Dan is a long-time friend of the house and family here at Pikes, and he’s also many things to many people: journalist, editor, publisher, label manager and hubby to our very own (well, perhaps his very own without being misogynistic) Tess Prince!
He is also one of the founders of Mixmag, he’s the boss man at DMC and he’s one of the brains behind the most seminal musical compilation series of all time, Back To Mine. And this little nugget of very important info leads us to the fact that Mr Prince is also the promoter of the amazing Back To Mine parties at Pikes each month, where he’s hosted the likes of Faithless, Horse Meat Disco, Eats Everything and Fat Tony to date, with more exciting acts lined up this summer, including Gok Wan’s Ibiza debut on June 1. So how does Dan make the magic happen? We sat down with the man himself to find out…
Tell us a bit more about your musical influences Dan – any major childhood musical memories? (Spoiler alert – we know this answer is going to be very cool!)
I was really lucky being born into the world of music as my dad was one of the infamous DJs on the pirate radio ship Caroline and then Radio Luxembourg. I was too young back then to know the significance of having Elton John making a cup of tea in the family kitchen or having Queen over for dinner. My dad’s passion was Elvis and rock and roll in general, and like most kids, I went the other way and fell in love with early electro and hip hop.
How did you end up behind the scenes in some of the creation of the biggest dance music brands in the world?
The phrase ‘being in the right place at the right time’ couldn’t be more perfect for how I got into the industry. My parents had launched DMC in 1983 and by the time I left college in 1987, the Editor of our in-house magazine, Dave Seaman, needed an Assistant Editor. Back then Mixmag was only available to the DMC DJ members, and it took myself and Dave a year to persuade my folks to take a risk and launch it to the public. My first job on my first day, other than making tea, was to interview Frankie Knuckles. I am so proud of what the early Mixmag team achieved back then, we helped to change everything and push the scene on immeasurably.
Tell us about Back to Mine – do you remember the conversations around the label/mixes becoming a physical thing, rather than an experience?
Who doesn’t love a Back To Mine session? Sometimes the afters are so much better than the club itself, everyone is that bit more wasted, a few strangers have joined your crew, the mad clothes come out, the furniture is there to dance on. We were all sitting around the DMC office in 1998, telling each other our random weekend clubbing tales of the unexpected, when somebody shouted out: “Wouldn’t it be great to know what DJs like Sasha and Weatherall play back at their house after the club?”. And that was it. We contacted Nick Warren to do the first one, explained the concept, bought a big leather chair for the album cover and set off to Bristol to do the photo shoot. And the rest is history – an iconic album series was born.
How do you personally describe the Back to Mine philosophy – not the way you’d describe it to the press, but to your mates?
The philosophy of Back To Mine is quite simple. Look, here’s what to do. Go out clubbing. Crawl home at dawn. Bang one up, snap one in half. Put the album on. And depending on the soundtrack, either close your eyes, inhale and float into space. Or jump on that kitchen table and dance to an after-hours soundtrack chosen by the biggest DJs in the world.
How did you feel when you had the first hard copy in your hands? Did you anticipate it would blow up like it would?
We knew we had started something very special – it was the DJs’ response that blew us away – everyone wanted to host one. At the time, the market was flooded with banging mix compilations. Suddenly Back To Mine appeared with its totally different concept; the DJ either chilled you out or continued the party – but it was their private record collection that they had rifled through to choose the tracks. Groove Armada included A Tribe Called Quest track, Fatboy Slim included ‘The Pink Panther Theme’, Carl Cox mixed in Diana Ross whilst New Order surprised us with Missy Elliot and Mantronix. They are just a timeless, personal insight into the minds of the people who have made us dance throughout the dance music decades…
How do you select the artists you want to work with on a compilation?
It’s a real team effort where everyone at the label throws names into the hat. We all have idols, all have our favourites, our own music genres that we are into. Most of the time word gets back to us that someone is up for hosting an album, and if we think they will take time selecting the soundtrack carefully and are original, we will go for it. Look, we are all nosy at the end of the day – we all want to know our heroes are really like behind closed doors – and Back To Mine gives us a little insight into the magical musical minds of some of these artists. We thought it was beautiful to see Liam from The Prodigy choosing Dolly Parton on his album – the thought of him in the bath singing along to Dolly is priceless!
You seem to know anyone who is anyone who is everyone in music! Is there anyone on your list you haven’t worked with yet that you’re holding out for?
The Back To Mine brand is about to have a major change, which will open the door to a whole host of new artists who we hadn’t considered before. Watch this space. Literally!
How do you keep your finger on the pulse with younger, newer, more up and coming artists?
A lot of the Back To Mine and DMC team are DJs, so new music and new exciting artists are always in our sight and sound. Plus, I live in Ibiza, where music is on every street corner…
Has anyone ever knocked back the opportunity? (Surely not!)
No, nobody has knocked us back. We occasionally get a ‘come back in six months when I have a window’ – and we had tracklistings from Elbow and Calvin Harris, but their schedules changed and we moved on. Calvin, if you’re reading this…
Do you have a favourite Back to Mine mix? (Or is that like asking a parent to pick a favourite child?)
It is, I am afraid. Each album suits a different mood. From the laidback chill of Röyskopp and Lamb, to the continuing the party vibes of Danny Tenaglia and Faithless, to the more eclectic, Sunday afternoon playlists of Morcheeba and Everything But The Girl. They are all family.
The brand and mixes are so special to so many people – what is it about Back To Mine that brings people together across the world?
Back To Mine is all about sharing the emotional experience we have through music. Our artists spend such a long time choosing their tracks that when you hear the end result, you are hit with a wave of different emotions – a track may bring back a happy or sad memory, a track might whisk us back to a happy festival field or dancefloor or it might even be the first time we have heard it, and we fall in love with it immediately. It’s just a whole unique experience listening to a Back To Mine album. In fact, Back To Mine strangely became the topic of heated debates at after parties, about which was the best one and why. Everyone has their own personal favourites, favourite moments, favourite artists who have chosen some music that hit a nerve. And that’s why it’s the best album series on the planet.
What are some of your best real life Back To Mine experiences and memories?
Fuck me, where do I start? Writing for Mixmag for so many years gave me the privilege of going back to some very special after hours – be it at their house or hotel room. I have witnessed some very magical back-to-back sessions between DJs you wouldn’t normally pair together, have seen every rock and roll moment you could dream up and met some amazing people who are still good friends today. Each town and city have its best hosts, and I have tried to keep up every step of the way.
What are your earliest Ibiza memories?
808 State, Sasha, Oakenfold and N-Joi at Nicky Holloway’s famous quarry party in the early 90s still stands out. And that makes me feel very old.
What was it about the island that made you decide to call it home?
It was my wife Tess who actually suggested it – we got married in 2012 and came here as part of our honeymoon. She was lying on Talamanca with a goldfish bowl G&T and just came out with it. “Fuck England, let’s move here.” So we did. Immediately.
What’s your association with Pikes? Do you remember the first time you ever came here?
I used to promote parties at Pacha and Privilege in the mid 90s. One summer our villa wasn’t ready and we ended up checking into Pikes for a few days. Which turned into two weeks. Love him or hate him, Tony Pike was an amazing host and storyteller.
How did the idea of hosting actual Back to Mine parties at Pikes come about?
Where else could Back To Mine live in Ibiza? There is nowhere else on the planet like Pikes. The whole essence of Back To Mine is a house party, and Pikes offers just that. The wall painting in the carpark is spot on.
How do you brief a DJ for the event? Clearly, it’s a bit more hands-in-the-air than the mixes, but the essence is still there. In fact – how do you select the artists you’re going to invite to Freddies?
Every DJ wants to DJ in Freddies. End of. We just choose the artists we know who are dying to play something a bit different, people we know who know how to get a party started right. DJs who will stick their necks out and go that extra mile to find a track we had all forgotten about. Eats Everything, Faithless, Fat Tony and Horse Meat Disco have all been brilliant lately. And we cannot wait for Gok Wan to conjure up some disco mayhem.
What’s been some of your best Pikes Back to Mine memories?
Firstly, it is a dream to work with the Pikes team. Sarah, Andy, Nick and co. are simply the best – and our residents Black Hawks of Panama and Only Jewels know just what makes the venue tick – so that fills me with love. As for memories? The dancefloor at our party during IMS week was an incredible who’s who of the electronic music scene. Fabio & Grooverider, Todd Terry, Danny Howard and Jellybean Benitez were all throwing shapes together whilst the Sunset Terrace was chock-a-block with some of the biggest record industry faces from around the world.
What does life in Ibiza look like for you these days, as opposed to those early heady days?
Tess is Consultant Chef at Pikes and Ibiza Rocks and so she is ridiculously busy most of the year. I have just taken over the reins at DMC so I am flat out. Luckily, we live in a little pocket of beauty in the north with our dogs and crazy peacock. Until someone suggests somewhere better to live, we aren’t going anywhere. There’s nowhere quite like it – incredible landscapes, food, weather, music, people and vibe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tricky island to live on. You have to give her respect, you have to give something of yourself to Ibiza. And once you’ve done that, she’ll let you live your life peacefully here. Kind of.
What are you most looking forward to about this season’s events?
We have a few tricks up our sleeve for the Radio One Weekend party on July 27. Get your names down quickly!