Club Chats: An Interview with COYU
Earlier this month, I got to sit down and have a chat with Coyu aka “The Big Cat”, Barcelona-based priest of the prolific Suara house and techno temple at The Grand Factory before his C U NXT SAT set.
Of course, the first thing I asked Ivan was what went through his mind when he was contacted to come man the decks in our beloved Beirut:
“My mom was worried, so were my friends. It’s a shame that what’s on the news is about bombs and terrorism and war. Seeing how Beirut really was and how beautiful the scene here is will definitely have me coming back and performing more here.”
Next, I had to ask what the deal with the cats was.
“I have four cats, one sadly passed away, so I have three now. I love cats, I’m known as ‘The Big Cat’ of Suara!”
As a clubber, I often wonder if artists like Coyu miss being on the other side of the decks, being the clubber and not the DJ.
“I’m not sure if I miss clubbing itself, I’ve clubbed a lot in my life. But the thing is, I love what I do and I love playing at clubs. I do miss clubbing sometimes I guess and every now and then I do find myself on the other side, but I love when I play and where I’m playing a lot more that’s for sure.”
As a clubber who has traveled around, I notice how similar and how different the scenes in each city I experience are. So, someone as prolific as The Big Cat would definitely have more insight than I do about those nuances. When asked, here’s what Ivan said:
“Even though there are a lot of similarities between the crowds around the world, there’s also a lot of differences. I guess the main difference is the level of enthusiasm. For example, people in the UK or Berlin aren’t gonna get as excited since they’ve been experiencing this music for 30, 40 years there. But, in places like the US or Latin American for example, the crowds are a lot more enthusiastic and you can feel it, given how house and techno are experiencing quite the revival in those scenes and people are visibly more excited to listen to what you play. Another stark difference I noticed is in Japan, where the crowd respects the craft so much that no one would come up to you to take a selfie in the booth, unlike other places especially in South America where the enthusiasm sometimes makes you spend a lot of time shaking hands and taking selfies after your set, which is also fantastic of course. It just shows you how different the scenes are and how they convey their appreciation for the music.”
(Sidenote: I took a selfie with him shortly before starting our chat, so I guess I’m not as atuned to Japanese techno culture as I would have hoped! Hahaha)
Aside from the DJ booth, I wanted to ask Ivan about what happens in the studio. I asked him if he thought the long-lost “album” was still relevant in today’s techno and house world, and if he thought it’s still something important for an artist to produce, not just singles and EPs.
“I think albums are still important because they let the artist be a lot more creative in their work. On an album, you have more freedom to experiment and innovate. In a club, you usually can’t stray too far from the formulaic boundaries that people go to clubs to listen to. I’m working on my own album, which is a lot of fun for me given the freedom you have with an LP vs an EP or singles!”
Given the amazing success Coyu has been having stateside, I decided to ask him what he thinks of the mainstream vs undergound dichotomy that’s so evident in the US right now, and what he thinks that’s like
“Underground means real for me, where the artist stays true to himself and real with the people and crowd. I see some artists today claim they’re underground but feel too important to connect with the crowd and take the time to enjoy the music and party, not just market the next one or their online sales. Of course, both mainstream and underground are both fine, but I prefer staying real and grounded, with the love for the music as the main driver, as every underground artist should be! Of course, that doesn’t mean not filling stadiums and huge clubs, it just means not being a diva and staying true to yourself and your music.”
(This part made me an even bigger Coyu fan. It’s rare to find someone who has such a positive attitude and sums up the whole issue so eloquently. I’m glad we had the chance to sit down and become friends with The Big Cat that’s a resident in Pacha Ibiza during the summer when not touring the four corners of the world! Real and true.)
Lastly, we Lebanese are super proud of our food, so, I asked the Spaniard what his favorite Lebanese dish was:
“Hummus, definitely the hummus here. And the fattouch!”
I’ll leave you with one his awesome Suara podcasts, and thank you Ivan! It was a pleasure!