David Morales: "Ibiza in the late 90s was magical and hedonistic"

Words by: Ben Raven
Posted: 17/8/17 16:20

A grainy straight from VHS screen grab from Morales' 90s Ibiza hit 'Needin U'

David Morales takes us back to one of Ibiza’s greatest heydays and playing Space Terrace in his swim trunks

Ibiza is in a state of flux in 2017. VIP culture is a controversial talking point. The island has been awash with footballers and celebrities and the cost of clubbing is pricing the old school Ibiza clubber out of the market. If that’s all a little depressing, let us take you to the late 1990s for a moment. To one of the island's golden eras, which David Morales played a very big part in.

Morales’ biggest hit, 'Needin U' was a landmark track for this particular era. It defined the 90s Ibiza house anthem. The arrival of superstar DJs and superclubs. They heyday of Pacha and Manumission. The video was a massive hit on MTV and made every kid around the world watching, yearn to one day go to its famous clubs. Thanks to tracks like ‘Needin U’, Ibiza blew up in the late 1990s and as one of the island’s first big house imports, at the end of the decade, David Morales was having the time of his life.

Ibiza Voice: what do you remember of the island in the late 1990s?  

I came to Ibiza 25 years ago. It was magical and hedonistic. A secret hideaway that was all about music and a good time. No catering to VIP's and it was affordable. It wasn't about the DJ, even though I was one of the so called superstar DJs to grace the island. Cream was the first brand to invite me to play for them at Club Ku which is now called Privilege. I remember playing at the after party at Space Terrace in my swim trunks! That was even before they had a proper DJ booth. I was overwhelmed with the experience, it was just pure and free.

‘Needin U’ was a big moment in your career and had a big relationship with Ibiza. Did it feel like something special was taking shape?

I never expected Needin U to be an Ibiza anthem or anything at all. I recorded it in my studio in three hrs. It was just a tool that I did for myself. I never intended on releasing it at all. I couldn't see myself releasing a track based on samples when I was mixing and producing major artists at the time. But when I was playing the track in my sets people were coming up to  me and asking me what it was. DJ's were telling me I had to release it. So Azuli picked it up and we recorded a cheap video in Ibiza. And the rest is history.

The video played a big part in the success of the track. What stands out in your memories from filming it?

Recording the video was a lot of fun because a lot of people that were part of Ibiza during that time participated in the video. From promoters to DJ's. From Pikes hotel to Salinas, Es Paradis and Pacha.

Were you partying much at this point in your career?

Was I partying? Who wasn't? It was part of the culture and everyone partied together. At that time it wasn't about the DJ but it was a surprise when name DJs started to play on the island. It was more about the brand back in those days. Cream, Manumission, Renaissance, Money Penny's and Ministry of Sound. I remember Mike Manumission approaching me in a club in 1995 telling me about his party and he even gave me a video tape. His Carry On parties were epic. Space at that time was the only day time after party and it was all kinds of people.

Can you describe Pacha at this time?

Pacha was the pretty club at the time. They were the only club that had a VIP section. I first played there for Renaissance. And it was a time when people from the island went to the club. The DJ booth faced the steps as you came in which was horrible. In the beginning I hated playing there because you had no connection with the dance floor. It wasn't until they moved the booth that things changed to another level as far as the DJ having a connection with the dancefloor. Pacha in my opinion was the best run club at the time on the island. I ended up having a residency there on Saturdays for nine years.

Was there a sense that Ibiza was becoming a global capital of dance music culture at this time?

It started to be recognized in the late 90s as a mecca for music and it was said that if you weren’t playing in Ibiza then you hadn't made it as a DJ. Ibiza was and still is a place to make your name.

What was your Ibiza life like back then?

I used to stay at Pikes hotel for years. It that was like home. Then eventually I started to rent villas for the season. At that time, Ibiza town was the place to be. In the old days many clubs held parades promoting their night. The town was a spectacle. There were a lot of good Spanish restaurants to eat at but no sushi or italian really.

What was it like for you at a DJ at this time in your career? You were part of the first wave of "Superstar DJs?" Your generation of DJs were chartering unknown waters, visiting different continents, playing  to bigger and bigger clubs for bigger and bigger fees. Did you have the time of your life or did it come at a cost?

It was fascinating. I started traveling in the late 80s. Europe was new territory to me. Did I have the time of my life? I still am. Of course this lifestyle comes at a cost. Life on the road is not easy. You're away from family and friends. But I have no regrets. I love my life and I can live with the price. I'm living a dream. I've been DJing for forty years now. I never thought that my passion for music would allow me to see the world and share what I love most.


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