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Musical Roots: 5 Steps With Cera Alba



Leeds To Ibiza

Ok so this could be a title on so many ‘5 Steps’ for producers who honed their skills in West Yorkshire. I often get asked what is it about Leeds which seems to breed so many house producers. It really is a melting pot of house and techno, there were so many different parties happening when I first started going out. I remember being taken to Back to Basics for the first time and it literally blew me away, Ivan Smagghe played for 3 hours and took me on a journey into complete electronic weirdness. Basics was always on point and had a good booking policy, they always chose a mix between the new comers such as Jamie Jones alongside legendary artists like Danny Tenaglia. It was a great night and has real heritage in the north, but for me Dirty Disco was the night that influenced me the most. It had only been going for a short time when I first went and was run by two absolute legends of the UK clubbing scene, Stuart Forsyth and Stuart Darwin. The night was set in an old school named The Northern Light, it was a huge 3 room club on two levels. The logistics of the club made it even more fun as you could literally do laps between the rooms catching people and music along the way. I think in those days it was all a bit more crazy than now, I remember Foz (Stuart Forsyth) telling me once how it had exploded so quickly, suddenly they were booking the biggest acts in the world like Booka Shade. It always felt like an extended family between Basics and Dirty Disco, it brought so many people together.

I should also spend some time talking about the residents for both nights, all of which were excellent. If I had to pick two which have influenced me the most it would Tristan Da Cunha from Basics and Matt Cooper from Dirty Disco. Tristan was just pure Chicago house energy, I remember him coming on at about 4am once. I fairly big DJ had played before him and had not done his homework on what the crowd were expecting. By that time I was fully ready to go home but Tristan came on and just turned it all around, a great asset to any club. Matt Cooper was definitely all about Techno and I think he would admit he was hugely influenced by Richie Hawtin’s Decks, EFX & 909s compilation. I remember watching him use the old Pioneer EFX 1000 unit and wondering how and what the hell he was actually doing! 

The other side to the start of the Leeds to Ibiza story is of the course the white isle. My love of all things electronic music started in Leeds but it definitely flourished in Ibiza. In 2006 a few of my close friends I had met through music we’re buying there one way tickets to Ibiza to fly in May. I think I just thought ‘Yes I will work a season in Ibiza’ without really considering what it meant. We flew over and like all of us, the first time you do something it feels scary but exciting all at the same time. I only thought I knew what to except but it was much more than what I thought it meant at the time. Many people talk about the negatives in Ibiza, that’s its commercialised, the way the Spanish authorities treat people, the dirt and grime of San Antonio. Of course all these things are true in a sense but you have take the Island as a whole and not just by its individual parts and trust me there are more positives than negatives. I think it really changed for me after going to DC10 for the first time, back then there was no air conditioning and the main hanger still had those two huge belting fans. The drive to the DC10 Circoloco opening party was seriously intense, I was anticipating intimidating Guardia, rough bouncers and a club packed full with the craziest people in the world, it did not disappoint. The main terrace was one of the most intense clubbing environments I have experienced, it was steaming hot at 3pm on a Monday afternoon and room was full with people. We pushed out way to the middle which was pretty much as far as we could go and started dancing. I actually can’t remember who was playing but I do remember my first sit down, I could hear that weird siren stab of ‘Marc Houle’s Bay Of Figs’ slowly coming in and the whole room began to kneel down. It was pretty crazy but so much fun. The track built up to the drop at around 3 minutes and everyone jumped up, the whole place went mad.

So after 9 or 10 hours we left DC10 completely shattered and headed back to San Antonio, I look back on this as a pivotal moment as I think it was when I decided I was going to commit to pursuing my dream of learning to DJ. It was never for the fame or status, it was always for the music, the music changes from the time to time as genres come in and out of fashion but as long as the song either makes me dance or catches my emotion I will always have an affinity with it.

I managed to last 6 weeks in Ibiza due to fact I was no good at selling tickets for a Hard House night, unsurprisingly. I will never forget the time I spent there and regard it as creating a positive change in my life. I also left because with no money or real home there, it was no place for me to start pushing my dream. I also had a girlfriend at the time and we had only been together a few months so coming home to spend time with her was the right decision. I got back to Leeds, sold my car and bought my first decks. After that I spent almost 2 years just listening and collecting music, in fact I stayed up almost every night in my final year of uni just trawling music, it was pretty stupid thinking back but I needed to do it.

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