Johannes Goller started as a worker for Cocoon Ibiza and is now head of the brand. We chat to him about 18 years of Cocoon on the island, the growing VIP areas, where the elusive German ravers have gone, and what the island really needs.
How did you begin working for Cocoon?
Johannes Goller: I came to Ibiza for the first time in 1988 and I returned almost every year. So the dream was always to spend the whole summer season on the island. Talida, a dear friend of mine, and Cocoon’s General Manager back in the day, knew about my passion and love for Ibiza, for Sven and the dancefloor, so she asked me in 1999 if I wanted to join the new Cocoon Ibiza team.
Sven planned to take over the Mondays at Amnesia, and the timing was perfect so I said yes immediately not even knowing what my position and responsibility might be. She just said go and do whatever is needed. I loaded my car and hit the road in May 2000. I was assisting the head of the new Ibiza team, and did everything from flyering, postering, picking up the DJs, finding some nice secluded beaches to do after parties, and of course making the coffee.
Describe your working week during peak season?
You need to set a good base and structure before it all starts. Lineup, production, marketing and promotion. Everything needs to be in place before the season starts and then you prepare Monday after Monday. We have a great team on the island. The core team is together more than ten years now. This helps a lot. We understand each other very well, and everyone is on top of their game. We also always integrate fresh faces. You never stop learning or listening.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
My goal is always to keep the whole thing together. The artists, the team, and of course to sync team Cocoon with team Amnesia. We are all coming from different countries and every country brings certain characters and personalities. Finding the right tone to keep everyone motivated and in line is not always easy. I think we do this quite well however and I am proud of that.
The Cocoon family parties hard but you’re the one who holds it all together.. it must be quite a test?
Yes, we love to party, that’s why we are all here. Cocoon Ibiza is an affair from the heart. Sven, Ricardo, the team and myself…we all have a very strong connection with Ibiza. We are all here since more than 20 years and I think this is part of the success of Cocoon. We identify ourselves with Ibiza. This is the glue that keeps us together. That’s what makes Cocoon different and I think the people can feel that at our parties. It is real and it never stops evolving.
You used to take the winter off to go travelling, is that still the case? How important is that break after a summer running Cocoon Ibiza?
It is very important to make a cut after the season and to find some time to relax and recover from everything. As you know it is quite intense. I take time to detox, leave all the temptations aside for a while and if time allows, I go travelling. Being in nature is essential for me. This is where I can recharge my batteries the best. Last winter I went with my fiancée to Cuba and Costa Rica. The nature there is really spectacular. I used to go trekking in Nepal and Bhutan alone or with friends for many years.
Once in Nepal, we spend the night at 4,500 metres in a tent and we hit the trek at 4 am and it was still dark. We had torches and our guide and dear friend Karsang started chanting Buddhist prayers. We just made one step after the other, it was like meditating. The day broke and the mountains colours changed from black to purple to pink, then gold, and as we reached the pass at 5,400 metres Mount Everest was right in front of us. I will never forget this moment.
Luciano and Richie Hawtin are back playing for you this season, was it nice to have some of your biggest stars of the 2000s return home to roost?
We always try to present the best lineup possible. Some residents of the past went their own way and made their own experiences in Ibiza. It is challenging when you have your own night in Ibiza. Richie and Luciano always came at least once each year so the bond was always there. Sven and Rich are very close friends, and as the idea came up to return for a residency it didn’t take long to find an agreement. We are very happy to have Richie back on board.
Competition is fierce in Ibiza, so it must be a confidence boost for the cocoon team to have outlasted some really big brands?
Yes. Not many can look back to 18 years in Ibiza.
It seems the German population among the rave tourists on the island isn’t what it was, what do you think needs to happen to win back German dance music tourists to the island?
There might be many reasons. One is definitely that the flight costs from Germany to Ibiza are higher than from other European countries. No true budget airlines exist for the Ibiza holiday season in the way they do for other countries.
Another reason might be that the German youth is not so much into techno as the last generation was. It seems like the kids don’t want to listen to the same music that their parents did during the 90s where techno was huge and Love Parade was at its peak. You can see the opposite in the United States where it was all about rock and r’n’ b and now the kids are into EDM.
In the end the cost matters. [Ibiza] is an expensive package to put together now with your mates.
Ibiza is always changing, what do you think the island needs more of?
Reasonable priced accommodation, affordable for everyone. If the season is going to be this long then adjust other prices or the dancefloors are going to be harder and harder to fill. The customers are going to be harder and harder to attract.
And what does it need less of?
Overpriced accommodation and the spreading VIP areas. Ibiza has to be affordable or the magic will disappear and there will be nothing left to look at. Never forget the Very Very Important people. The people on the dancefloor who bring their energy and their curiosity and their color.
What do you think this Ibiza season will be remembered for?
As the longest season so far. The season stretched from mid May until mid October. Beware of diluting. The energy, the spark of Ibiza was always so compressed, whatever your choices were. That made the choices matter more in my opinion
And what will be remembered most about Cocoon this season?
I hope the same as ever. The best crowd in the business, a lot of laughs and a lot of new friends to go with sparkling music and an extraordinary variety of artists over 19 Mondays. Dancing is what we do and I hope every year we leave memories based around the joy we try and create on the dancefloor. The people matter most and let me say one thing personally. These last four or five weeks of Cocoon 18 have been just so moving and important for me. I had the most fun, I had to force myself off the dancefloor to work. We must be doing something right.