Rock & Roll, Ibiza: Interview with Diego Calvo

Abbie Franks – 24 April 2019

When you first think of Ibiza, your mind is most likely drawn to thoughts of the current hedonistic playground that often revolves around youth, 24-hour party people, electronic music and rave culture. Rewind to the early 1960s, and the Balearic island carried a much more laidback, stripped-down atmosphere.

During the 1960s and 70s, Spain was suffering from the political oppression of Franco’s government and Ibiza became a haven where hippies, creatives, rockstars and Vietnam veterans could take refuge in a low-cost, carefree environment.

As hippies began to turn up en masse in the 60s, Ibiza became a place where anything was allowed. Artists such as Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones landed on the island, along with artists, painters, photographers and other creatives from around the globe. During the height of Ibiza’s hippie movement in the 1970s, rockstars retreated to the island to party, record albums, take holidays and perform live. During this iconic time, designer, Yves Saint Laurent, even designed a collection based entirely on the island and its happenings.

Ibiza has always had its roots deep within music, and during the 1970s it saw artists such as Bob Marley, Eric Clapton and Thin Lizzy organise live performances. Between 1980 and 1990, some of the world’s biggest artists also took to the stage; During this time, Ibiza saw shows from the likes of James Brown, Nina Hagen, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, along with Freddie Mercury and Monsterrat Caballé for the Ibiza ‘92 Festival. In more recent years, Ibiza Rocks has been known to host a range of great bands between 2005 - 2017; the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Madness, New Order, Royal Blood, The Libertines and Primal Scream have pulled in huge crowds.

Inspired by many of these music anecdotes, we collaborated with Diego Calvo - CEO / Founder of Concept Hotel Group, and Director of Rock Nights Ibiza for our Spring / Summer 19 campaign. His parents were amongst the many that fled to Ibiza in the 1970s, and the island was subsequently his birth town. With his family origins within this Hippie notoriety, Diego has dedicated his life to the hotel industry in Ibiza and combined this with his love for rock & roll to create a concession of insanely cool hotels. Whilst shooting the campaign, we met up with Diego to hear more about his own experiences with rock & roll culture and how it has influenced his movements within the industry.

You own five hotels in Ibiza: Santos, Tropicana, Dorado, Cubanito & Paradiso, what was your inspiration behind these?

Many of the ideas and inspirations for the hotels came to me from the things that have influenced my way of life, such as 80s movies, Route 66 roadside motels, the art deco architecture from South Beach Miami, classic cars, and the vintage world in general. I run my hotel business with my partner and friend Tallyn Planells, and I also have a party and promotion business called Rock Nights, which was created in Ibiza in 2005. I am very inspired by characters such as Ian Schrager, one of the founders of Studio 54, who later created the first boutique hotel group, Morgans Hotel Group. He is now also a partner with the Marriott Edition brand, a project that he started years after selling Morgans in 2005. Other inspirations include Andre Balazs who is the founder of The Standard hotels and Nick Johnson of Soho House, hoteliers who took the hotel industry to another level, making hotels not just places to sleep in but also spaces to socialise in, places where things happened.

We shot down at Dorado Hotel, can you explain your inspiration behind the interior design for this space?

Dorado Hotel was created with the idea of ​​opening a very exclusive hotel where everything revolved around themes that have marked the history of rock & roll. There are 14 large suites and each of them pays tribute to a gold disc. When entering the room a turntable with the room’ s original single switches on, the showerhead is a retro Shure microphone and there are Marshall fridges and Marshall speakers, gold discs and original photography of each artist by great photographers like Terry O Neil, Mats Baker, Baron Wolman or Juan Fajardo among others.  There are also books about each room’s featured artist and a golden headboard in the shape of the artist. The lobby of the hotel is called Backstage and has a large lamp made out of Paiste cymbals. The rooftop is wonderful, we call it Heavens Door. Marky Ramone, the Ramones drummer, stayed at Dorado 2 years ago when he came to perform at our Rock Nights party and he had to stay in the suite of his good friend Debbie Harry. We also have the ‘I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ suite by Joan Jett, ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys, and the honorary gold disc by Loquillo, one of the biggest rock and roll stars in Spain who came last year to inaugurate it personally.

What do you think the future holds for rock & roll on the island?

I believe that rock ‘n’ roll will always be present all over the world; it is a style that will always endure over time. There are many styles like EDM and reggaeton that are still a fad, but rock and roll is forever, all those kids who listen to that kind of music when they reach 30 will realise that it’s really cool to listen to bands like The Clash. I loved seeing the Bohemian Rhapsody film, and that Queen is number one on Spotify dethroning Luis Fonsi or Maluma.

In Ibiza I think that although the majority of people are dancing to electronic and house rhythms, there will always be an audience that wants to listen to different types of music of music. We at Rock Nights have managed to take our party to the biggest clubs; it was incredible that we could hear Nirvana or Black Sabbath on Pacha’s or Space speakers. Since then we have taken the party to smaller venues as rock ‘n’ roll is best enjoyed up close and personal.  For more than 5 years we have been holding weekly parties at the mythical Pikes hotel and I could not be more proud of being able to continue with this adventure that began with the desire to listen to music that we listened to in our car or at home when we went out to party.

Finally, why do you think rock & roll is important, and what is specifically unique about rock & roll in Ibiza?

For me personally it is important because it is part of my lifestyle, I could not conceive my life without listening to guitars, the first thing I do when I get up and is putting on music, wherever on whenever it is. Ibiza will always continue to exist and Rock Nights will continue to fight for different sounds with the support of the people who follow us and a great collective of local bands like Uncle Sal, Quin Delibat, Windrose, The Frigolos or Billy Flamingos along with many other musicians, artists and rock stars who continue to choose Ibiza as the place for their recordings or simply as a place to party or live.

Long live rock ‘n’ roll in Ibiza baby.

Be sure to check out Diego’s Instagram here, and his playlist of tracks below.

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