At the absolute peak of Cocoon’s Ibiza success, it was arguably the best techno party in the Balearics, if not the world. Some might say this wasn’t even up for debate and that was down to the singular vision of Sven and his team, who put personality and visual creativity at the forefront of everything they put into place. The best techno DJs on the planet, including Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, Ricardo Villalobos, Luciano, Carl Craig, Nina Kraviz and Loco Dice? Check. The best musical identity and dancers on the island? Check. And Amnesia parties and after-parties that came to define the electronic era and influence a whole new generation of party people across the planet? Check and indeed checkmate. And now – having first taken over Amnesia back in 1999 – Cocoon are 25 and looking back on their role as a world-changing force in electronic music.
After years of super-hard techno, Cocoon carefully found a balance between melody, percussion, kick drum, vocal and soul: or as Luciano said, “Suddenly the music was warm again. And girls liked that very much.” In Ibiza especially, the entire season would be mapped out over winter with top-tier artists from across the underground spectrum, with Sven the iconic German overlord of all that he surveyed. But it was not for the faint-hearted: Cocoon at Amnesia would open at midnight and around 7:30AM when the party was still at full tilt, plans were being made behind the scenes for an after-party at a secret location. All that was needed was that all-important wristband, someone (sober) with a car for four and enough endurance for another twelve hours of dancing to magical music. And those records would include Audion’s ‘Mouth To Mouth’, Guy Gerber’s ‘Sea of Sand’ and ‘India In Me’ by Cobblestone Jazz.
By 2003, the whole terrace was arguably the key part of Cocoon’s success. That open-air terrace was custom-built for these wonky, curious percussive techno cuts and blistering deep house records like Romanthony’s ‘Let Me Show You Love.’ Sven and Ricardo both ruled the terrace, and everyone from John Digweed to Mr C could be spotted on the iconic club space, everyone taking in Cocoon’s refreshingly open-minded musical policy and the beautiful freaks and geeks on the dancefloor. And it wasn’t just the boys: soon the irrepressible producer Cassy would be made their first de facto female DJ resident and everyone from Maya Jane Coles to Ida Engberg would follow in her warm-up wake. Carl Craig remembers seeing a stencilled picture of Sven around the island in 2006, “like an updated version of one of Kiss!’ It was this subtle update of identity that meant you either knew what that star meant, or you didn’t: but Cocoon weren’t going to ram it down your throat: you were either in, or you weren’t. And the cognoscenti were all in from midnight until at least eight in the morning.
There are so many examples of Cocoon’s key moments that it’s probably best to focus on just a couple. In 2004, an after-party on Talamanca in Ibiza attracted around 4,500 people and was so intense, the police suggested the road would collapse, so Cocoon were told to continue. The electronic guests playing live on the island include Underworld, Anthony Rother and the mighty Kraftwerk, who played impeccably in the pouring rain in 2019. Cocoon have also had a stage at Tomorrowland in Belgium since 2009, not to mention Cocoon Mysteryland in
Amsterdam since 2017 and stop-offs for the brand from Germany (naturally) to Colombia and at ADE back in the ‘dam. (We should also give a special honourable mention to Cocoon In The Park Medellin, which was a super-special event in the Botanical Garden: as ever, Cocoon offered the space less travelled.) And it’s not just the party that’s continued globally – taking it Europe, Australia and South America and more recently Cocoon In the Park in Leeds in the UK – it’s also Sven as the figurehead and the Cocoon Recordings label he runs alongside Edgar Dirksen at the A&R helm.
Back in the studio, the new annual Cocoon compilation album features incredible and exclusive music from New Jackson, DJ Tennis and Levon Vincent, their curation as incisive and excellent as ever. Cocoon may be 25 years deep but it’s clear that they still have their eye on the far horizon. In 2024, they will tour the world. “In my journey as a DJ, I’ve always aimed not just to play music but to build a bridge between me and the listeners – a bridge made of energy, emotion and heart. Every set, every beat, every song has been and always will be, a matter of the heart.” – SV.
by Ralph Moore