In-depth Interview with Clara Da Costa Ibiza DJ and Island Resident
DJ and producer Clara Da Costa celebrates her 24th year in Ibiza this year and still continues to spread her influence across the island and the world.
Her life is a fascinating one, holidayed in Ibiza in her early teens, ran away from home and arrived back on the island at 16. Played her first gig in Es Paradis at 16, became Ibiza’s first female club resident, was Es Paradis’s Creative Director at 17 for 10 years and was responsible for developing the British promoters invasion of the island which still happens each year to this day.
Clara has played a set in every club in Ibiza and hundreds of sets across the world. She has had her own record labels, diversified into singing and songwriting and worked for two of Spain’s biggest labels.
She hosts a weekly radio show on Ibiza Sonica (Jack’s House) with the radio collectively attracting in excess of 4 million listeners a month, has a home studio where she produces and continues to develop her mixing talents and despite it all her first passion is still behind the decks as a great house DJ.
As the Ibiza summer has kicked off in style and this week Clara took to the stage at Carl Cox hosting her own brand Jack’s House on the Premiere Etage at Space, we sat down with her to discuss the season ahead and her thoughts on Ibiza as the island undergoes the biggest changes in its recent history.
A huge White Isle welcome to the blog Clara. In researching for this interview we were fascinated to learn your story and influence on Ibiza, looking back over your last 24 years can you quantify any of it into words?
Yes, I came here as a young teenager as I knew that this is where I needed and wanted to be to achieve my dream. I arrived with 100 pounds in my pocket and a week’s accommodation. I ended up in a one bedroomed apartment sharing with 4 other people. I was so skint on occasions that I ate a fried onion once for my dinner and on another (when I ran out of gas) I crunched on raw pasta! But you look back now and they were often the best times.
I was the first female resident DJ on the island gaining a residency with Es Paradis in 1992 where I also became Creative Director of events booking great parties like Up Yer Ronson & Clockwork Orange of which both still throw parties in the UK and occasional one offs in Ibiza. So much has happened in 24 years, good times, testing times, mad times and changing times. I find it hard to quantify 24 years into words. I need to write a book for that which is something I have been talking about for a while but would need to jog my memory in many places ha ha!
2016 will see you performing all over the island which is your first love, what makes being behind the decks in Ibiza so special?
My first love is music. I often say, I am married to music. No matter what changes have come about over the years, Ibiza is still the capital of clubland. There are many avid clubbers that know their stuff filling up club nights and they are the type of crowd that I love to play for as they get it and appreciate it. You get to play in amazing venues and locations. If I am playing a beach party, I often describe it as being inside a postcard! Most importantly, I want to see people in a groove, moving to the point where mobile phones are forgotten about. We now live in a world of social media and we have all had to accept it in the world we now live in and utilize it to our advantage, but to be at parties where there are no phones in the air is a breath of fresh air and truly a real party that’s about feeling, letting go and losing yourself in the moment completely.
Your passion for music comes through in your sets and radio show. What are your top 3 go to tracks of the moment or tracks we should all listen out for this summer?
I am so proud and excited to finally be running my own label again. I had a few vinyl labels years ago (Green Turtle Recordings & Dopamine) but shut them down around the time when everything started going digital.
Seeing the love for vinyl increasing is such a beautiful thing. It felt like a natural step to start a label again and call it after my radio show on Ibiza Sonica Jack’s House which I also took on the road last year for Carl Cox at Space. I have so much gratitude for that.
The first release on the label is imminent and to be released in July via Juno on good old trusty vinyl. It is a 4 track EP called Confirmation Bias produced by the extremely talented Alex Arnout.
My three go to tracks of the moment are:
Half Life by Alex Arnout on Jack’s House
Al Needs Vinyl by Daren Nunes on Dogmatik
Head Trip EP by Two Diggers also coming soon to Jack’s House.
Your award winning radio show Jack’s House on Ibiza Sonica is going from strength to strength how do you keep it fresh and entertaining week after week?
I put in a HUGE amount of time on my radio show. It is my favorite gig of the week. It is 90% based on exclusives and promos of which most are vinyl releases. I support new talent a lot as well as established. So each week, I select 10 tracks of which largely are not yet released. I ID all the tracks with full info, who it is by, remixed by, label, release date and format etc. I have a great bunch of loyal listeners (The Jacksters) and a lot the audience are vinyl buyers, DJs & producers.
I produce the show myself and it is always live unless I am away, then I pre-record. I very occasionally bring in a guest I am championing. Over the last 7 years I have had the privilege of inviting some top quality people in to showcase. I love radio and Ibiza Sonica.
With 24 years on the island what changes have you seen over the last two decades, both good and bad?
I have seen and heard music styles change over the years. I have always played just good house music and not been tempted to join these fashions. A good track is a good track and it is as simple as that.
Other changes obviously include the increased popularity of the island. There were a lot less of us back in the early 90s working here and visitors were mainly coming in from Europe. Fast forward a decade or so and before you know it, the likes of Jennifer Lopez was dropping Ibiza into her lyrics, rap stars, young movie-starts and popstars from all over the globe started to also fall in love with the island and kept coming back for more. Ibiza has always attracted famous people over the years as they can often go and party without too much grief unless they are deliberately courting attention.
When a small island like Ibiza explodes like it did, obviously everyone wants a piece of the island pie so that results in big investments coming in, everything growing from venues to hotels and prices inflate.
We currently have two grave problems in Ibiza! 1, is the cost of living (renting) for the average worker (it is out of control) 2, we have a very serious problem with water. We do not have too much left and not enough people are aware of it. Sorry, I think I may have gone off course a bit ha ha but these are things that I feel passionate about.
As we all know Space will close its doors at the end of this season, how emotional will it be to see the end of the iconic club which you have played at many times over the years?
It will be emotional. I am hosting my brand Jack’s House again this year for Carl Cox The Revolution (The Final Chapter) on 4 dates and one with the Float Your Boat crew. I will be doing the closing of Carl Cox with Alex Arnout as my guest and I will be putting Kleenex on my rider. I know I will cry but it will be a mixture of emotions.
It has kind of come full circle for me regarding my DJ relationship with Carl. I warmed up for him here a few times way back in the early nineties, so knowing I will be there doing the closing of his party at Space with him is amazing. He is such a gentleman who just so happens to be the best DJ in the world.
I have some amazing memories from Space over the years (or should I say decades!) It was the only other club I was allowed to play at back in the day. If you had a residency at one of the other super clubs, you were not allowed to play the others, but Space was an exception to the rule as it would open in the early hours of the morning. By midday the original terrace would be thriving with energy, characters and truly happy people, and indoors equipped with a random swing hanging from the ceiling, would be really dark with techy beats being played by Reche. Cheesy as it may sound, we really were one big family.
Of course I also have great memories of my adopted Ibiza Brothers Brandon Block & Alex P. Those two playing behind the bar, (that was the DJ box) vinyl all over the place and dropping tunes that we will remember forever. The lads will thankfully be here to play the official closing of Space in October. This will be a monumental moment. Times change but the memories will stay forever. Good old Space joining the 27 club!
With the rumours of Space becoming a luxury club to compliment Ushuaia for 2017 do you think the rise of the VIP culture in Ibiza is spoiling the island?
I think this is a global thing to a degree. We all have had to learn to accept and embrace the change that has happened here. There are still some great places here that you can go to that have not been all glammed up in a VIP way. I personally love Underground in San Rafael and when it comes to eating near the beach, I love a good old fashioned chiringuito (beach hut) over a posh menu but there is obviously a demand for the classier venue, otherwise, it would not be working and it most definitely is.
Many people who remember Ibiza from the 80s and early 90s tell us the magic of the island has gone forever, do you feel this is true?
The magic has not gone from Ibiza. Maybe some of the magical people have over the years but the island still has a profound effect on a lot of people. I am always meeting new islanders that have decided to pack up and start a new life here. They pretty much all say the same and that is that whenever you have been away for a bit, on your return when that plane touches down something happens, a feeling, a warmth, an invisible blanket of security is how I always describe it.
A lot has been written about the authorities in Ibiza cracking down on the “anything goes” attitude in recent years, do you feel with higher than ever visitor numbers, more parties than ever before that there is a need to put a few controls in place to protect the island from its own popularity?
Yes, some control has to be enforced for sure but only for the right reasons and not purely for financial gain. This is such a political subject right now so I would rather just remind tourists that visit to help us save our water.
Ibiza for centuries has been famed for being able to adapt and survive and 2016 will see it being more popular than ever. Despite all the changes do you think that Ibiza will still remain the party capital of Europe and the world for years to come?
I don’t see why not. It has had many competitors around the globe over the years but it still seems to reign. It is hard to achieve what you can achieve here. For example, last Saturday, I went for a swim at the beach in the morning, by 6pm I was at work with Sonica doing a live broadcast from Ushuaia, by 9pm I was at The Zoo Project to hear some friends play, by 1am I was in Sankeys, 2am in Pacha and I ended up the evening at Underground !!! (I do not do this often and it was not planned). The point is, is that you can do all of this in one day as the island is small with a handful of super clubs all within close distance of each other.
Most big DJs want to be here playing or hosting their own events so I guess it speaks for itself.
In recent years people are starting to discover and learn that the island has so much more to offer than just parties, do you think that this expansion of the tourism industry across the island will redress the balance and change people’s distorted opinions of Ibiza?
Ibiza has loads to offer and a percentage of visitors know that or learn that once they have visited. Ibiza will always get criticized, most successful things/people/places do. It is not perfect but it is special.
When you get a rare few hours off where are your favourite places to go to relax and recharge on the island?
I love a small cove near where I live and go to swim almost every day but am not going to say (sorry) as it is really small and mostly residents go there for a little peace.
A huge thank you from us for the amazing insight into Ibiza. You can catch Clara da Costa pretty much everywhere this summer and for a list of her upcoming gigs see here.