Industry Insider: Octan Ibizia Founder Phil Mandelbaum

We get the inside scoop of Ibizia's newest club
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There is no doubt that Ibiza is one of, if not the toughest markets to open a nightclub. The island is literally packed with some of the most famous and talent-filled venues in the world. But, as trends in music and design change, clubs rise and fall. One such pair was Sankeys, which closed its doors earlier this year, has given way to a new club, Octan, which promises to bring new heat and energy to the isle. We caught up with the founder, Phil Mandelbaum to discuss this bold new venture.  

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When did you first come to Ibiza?

When I was 10. I had an uncle living in Ibiza. Now I’m 34 and I’ve been coming regularly for a long time. The time has flown and I still love it here as much as when I was a kid. But for different reasons now.

And in terms of opening the club, what have the past 6 months been like for you both personally and professionally?

Well, there hasn’t been much time for my wife, family or friends, put it that way! But this is life: when a project is important to you, you must give it your all. It’s nonstop from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. Every day I wish I could do more, but it is what it is. Having a great team around me has been invaluable. It’s been a lot of stress, but when you see the reaction of people in the club and the comments online and on the street, it makes it all worthwhile. I’ve seen people in Ibiza with tattoos of the club’s logo: it gives me enormous satisfaction!

How did you even end up in the electronic music industry?

That’s a long story that would take a few hours to explain! Since I was a child I was attracted to this industry. I’ve been working on it for many years. The opportunity to become involved in club ownership came about approximately 4 years ago when I started to buy clubs in Spain. I got a phone call from a friend of mine and heard that the club [now Octan] was for sale. I actually worked there 10 years ago so I knew what it was all about.

At the time I thought the opportunity was great but maybe the timing was a bit off. But when I thought about it, I jumped at it. And I’m glad I did.

With so many world-class clubs in such a concentrated area, what makes it stand out against other Ibiza clubs?

It’s a bit less pretentious: a bit more down to earth. We care about the sound, the lights, the artists. We don’t care so much about VIP areas. Our purpose is great music, great light shows and to keep people dancing. It’s basic but it’s also what makes us tick.

You mentioned the importance of your team just now. Can you tell us a bit about who is involved?

We are a small team but we work really efficiently. The team consists of: An artistic director, a social media and marketing manager, a day manager, a night manager, an artist-liaison manager, and an accountant. Then our bar staff, security team, promo-team, sound and light technicians, drivers and cleaning staff who we couldn’t do this without!

How involved are the DJs in the scheduling of the night?

Steve and Apollonia picked some fantastic guests. We like the DJs to have a carte blanche in ways. It’s like hiring a specialist and telling them what to do: much better to have the specialists telling us what is best. Over time you will see other big names joining the lineups but at this stage, we would like to grow organically.

Do you have a 5 or 10-year plan in mind for Octan? How do you hope to achieve this?

Of course. We are already looking at ways we can improve and do more. Obviously this is about the first year and the early adopters. Next year our goal is to be more established and run more parties and do more PR and have more parties. We don’t want to open for 7 days, but 4 or 5 nights is our target. We want it to continue to be stable for years to come and to grow things internationally. We have an Octan in Malaga and want to do more nights and clubs internationally. But of course, it’s one thing at a time at the moment.

So when does the preparation for 2020 begin?

It’s already begun! From the beginning of August, we started to plan next year. People are exhausted in August, there are still a few months left on the season but you still need to focus on next year.

Octan’s Closing Party 2019 takes place on 6th October. For more information, see http://octanibiza.com/

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