It's a tough job in Ibiza, but someone's got to do it
Spending the summer on a party island taking in the rays and talking to superstar DJs may not seem like work to some people, but let me explain . . ., writes STEPHEN FLYNN
DEPENDING ON WHO you’re talking to, you get a very different reaction when you tell people you’re spending the summer working in Ibiza. Some seem genuinely fascinated, others are bemused – and a considerable percentage don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re appalled. Everyone, though, seems puzzled, as if they’re unable to comprehend the concept of “work” on an island better known for letting your hair down than a hard day’s graft.
Since the tail-end of May though, work is exactly what I’ve been doing. As the editor of DJMag’s Ibiza edition, I’ve produced two magazines, and have quizzed a number of diverse and prominent dance-music figures, such as Nile Rodgers, Pete Tong and Richie Hawtin.
Along with days of constant typing, I’ve interviewed Tiesto in a car, visited Carl Cox in his sprawling countryside villa, and watched The Chemical Brothers from the comfort of Space’s backstage area.
While the majority of the DJs, producers and industry bigwigs I’ve met have proved relaxed, professional and good company, others seem bored and jaded, as though the trappings of the scene have taken their toll on the verve and enthusiasm they (presumably) once possessed. Every one, however, has their own story to tell, and they’re all equally indebted to the island in some shape or form.
The industry side of the island has provided another eye-opener, with the now annual International Music Summit (IMS). This is a dual conference and gig designed to facilitate networking in the industry, and kicked off the season in late May, with guests from YouTube, Google, Nokia and Twitter all speaking about the growing importance of social media to electronic music.
The three-day spectacle is the purest expression of the capacity of the island to make money hand-over-fist for those at the top. It provided a fascinating insight into the business aspects of electronic music. Encouraged by the success of artists such as David Guetta, the dance-music scene now has no shortage of commercial suitors.
Dance music has been kind to Ibiza. While the rest of Spain suffered double-digit recession turmoil, the financial sun continues to shine here. Clubs in Ibiza, are as busy (and expensive) as they’ve ever been. Entry to any of the island’s four super-clubs (Pacha, Privilege, Amnesia and Space) will cost up to €80, while patrons can also expect to fork out up to €17 for a vodka and coke, and a minimum of €10 for a bottle of water.
Musical offerings are increasingly diverse, ensuring the island is catering to an even wider cast than ever before. A glance at the wide-ranging, weekly line-ups emphasises this fact, with nearly every genre now represented in some shape or form.
Ibiza, then, is an undoubtedly expensive place to spend a summer. So why does it cast such a spell? Well, for a start, there are few other similar musical alternatives. Berlin and London have healthy clubbing scenes, but the majority of all that’s happening in both cities is, by and large, restricted to weekend activity. Croatia has been touted as the “new Ibiza”, but it’s still relatively inaccessible, it is also expensive, and its musical quality isn’t half as consistent as Ibiza’s.
The other enticements to Ibiza? The constant sunshine, the stunning scenery and – best of all – the escape from the media drip-feed that is “recession talk”? These days, Irish students are getting the message, and Ibiza is fast becoming a hot destination for those who, five years ago, might have opted for a J1 summer in the US.
Cheap flights, reasonable rent and no visa issues have helped put Ibiza in focus for Irish students. Most will work for a pittance as waiters or ticket sellers. Others will patiently hand out flyers to an indifferent public. They will survive on little food and even less sleep, but will luxuriate in the sunshine and the island’s accompanying soundtrack.
There is, though, a completely different side to the island, and it’s one that’s practically the antithesis of San Antonio’s workers’ accommodation. I’ve also delved deeper into the “other side” of Ibiza this time around, a place of tranquil beauty that’s completely at odds with its better-documented hedonistic side.
Both elements seem to play off one another – as if the beaches of Cala d’Hort and Salinas were made to counterbalance a night in the clubs.
Mind you, there have been sporadic lows. While I didn’t expect the summer to run in a rigid nine-to-five style, the “manana manana” attitude that seems to pervade almost every facet of Ibizan society is not always conducive to a fruitful working day.
The many highs, however, have made it all worthwhile, although my job here is as fleeting as Irish sunshine. Before long, the real world – one involving household charges, early-morning commutes and congested motorways – will again intrude.
Surviving the pace out here can occasionally prove difficult, but on reflection, the summer and the island have provided me with memories I’m unlikely to forget in a hurry. A season in Ibiza isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you’re willing to work hard, it offers an experience like few others.
Stephen Flynn is the editor of the DJMag Ibiza. He blogs at eureka-house.blogspot.com
In the mix When I met . . .
Carl CoxI met the larger-than-life British DJ in his countryside villa, a tranquil, serene property that seemed at odds with his penchant for harder strands of techno.
He proved humble, charismatic and interesting, while his own story – one of considerable graft and sheer determination – was particularly inspiring.
Nile RodgersThe most interesting, intriguing and colourful character I’ve met all summer – and arguably the most influential. I spent about a half an hour in his company, although I could have talked to him all day.
The Chic frontman seems to have put his past behind him for the better, with his latest productions again proving a hit in the charts.
Tiesto Full disclosure: While I stopped listening to his music close to 10 years ago, Tiesto is still a grounded, convivial guy, and the antithesis of what I expected a “superstar DJ” to be.
He’s full of humour, too – all the more surprising considering he had played seven consecutive Stateside gigs by the time I met up with him in Ibiza.