Andrea Oliva’s Ibiza story began in 2004, when he was first invited to DJ at one of the legendary morning parties at Space Ibiza. It was the beginning of a long-term love affair and since then, the Swiss Italian DJ and producer has never missed a summer season on the island, making Ibiza his permanent summer home.
His career trajectory saw him become one of the key headline acts for the runaway success party ANTS at Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel and in 2017 he was given the opportunity to host his own room, Andrea Oliva & Friends, at the island’s newest superclub Hï Ibiza on Tuesday nights. He is also regularly invited to perform guest slots at many other Ibiza club nights, in between a hectic touring schedule that sees him jetting on and off the island a few nights each week.
In between all the after-dark action however, Andrea possesses a passion for Ibiza that extends far beyond the clubs and into nature and the island’s booming gastronomic scene. While welcoming change with open arms, he also believes the authentic island spirit can easily be found here – his positivity and enthusiasm about the future of Ibiza is inspiring.
Tell us about the first time you came to Ibiza?
It was in 2004 and it was a crazy experience. It was my first gig on the island, but also my first visit, and for a local Swiss DJ, it was out of this world to be going to Ibiza and playing at Space – at the time, everyone was talking about Ibiza. The party was In Bed With Space, which was on Wednesday mornings right after Carl Cox. I stayed for a week and the great thing was, after that first gig, they gave me a few more. I’ve never missed a year ever since.
How do you feel when you arrive and step out onto the tarmac 13 years later?
You know, I’m not a really heavy, spiritual guy – it’s not like I go outside, look at a tree, breathe and say ‘I love life’… but! Every time I touch down on the island, I step out of the aeroplane, I breathe and I just feel like, wow. It’s a different energy here and a different way of living.
These days, does the island feel like work or a holiday to you?
I always try and combine holidays and work. It’s not work really, when you’re doing what you love. Ibiza feels more like home to me now I am based here in the summer season. I love to stay here and enjoy the island when I’m not playing or touring. It can be easy to get stuck in a routine – just going to the gym, sleeping, going for lunches and dinners – when I’m alone. Sometimes, because I travel a lot, I enjoy every second in my room! When my girlfriend is here I try to do a lot more exploring and to be more active. We go to many different restaurants…
Perhaps the island’s most famous breakfast spot: Passion Café in Marina Ibiza.
Tell us your favourite breakfast spot?
It has to be Passion! I live right next door and they really could have flyers made up that say ‘Andrea Oliva – resident at Passion’ because I am there every day! I like to eat very healthily and for me, that is easy in Ibiza. It’s not so easy when you’re on the road.
What about a lunch recommendation?
I like to be outside, at places like Sa Caleta, El Chiringuito and I love Experimental Beach Ibiza because the food is nice, the view is amazing and the sunsets are beautiful too. I also like local places like Can Pilot and Balafia. And literally, the first thing I always do when I arrive on the island is go to Trattoria del Mar – I love it there.
Where do you like to go for dinner?
You know, lately I have really been enjoying cooking at home. As an Italian, I like to cook pasta, but also a lot of different things, Mediterranean food. Of course, I love going out with friends too – especially on those dates you’re really looking forward to, when you don’t want to sit in your hotel and wait for the pick-up to the gig.
How did you first become involved with the Ushuaïa Group?
The first time I ever played there was the first week they opened the new beach club in 2011. I played a party called Propaganda, I was resident for them and it ran for a few weeks. I remember my friend Moussa – he was throwing a lot of parties at the time and was really involved in the island’s clubbing scene – booked me, and we saw Yann one day… exactly as the club was about to open, which is the most stressful time of day for someone who’s throwing a party! Moussa wanted to introduce us, and Yann told us he’d come back later and Moussa said to him: “Let me tell you something. Remember his face – maybe you’ll need him one day.” Once we met, we really connected and became so close – now he’s my manager, the one who is really taking care of my career and is very protective of me.
Was it a natural progression to begin working with Hï Ibiza this year?
You know, here on the island, it’s not like anywhere else in the world when it comes to these things. In Switzerland, if I owned a club, I could give friends some slots as a favour and that would be OK. But Hï Ibiza is a big club, they have to sell tickets, they have to keep up their game and deliver quality. There’s a lot of competition. So just because I was close to Yann didn’t mean I would get the gigs. I saw an opportunity and I knew I had to work twice as hard to deliver. I had to raise my profile, do a lot of releases. When you work like this, doors will open.
A local’s haunt: Balafia, the wood-fire grill restaurant in the island’s north.
What were your first impressions of the club?
Because I knew the whole philosophy behind the project, and I’d seen all the work and passion that went into it, I saw a lot of things that made sense to me, which maybe other people didn’t. The same kind of thing had happened with Ushuaïa in the first years – people were saying it was a Miami kind of venue, and that it wasn’t Ibiza… now everyone freaks out about Ushuaïa and think it is Ibiza! When it comes to change, people are afraid, but they also forget very quickly. At the end of the day, if you have the right people behind the change and a new project, it can’t fail. Seeing it as someone who loves the island, someone in the scene and in the industry, I think it’s making a positive impact.
What’s your personal favourite place to DJ in Ibiza?
ANTS at Ushuaïa. It’s something I was involved in from the beginning, and something we worked hard at for it to succeed. When it first started, it was all about workers and people from the island and giving something back to these people, allowing them to go to a venue that maybe they couldn’t afford a ticket to. The party opened its arms and welcomed everybody. The combination of the music, the show, the crowd, the effort from the team and the way they welcome people is exactly how you should grow a brand. It was important that it was not just another party, but that it also created something with a significant touch.
The impressive spectacle by the ANTS production team at Ushuaïa.
What is the crowd like?
It’s the perfect mix. There are clubbers on the dancefloor and VIPs sitting at the tables – there are all types of people there and the mix is so amazing. For me, the clubbers who shout and jump and drink and party are the ones I prefer. The ones who don’t care about what other people think
Does it differ to your night at Hï Ibiza?
Ever since I started coming to the island, I developed close connections to a lot of people in Ibiza, locals, and people who work here plus all the people coming from all over the world. And so when I am playing at Hï Ibiza, for my own night, this gave me such a good reason to invite people – whether they were friends or people from the industry who were travelling to the island, or people I knew from my own travels. It was always busy but very local and friendly. I’ve always been very open – I bring a lot of people to the booth! I really feel at home at Hï Ibiza, almost like I can do anything I want there. Well… not everything [laughs], but almost.
The beachside traditional seafood restaurant at Sa Caleta.
Do you get much of a chance to go out and dance yourself?
Yes. Well… most of the time I stay at home between travelling, but when I do go out, I go OUT. I love to go to Paradise and Circoloco at DC-10, Cocoon, HYTE. It’s important to go out sometimes and not have that feeling in your mind that you have to play. It’s great to have the time to see everyone, promoters and other DJs, having a good time and not having to fit into a schedule.
Do you feel inspired to make music while you’re in Ibiza?
When you go into the studio, you need to be focused and I also like to be alone so if I was to do music on the island, I’d be thinking about all my friends and all the parties going on! It’s something I do when I am living in Switzerland – I live in a very small village, surrounded by cows and there’s nothing going on! But Ibiza is a great place to test out new music, to see how functional a track can be and see what works or what you need to change.
Trattoria del Mar in Marina Botafoch: the Italian restaurant where Italians love to eat!
What do you do on the island when you want to relax?
For me, when I have time to come back to the island for two or three days off, it’s more about finding a balance than relaxing. I hang out with friends, just going for a coffee, to a restaurant or a party. I also do a lot of sport – I go running or to the gym. I’d love to play more football games with friends. When you travel as much as I do you need to take care of yourself, do a lot of sport and eat well. If you don’t, it can have a negative impact on your mood and so finding a clever balance is important.
Are you looking forward to the closing parties?
I like the closings a lot actually. It’s a good way to celebrate the end of the season. I’m very lucky to always finish the season with a smile. To have the kind of visibility and the kind of gigs I have in Ibiza, playing sold out shows to a few thousand people that can be compared to huge festivals… I can always be happy. I feel so privileged that people are so kind to me and go to the effort to invite me to do what I love and even pay me for it.
The lush, abundant nature of Ibiza.
Can you share your best Ibiza memory?
It was when my parents came to see me play for the very first time. They were pretty impressed. It was the closing of ANTS at Ushuaïa last year and they freaked out – it was a full house, totally sold out! My family love it here now. My mum knows more than me sometimes! She is on Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing, and sometimes she’ll call me and say: “Oh, you played for Carl Cox – he’s a very big DJ no?” and I’ll think, how do you even know Carl Cox? She knows everything.
How does it feel when you have to start packing to leave at the end of the season?
I feel bad every time I have to leave! Even if it’s just for one or two gigs – I just never want to leave. But this is life…
What makes Ibiza special to you?
Ibiza is still Ibiza and it will remain Ibiza. I disagree big time when people say Ibiza is not the same anymore. The nature is still here, the sun is still here, the buildings are still here (maybe with a few more new ones), the spirit is still here, the vibe is still here. DJs still come to play here – it’s still the favourite place of every DJ. I know it’s not the centre of the world of course, but it’s still one of the most beautiful places I know. And for our industry, we need places like Ibiza: to present new brands, introduce new nights, new DJs, new parties, new concepts. The island is still very, very important for our scene. Actually, I think it’s one of the most important places on earth for music. There’s no place like Ibiza.
ANDREA OLIVA PLAYS ANTS AT USHUAÏA IBIZA ON SEPTEMBER 23 & 30, 2017, HÏ IBIZA CLOSING PARTY ON OCTOBER 8, 2017 WITH MORE CLOSING PARTY DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED.
In between island gigs and his touring schedule, Andrea gets the chance to explore the island.