One of the most charming DJs in the business. A musical ambassador and a veteran of acid house, a champion of techno, a dance music pioneer, label owner, King of Ibiza – you name it, Carl's been there and done it, never losing sight of his passions – playing music, breaking tunes and celebrating life.
It was at the age of 15 that Carl bought a set of turntables and began working as a mobile DJ. Disco was the first music that captivated him but by the early 80s Cox had moved on to playing the same music as other young London DJs – rare groove, New York hip-hop and electro. He was perfectly placed to hear Chicago house music in its earliest forms, and when the epic 'Acid Trax' by Phuture (a.k.a. DJ Pierre) came out in early '87. “It was then that I thought, 'This is it,’ says Carl. “I would do my parties, and I'd play old rare groove and hip hop and soul and I would say 'Right you've got to hear this Phuture track’ and people would just stop and listen.”
As a founder of the sound, Carl rode the exploding British rave scene. He played the opening night of Danny Rampling's legendary Shoom, co-promoted The Project with Paul Oakenfold, where he also DJ’d and did the sound system. He held a residency at the Zap Club in Brighton and at the Sunrise rave in 1988, hooked up a third turntable for his dawn-breaking set, got 15,000 people back on their feet, and established a personal rep for three-deck wizardry.
The next step was to make music, and Carl's 1991 debut single for Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto label, 'I Want You,' reached Number 23 in the national UK charts and gave Carl his first Top of the Pops appearance. Two more singles also made the charts. But Carl was a reluctant pop star and as the masses moved onto fluffy house and trance, and the hardcore created jungle, Cox retreated into the club world that had nurtured him, and instead embraced the underground sounds of techno. "Techno drives home somewhere," he says of his core music. "It takes you to an element of surprise, not knowing where you're going. It's scary but wonderful at the same time."
Carl’s classic releases include his 1995 mix CD, 'F.A.C.T,' which became a techno benchmark, selling over 250,000 copies, and the 1996 EP Two Paintings and a Drum, which again broke the British top 30. Alongside Carl’s ‘Ultimate Music Management’ company, which counted Josh Wink and Laurent Garnier among 27 clients, there was the Ultimatum record label, for which Carl recorded his third top 30 UK single, 'Sensual Sophis-ti-cat.' In 2005, Carl’s third album, The Second Sign caused a stir across Europe and reached number 3 in Spain’s national chart. Also gaining critical acclaim was ‘Dirty Bass,’ a collaboration with Christian Smith, and the funky ‘Give Me Your Love’, both released on 23rd Century Records, an outlet for his own burgeoning production output.
Carl formed his own label, Intec Records, in 1999, scoring a series of underground hits and enjoying eight years at the forefront of electronic music. After its closure in 2006, Carl was still inundated with new music, finally deciding to re-launch the label as Intec Digital at the start of 2010. It’s been a triumphant return, thanks to exclusives from some of the biggest names in techno. “The label couldn’t be going better,” says Carl. “It’s great to be back at the helm discovering underground DJs.”
Intec Digital was also the home for Carl’s 6th studio album, All Roads Lead To the Dancefloor, released to critical acclaim in 2011 on state-of-the-art, self-updating USB technology. In 2013 Carl re-launched his seminal Pure Intec series, 9 years after the hugely successful original Pure Intec. The release also coincided with the launch of a new series of Intec club nights where Carl played to a sold out XOYO in East London. Since then Intec have continued to hold regular parties across the world, including sell outs in Ibiza, Madrid, Switzerland, Amsterdam for ADE, and London’s fabric.
And of course Carl’s name cannot be mentioned without Ibiza. His legendary Ibiza residency at Space came to an end in 2016, after an unbelievable 15 consecutive years. Since 2001 Carl helped establish Space as one of the biggest clubs in the world. With carefully thought out line ups, and as much emphasis on new talent as big names, Carl always strived to keep his night at the forefront of Ibiza clubbing making it one of the most successful residencies in Ibiza history. Starting out in 2001 with just 6 nights, his residency grew and adapted as the club did, so for Carl it was only right to end his residency as Space itself closed its doors. And what a way to go out. Carl’s final 15-week season was his biggest ever, with every single night selling out, heralded by fans and critics alike as a triumphant finale to a piece of dance history.
Following the end of his Ibiza residency Carl also decided to say goodbye to his record breaking weekly Global Radio show, which he’d been broadcasting for nearly 16 years. When the final show aired in February 2017, the show was reaching a staggering 17-million weekly listeners worldwide, syndicated across over 60 terrestrial FM, satellite and DAB stations throughout 35 countries. “It was a hard decision as I loved every minute of creating my Global shows” said Carl at the time. “But all things must come to an end at some point and it was time to focus on new ventures.”
And focus on new ventures he has…. Carl continues to be one of most in demand DJs on the planet, with club dates and festival appearances across the world. After 12 years delivering his Carl Cox & Friends stage at Ultra, Carl is now proud to be ambassador for the Resistance parties, for Ultra worldwide. He also now has his own festival, Pure – which he initially launched in Australia in 2016, bringing it back in 2017 with more dates in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Auckland. He also took his Pure brand global in summer 2017 returning to Ibiza with Pure Carl Cox – two sold out parties at super club Privilege. Built on the idea of taking things back to basics, Carl put the music first and foremost for some no nonsense, no frills house and techno parties – heralded by many as a highlight of the summer and winning the ‘Best Ibiza Music Event’ at the 2017 DJ Awards.
2018 has been another non-stop year, with Carl continuing his reign as one of the world’s top DJs even getting a nod from London’s Evening Standard who voted Carl the second ‘Most Influential DJ of all time’. In March Carl released ‘What We Started’ a critically acclaimed documentary with Martin Garrix. The film had its red-carpet premiere at The Regal South Beach during the height of Miami Music Week, before being released worldwide and available to stream via on-demand services in over 100 countries. Featuring an impressive cast of electronic dance music superstars, ‘What We Started’ explores the past, present and future of electronic dance music.
Carl also made a classy return to Ibiza, with six dates across the summer, at various clubs. He launched his new series ‘One Night Stand’ with dates at Amnesia, Pacha and DC-10 and plays three colossal nights at Privilege Ibiza, as part of Resistance Ibiza – acting as curator and headliner for three huge parties. “In my early days of playing Ibiza it wasn’t alien for me to play all the clubs,” says Carl. “I had the opportunity to do my own night at Space and define my sound in one club. After being there for nearly 20 years, it’s now nice to be able to share the love of what I’ve done at Space with some of the other clubs.”