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Ibiza music: Felix Buxton, Basement Jaxx – 24 hours in Ibiza

As one half of award-winning, chart-topping British electronic music duo Basement Jaxx, Felix Buxton has travelled the world over to perform in the biggest and best venues, however it is the little things he remains grateful for and the smaller, more unique experiences he continues to seek out. Ibiza is a place that offers all of this and more, a place Buxton has been visiting since 1997, when Basement Jaxx DJ performed their first DJ set on the legendary Space Ibiza terrace.

“I don’t think I had any expectations,” he recalls. “We were playing on the Space Terrace, when it was still outside and I remember playing Love is in the Air. The idea about the dance culture in Ibiza and London at the time was all about love and togetherness in the sunshine… It was amazing.” 19 years later, the duo continue to reign over the Space Terrace (although it is now under the controversial roof) in its final season, as resident DJs for Glitterbox on Friday nights.

Back on the topic of Ibiza, Felix remains pragmatic. “Generally in life I try not to have expectations, because I don’t think it makes you any happier,” he continues. “I take everything as it comes and here in Ibiza you have beautiful water, gorgeous sunshine, lovely food and the Spanish people are really warm and like to dance – what else could you want?”

Main photo by Natalie Beth Harris

On his first visit to Ibiza, Felix made it his mission to seek out the music the locals were into, not the Balearic sounds and dance music the island was making itself a name for. “When I first came to Ibiza and mainland Spain I wanted to get Flamenco music. I wanted to learn what the Spanish really loved. I’m not about strictly this style of music or that, or it has to be house. I really don’t mind. I prefer it when the music’s not commercial. I love any style of authentic music. As for going dancing… I’d be just as happy in a salsa club as a house music club.”

Today, he says the best Ibiza parties are the ones where people put away the mobile phones and really live in the moment. “It’s still all about togetherness,” he says. “When they switch off their mobiles, forget about everything that’s happening and interact with the music and each other… it’s so much better.”

As DJ and dance culture continues to evolve, Felix strives to keep that feeling of love and togetherness alive within his sets, most recently uniting the Glitterbox crowds with a remix of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. This unexpected musical move is one Defected head honcho Simon Dunmore now calls one of the highlights of the season. “Though if anybody had told me before the gig that Basement Jaxx were going to play that track, I would have said ‘Oh no they are not!’” he admits laughingly.

What’s in your suitcase when you’re travelling to Ibiza?
Not a lot generally. In fact, I’m trying to make it less and less. After travelling all around the world, I’ve come to realise you really don’t need ‘stuff’. We’re in a possessions culture and in the long run, they don’t make you happier. Recently I bought a book called Clearing Your Clutter and cleared out of a house full of things and felt a real relief. I realised I was getting attached to things and it can weigh you down. So now, when I’m abroad, I just have one bag and I’m happy with that.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive on the island?
I always try to go straight to a secret little bay just outside of Ibiza town – one that says ‘no entry’ on it – and go in the sea. But I don’t want to tell anyone where it is! I like going to places where there are no people…

Does Ibiza feel like work or holiday to you?
Well, being a DJ it can get a bit confusing – you’re sitting around in a lovely environment and it’s your work! But I feel very lucky to be able to do something I enjoy and get paid for it, to hopefully make people happy and give them a good time. It is work, but work I’ve chosen to do and it’s great when life can be like that. Actually, being in Ibiza makes me feel very grateful, because there are so many beautiful places and it’s just great.

What’s your favourite part of the island?
I just love the island itself. I love the fact there’s the north and the beautiful nature; but if you want to have a night out you can go and hear really good music. I’m quite into discovering. I want to go to different places on different days. I want to go to Formentera and maybe stay overnight and explore. I love coming to Es Vedra and knowing it’s at the centre of magnetic lines – some say it’s got a kind of power and I’m really interested in that aspect of being a human being, the spiritual side of things…

Ultimate Ibiza track?
Sueño Latino by Sueño Latino. I remember when it first came out. I was 18, and I went to the Greek islands and at the time it was a bit of an Ibiza anthem, just before Ibiza exploded into dance music culture. I remember listening to it on a Sony Walkman, playing the cassette, and there was a jetty going out to sea and this group of boys, about eight to ten years old were all running down this long platform and diving into the water. I was listening to that track and it was so magical and sun-kissed and just felt like the world was at one. It was very beautiful. I still love that track – it has a real magic to it and encapsulates the atmosphere of Ibiza.

How do you feel when it’s time to start packing to leave?

[Shrugs] I suppose I am used to coming here and leaving! I’m sure when I stay a bit longer in September, at the end I’d like another week or two weeks or a month… but that’s generally the idea of being on holiday and deciding to stop. And I think it’s important to stop.

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You have 24 hours on the island – tell us your favourite places to…

HAVE BREAKFAST

When I stay in the Ibiza Gran Hotel, the breakfast is amazing! But in the past, I’ve stayed in La Ventana, a lovely little place up in Dalt Vila. It’s really nice and really simple and it hasn’t changed since about 1970… It’s run by lovely people and the breakfast there is no more than a croissant and an orange juice and it’s great. I think you can have too much choice, and sometimes it’s nice to not have expectations and accept what you’re given and enjoy life and being alive and the fact you have food to eat when there are starving people in the world… we need to be grateful for all these things.

GO FOR LUNCH

There’s something very special about Es Torrent. Whenever there’s a celebration meal I’ll go there. You can have a meal for three hours and then jump in the sea as the sun starts to go down… I’ve done it a few times over the years, always for a special occasion. I also like to go and have paella at Sa Caleta… or just a fresh peach on the beach. For me, that’s quite a special thing.

EAT DINNER

I once went to this place in Santa Gertrudis called Destino – the guy was a fan, he was a really nice guy and he really gets to know all of his customers. You go in there and he shows you what he’s got, what he’s working on, asks you what you think of it. I had the most amazing, delicious food there and amazing wine too. I would recommend it to anyone. I like places where you go and ask what they’d eat. When they ask if you’re a vegetarian or eat meat and then that’s that. Whatever’s in season, or fresh that day. The best food I’ve ever had has always been like that – the people running the places always know what’s best.

DRINK

There’s one thing I do, which is not drink before going to DJ… otherwise you could end up becoming an alcoholic! I do remember having a particularly amazing, nutty Albariño wine at Pikes Hotel one night though… The joy of Ibiza is there are so many places to eat and drink you don’t need to worry too much about having a main destination – there are so many options.

DANCE

For me, dancing has always been about letting go – it’s about dancing, not about looking at a DJ. Though I have always been a big fan of the DJ Luciano, and so I always went to see him whenever I was in Ibiza over the years. I really love his vibe and what he’s doing – we’re DJing with him in September actually. What I’m always looking for in Ibiza are things that are free, that have music and sunshine, where you can have your feet in the sand and be dancing on the beach, then jump in the sea and come back and feel free. Anywhere I can feel free is good for me.

DJ

Glitterbox has been a place where I’ve been really pleased with the crowd. It’s a mixed age group – I love when it’s not just one type of person. Recently, I was asked to speak at a Futuro conference in Ibiza, in a private house in the centre of the island. They were having talks all day – kind of like TED talks, which l loved – and at the end of it, they asked me if I’d play some music for a bit. We went somewhere with a little beach, they had a little sound system and there were people who were 70 years old and people who were 20 years old having some drinks and dancing around… I absolutely loved that.

BEACH

I wouldn’t say that I have a favourite beach – there are so many great ones in Ibiza. I generally like the ones that are a bit quieter. Swimming off and away from everyone is quite magical for me.

SWIM

I like Aguas Blancas and there’s another place just near there where you jump off flat rocks straight into the sea. I also love swimming at Benirras – the last time I was there I swam out to the left and just kept going until there were no people. I reminded me of going diving, I had my snorkel on and it was so lovely. I got to the corner, took my trunks off and kept swimming, free with the fish!

RELAX

I don’t need to escape… I never hang out in the crowds or madness. I guess I just love anywhere that’s not too busy. I don’t think you should waste your life queuing.

Deluxe breakfast at Ibiza Gran Hotel

Ibiza beach restaurant Es Torrent

The crystal clear waters of Aguas Blancas

Alternative Ibiza beach hangout Benirras

Basement Jaxx play Glitterbox at Space on August 26 and September 16, 2016.