Interview: Jonathan Ulysses

2010 marks Jonathan Ulyssesí eleventh year as resident at Ibiza's prestigious super-club Space.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 3rd Aug 2010

2010 marks Jonathan Ulysses’ eleventh year as resident at Ibiza's prestigious super-club Space; his trademark up tempo, driving, electronic, pumping house style seeing him spinning week in, week out at the world’s leading nightclubs.

DJ appearances on every continent have given Jonathan a huge global and truly loyal fan base. Meanwhile, 2010 has also been a fundamental year for DJ Jonathan Ulysses in terms of his own productions.  With five new tracks under his belt ready for release, 2010 is going from strength to strength as he continues his relationship with the label ‘Big In Ibiza’. Jonathan has two releases ready for the summer 2010. 

We caught up to find out more…

How’s your year been so far?

Ibiza so far has been a blast, being back at Space for another season and getting to play to the best crowds on the island has been a real rush to the system.  I came over for the opening party in May. I am also doing We Love... and Mondays Calling. I am doing one party in the back room with Carl Cox for Pukka Up, then there is the Space closing party at the end of the season.  

How have things changed in the scene since you first got involved?

The scene has really changed a lot since I started back in 1996. The sound and the music, as well as the digital revolution, with the internet really changing the way that things are done from when the technics 1210 was king to the CDJ 1000 and 2000 changing the way that DJs put their music together, to the introduction of Tracktor  and sites like sound-cloud and send-space to face-book and how easy it is for people to communicate. The dance movement seems to change every day from the distribution  of tracks and even the way that you purchase new tracks to receiving promos from record labels. I think this has been a good thing for the industry as it keeps moving.

What have you learnt about yourself?

I have learnt that change is a good thing, as you can rely less on the bigger labels and more on yourself. It's easy to get things done on an independent level, you can do more to get your music out there and inform people of what moves you are making and what tracks you are playing. You can reach people on a worldwide level without leaving the comfort of your home. 

How did you first get into music production? What brought it about?

I first got in to production back in '96 while working with Matt Schwartz and Mark Gilbert.  I made a track under the pseudonym of “Rise In Sin”  - the track was called “Happy Days”. That year in Ibiza “Happy Days” was being played in all the clubs by most of the DJs at the time. Seeing it played in Manumission to around 10,00 people in the main room really gave me a buzz to see people loving something that had come from my thoughts to the main stage. So From that moment I knew that I wanted my music out there and wanted to continue to work on tracks to get my name out there also.

How would you describe the music you make?

I would describe my music as eclectic. The music that I produce is definitely house music, four to the floor, up-tempo , driving bass-line driving music. I have worked with a lot different producers over the years and I really enjoy to do this as I get a different sound with every track that I do. Working over the years with guys like Peter Brown, Tom Neville , Prok and Fitch , Richard Gry , Matt Shcwartz and many more gives me the freedom not to be pigeon-holed regarding what style of music I should be making, and just making music for love of making music.

And where do your inspirations and influences come from for the music you make?

At the moment my influences are coming from Brazil. I have been doing a lot of tours all around the vast country and I have recently finished two tracks with a real Brazilian influence. The first track is called “Brazilia” and the second called “Baila” - both tracks are released on the label Big In Ibiza. There is a big percussive drums with vocals sound that reflects South America with a real Summer sound that resonates throughout both tracks that I am really feeling at the moment.

I understand you’ve started singing on your own records – what brought that about?

I have always been a bit of an MC and I have done vocals on many of my tracks in the past. My latest track called “No Friend” on assume records made alongside Peter Brown has me doing all the vocals and I really enjoyed taking the lead on the track and will continue to do lead vocals in the future. I feel that it is another way to show my talents and show the different side to being a DJ in this ever changing world of the music industry.

Where do you get inspirations from for the lyrics?

I take my inspiration from everywhere, from music of the past - be it old pop records or old soul and RnB tracks. I even take influences from old rock tracks. The great thing about house music is that it is like a tree that has many branches that can dip into many different styles. You use any one of those styles to create a style and sound of your own. I use the sound of my voice and the lyrics to keep pushing boundaries, to always try to be a little different from what every other producer is doing out there, and keep trying to find new ways for inspiration.

What does your Ibiza residency meant to you?

The residency has meant the world to me. Space is what really put my name out there with all the other DJs that are playing music at the moment. Space has been like a having a teacher, teaching me the way and helping me to become the DJ that I am now. Space have always been supportive of any moves that I have made in my career and always pushed me to do my best when it comes to representing myself and the club. Space has made the path easier to navigate throw the madness of the industry and helped to get and keep my name in the limelight for so many years. I owe a lot to the club, the owner and the management.

What do you see as your role as a DJ – what are you aims with each set you play?

I am a DJ of the old school. I am selector. I am not there to educate, I am there to please the crowds and the promotor. Not to play music for my mates in the corner or to the cool kids in the back that don’t want to dance but want to list all the new tunes that I am playing. I am a DJ, not a jukebox that will play all the big hits and play all the requests that come my way. I don’t make a plan before I play, I just get behind the decks and play beats and vocals. I don’t use a laptop when I play as I think for the person on the dance floor it looks like you are checking your face-book. My role is to entertain the crowd with the biggest tracks that I have to offer at that time and always give 100% - whether it's playing to 5000 people or 500. The DJ is captain of the ship and must always give the passenger a smooth ride and leave them wanting more. That is my aim.

How do you stay enthused – what keeps you doing this week-in week-out?

I stay enthused by the fact that when I started this I did it for the love. Not for money or for fame and not for glory. I know that it can all be taken away from you in a second if things don’t go your way. So I try to enjoy every minute and give my best every time I play.  I really admire Carl Cox as he has been at it for yeas and still remains a positive influence and stays at the top of his game,  but without becoming a DJ diva. Having to deal with flights, hotels, airports, strange countries week in, week out is not easy, but if you truly believe in yourself and your music this will always be your strength to stay on course no matter what comes your way.

What’s your proudest moment so far?

I have many proud moments to talk about. The one that sticks out most was the Space Closing Party in  2005 when I closed the newly refurbished Space terrace. I played “All Night Long” by Lional Richie for the last record of the night, and the crowd were singing and crying as it was the end of season and this was the last track on the terrace until 2006. It was a true great moment. Also getting to meet and play on the same line up as Public Enemy in Perth Austrialia. Closing the terrace at Green valley in Brazil to a roaring crowd of 8000 people was another incredible moment. Also, performing alongside Sister Sledge , Barbara Tucker and Jocelyn Brown were real big moments for me. This job has many different little presents that it gives from time to time and I love it. 

What else have you got coming up in 2010?

For the remainder of 2010 I have collaborations coming up are with the Beatthiefs, A track called "Pressure" on Used Records with remixes from DJ Wady and Peter Brown and Swanky Tunes. Another track called "Yambo" made with the Prok and Fitch and Filthy Rich is coming out on Toolroom records in August. I also have some remixes in the pipeline for Factomania Digital - a track called "Andalus".  Also, another mix for Dowalve music, "Imagine", both tracks remixed alongside Steve Haines.
I am also about to set up my own label called UlyBug Records later in the year, where I will be signing new tracks and with new artists and more new material of my own.

Find out more about Jonathan Ulysses here.

Find events at Space Ibiza here.

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