CATHY GUETTA
PULLING NO PUNCHES

Dan Prince July 2018 MUSIC Read in PDF format N18/2018
CATHY GUETTA The Summer of 2018 has seen hip hop finally land on the island and leading the charge is Cathy Guetta, the unstoppable creative powerhouse who alongside The Night League, bring their new GangStar party to Hï Ibiza...

Cathy, you were born in West Africa before moving to Toulon and then Paris, a city with a really strong hip hop heritage. How did you first get into the urban scene?

I started going out to clubs when I was 17 years old watching my brother Chris DJing in the clubs and I fell in love with the atmos- phere immediately. Everyone was so happy and enjoying the party which was all thanks to the music of the time, artists like Michael Jackson and the whole black music. Then, from 1998 for about 6 years David Guetta and myself were the bosses of one of the most legendary clubs in Paris – Les Bains Douches where every Wednesday we had the biggest hip hop party in the city called ‘SUPAFLY’. All the artists of this special hip hop era came down; Jay Z, P.Diddy, J.Lo, Missy Elli- ot, Mary J Blige, The Fugees and French rappers NTM and IAM.

France had a great ‘scratch scene’ at this time also...

That’s correct. I used to love to watch my brother and his friends at the DMC competitions, there were incredible artists like Cash Money who scratched like crazy - with their foot and mouth whilst spinning at the same time. When I met David in 1989 he was deeply into this hip hop culture and spent all his time scratching. I scored bonus points when I first spoke to him about Cash Money... it was rare at that time for a woman to refer to a DMC contest when she was flirting!!

Over the next two decades you worked with David on many collaborations with huge urban artists over in the States. What were the main differences you found between the electronic and hip hop industries? Apart from a lot of zeroes on the pay cheques!

The hip-hop and rap industry has been around for nearly 40 years and has been a way of expressing oneself, of conveying a political message and a chance of escape. This musical movement quickly become one of the biggest of all time, with world-fa- mous artists who today are part of a colossal industry. I’ve met a lot of urban music artists as well as those in the electronic scene - the difference is that urban artists are behind their microphone. And of course, in their universe their scene and image is of the utmost importance. Visually there is an art culture and an influ- ence on fashion trends whilst money, success and ambition are important, often because of where these artists have come from. Hip Hop guys do not move without their entourage of at least 12 people and they like to perform all the time whether it’s in big arenas or small clubs...it doesn’t matter as long as they can get on stage! And of course, they love to party!

The electronic artists on the other hand are behind their machines, computers and home studios. They create music non- stop at home, on a train, a plane or at the airport. Their music is 100% in the energy, it’s pure clubbing, the party is shared by millions at all the festivals and their message through their music is ‘party all night long’. It’s often only behind decks that electronic DJs move stadiums, and for the most part can live a normal life because they are not so much publicized. Oh, and their entourage is smaller!!! But I think that for me, the most extraordinary thing is to have witnessed the association between urban music artists and electronics. David was the first to believe in this merger, it was crazy and so innovative. A new musical era opened up where artists of two musical streams met each other, nourished by each experience, origins, sensibility and influence. Global successes were born...thanks to the talent of rappers, urban music artists, their groove and the creativity and energy of the electronic DJs.

You have organized parties all around the world; Paris, Miami, Dubai, Cannes, Ibiza and Brazil to name but a few. What are the main ingredients you need to make sure your event rocks?

Ah!!! This is the eternal question, what is the success of an evening? Several ingredients have to come together to make it a success. Being in the right club, a good day of the week and being original for starters. It is a risk to be innovative, but re-doing what already exists is of no interest to anyone. Choose your musical stream, then your artists or DJs who will repre- sent it best. Know how to identify your audience. Create a party that will bring a dream to reality through a theme, decoration, a show, performers all with a wow effect - something that will make an impact. Also, involve the staff of the venue so that itis a pleasant and happy area to participate in the party. I try to bring novelty, originality, a sexy atmosphere and always a glamorous touch. I like to see people having fun and be happy and I like to take risks and offer what people do not expect! And then and only then do you have a party!

How did the whole Hï Ibiza adventure begin?

Yann Pissenem (Founder, The Night League, the powerhouse behind Hï Ibiza and Ushuaïa) and I have always wanted to do something together. We met at Ushuaïa with Luciano playing on the beach back in the day, but our adventure really started the first two years we did FMIF with David at Ushuaïa Ibiza... what wonderful times. One of my fondest memory is at one of my Antarctica themes where we had a North Pole Polar Bear & Penguin pool party in 30 degrees ha ha! Even though I stopped my collaborations with Yann around the time of my divorce, he always promised me that we will work together again pro- fessionally because we had both had such a beautiful connec- tion. When Hï Ibiza opened in 2017, I started a new adventure at this spectacular new club when Black Coffee’s manager Lionel and Yann asked me to create an evening together every week around Black Coffee. I accepted the challenge and we became one of the best nights of summer 2017. Last year at the opening, Yann and I talked about the idea of making the first hip hop party in Ibiza. The huge challenge for me was to rep- resent a single evening each week in my name without DJing myself or showcasing known artists. Yann was interested in my image, my credibility, my experience and the desire to fight - because let’s not forget that to make an evening in Ibiza is a very, very special project. People have a big wait for a par- ty, there is fierce competition and no major club on the island has ever organized a real hip hop party or explored the mar- keting and communication needed to explain this new story.

Where did the GangStar name come from? You must have thrown a few in the trash!


I found GangStar at 3 am in the morning after having a conversation with a few friends. It was vitally important that the name referred to hip hop and that there was the mention of a gang...my GANG with my girls as I am all about girl pow- er. Also, we have the beautiful visuals created by renowned fashion photographers MERT and MARKUS which are used as the artwork for the event. I did not want to be alone on the billboards but with my GangSquad, I love being surrounded by these strong, sexy, powerful women. These are all the stars of the night! And yes, many other names are now in the trash!

For those reading this who haven’t been down yet, what can they expect from a night at GangStar?

The concept of GangStar is a night of hip hop and R&B with five urban DJs and 3 MCs. I love to box so a boxing theme was perfect, I have created a story and a stage setting so the public can be surprised during the whole night. It’s a Girl Power party so I chose 50 female dancers which has never been seen in a club before and with whom I have my own special show. It is a real party atmosphere and very sexy.

Tell us about the GangSquad auditions, they must have been fun...


Myself and Yann auditioned all the girls and then styled the ones we liked with hair, make-up and clothes...it took a lot of organisation! And I have to admit, I don’t think there are many great dancers left for the other clubs on Mondays!

The urban sound is the BIGGEST sound in the world right now but Ibiza was always the last untouched des- tination. Why has it taken so long to take off here? Ibiza is one of the places in the world known for its musi- cal quality which has been in place since the 1970s. But you’re right, electronic music in all it’s forms has been reigning on Ibiza for many years without anyone exploring urban music. There is the small club and some artists who have appeared at other clubs of the island, but more in concert mode. At GangStar we haven’t started with big DJs or live artists, we have begun with a real concept with real experience behind it. I don’t think the other club owners on the island truly believed a weekly hip hop night would work here, but Yann is so visionary and understood immediately the huge potential of the concept. He took the risk asking me to represent it and organise the whole of GangStar...and he was right, it’s an ace!

Cathy. You go to Snoop’s villa party and he has karaoke. What Hip Hop classic would you choose to rap?!?

I would choose two cult songs that remind me most of my teenage years, both of which I used to listen to on loop. Grandmaster Flash ‘The Message’ and The Sugarhill Gang ‘Rappers Delight’.

And finally, what else is up your sleeve for this summer and beyond for GangStar, what surprises have you got for us? For now I am just concentrating on making GangStar a true party. A night where people can come and listen to great music, admire crazy sets and our show with our 50 girls. We are living in a period of WOMEN POWER and because of this fact I am extremely proud to be the first person bringing hip hop to Hï Ibiza and writing a new chapter in Ibiza’s long musical history. As for surprises? We all like surprises from time to time, so why not...?

 

Cathy Guetta presents GangStar every Monday at Hï Ibiza. www.hiibiza.com 

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