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ERIC PRYDZ: FROM EPIC TO THE ISLAND

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 Eric Prydz is a man of many monikers. Over the last two decades he’s released everything from industrial techno to progressive house under his many aliases that include Pryda and Cirez D, as well as lesser-known names like Tonja Holma and Sheridan. He’s managed to successfully traverse the delicate line between dance music’s commercial and underground scenes, making No.1 hits like ‘Call On Me’ plus seminal (and still widely played) club anthems like ‘Pjanoo’, alongside his debut and record-breaking 2016 LP, ‘OPUS’.

He’s pioneered one of dance music’s most innovative touring shows in the form of his hologram-laden stadium extravaganza, EPIC, concocting no less than five versions of the show by updating the effects, staging and production as better technology is developed. He headlined Madison Square Garden with his EPIC show in 2014 and has created a big room production blueprint sampled, rehashed and regurgitated by everyone from Martin Garrix to Deadmau5.

But that’s not all Prydz has got up his sleeve. Alongside running three labels — Mouseville, Pryda and new addition Pryda Presents — he’s also taken on his first-ever Ibiza residency in 2017 at high-spec night-spot, Hi Ibiza. It’s surprising it’s taken the Swedish-born, LA-based producer so long to put down roots on the island — he’s been playing here religiously since 2004. In a rare interview with the Swedish production savant, DJ Mag Ibiza meets the man behind the icon to find out what makes Eric Prydz really tick…

Hi Eric, where are you right now?
“In Ibiza! I’m spending the whole summer here, actually. Well, at least I have it as a base, and when I have shows in other places I can just travel to them. But yes, I’m living here.”

Can you remember the first time you went to Ibiza?
“It was in 2004. I remember travelling down by train all the way from Stockholm, as I wasn’t a fan of flying — to be honest, I’m still not. It took probably about two-and-a-half days to get here, I think. I played a secret location Radio 1 party with Pete Tong and Judge Jules. Then I also played for Jules at Eden as well — overall, it was a really fun experience. That was my first time ever on the island.

“It was amazing to come and see DJs that I really, really looked up to. I remember I went to Release Yourself with Roger Sanchez, and saw a few sets from Erick Morillo. I also went to Mambo’s and Pacha. It was a bit overwhelming, to be honest.

“You know, you’ve heard so much and seen videos but experiencing it for the first time was absolutely amazing. I think it was also humbling to see my music being played out by other DJs — I wasn’t touring that much at the time, so that was something new. It was truly an amazing experience, and I’ve been coming every year ever since.“

You’re doing your first ever Ibiza residency this year — why is 2017 the right time to take the plunge?
“Well, I’d already been doing pretty regular appearances on the island for Cream and Amnesia, and most of the openings and closings in Ibiza. I think the reason we’ve gone all-in this year is because of the Hi nightclub. You know, we’re able to bring in everything ourselves and be in control of the design and the production — we couldn’t turn it down, it’s an amazing opportunity.”

You’re already well-known for your show EPIC — have you translated any of that into the show at Hi Ibiza?
“It’s a completely different template. We had to rethink everything because at the end of the day it’s a nightclub, it’s not an arena ready to accommodate 15,000 people. Hi is such a fantastic place to work within — I guess in some ways it is a mini club-version of bits of the EPIC concerts. I’m playing much longer sets at the moment, I’m playing three or three-and-a-half hours each time. I just really want people to feel like they’re stepping into a different world — the world of Eric Prydz.”

You’ve got a lot of aliases including Eric Prydz, Pryda and Cirez D, do we see a piece of each of these during your sets at Hi?
“Oh yes, I always do. I mean, they might have different names on them but at the end of the day, it’s all my own music. Obviously when I DJ I play mostly my own records — of course, I play other people’s as well, but a lot of times it’s my own stuff. I don’t really differentiate — it’s a big mix between everything.”

How involved are you in the line-up curation for the night?
“I only ever choose people that I really look up to and people that I really deeply respect. I’ve been extremely hands-on with that side of things. I think the thing about having your own residency is that it’s not only about you — it’s a whole night, it’s a whole journey. I managed to get most of the people that I’m really into at the moment, people like Pig & Dan, Kolsch, Catz ‘N Dogz, and of course Cristoph. For me, it’s my residency but I also really enjoy going there just to listen to the music.”

And do you make music while you’re on the island?
“Yes, definitely. I have stages where I’m making, say, five tracks a week…”

Wow, that seems a lot…
“[Laughs] To be honest, sometimes it’s usually even more. Being on the island works for me, I almost always do make music on the road anyway. Especially when I’m writing music, I almost always just do it with a laptop and headphones. Even when I’m on the island I don’t have a full studio, I just use the laptop. I’m thinking about getting a set of monitors down so I can do some proper mixing.

“Normally I just write everything while I’m touring and then I sit down when I get home and mix it properly. That’s where my studio at home comes in. Thing is, I don’t really write new music in the studio — if that makes sense. It never really worked that way for me.”

Do you find the island inspiring?
“Yep, it’s great being on the island for that. I can sit by the pool and look out over the Mediterranean. That alone is inspiration for about five albums [laughs]. I think Europe in general has that effect on me.

“Every summer when I come here, I always tend to write a lot of music. I’ve also found the Hi residency very inspiring because it is my night and I play longer sets — I can really do my thing. It’s not the same as having a one-hour festival slot…”

Where you’re expected to play all your biggest tunes as fast as possible…
“[Laughs] Yes, exactly. You know, Creamfields or something. Here I can take people on a journey. I also get to play and trial a lot of new music and really dig deep into my record box. When you have that opportunity, I wake up the next day feeling even more inspired and I want to make more music so I’ve got new stuff for the next week!”

How does your lifestyle differ in Ibiza to your homes in LA, London or Stockholm?
“Well, for a start, the UK weather sucks! There’s never any sunshine. Comparing the UK to Sweden, for example, I think UK people have a good energy — especially in the clubs. In Sweden it’s also super-dark and cold constantly, which can make people moan [laughs].

“To be honest, I was never meant to stay in London for longer than six months — I just planned to crash on a couch. In the end I was there seven years and I bought my own place, you know. I did move back to Sweden for a little after that because my wife and I had just had our first child. But I went on a tour to America shortly afterwards and just fell in love with LA. I had some downtime there and I just couldn’t say no to the weather. We thought we’d just move there for a year and now it’s pretty much our permanent home. I love it because everyone is so relaxed there.”

What’s going on with your labels, Mouseville and Pryda, while you’re on the island? Is there a plan?
“It’s funny, I’ve never really treated them as traditional labels or record companies. They’ve just been a forum for my music. To have the freedom to release what I want, to market it the way that I want, to have it look exactly how I want it to look. Not having a record company tell me what to do.

“I wouldn’t say there’s ever been a plan with any of the labels, aside for releasing my music. You know, there’s never been an idea that we needed to make this much money, or we need to have an office or whatever. It’s really just an extension of me — a way of delivering music to anyone who wants to listen to it really. In terms of plans, I’ve never really had one…”

And you’ve got a new imprint called Pryda Presents?
“Yes, that’s the new one. We’ve just signed Cristoph — he’s a UK-based producer from Newcastle, and I think he’s absolutely amazing. I’m really into his sound right now. He’s been doing so much good music lately and we’re super-excited and proud to have him onboard. It feels like it’s a bit of a new chapter for me and for the label, which is fun!”

Finally, what tunes do you like to listen to outside the booth?
“I’m into all sorts of music. Bands like Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, and even bands like Erasure. Basically, when I was growing up, anything made with synths was absolutely fascinating to me. It sounded very fresh, and so I was drawn to bands like that. I also listen to a lot of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard — the list just goes on and on.”

Would you say you’re a child of the eighties?
“As a kid, you’re kind of like a mushroom. I don’t think I could ever really judge if something was cool or cheesy or something in-between. Whenever I hear tracks like ‘Cruel Summer’ [by Bananarama], I’m instantly 12-years-old again. When I was a kid, I thought that was like the coolest track ever!”

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