and friendship and love. I had a lot of friends from Argentina that came to Ibiza before me, helping us out. We went to live in a house in the countryside with no electricity or hot water but it was still nice. My son was born here in -77 and now I have a 9 year old daughter.
When you reached Ibiza in -76, what was the music like? The first years I didn’t get in touch with the music so much apart from going to the concerts like Bob Marley or Santana in Barcelona or going to Amnesia for the live music. I never went much to the clubs until 1981.
So would you say your influence was more American than European?
I think the fact that I became so popular was because I mixed black and white music. And I never cared from where it came from. I was mixing European music with American and English, with everything, really.
But at that time, beginning of the 80’s, a lot of stuff was happening in England but also in America, then House came along…..
Yes, but I started before that, before House. I started with black and white music, funky, reggae, soul, Italian, French, Spanish and in 1985 a lot of music from the "new beat" in Belgium or North Germany. Then I went to work in Madrid, I got in touch with somebody who got House music from Chicago, I was so impressed and started to play House music in Madrid and then in Ibiza in 1985. It was totally different but I mixed it with what I was already doing.
So you quickly adapted to change?
Yeah, for example mixing Eurythmics or Clash or Talking Heads or Duran Duran or Depeche Mode, all that music that has a beat which could match with House music.
So then you went to Amnesia? Would you say Amnesia grew with you?
Amnesia was already a club when I came. They had live acts like The Specials, Madness or Joe Jackson, a kind of New Wave club. But the French owners sold the club to Spanish people who got me to play in 1984. At first we didn’t get much, we started to play after hours when the club was closed, waiting to get paid. It was an open air venue at the time so music could be heard by people passing by coming from other clubs so after 2 or 3 weeks we got full house.
Then I travelled around, got residencies in Barcelona, then Madrid, Italy and played quite a lot in Germany. With all those trips I collected a lot of music. I finally managed to play in England in -89 for one week, it was a fantastic time, I realised that the music I had been playing was all over London, it was spreading so much. Then In 1990, I moved to Pacha ( 3 years of collaboration), got my Spanish passport and from then on I started to go all over the places I couldn’t do before with my Argentinean passport.
It is also said that you were the first one to be brought over to Asia?
Not exactly, just after the people who made a club called Zouk . They contacted me when I was playing in Pacha in 1990. I was offered to open the discotheque and get a residency there. I went to Asia, played for Zouk for 3 months and from there I went on to play in Thailand and Japan.
But you always came back to Ibiza
Yes, I spent long stretch in Asia. The owner wanted me to stay there, but I told him that if I don’t get back to Ibiza, I would not be able to ‘feed’ my inspiration." I really needed that.
The ‘Balearic Beats’ is strongly connected to your name, how so?
Well, it was the way people marketed the music I had been doing; mixing music from every style. And with this name they could go and make a business out of it. I am grateful to them because in a way they helped me to be known.
How do you think dance music will survive?
I think all trends and styles go up and down but dance music will exist forever because it is a ceremony for people to congregate, dance and discharge their energy. Everybody dance. But there has been a change happening in Ibiza. At the beginning Ibiza used to spread the music from here. Now people come with their music to Ibiza. When we started we didn’t have internet, and the music made here was like in a cocoon, never following a trend. Now we follow trends. That’s the way it is.
With all your experience, have you ever thought of managing other DJ’s?
No, I don’t have the qualities for managing other DJ’S. I am more of an artist.
So who are you working with at Sankey's?
David Vincent, the owner, also books the club. We started last week and going until the end of summer. They have a new speaker system (Pioneer Pro Audio) that works great. It's very clear and lotsa energy! I work the late slots like 4:30am – 6am, and midnight – 2am.
Until I was 54 I played both "Main Room" gigs and afterparties in the same day. But at 63 I only do 1 gig per day. I leave the double duty to Sven Väth lol
Tell us about your music production
In the past, I did not produce, as I was travelling a lot and I had the idea that the music should be done by musicians. I never felt capable; maybe it was a mistake from me. For me a DJ collects and mixes music from others. But now it is fundamental to produce to get into the circuit of well known DJ’s. So last year I did a Remix album for a label in Scotland. I produced it in a studio here in Ibiza. I was concentrating on the artistic side of things, and I had an engineer with me. ( https://www.beatport.com/track/need-it-dj-alfredo-and-lee-pennington-remix/7165837 )
Dieter Meyer of Yello said on IMS Ibiza this year that "Tech House perhaps sounding a little Uniform". What's your take on it?
I agree. Young people are very much into technology. And technology equals creation today. But largely with the same technology and libraries. So I think in the end, Live performance from Great artists will always be close to people's heart.
Recent development has seen changes like DJ's bringing along big PA's and PA companies for their monitor rig-only. How will this affect DJ's hearing?
This is the dirty secret of the business. DJ friends getting hearing aids or becoming deaf. Personally I do not have a problem with my hearing. It's my sight which bothers me……..
Do you think it's a good thing that Space will change owners?
I don't know. The lease is up. We will see what happens…..
Where do you find your music nowadays?
The internet, my own library, promos and from friends. The difference is my choice. As far as formats I still like vinyl. But use USB's.
Is there a continent you’d like to work more in?
I would like to work more in Asia and try America. I have never been apart from a residency in South Beach Miami. I would like to do New York.
How do you see Ibiza today?
I have always been very passionate about the Island. Ibiza has remained the Dance Music Capital of the world.
Ask a young boy what he feels about Ibiza for the first time, and he will respond exactly the same as I did 40 years ago. "Fantastic!" Music is always in the focus here, even if people come here to relax and party. And the music and music scene are stronger than ever.
But it's also the nature. Plus the acceptance of different cultures and minorities. This culture of freedom was not created overnight. That is why it will be a long time before for e.g. Malta will become a Dance centre. If ever.
Atle Bakken is a composer, musician and journalist. He has written music for several US television shows and worked with, among others, Stevie Wonder, ThePolice, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dog, Diana Ross, Narada Michael Walden and Banana Airlines.