There are two ways to measure success in a musician’s life. The first indicator is popularity. The second is longevity. Both aren’t mutually exclusive either. However, in most cases, we see that musicians who reach their peak at an early stage in their career (or life), are unable to maintain their momentum for a long period of time. They may sell out arenas and sell albums by the millions, but the glitz and glamour associated with their name fades away over time. Then we have another set of musicians who, despite not being at the echelon of fame and renown, still manage to etch their names in music history due to the sustained impact of their music. The phrase “Old is Gold” fits these musicians perfectly.
Electronic Music Back in the Day
Electronic Dane Music is a genre that has been rising in popularity ever since the new millennium. However, just because we didn’t have world famous electronic music artists back in the day, doesn’t mean that the genre didn’t exist. Ever since the concept of “music clubs” and discos came into being, electronic dance music has been a topic of great interest among musicians. In the 80’s, there were a group of talented and innovative musicians who decided to divert their mind from the allure of pop, and concentrate on paving a path for Electronic and Dance music to evolve into what it is today. You can call these musicians, the pioneers of modern day Electronic music.
Sven Vath is one such pioneer of Electronic Music. To the outside world, he is known as a mere German DJ and music producer. To those who have the slightest bit of knowledge about Electronic music, Vath is a living legend. His fans lovingly call him “Papa Sven”. He is best known for being the initiator of the Electronic underground scene in Germany as well as Ibiza. Sven entered the world of Electronic Dance music in 1981. Since then, he’s been a dominant figure in this field and has earned the reputation of being a tireless and industrious DJ. He is a major proponent of Vinyl, and uses only two decks and one mixer for his extremely long DJ sets. Astonishingly, his longest set was in play for a jaw dropping 30 hours.
Germany is Sven Vath’s country of birth. Both of his parents were residents of East Germany. Sven was born on October 26 1964, and is one of three sons. Sven’s parents had a fascination for dancing. In fact, they conceptualized the idea of opening a pub where people could eat, drink and party. They wanted the pub to be quintessentially English. When the pub finally came into being, it didn’t turn out to be exactly as planned as it only had a small dance floor. Nonetheless, it was in this small dance floor that Sven was introduced to a myriad of music, ranging from Rock n’ Roll to Disco. One could say that this pub and the music it played was the major influence behind Sven’s decision to pursue a career in music.
First Visit to Ibiza
In the summer of 1980, Sven travelled to Ibiza after learning about its rich musical festivity from the local scene in Hesse, the town where he was residing at that time. He was granted the job seeker’s allowance money, which allowed him to hitchhike from Barcelona and head over to the island of Ibiza. During his initial 3 month stay on the island, Sven lived a life of struggle and hardship. He had to sleep under the open sky on the beach, and his only source of income was from the local clubs who assigned him to hand out flyers for events and parties. His burning desire to be a part of Electronic music gave him the motivation to fight through this adversity and live on his own with whatever little he had in hand. He set his sights firmly on becoming a DJ, and chose Ibiza as the place where he would nurture his skills as a musician. Despite the destitution, Sven fell in love with Ibiza and its music. When he returned to Germany, Sven’s parents gave him the job of being the DJ at their private pub. Sven was glad to serve his parents at the tender age of 17.
Dorian Gray Club and First Production
Sven was highly impressive with his work at his parent’s pub. Owing to his natural ability in music, Sven was swarmed with suitors. In the year 1982, at the age of just 19, Sven Vath was given the golden opportunity to work as a resident DJ at the Dorian Gray Club in Frankfurt. While working there, Sven came into contact Michael Munzing and Luca Anzilotti. They introduced him into the world of music production. 3 years after getting the job at Dorian Gray, Sven came up with this first production, a track called ‘Bad News’. He took this track with him to Ibiza, and handed it over to Alfredo, Pippi, and Cesar, three of the most popular DJs in Ibiza at that time to spin.
Electric Salsa’s Mammoth Success
The next year (1986), was a ground breaking one for Sven as he released a brand new record called “Electric Salsa” under the alias of OFF on the album called Organisation For Fun. This track became a major hit all across Europe. In fact, this was the break through moment of his career. The unexpected success of the track catapulted him into stardom and Sven soon found out that he had become a pop sensation. He shared the stage with the very best such as Vanessa Paradis and Axel Bauer at the young age of just 22. To put his success into perspective, the album sold one million copies all around the world. This was a major accomplishment for a 22 year old artist.
Omen in Frankfurt
Sven didn’t lay back on his success. He continued to expand his work and spread his roots. In 1988, at the age of 24, he opened the dance club “Omen” in Frankfurt. Michal Munzing and Mattias Martinsohn partnered him in the venture. This club was previously known as the “Vogue” and Sven had been a resident DJ there for quite some time. This new club, founded by Sven, became a go to place for the disco lovers in Germany. It was voted as one of the best clubs in the country by Groove Magazine. According to experts, this is the birthplace of techno in Germany. In short, one could say that Sven Vath is the founding father of the Techno genre in his native country. The success of this club was not as long lived as Sven’s career however, 10 years after its inception, the doors of the club were shut. It’s worth noting that the number of partygoers in the last every party of this club was so big, that the crowd spilled out the doors and were people literally dancing in the streets.
Eye Q and HartHouse
Eye Q and Harthouse Records are two labels that are led by Sven Vath. These labels are engineered to produce tracks pertaining to the trance and tech-trance genres. Eye Q was initiated in 1991 by Vath, Heinz Roth and Mathias Hoffman. It was through this label that two of Vath’s best known albums, “Accident in Paradise” and “The Harlequin, the Robot and the Ballet Dancer” were released. Sven distanced himself from these two labels in 1997 and shifted his focus to other projects. In the absence of Sven, the two labels failed to thrive and declared bankruptcy. This just goes to show how vital Sven’s music was for the continued success of the labels.
A year following his departure from Eye Q and Harthouse, Sven signed a 3 album contract with Virgin Records. Under the umbrella of this label, he has produced “Fusion”, “Contact” and “Fire” in the years 1998, 2000 and 2002 respectively. The Fusion album allowed him to embark on a worldwide tour of techno, electro and trip hop concerts.
The Cocoon Franchise
Cocoon is Sven Vath’s trademark. Cocoon was started in 1996 as a series of parties where Sven would spend a huge amount of money. Sven came up with the name after he saw La Fura dels Baus in 1994 in Berlin at the Tempodrom. In that show, there were props of hanging cocoons filled with water. This was an inspiration for Sven’s greatest project. The name itself signifies metamorphosis and change. Evolution is a prerequisite to longevity, and when it comes to adaptation, there are very few musicians who are as good as Sven Vath. To put this concept on a trial run, he toured throughout Germany and North America. Initially the parties were physicallt exhausting and economically unfeasible. He revived the project in 1999, only this time he partnered it with a booking agency of his own. Once the booking agency came into being, it was easy for him to launch the Cocoon events, and even the Cocoon record label.
The Cocoon booking agency has been an integral part of Sven Vath’s success. The agency has managed events for several distinguished musicians. Today it provides bookings for artists such as Tobi Neumann, Onur Ozer, Raresh and a bunch of others.
Cocoon Recordings was Sven’s way of giving back to the DJ community. This label has provided a solid platform for many young and aspiring DJ’s who have learned the art of making it big in the industry from Sven Vath himself. In 2013, Cocoon Recordings celebrated its 100th release.
Ibiza was the place of birth of Sven’s signature Cocoon parties. After a trial run of 4 parties, he was given the opportunity to stage all his parties in Amnesia nightclub. The parties have been regularly held in that venue since 2000 and it has featured some cream of the crop DJs in the world of electronic music. Cassy, Carl Craig, Josh Wink, Adam Beyer and Ricardo Villalobos are just some of the star studded names that have stepped onto the world renowned stage of Cocoon. The theme for the parties changes annually, with the Ibiza Cocoon Team toiling hard to present a more exciting and exhilarating theme every year.
In 2004, Sven Vath took his Cocoon parties to Frankfurt in the form of the Cocoon Club. However, the club was unable to replicate the success of Cocoon Ibiza and it closed down in 2012 due to bankruptcy.
Cocoon Stage at Future Music Festival
Sven Vath’s Cocoon Stage is a regular attraction at the Future Music Festival, being a feature of the event for the past 7 years. The 2014 Cocoon’s all star line-up and included names such as Luciano, Dubfire, Maya Jane Coles and Guy Gerber.
When Future Music Festival returns in 2015, Sven and his Cocoon stage are hosting the likes of Green Velvet, Seth Troxler, Art Department & Apollonia.
The Cocoon Stage is more than just an exhibition of outstanding music. It is an emblem of Sven Vath’s long standing legacy. As long as the Cocoon Stage electrifies the crowd, Sven Vath will hold on to his unseen prominence in the world of Electronic and Dance music.