Arthur Smith solemnly swears he is never going to become the type of person who looks down on young kids on their first Ibiza holiday. He remembers vividly being ‘that kid’ himself – fresh out of London, he stepped straight off an aeroplane and directly into the hallowed clubbing grounds of the Space terrace in 1993. In the years that followed, Arthur would regularly return to the white isle; for more fun-filled holidays with friends and then later on as Artwork: the pioneering dubstep producer and member of epic electronic act Magnetic Man (alongside Skream and DJ Benga) – performing at Ibiza Rocks Hotel and for Carl Cox at Space Ibiza.
These days, Artwork’s Ibiza gigs are more of an intimate, solo affair, and he readily admits to prioritising his six-week ‘Art’s House’ residency at Pikes over international club dates and the summer festival circuit. “It’s the best place to play in the world,” he affirms, describing the atmosphere as bonkers, mental and a mad house – in the best of ways. “This is my third summer at Pikes. Once you’ve done it once, you can’t think about doing anything else.”
Portrait photography by Luke Dyson for Pikes
Tell us about your first Ibiza experience?
It was around 24 years ago and my friend picked me up from the airport on a moped. I didn’t know anything about the island. I was completely green. I got on the back of the moped with my suitcase and we went straight to Space. We hid the suitcase in a bush so we could go straight into the club. I was that kid.
What do you remember of clubbing experiences back in the day?
It was back in the day when there was no roof, planes would fly over the top and they’d turn the music down and people would go crazy. It was bananas – a completely different time. It was a slightly older crowd and at the time I was one of the young ones. Everyone was on the same vibe and you could chat to anyone. We were all just so happy about where we were.
Does Ibiza feel like work or a holiday to you these days?
Playing records is never work. [Winks] Don’t tell anyone else this, but I’d pay for free! I’d pay to play! It feels like I’m on permanent holiday really.
What’s your favourite part of the island?
It’s a place. It’s Pikes. It’s just magical and when you get here, nothing ever changes. It can be just bonkers at times – a fat lady sings at 1am and then there are people playing piano and having a singalong at 5am and then someone gets a guitar out… It’s one of those places where everyone in the hotel has a party in their room, and instead of getting a knock on your door to ask you to turn the music down, you get a knock on the door and find people asking if they can come in and join you! To be a part of this is pretty special.
Can you tell us your favourite place to go for breakfast?
It’s usually wherever I’m staying. My missus has got me making my own muesli and it’s probably a lot better than what I’d go for if I went out. I’m getting weaned off the full English breakfasts…
What about a lunch spot you love?
La Paloma. I love it. It’s a bit more of a vegetarian place at lunch and I love the aubergine dip. It sounds simple but it’s just ridiculously good.
Are there any other regular hangouts you frequent?
La Bodega, the tapas restaurant by the drawbridge to the old town. It’s always really busy and you always have to wait about an hour to get in but I still love the place.
Busy Ibiza town tapas restaurant La Bodega.
Do you have a favourite beach?
I like the hippy beach, Benirras and I also really like Cala Olivera. It’s a tiny little beach with just one little bar and there’s really good snorkelling there – loads of stuff to see in the sea there. The only thing I’m a bit scared of are jellyfish!
What’s your favourite DJ booth on the island?
It’s Pikes. There’s something about this place, this room. It just feels like home.
Favourite place to go for a dance?
I absolutely love dancing and I know it’s sounding like I am a PR machine for this gaff, but if I’m being honest, I like dancing to Harvey on Monday nights here.
Ultimate Ibiza track?
It’s one that Harvey plays – William Pitt’s City Lights. If you say Ibiza to me, I think of Pikes, I think of that room and I think of Harvey playing that. That’s the thing: I play here on Saturday nights and it’s packed and I think, yeah, I did alright at the end of the night. Then you stay an extra night to watch Harvey on a Monday and it’s like, why am I doing this? [Laughs] I might as well just throw all my records in the sea!
What do you do on the island when you want to relax?
I like exploring, going off the beaten track to relax. You only have to drive for five minutes and you’re in a totally different world. I like going off to find someplace new – my wife and I will choose new parts of the island and just explore. We pick a road and think this will be it, this is the one that will lead us to a new discovery, but so many of them are just dead ends! I love finding those places no one knows about, the tiny places where you don’t remember their names but they’re locals’ favourite spots. I also like storm chasing when there’s an electrical storm – just get in the car and drive towards it.
Can you share your best Ibiza memory?
There are a lot of them and they’re all completely different but there was one time about five years ago when I was messing around in the pool at Pikes at 6am and Tony Pike came up and said: “I jumped off that roof into the pool when I was 74 years old.” I took it as a challenge, but when you’re standing up there, it’s really really scary! But I had to do it because I said I would and all my mates were down there. Tony Pike is amazing, I mean, he built this place with his bare hands and now he’s just kicking back and living exactly the way he always wanted to. How many people in the world do you see, who are as old as he is, doing exactly what they wanted to do since way back when. He’s done it. He’s really done it.
ARTWORK PLAYS ‘ART’S HOUSE’ HOUSE PARTY AT PIKES ON SATURDAYS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 9, 2017.
The stunning sunset over the bohemian beach of Benirras.