A catch-up with tINI ahead of the Ibiza season...
Without doubt one of house and techno’s most cherished and admired artists, tINI is someone who’s as equally renowned for her long, winding sets as she is her longstanding association with Ibiza. An incredibly determined and focused individual, her tINI and the gang parties continue to provide a platform for both established and up-and-coming DJs and producers, with this years line-ups expectedly reverting back to the pre-pandemic levels of quality we’ve come to expect. So what’s in store for this year as she brings her tight-knit crew to Ibiza Underground?
With the new season about to kick off, we got in touch with the celebrated German DJ to chat about the pressure of playing superclubs, her glory days on the White Isle and her plans for the summer ahead…
I wanted to start by asking about this years’ Sunwaves. To me, it’s almost like it signals the start of summer. How did you get on this year? How did it compare to your previous editions?
Sunwaves is indeed somewhat the kick off for our summer season, perfectly in sync with spring taking over the grey winter time.
As I haven't been to Sunwaves since 2019, for me it was especially nice to see everyone again. It was a beautiful mixture of old friends and new ones that I made throughout the pandemic. In this edition I got to play on my own, not as rolls’n’do (tINI’s back-to-back project with Bill Patrick) like I’ve done over the past few years and marathons, so that was special for me! Mamaia will forever have a special place in my heart.
You’ve famously played some very long sets at the event, so I wanted to ask if these sort of marathon sets are a thing of the past now? Or is it more about if the mood takes you?
To turn it into a marathon set, it has to be the right setting, atmosphere, crowd, soundsystem and not planned in order to turn out magical. None of my marathon sets were planned as such, it was just the beauty of the moment. I wouldn’t say these are a thing of the past, but like I said, I just go with the flow and I am still a fan of long sets!
How do you prepare for a gig like that? As a DJ known for mainly playing vinyl, do you have to be more creative with the tracks in your bag?
I always play a sort of a “hybrid style”, which I guess is a mixture of my favourite vinyl and then a USB with digitised vinyl, or unreleased tracks. If my physics would allow it, I would always carry at least three record bags with me, but unfortunately that's just not possible!
We’re here today to chat to you about your Ibiza events, tINI and the gang. I remember the first few and it’s safe to say it’s evolved a lot since. What are your favourite early memories of playing in Ibiza? As you’ve become more well known and the party has evolved, is it still as magical as it ever was?
Ibiza has changed a lot, and of course the gang has evolved over the years as well.
There is still some magic to be found on the island, you just have to look for it a bit harder these days. Throwing free beach parties during the day was the best thing ever and it's hard to recreate this freedom in a club. I recently hosted a gang event with my friends from Welcome to Unreality, and all I can say is, THE MAGIC WAS THERE from the start of the till the end of the afterhours somewhere in the mountains in Ibiza. So I am very excited for what’s to come!
Do you have a favourite memory from those early days? And at what point did you realise that you wanted to bring your own party to the island? What parties influenced you back then?
There are many amazing memories. I remember when my agency first told me I could have my own little event on the island and I couldn’t believe it. We started with about 150 people and I had Josh Wink and some other old heroes of mine playing. Over the years we exploded up to 1500 people, it was wild! I was influenced by anything that was related to freedom and good music. There was no ego, no fame or status, just people having a good time together. Sounds romantic, I know, and I guess I’m still holding onto that!
Though you’re German, Germans don’t tend to visit Ibiza in droves like their European counterparts - despite the fact that they too obviously love electronic music. Why do you think this is?
Interesting question, and I honestly have no answer for you. Ibiza is getting way too expensive, it's getting wilder and wilder over the years too. I am always surprised how people can afford all these crazy entry fees, accommodation and drink prices. That's why I did my party for free back then on the beach and nowadays we are hosting the gang events at Ibiza Underground, which in my opinion is the only fairly priced club on the island (and the cosiest and coolest of course!).
Do you get to hang out and see your friends play when you’re there? And do you prioritise getting about and seeing the island?
In the seasons where I used to live on the island for 6 months, I saw a lot of my friends playing, yes. This year I have a very busy touring schedule so I won't be hanging around too much and will focus on my own events. But I always make some time to relax and hang out at my favourite spots and restaurants with my friends, that's part of the quality of life in Ibiza. It’s an amazing place to be, even if you don’t like nightlife.
A lot of DJs fly in and out all summer but barely get time to actually see the place. Do you have a favourite part of Ibiza where you get to enjoy it away from the clubs?
There are some private little beaches, you have to search and dig for them. And the classic spots like Fish Shack! Still a must go to for me, even though it’s not so secret anymore
How important is balance to you as a touring DJ? How do you switch off and relax? Or is that generally something you struggle with?
Balance is the most important thing for me. I tend to work non-stop and go completely crazy when it comes to the amount of shows I say yes to, but that's simply because I love what I do. I am trying to cut it down a bit more this year, especially after realising throughout the pandemic how nice a more domesticated lifestyle can be. My girlfriend lives in New York, so I am flying a lot back and forth to see her and to spend time [with her]. Taking weekends off in between or at least getting enough rest in between the touring is crucial.
You’ve presumably been made offers to play at many clubs in Ibiza, but are passionately dedicated to playing at Ibiza Underground. What do you think makes the club so special?
Yes, there were big and well known clubs throwing out insane offers to have the gang in their clubs, but I declined over and over again. For me, it is most important not to sell out my brand or my soul. Playing in a big club comes with huge pressure, music directional wise and so on. At Ibiza Underground, I am free to play what I want, invite who I want and to keep the spirit of the gang - a community that is affordable and shares the same love for music - alive.
The club feels like a private house, like someone's parents left and you just throw a party with your friends and friends’ friends. The big terrace and hangout areas make it welcoming for everyone, even just to hang. And there is a tree on the dancefloor and it just feels like the most cosy club i know. You may not get rich as a promoter at this club, but it feels like home. I just love it. If you know, you know!
You’ve got some awesome guests coming this year, such as Sugar Free, Cap, Quest, Doudou MD and more. For a lot of these guys, I imagine it’s likely their first few times playing for your party and possibly, in Ibiza full stop. Is there ever a hesitancy on their behalf about playing? And I guess that disappears once they see the ‘other side’ of the island, right?
So far luckily I never had to deal with any hesitation, rather the opposite, pure excitement. I think this is because after 12 years in the game, my party is established enough by now and DJs and people know that I am representing the underground part of the Island.
You’re collaborating with Resolute, Summer of love, Picnic London, Slapfunk, Zero and Off the grid among others and the family mentality is clearly something that’s very important to you. Aside from great music, what is it about these particular crews that make them such a great fit for the party?
I choose my guests and collaborators by two things: the vibe and the music. It’s as simple as that. No ego, nothing fake, nothing commercial. The philosophy is simple. The brands I chose stand for the same!
Do you understand the perception of people who’ve never been to Ibiza that it’s become too commercialised? Is this something you’re keen to work against at Underground? I remember reading something about Underground that read “It’s not for everybody”. What does that mean to you?
Underground is definitely not for everybody. If you are looking for table service, champagne bottles with fireworks and commercial hits you can sing along with…well, you won't find that.
Not on any day of the week, that is what makes it so special!
A huge part of Ibiza has become very commercial and it seems a lot of DJs just want to get rich there fast, but luckily there are still some other brands fighting for the same, you just have to look harder since it won't be widely advertised on billboards.
How do you maintain the vibe at the party? Do you keep things very affordable and promote a vibey guestlist, for instance?
Absolutely, the vibe is created by welcoming everyone! Usually we even start with free entrance in the first hour, after this its a more than affordable entry price even including a drink. And of course there is the guestlist, but i rather have that exploding with like minded people than any other way!
Your party’s been through a lot of issues before, and I seem to remember it getting shut down when it was on the beach. In one way, was it a relief to bring it to a club where things can be a bit more regulated?
We have been quite issue-free, to be honest. Roberto Blach and I managed to throw a party on the beach for more than 5 years ... at some point with thousands of dancers. I was surprised how long I was able to keep on doing this. I don't think my event needs much regulation!
I am proud to say that in all the years we never had anything bad happening, nothing stolen, nobody hurt, no fights. We used to have just one security person, if that's not a family vibe, I don't know what is. I miss the beach a lot and would go back in a second if I could, but unfortunately these days are long gone.
Was there ever a time during the pandemic where you wondered if you’d be back in Ibiza? And how did you keep your spirits up during this time?
I came to ibiza, to relax…and got COVID there! For me it wasn’t hard to keep my spirits up, I am always full of ideas and I have an amazing girlfriend and beautiful friends that I got to spend more time with than ever in this period. I feel very lucky about everything that is happening again now. This huge break was actually very necessary for me.
To those that haven’t been, why should they come to tINI and the gang this summer?
Because you will feel like you are amongst friends and will hear special music in the most beautiful setting… and you have not seen the after parties in the mountains yet!
Finally, can you talk us through three tracks that you expect to be massive for you this summer?
There are some absolute fire releases from Data Memory Access, Pedro Bolzico, Tunik and I also worked on some new tracks that will be tested this summer. Hopefully you’ll get to hear them when you visit us soon!
tINI and the gang takes place over 10 dates this summer, with confirmed guests such as Mathew Jonson (live), Quest, Alexia Glensy, Sugar Free, Dyed Soundorom and many more.