Upgrade’s 5th birthday party looks set to go off with a big Balearic bang on the 25th May when Buckley brings the event to Pikes, Ibiza. The renowned UK DJ and promoter has a host of the hottest underground selectors to join him at Ibiza’s most iconic playground. DMCWORLD dives deep with the main man Buckley…
Words by Lisa Chadderton
Tell us a little bit about the history of Up Grade. What was the inspiration behind starting the party and who have you had playing?
I started Up Grade when I was living in Ibiza back in 2018. I had been travelling for a year before moving to Ibiza and that year was the first time in over 20 years that I wasn’t DJing. I had never had any time out before that. So I had been living in Ibiza for around 18 months before I actually got myself out there and started to play again.
Whilst I had some great bookings, I wasn’t really getting the opportunity to play how I wanted to play and how I had always played back in the UK. I was spinning at some nice little chiringuitos, hotel poolsides, bars and restaurants. I was also playing for Wax Da Jam at Las Dalias and Pikes, plus regular gigs at Boutique Hostal Salinas and Paradise Lost. All these gigs were a more alternative vibe musically and not house at all. I did love those gigs and Ibiza is the perfect backdrop for that kind of vibe and style but I was really missing just doing what I do.
So I decided to start something myself, a bi-monthly event where I could invite local friends to come and play but really have it as my vibe musically and basically just get it out of my system every couple of months!
I found the perfect venue in Malanga in Ibiza town. It’s open pretty much all year round so it wasn’t a seasonal party for me. When I first went to check the place out, I immediately connected with Enrique who basically runs the show. I talked him into trusting me to throw a party that was going to be different musically to what they usually do in there. It’s such a cool spot with a real open music policy but they didn’t want the clubby vibe . Anyway, we went ahead. the party was a total success and that’s how Up Grade was born
The first party was amazing. We had Nightmares On Wax playing and the place was packed and popping from the word go. Other DJs who have played include Rob Mello. Inland Knights, Justin Harris (Music For Freaks) Denney, Guy Williams and Frenchy to name a few
Why did you call the event Up Grade?
Well that could take some time to explain, ha ha! It’s a deep one but I will give it a go.
The earth and everything on it and throughout the Galaxy and the Universe is going through a huge energetic shift. There isn’t anything that isn’t being affected by this no matter how it looks. Consciousness is shifting and expanding. Everything is connected and made of consciousness so nothing escapes. We are in the middle of the cycle right now. Some people refer to it as the ascension cycle.
Part of this shift is that we go through a huge awakening. This is already visible, clearly. Also our DNA – and all DNA – is changing and being upgraded from carbon to crystalline to match the new frequencies that are coming in as we continue to shift, hence the name Upgrade.
The shift is a collective thing and I also like the idea of the parties being a collective effort where together we can shift and take the vibe to a place that is only really visible collectively and where together we can take it to a place that we don’t really access the same when we are alone. We Up Grade each other and we all reach the same vibe.
That was the idea anyway. That and the fact that by definition it means raising something to. a higher standard ,and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a free upgrade?
How does it feel to be holding the 5th birthday at Pikes?
Having the 5th birthday at Pikes is just amazing. Everything seemed to align and it all came together effortlessly on every level. Getting this party off the ground has been a really joyful experience so far and I have to keep reminding myself what it is I’m actually trying to achieve here as in – “Oh yeah. Wow. We are actually throwing a party at Pikes!” It feels really good, like everything has been leading to this.
Pikes is such a magical location – a beautiful and intimate space with a legacy that dreams are made of. It’s a real honour and a pleasure that we get to throw the 5th birthday party there.
What other Up Grade events have you got coming up across the rest of this year?
Still to come this year for Up Grade we have 3 parties at The Imaginarium in Leeds which is a really cool new space. The next one is in June and then we have one in September and the final one in December. We have 2 parties at the Lion & Lamb in London. One in September with my line up still being confirmed and also we have one there on Boxing Day with Cassy joining me so that one will be really special.
We also have another at Malanga in Ibiza and we are still working on locking down a party in Lisbon. So from March to December we will have done 8 shows in 9 months which is really exciting.
Tell us about the artists you chose for the 5th birthday and why?
New bloods Yaas & Mali live in Ibiza and they have a real energy and vibe about them when they play and it’s also great to have some female energy on the line up.
A.M .Project, also from the island, are slaying it at the moment both in the studio and in the club. They won a competition not once but twice which resulted in the guys having their tracks signed to Dungeon Meat.
I’ve watched, listened and danced to Tristan Da Cunha for 23 years and I would say that he is most definitely at the top of his game right now. He’s playing all over the world and destroying dance floors wherever he goes so I really can’t wait to see the reaction from people on the night as Tristan Da Cunha never fails to deliver. Me and Tristan shared a residency in Leeds for over 10 years at Back To Basics but this will be the first time in 10 years we have played together so to say I’m excited is an understatement!
I’m really pleased about the programming for the sunset terrace too. Danny Mathews from the Push On Collective UK will be supplying the vibes and the icing on the cake is the live PA from Burgz. He is such a good artist, poet, lyricist and rapper. His style is unique and I think his set will bring a little magic to Pikes. People are in for a real treat.
How long have you been coming to Ibiza and what makes the island so special to you?
I first came to Ibiza when I was 19 back in 1990 so I’ve been coming here for 33 years now! The energy is special here. It can chew you up and spit you out or it can be something very different. Aesthetically there is so much peace and beauty here too. I love how I actually feel different in my body when I’m in ibiza. I feel more calm and grounded. It hasn’t always been that way though ha ha!
You’ve held residencies at some of the most loved and well respected club nights in the world – from the Hacienda in Manchester to Backtobasics in Leeds to We Love Sundays on the Space Terrace in Ibiza. Where has been your favourite place to play and why?
It’s impossible to say which is my favourite. I have had amazing experiences at every venue you just mentioned.
The Hacienda was beyond words but that was in the early 90s. I was just turning 20 and was not long into my career. It was a different and early time in club culture back then.
Backtobasics was me in my 30’s and once again a completely different time and vibe in club culture history and still different to now. The same with We Love. I was in my 30’s then and clubbing was a different scene again. I’m very lucky to have had residencies at all of these legendary clubs. Not many DJs get to say they have shared those residences. It’s a big thing that I’m forever grateful for but all of them were special.
Where in the world have you not played yet that you would like to and why?
There’s lots of places I haven’t played and lots I would like to play. Off the top of my head I would say Glastonbury. I have already played there a couple of times but I would love a good gig in Block 9. Also the Slap Funk parties in Amsterdam look great. The crowd seems like an old night at Basics so I would love to give that a go!
You’ve recently produced some new tracks. What can you tell us about them? What have you got in the pipeline production wise this year?
Earlier this year, just before my Up Grade party in Leeds in March, I went back in the studio with Denney. It had been 5 years since I was last in the studio. I just wanted to make a track and do a couple of sneaky edits to play for the party. We did exactly that – 3 tunes finished in less than 3 days. That’s unheard of for me! We had such a laugh in the process and the sessions were effortless. The tunes just seemed to write themselves.
I don’t really have a studio plan as such but doing those 3 tracks has got me thinking.
Maybe a record label that is just focused on bootlegs and edits. The cheeky stuff basically.
Maybe that could be quite cool and do them on vinyl. Let’s see hey..
If you could choose any 5 DJs past or present dead or alive for your dream private party – who would they be and why?
Ron Hardy who was resident at the Music Box in Chicago. The history of the Music Box and Ron has been well documented. Nearly every set right through the 80’s for 10 years was recorded.
I remember having access to a site that had nearly all of them available to play and I listened to them over and over. They were hugely inspirational. Everybody has an era they wish they had been around for whether that’s the 90’s, The Hacienda, the 60’s, 1988 etc. Mine is the Warehouse in Chicago.
Derrick Carter. The DJ’s DJ. Derrick had a huge influence on me back in the day. I have had some of the best times playing and dancing with D. He would have to be on the line up!
Nightmares On Wax – For just pure love, vibes and consistency.
Mike Pickering – Hacienda resident and the first DJ that made me want to be a DJ. He is a master of programming. He knew when to play a tune. I have definitely had some of my best experiences on a dance floor when listening to Mike.
Cut Chemist from Jurassic 5. His skills and selection are something else. His Set For Love that he did for the Last Night A DJ Saved My Life charity is unreal. All together that would be a perfect line up!!
The event takes place from 10pm to 4am and is FREE via Pikes guestlist only. The guestlist opens 2 weeks before the party. Register NOW to receive notification when the guestlist opens by clicking herehttp://bit.ly/3A1dItL