Ibiza music: Louie Vega – 24 hours in Ibiza

Legendary DJ, producer, and one half of Masters at Work, Louie Vega fondly remembers Pacha Ibiza back in the days when the DJ booth was level with the people of the dance floor. Though he’d heard tales of the island while touring and playing farm and warehouse raves in the UK in the late 80s, it wasn’t until 1993 that he played his first gig alongside islander DJ Pippi and experienced its famous nightclub scene.

“I’d be here for just two days, so I didn’t really get to see any beaches or anything during that time,” he explains. “I really only saw the nightlife. But I’d always heard it was magical and so beautiful. What everybody was always talking about was that everybody was together on the same bill. People were appreciating all kinds of music – as long as you played it well.”

Four years later, Louie started returning to the island on a more regular basis and finally began to dip his toes in island waters. “It wasn’t as commercialised then as it is now but trying all of the Spanish restaurants, going on a yacht and checking out Es Vedra and Formentera… it was like, wow!” His Puerto Rican roots meant he was no stranger to island life, yet Ibiza presented a different style of living to the Caribbean and the perfect contrast to his NYC home.

Main photo by Natalie Beth Harris

As the years went by, he began spending even more time here and for the past five years has spent a large part of the season living here with wife Anane and son Nico. “We love it as a place for the family,” he says. “Outside of the party life, it’s a beautiful island with so many amazing beaches and restaurants, and the people who live here are so warm. Our son now has his own friends here and he looks forward to coming, he’s playing basketball with some really great kids from the community. We really enjoy being here.”

Today, Vega enjoys many of the elements that make up the island’s popular culture: nature, nightlife and cuisine and says he never stops discovering new places. “We love great music, great food, we love the beaches, we love live entertainment – this is the perfect island for it,” he says.

2016 in Ibiza has heralded something particularly special for Vega, as he and long-term musical partner Kenny Dope Gonzalez spent time together, becoming inspired to create an all-new EP under their more experimental Kenlou moniker (which Louie describes as “a real street project for us.”) at the island’s Flamingo Studios. “We haven’t worked together in many years and it was really, really special when we spent time together here this year,” he says, explaining that it was touring the island together that inspired them. “We didn’t plan what we were going to do, we said we’d just see what happened in the studio,” he continues. “Then as soon as we made the tracks, we just looked at each other and said this is Kenlou! It’s very experimental, drum and groove driven. We’re going to do something really special with it when it’s released next year. We’re very excited about it.”

How do you feel as you step off the plane onto the tarmac?
When you get here, there’s a sense of excitement. There’s adrenaline. It feels like fun is going to happen – I think that’s the best way to put it.

Does Ibiza feel like work or holiday to you?
It’s both. I can be working in a club but the next day I might go to the beach with my friends. In Ibiza it’s like you’re in a whole different world. You can be surrounded by thousands of people chanting and singing as you’re playing your music and then the next thing you’re on these rocks looking out over the amazing water around Es Vedra. For me, there’s no place else like it. It has everything and every day is different.

Where do you stay when you’re in Ibiza?
I like staying near the Marina, where everything’s close and there are things to keep everyone entertained. It’s nice to be near the stores and the restaurants – we’re city people, you know? We don’t want to be up in the mountains! Though there is a time for that…

Who do you spend time with on the island?
My wife, Anane, and our son, of course whenever they’re here. Otherwise I have some great friends from Miami and New York who live in Ibiza every summer – they’re my hangout crew. I’ve been coming here for 22 years and I’m friends with a lot of wonderful people. It’s almost like you have to pace your time with your friends here.

What’s your favourite part of the island?
I like being near Es Vedra, like at Cala D’Hort. I’ve been there by boat too, and just being near that rock is really wondrous. There is definitely an energy there – it’s powerful.

Do you have a favourite Ibiza memory?
I would say my adventures around the island and going to beaches by boat. You see the island from a different viewpoint – it’s so beautiful. You explore and you can stop anywhere to swim – there are even caves you can go into. I’ve had some wonderful experiences – one I’ll never forget was when I was with Anane and we went to this place with 30-foot high cliffs. We jumped off the boat to climb up to the top and I said I didn’t think I could do it. And she said, ‘Well I am!” and she just jumped off! I still didn’t do it…

Ultimate Ibiza track?
I always remember back to playing Black Gold of the Sun, which is a record we produced for Nuyorican Soul, when I played at Café Mambo for the sunset. I cannot believe that was made 20 years ago!

How do you feel when you have to start packing to leave?
Oh man, it’s always sad! I live in New York City and also Miami, so I have a taste of the warmth and the beaches, but Ibiza is really special. It’s something I always really look forward to.

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