Coyu: Kitties wanna dance in Ibiza
“One second, my cat is messing around”. When Data Transmission speaks to Coyu AKA Ivan Ramos at his home in Barcelona in March, the conversation is regularly interrupted by a muffled noise, making his thick Spanish a touch harder to understand. It turns out his kitty is the culprit.
“I’m sorry, I have a fat cat and he’s starving all the time. When he wants to eat he’ll be messing around. So I think it’s better to feed him, and then get back to the interview.”
As it happens, the kitty connection is strong here. Cats are also the mascots for Coyu’s Suara Records imprint. As well as leading Ramos to set up the Suara Foundation alongside the label as a means of helping out stray cats, they’ve also inspired for the look and image of the label, with hand drawn cats adorning the artwork of each of the releases, inspiring the label’s parties as well as its Kitties Wanna Dance series of compilations; and as Data Transmission discovered when chatting with Coyu, they’re also the inspiration for a brand new party in Ibiza this season.
“My manager will kick my ass if I tell you where we’re going to have the party, because we haven’t made it official yet. But we’re going to do a weekly party in one of the best clubs on the island. I’m excited because it’s our first time in Ibiza doing a weekly night.”
Stepping up for a residency in Ibiza is a big step for any label, and it’s a reflection of the fact that Suara Records leapt to new levels of success last year. Ramos began the label in Barcelona back in 2008 and has since hosted releases from key acts like Gary Beck, Hot Since 82 and Dosem among many others, having recently cracked 120 releases with a sound that crosses between tougher house, across to deeper shades of house and techno.
2013 was marked by some particularly big successes though; Tube & Berger’s massive Imprint of Pleasure went stratospheric for the label, clocking in as Beatport’s #1 selling Tech House track by the year’s end. Technasia’s I Am Somebody also did the damage, but it was the strength of the label’s overall brand that was the big success story.
Steering the ship, Ramos’ career is also going from strength to strength. As well as several of his own smashes on Suara last year, he keeps a solid profile on other labels, with releases on Cocoon, Bedrock, and Noir all locked for 2014. Data Transmission decided it was time for a chat, and not surprisingly for someone who looks after stray kitties in his spare time, he brings a friendly, chilled out and affable vibe when we grab him on the phone.
Where have your travels taken you over the past week?
We had two nights over the weekend, one which was at Café d’Anvers in Antwerp, Belgium, and the another party in Madrid that was for 10,000 people, it was crazy. A lot of different people came from across Spain so it was wicked… but I am still quite tired. I’m trying to recover myself from the weekend, because it is already Wednesday, and the weekend starts again in two days!
It seems you’ve had a pretty strong touring presence at the moment?
I’m happy, everything is going quite well. The label, the productions, the gigs that I’m doing on the weekend… it’s good times. If you play too much gigs then sometimes it is quite hard keeping up with everything. Suara is becoming bigger and bigger, and every single day there are thousands of things to do. Listening to the demos, speaking with the artists, the managers, and with who is mastering the tracks. Sometimes it is too much, but it’s what I like to do so I am very happy.
And now this upcoming season we’ll also have a weekly party in Ibiza. It’s a label party and it’s going to be called Kitties Wanna Dance. It’s gonna be very, very exciting and hard at the same time because it’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re still a small brand and a small label. We are not Cocoon, we are not Desolat. But we are on our way, we are very happy and things are going well. The releases are working extremely well on Beatport… it’s very good times.
It’s a big step for a label, to have your own night in Ibiza.
Yeah exactly. A big step for us, and for the brand. If you do well in Ibiza, then you do well everywhere. It’s still the maker of electronic music. So we’re very happy, there is a lot of work to do yet, but I think it’s going to be fine and good. The lineups that we’re working on, we’re gonna have amazing artists, our own guys for sure but also guys from other places and labels. We’re already pulling it together. So let’s see, we can speak about it again after the season and we can see how was the Kitties Wanna Dance party… but we are very excited for the season.
How do you plan to make the night different from what else is on offer in Ibiza?
That’s our aim. We want to do something that’s different, which is difficult in Ibiza because there are a lots of brands there trying to do a similar thing… but we want to bring to Ibiza the spirit of Suara, and to bring quality artists; we don’t care so much about the style, more so the quality, so we’ll be brining some quite diverse line-ups. Some will be more techno and some will be deeper. We’ll bring artists that don’t play in Ibiza so much, which might be one of the only ways you can do something different. Of course we’ll be using the same style and image that we use at our other parties, we have a strong image with the cat, so we’ll do something nice and fun with that.
What is it about the cats that works so well for the label?
My girlfriend is a vet and she works with cats, she loves cats of course and I do as well. When the label was quite young, after about a year and around 8 or 9 releases, I decided to change the image of the label and give it a new identity. I thought cats at the time could be good, and the guy who was doing artwork for Suara, I asked him to paint a cat. He did it and it worked really well, so after that we decided to only use cats on our covers. And then people started to know us as the ‘label of the cats’, and now that is our identity… we even have our Suara Foundation now where we try to help stray kitties. Street cats are taken to the vet, looked after, vaccinates and fed. We want to give them back something. They help make us popular, so we want to pay them back somehow.
The night in Ibiza is perhaps a reflection of the fact that you had a very strong 2013, probably your strongest year yet as a label.
Yes it was; it was the best year of the label and the brand. We had a #1 track with Tube & Berger Imprint of Pleasure, which gave a big push to Suara. It’s had over 5 million views on YouTube, so it was huge. But the good thing was that it wasn’t just one big track, we had a lot of successful tracks that year. We had several tracks that were really big in the last Ibiza season, and we had a lot of great records from Jay Lumen and Gary Beck, a lot of big guys but also newcomers like Sonic Future and Maxie Devine who had records that worked extremely well. It was an amazing year, but I think 2014 will be even better. We are not a small label anymore; we are trying to grown the brand. Two months ago we launched an online store where we sell music and T-shirts, bags, hoodies… It’s a very exciting moment for the label and the brand.
House music had a very strong year in 2013, and there were a few acts in particular that helped take it out to a wider audience. Do you feel this was part of the reason?
House music and deep music has been quite huge, for sure it helped us a lot to grow up. But Suara is quite eclectic, we release house, indie, techno and tech house, we release everything. I think that is what makes us special, it’s very hard to find a label that releases different styles like Suara does. We don’t care too much about the styles; we care more about quality underground music. If it’s good music, then we release it. Nearly half of our records might be house, but some of our best sellers in Suara are quite deep, Monkey Safari’s track Jorg was really big in particular. So the wave of deep house helped us a lot to grow up as well.
Looking at the range of your own releases, there’s a fair amount on Suara but you also have a steady amount coming up on other labels like Cocoon, Noir and Bedrock too.
Suara is doing well, but I like to release on other labels too because they help you to have a bigger vibe. Bedrock is one of the biggest labels in dance music’s history, so for me it’s a big pleasure to work with John Digweed. And now in May I have a four-track EP. Last year I had two EPs on Cocoon and now I’m working on another EP for this year… Suara is my label, and it’s where I release most of my records, but I love to work with other labels.