A true island stalwart, award-winning DJ, producer and label owner – plus husband, dad and dog owner – Graham Sahara has watched the island transition from its halcyon days into a financial crisis, followed by a big stint of over-commercialisation and is now observing patiently as a global pandemic has brought the whole world to a standstill. Having lived here since 1997, the Birmingham-born DJ says he wouldn’t want to be locked down anywhere else! While music continues to bring people together across the globe through live streaming, the clubbing industry – and therefore the DJs who work within it – have been hit hard by the crisis. While restaurants, bars and shops are starting to re-open, there’s still no indication as to when or how Ibiza’s clubs can re-open.
In the meantime, Graham has been thinking of alternative ways to use his creative skills and find ways to draw an income in the months to come. “Before the lockdown, life was good,” Graham says. “I’d spent the previous seven months working on and building several new projects which were coming to fruition, and I was actually turning down work offers. I’d got my summer nearly ready as I wanted it to be and things were looking better than ever. I was getting in the studio and was really looking to drive on in many avenues this year.” Enter COVID-19, and the many challenges presented by it. Graham’s natural positivity and spark has kept him going – although he admits he gave up on home workouts quite quickly – and here he shares his ideas, inspirations and attitude towards building a better future in Ibiza.
Describe your Ibiza lockdown situation?
I’m in an apartment in the centre of Ibiza with my wife, two kids, and two dogs. I feel lucky it’s a four-bedroom apartment. It’s not huge, however it’s not tiny either. It’s been hard, both on the kids and the adults. Trying to maintain a routine with the kids with no school runs, plus home schooling, and keeping the ensuing frustrations from boiling over, as obviously we’re not teachers. Then not having a place to escape – whether the pub, a mates’ house, or just even a walk to a place to have a bit of solitude has been tough. Although that said, the kids have been ace throughout all this. RESULT!
Did you expect the Ibiza lockdown to be as lengthy and restrictive as it has been?
Yeah, I understood the implications of what was happening and I’d said to family this was not a two-week thing. I’m no medical expert however I’m logical, and a realist, pandemics just don’t only last two weeks. I knew this would be bad for many families and for the economy. Having known it would be bad made me feel very down after a week, but much like the stages of grief, once you accept it and move on, you just make the best of it, and think of more and even better ideas.
What is your daily life like now?
It’s been ever-evolving going through this. We try and keep routine, and Joha has been homeschooling the kids. At the start we were super proactive and getting up to do PE with Joe Wicks, and then after Easter, as the lockdown has gone on longer and longer, it’s become more tedious. I got up later and later – I even got up at 11am one morning, which I deem quite unsatisfactory for myself! Now we’re de-escalating I’m back on my game bitches! 9am at the very latest, full of energy and working hard.
How are you feeling on a personal level?
It was doing my head in to be honest and I couldn’t wait for it to be over, but we’re moving forward now. I feel really positive for the summer. The island has needed a reset for a while. It had become incredibly saturated in every part of our lives. I feel there is change in the air. I worry for those that it will affect, as with everything in life there are winners and losers and some will have it even tougher as summer goes on. Personally however, I feel on the up with many ideas and thoughts – I can’t wait to get stuck in.
Who or what do you miss most right now?
Apart from income, it was my mates 100%, however now we can see people again it’s mainly just the income! Ha!
What’s been the most challenging thing for you throughout this experience?
Thinking positively, not getting frustrated, and keeping my spirits up. Even though I’m an incredibly positive person, as my job depends on people going out and having a good time and that relies on tourism, trying to keep positive and thinking how I would be able to feed my family when this was going on was very hard. I’d been doing Instastories as jokes, just in case i needed to become a comedian – thankfully for me and everyone else, it looks like that won’t happen!
Has there been anything about the lockdown experience that you’ve enjoyed?
To be honest, I’ve really enjoyed not being on Facebook much. There’s so much hearsay and negativity on there, I’ve basically logged out and I try not to use it unless it’s for a work purpose. Much like leaving the house during lockdown – don’t go there unless you really have to, haha!
Have you set yourself any goals during this period?
I have tried to set myself quite a few to be honest. I’ve had a lot of time for reflection and to think about what will happen here on the island. Whilst I can’t act on everything I’ve been thinking of doing right now, I’m certainly thinking for the future, giving myself new ideas and drive.
How do you keep in touch with the outside world?
I use emails to keep work going and WhatsApp to keep in touch with colleagues and friends. I’ve tried to reach out and keep in touch with as many friends who live on their own as possible to check they’re OK and send them a few dad jokes to keep their spirits up. It can’t be easy for them.
What’s been entertaining you during this period?
Netflix really, and watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe from start to finish again with my daughter was fun. I’m trying not to watch too many serious documentaries – I want entertainment to take my mind off things. I started on documentaries at the start as I enjoy them, but just found it wasn’t particularly lifting my spirits.
What’s been educating you?
I try and look for official news sites, stay away from tabloids and YouTube. If a doctor tells me something, I’ll believe it. They’ve worked for years studying to do what they do, so I’ll trust that over any meme or Facebook expert any day of the week.
What’s made you laugh during this time?
My wife! She cracks me up and has some great banter.
How is your general health and wellbeing right now?
I think my general health is decent however my Operation Bikini 2020 – much like this year has gone for everyone – is an absolute disaster!
What are you eating habits like these days?
I always cook at home anyway. I love cooking, so the menu hasn’t changed and it’s healthy. What has changed is the constant grazing…
Are you factoring exercise and movement into your days?
I was doing PE with Joe Wicks on YouTube since we got introduced to it by my daughter’s school, however I’ll admit I’ve gotten a bit lazy on that front since Easter. The rest of the family have been trying to continue.
How has the lockdown impacted your business and industry?
Massively. It’s a nightmare, but hey I’m not going to whinge – well not that much anyway. It’s like Billie Ocean said: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I’m not standing still and I’ll keep driving forward.
How do you manage stress during such uncertain times?
I honestly don’t know, but I’ve got no fingernails left, I can tell you that.
What are your hopes for Ibiza in the future?
Perhaps airlines and hotels will see autumn as an opportunity to open up and gain some early winter tourism. Many people have wanted to extend the season and here’s an opportunity, second wave permitting, I’d like to see a little more tourism coming to the island in October, November and December. I wouldn’t expect or want really, vast amounts of people coming but to be positive, perhaps this could increase the season in Ibiza to nine months instead of six. This could definitely be positive for the island.
Do you have any fears for the future of the island?
Nah. I don’t really think the island has that much to worry about. Change is constant in Ibiza and this year is no different. We may see some businesses suffer – and some of those, you might not expect to suffer – however on the whole with the hugely creative people who live on this island, who create events, projects and tourism, I feel very confident that where there’s a will there’s a way.
How do you feel Ibiza has come together (while staying apart) during lockdown?
It’s been good! The clapping at 8pm has gotten more raucous everyday – just ask my neighbour who was blasting out the Star Wars soundtrack the other day, haha! Then again, I didn’t really see anyone bar a few people who I don’t know in the supermarket so hit was hard to gauge the spirit apart from clapping!
Have you seen any differences within your direct local community?
We’ve had a food bank round the corner manned by volunteers and with food donations. It’s been sad to see people struggling but great to see people chipping in to help their fellow humans.
Do you feel safe here? Is there anywhere else you’d rather be quarantined than Ibiza?
Whilst I can’t compare, I feel very safe here. We were coming off the back of our quietest three months of the year. So the chances of contagion here aren’t the same as what it would have been like in a big city such as Madrid. And besides, I wouldn’t change being here for the world.
What are you most looking forward to when the restrictions are lifted?
Seeing my mates and going to Paradise Lost.
Is there anything you might miss?
No, but I’m not looking forward to having to get up and do the school run!