The world knows Yousef as a highly skilled DJ, a prolific producer, the owner of Circus Recordings and the promoter of Circus events. For Ibiza, this artist for many years has been one of the most signature DJs for Carl Cox’ Revolution on Tuesdays in Space – he helped to shape and define the sound of the party for no less than a decade. Yousef’s music was released on such labels as Desolat, Bpitch Control, Cocoon, soon Jamie Jones Hot TRAX to name a few, and his latest artist album, In The Process Of Eight, saw light in 2015.
I’m incredibly proud to have been an important & integral part of its history for 10 of its 15 years - being a resident at the best party on the island for my DJ hero means a lot to me...This summer, Yousef has played quite a lot all around the island: for Sundays at Space opening party, for Symmetry present Suara by Coyu in Space, for ANTS in Ushuaïa, for Solid Grooves in Vista Club, for Abode at Sankeys and, of course, Carl Cox in Space. Now that the season has reached its climax, Yousef has two important dates ahead: Abode in Sankeys on August 19 and, the most historical of all, the final chapter of Carl Cox Revolution on August 30. We had a chance to talk to the artist about these gigs, about the meaningfulness of playing for Carl Cox through all these years and about things that keep him busy and happy in life, in addition to music.
How do you feel about the last season of Space Ibiza and Carl Cox’ Revolution? You have played quite a lot for this party, what are you best memories about it?
I’ve got a wide range of emotions about it. I’m incredibly proud to have been an important and integral part of its history for 10 of its 15 years – being a resident at the best party on the island for my DJ hero means a lot to me. I’m of course sad it’s all coming to an end, but I’m cool with it as the exit from both Carl and Pepe is extraordinarily dignified. I’m excited about the future of what Space will become and curious to see if I will play a part in it too.
The energy I try to create in that room with new music, yet being aware of its history & spirit, is very important to me too...Above all, I’m thankful for the years of amazing gigs with Coxy, even my last gig last week was ridiculous. The energy I try to create in that room with new music, yet being aware of its history and spirit, is very important to me too.
From my first gig where Lynn (Carl’s and my manager) asked me to play on the Covered Terrace all night long, which meant 5 hours then, to still be playing to a full room, rocking past 8.30am, was unbelievable. 8.5 hours set on the main Covered Terrace at Space for Carl Cox..!?
A dream come true. There have been so many highlights, but as Coxy is the king of Space, he calls me the guvnor of the Covered Terrace, and it does not get much better than that for me.
What is your honest opinion about what’s happening to Ibiza now? Opinions are split among DJs: some say the island has completely sold out and lost its magic, others don’t agree with it at all and say it’s still one of the best places in the world. What do you think?
I think, both points of view are correct in many ways. It’s hard, if not impossible, to define how other people feel arriving to Ibiza for the first time, as did I, and so many other DJs, many years ago.
Although some of the charm has been sucked out of the island & you don’t see the Ibiza club legend folks floating around the clubs as you once did...That spirited connection we felt, the energy, the drama, the freedom – who is to say that clubbers who arrive now for the first time don’t still experience that same moment that hypnotizes them about Ibiza, as it was for us?
That said, I do miss the more random ‘wild west’ aspect of Ibiza. It really was almost lawless for a good portion of the first years I was coming, which led to impossible amounts of total randomness and hilarious fun with who knows who in fuck knows where.
Although some of the charm has been sucked out of the island and you don’t see the Ibiza club legend folks floating around the clubs as you once did, I have to say I’ve never had a busier or better summer DJ’ing.
All my gigs have been rocking and sold out, and I’m not compromising musically at all – although my energetic sound does probably lend itself to Ibiza well these days. I’m here 14 times this summer: at Space, Ushuaia, DC10, Sankeys, Vista Club and Blue Marlin, and they have all been incredible.
How do you feel about your gigs being broadcast live? Do you just forget about the cameras and play as usual? Or do you try to be a bit more emotional than always, to move more, to somehow produce a bigger visual impression?
When I DJ I’m so focused on doing the very best I can, playing new music and rocking the crowd, that I’m not too concerned about cameras. I’m comfortable with my sets being broadcast too as I’m a confident DJ. When I’m comfortable in the booth and the sound is good and I’m in my own zone (so to speak), I get so into it that I put on a show anyway and bust out some pretty hilarious shoulder and arm moves, so I don’t need to step it up, no!
It was rammed, & I got to put on proper show, so I loved it....On August 19 you are playing for Abode in Sankeys. What is your personal history of relations with this promoter and what do you like the most about Abode?
I know Joe well, he used to tour manage Nic Fanciulli, he has seen me play many times and I suspect it was him that invited me. I actually played for them on July 29 and have to say it was great: I felt really at ease with the entire crew, the booth sounded good and it was rammed, and I got to put on proper show, so I loved it.
The crowd was very English, which for Ibiza for me was almost a change, so again it was a good party and I’m looking forward to being back.
I got to play at many parties around the island this summer...On July 4 you debuted at Vista Club for Solid Grooves. How was that? Will your very first experience of playing there somehow affect your second one that takes place on August 11?
Again, similar to above it was fresh UK crowd. As it’s the final year of Coxy at Space, my usual 6+ gigs were cut to 2 as they needed to accommodate all the names from the past 15 years. So it meant I got to play at many parties around the island this summer. I’ve played Vista many years ago for Manumission so I’ve been before, but again another great party. It was interesting that Solid Grooves wanted just that, nothing too banging.
How are things going on production front? What tracks, remixes or compilations can we expect from you?
It’s non stop, I work on music a few times a week so I’ve always got a stack ready to go. I’ve got 2 EPs coming up on Jamie Jones’ labels - the first one is pretty grown up and techno, on Hot Trax. Then, I have a collaboration EP with Reboot, Hector and Lewis Boardman on my label Circus Recordings.
I’ve got at least 20 tracks on my desktop completed & mastered I’ll need to find homes for too!..Then this year I’ve got an EP on Davide Squillace’s This & That and remixes for The Glitz, Chaka Khan, David Glass and more… I’ve got at least 20 tracks on my desktop completed and mastered I’ll need to find homes for too!
What about you labels Circus Recordings and Carioca Records? What is their schedule for the next few months, which artists will we be able to hear?
Yes, things are constant. The last releases on Circus by Krankbrother and the Marco Carola both did very well, then a more sophisticated vocal piece of authentic house by the legendary Blakkat is just out, and next up is another EP from Kydus. Then, I think, my 3 Cities EP will be a breakout release.
Carioca is more of an artistic approach, more musical, sometimes for the clubs but not always...Carioca is more of an artistic approach, more musical, sometimes for the clubs but not always necessarily. We have music by Seven Doors, James Slaven and Yost Koen, all of whom were asked to make music that represents themselves rather than a need to nail dance floors like Circus Recordings does.
Coming soon, I’m going to resurface a moniker of mine Harry Monroe for Carioca as I’ve made some music that is not really for clubs but has a story to tell, which Carioca is too.
A short while ago, you told us the following story in socnet: “I just got stopped by a lad in a shop who recognised me, saying he would love to DJ in Ibiza one day but he does not have the confidence. So I smiled and literally slapped him across the cheek, and told him there are so many obstacles and difficulties put in the way of a DJ making it or even getting going, so there is no room to be an obstacle yourself too. Put the hours in, go for it, make it happen. Don't wish. Do, or at least try as hard as you can”.
Use social media to make some noise about what you are trying to say, but never let it become part of your art… It’s a tool, nothing more...But anyway, from the technological point of view, which sites, platforms, apps and gadgets do you consider today to be the most efficient ones to help a musician launch his or her career? The choice is expanding every day, and it’s so difficult to find the best path…
I think “launching a career” on social media is not the right attitude. You can use social media to expand your reach once you have developed your skills, as a DJ, producer, label owner, etc, and use social media to make some noise about what you are trying to say, but never let it become part of your art… It’s a tool, nothing more.
I think people are getting sucked into the need for “social media presence” rather than being a straight up hardworking talented hours-put-in mother fucker, which is what, will carry you in your career.
If not a secret, why did it take you so long to bring your 4-million global listeners 21 Century House Music radio show to iTunes (which happened just recently)?
It was just time to add it to the repertoire of global stations. I had such a reach that it seemed like the right moment to add it to iTunes. And although I produce my own show, radio syndication is not something I know anything about, I leave that to the experts.
Every single moment I spend with my family is the best moment of my life, it truly is...Apart from making music and touring, what are the best things that have been happening to you lately?
Every single moment I spend with my family is the best moment of my life, it truly is. I never knew mundane could be so appealing and rewarding!
Further to that, I have to say watching our party Circus flourish in the past few weeks has been incredible: massive sold out shows in Manchester, Belfast, a great party in a 650 year old fortress in Belgrade, and then Circus 14th Birthday Liverpool released today – that’s like watching my other baby grow too. No complaints!