Carl Cox: "People Don't Want Me to Stop. But Still, Time is Passing"
Carl Cox is one of the living legends of electronic music, and this September marks his final show at Space Ibiza. The big man opens up open his retirement and what comes after...This article originally appeared on Trax Mag
With someone like Carl Cox, the temptation is to say “here is a DJ who needs no introduction”. He's such a fixture on the international circuit – omnipresent at the very top of the DJ league no matter what ups and downs club culture itself might go through, always cheerful and ready to bang out a high-energy set for tens of thousands of people at the drop of a hat – that it's easy to take him for granted. He feels reassuringly unchanging, uncontroversial, a reliable rock to cling to as the storms of trends and generational shifts blow around him.
But every so often we are reminded that for all his success and reliability, Cox is also human and changeable himself. Most recently, he's been raising the topic of retirement: he's closing down his Ibiza residency at the end of this season, having expressed disquiet at the nature of the Island's scene, and has even made noises about retiring from DJing entirely. Whether or not that comes to pass – and as you'll see from this interview, what exactly retirement might mean is far from clear – it's a sharp reminder that there have been multiple phases to Cox's almost 40-year career as a DJ, and there's no reason he should remain stuck in one role now. Whether playing funk and hip hop before acid house hit, dropping the three-deck mixes at the height of rave madness which remain some of the finest documents of the era, 'battling' with Jeff Mills on the turntables as techno went global in the late 90s, or sharing stages with the megastars of EDM, he's been there, seen it and done it.
Given all this, Trax really wanted to put his current moves into context and see how they fitted with his ethos as it's developed over the course of that career, and so we grabbed him just after a show at Fabric in London. Sleep deprived and keen to get some rest he may have been, but he was also every bit as genial and engaging as his “nice guy of techno” reputation would lead one to expect. He was also in contemplative mood, ready to weigh up the pros and cons of the modern dance music era, including in Ibiza, and, as we'd hoped, bringing the weight of his accumulated experience to bear on the state of the world today. A conversation with Carl Cox is always a worthwhile thing, and this one – taking in drag racing, drug wars and spaghetti bolognese – is no exception. Whatever his next moves, we're very happy to have his perspective on the world we all operate in, but which he straddles like a grinning colossus.
So what's happening right now in Carl Cox world?
Most of all people are concerned about my retirement, which of course has been talked about a lot. And people are scrambling to go to Space with my residency there ending. People are... not upset exactly but they can't believe this is the very last time I'll be playing there. I won’t be leaving the island, mind: I’ll still be playing there – but that club has become an institution for fifteen years!