“The fastest I’ve been in a car so far is 187 MPH,” Carl Cox exclaims. “That’s bloody fast.”
Many might not know it, but the Ibiza tech house legend — the same one who just capped off a momentous 15 year residency at Space — is also a dedicated moto enthusiast. “I’m an official drag racer,” Cox says proudly, holding up a certification. “People see me driving my car and they can’t believe it. It’s just something I love to do.”
Carl Cox the drag racer. Who would have thought? As it happens, there’s an entire side to Carl’s life that has been largely overshadowed by his behemoth role in dance music. At 53 years old however, having just wrapped up his final season in Ibiza, it’s a side of Carl’s life that will become all the more prominent in the coming years.
“My life after Ibiza is something I’ve always looked forward to.”
When we catch up with Carl, he’s at his home in Australia, a 40-acre farm which he’s owned for more than a decade. “I like fishing, camping, BBQing, horse racing, getting out my motor bike. My recording studio is down this way. Motorcycles down this way. I’ve built myself a really nice life here.”
This is not the bustling, relentlessly grooving Carl Cox of the DJ booth. This is off-time Carl. This is post-Space Carl. This is the Carl Cox that the world doesn’t know.
The Carl we do know is the seasoned performer who recently completed a legendary 15 year run at Space Ibiza — the crown jewel of the island and a veritable clubbing mecca. “Being anywhere for 15 years is a long time to be doing something,” Carl says. “I’ve been playing that club for nearly 20 years.”
For his final night, Carl opted to perform an all-vinyl set… for 10 hours straight.
“I wanted to leave a legacy and a mark on what I was about,” Carl says. “No one knew who Carl Cox was 15 years ago. When I started playing Space, it was all about me playing vinyl so I decided to also finish vinyl. Most of the people that were in the club that night have never seen me play vinyl. For them, it was like a reeducation for me as a DJ. No sync, no loop button, no get out of free card, and I showed them exactly how it’s done. The reaction was crazy. There’s one record by Dave Clarke that everyone was asking about — jesus this record came out in 1991!”
Not only was Carl Cox charged with not only capping off his own historic run at Space, but bidding adieu to the entire club itself, which will reopen under new management in 2017.
“When I played the closing party of Space, the actual closing party, it wasn’t my night, it was theirs,” Carl says. “I went inside from 6am until 12 in the afternoon. Every single record was emotional. This is the last time you’re going to hear ‘Space Cowboy’ by Jamoroquai. It just seemed so relevant.”
Of course, we had to ask, what was the final record? The one record that would signal the end of the era? How does one even choose such a record?
“My last ever record was Angie Stone, ‘I Wish I Didn’t Miss You.'”
“I didn’t think I was going to play that record, but when I got to play it, it just seemed poignant. And I when I played it, there were tears. Just like wow, this is it. The moment of it all was too much to bear. It was the most difficult party that I’ve ever done.”
With the end of Space also comes an end to Carl’s life in Ibiza. “Me being stuck in Ibiza for the season is not a pleasurable idea anymore,” Carl says. “But I think it’s going to be more special if I only play 3-4 parties a year now. That’s it. There’s no more Carl Cox on the island so choose your parties wisely.”
In this sense, Carl is getting a large portion of his life back. With his new free time, he’s planning on returning his focus to his cherished label, Intec. The world-renowned imprint recently put out Pure Intec 3: their first compilation in years.
“Some of the names you know, many of the names you don’t know,” Carl says of the new compilation. “But that’s the idea of having a record label, to have fun with that. To bring someone out of the dungeons from not being known into the forefront. Intec has always been a platform for that.”
Part of Carl’s philosophy behind Intec — and what’s held him back from putting out new music on the label every week — is the desire to release timeless music.
“I’m trying to slow things down. Otherwise people expect record after record. When I bought a record many years ago — I know things have changed — but I bought that record knowing that in six months I would still be playing that record and that’s gonna define the sound of this year. That one record, for six months! A record comes out now and it doesn’t define shit for one week and it’s throw in the bin.”
“How can music become classic when it doesn’t even get an opportunity to become classic?”
The Future of Carl Cox
Of course, we had to ask the one pressing question on everyone’s mind: is retirement even a consideration for Carl Cox? At 53 years old, the thought must have crossed his mind at some point.
“It’s a great question — and also something that I do have to answer,” Carl says. “I’m in an amazing position right now. I’m 53 year olds. I’m twice the age of everyone on the dancefloor. I still love being in the position that I’m in. I’m at the bloody top still. I would like to come down and just be like ‘ok I’m just gonna fade away into the abyss.’ But it’s not like that at all; my phone is ringing off the hook for bookings every single day worldwide and I have to sit there going ‘nope, no can’t do that, sorry, can’t do that either.'” I’m working harder now than I’ve ever been.”
It’s reassuring news for fans of Carl, but don’t expect to be seeing him show up at your local club multiple times a year now:
“The idea now is really is to do quality bookings; not for money. I just want to do parties that just make sense. I want to do clubs that mean something; where people go that get it.”
“That’s kind of my outro to my DJing, if there’s gonna be one, at this particular moment in time.”
Carl’s parting advice to the world:
Carl finished our conversation with a bit of wisdom for those working in the music industry and beyond:
“There is life outside of what you’re doing. Other things around it gives you the strength to carry on. Mentally you need to be thinking about other things around yourself to actually follow the path you want to get to in the end.”
“Otherwise, it will just consume you.”