Every once in a while, on an island saturated with DJs and super clubs, a local party creates a buzz big enough to make waves across the shores. Most recently, that party has been Melon Bomb – the creation of talented local DJs Scott Gray, Ben Santiago, Paul Reynolds and Juan Corbi. 2017 has without a doubt been the year of Melon Bomb, as the DJ collective has gone from back rooms, small venues and intimate parties ‘just for friends’ to the main room and the smash hit Wild Corner of Hï Ibiza to the international clubbing and festival circuit, including Ministry of Sound, Glastonbury and Southport Weekender.
In addition to their musical connections, the four DJs behind Melon Bomb also share a deep love for the island they all call home. Between them – a renowned artist and vegan; a globe-trotting international DJ and producer; a self-confessed foodie and award winning performer; and a promoter, radio programmer, A&R scout and record label manager – they share almost 50 years’ worth of island experiences, while their interests and passions span all elements of island life.
Do you remember the first time you came to Ibiza?
Juan: I was a bit late coming to Ibiza. I started going clubbing in the the early 90s, but the first time I came to the island was in 2011. I’m half Spanish, so I just felt at home here straight away. I moved here three years ago.
Scott: I came in 1997 with all my mates. They’d all been coming over for a couple of years, but I was a young parent at the time so I didn’t get a chance to get over. I remember Paul Jackson was playing at Pacha – we all came over the see him and then I met my wife to be at Space that same trip. I came every single year after that until we moved here in 2011.
Ben: My brother won a holiday to Ibiza on KISS FM in 2004 – that’s the thing that brought me over here. I was a bit of a backpacker before and I always knew Ibiza was expensive and I could backpack elsewhere for a much longer time for the same amount of money I would spend in a week here. I always had Ibiza down as a place I’d like to go to, but thought I would probably never end up going to. I came here and fell in love with it, and it was just a no brainer really – I packed my bags and moved out the following year.
Paul: I moved out here 10 years ago. I’d been here once before and my wife Fay had never been here at all. The boss where I was DJing sold the bar and the people who owned the salon where Fay was hairdressing had also sold the business, so we thought, just let’s sell our house, move to Ibiza and give it a year. 10 years later, we’re still here! It’s definitely home now.
Tell us how Melon Bomb came about?
Ben: Paul and I knew each other for quite some time and one night in 2015, we were out having some food – there was quite a big group of us, at Vino & Co, where it’s all one big long table. Scott was there too, with his parents, and I kind of knew him from back in the day when he did sound systems. Anyway, it was kind of Scott’s, well, we all call it an epiphany…
Scott: I call it my drunken moment. I looked at these two and I thought they’re DJs, I’m a DJ and I said, “Guys let’s meet next Tuesday, I’ve got a really good idea I’d like to discuss with you.” They looked at me a bit suspiciously… but they agreed to come. I woke up in the morning and said to my wife, “I’ve just agreed to meet Paul Reynolds and Ben Santiago next week – I told them I had a really good idea, but I haven’t got a clue!” It all came to me in the next ten minutes. I liked what Glitterbox were doing but I wanted to do a more underground, kind of groovy version.
Juan: I was working at Ibiza Sonica, doing Pioneer DJ Radio and people were coming in and out of the studio all the time. I met Ben there when he came to do a mix and then Scott came in and we got chatting. I could produce and do edits and he wanted to get some mixes done. We got together and did an EP of some edits and put that out on vinyl, then I played for Melon Bomb. They were already going at the time…
Ben: Up until then, Juan had very kindly produced edits for us for free, so as a gesture, we asked him to play for us.
Paul: And he was amazing!
Ben: We all said we’ve got to bring him on. So, although Juan wasn’t there for the first couple of parties, he really has been part of Melon Bomb from the start.
The long communal table at Vino & Co – where the idea for Melon Bomb was born.
How would you describe Melon Bomb?
Ben: I would say that it’s four DJs who got together – well, I think we were in the right place at the right time…
Paul: We had a good group of friends on the island and we started doing it for just a bit of fun, you know? It still is. We haven’t set out to be anything massive or anything. We just want to throw good parties.
Ben: We don’t have a ‘strategy’ or anything!
Paul: We’ve all got different styles, but you know, it kind of works.
Scott: It’s roughly the same style of music – we’ve all got that kind of disco element running through, and there’s a core load of records we all play. When certain stuff comes out we all want it!
Juan: There are some records you just can’t NOT play!
Where does the name come from?
Paul: The name came from one of Scott’s paintings. We were all sitting there and couldn’t think of a name…
Scott: We were talking about the artwork and I had designed the ‘Melon Bomb’ already, as a print to sell. Nobody bought it and I was really disappointed as it was one of my favourite things I’d ever done. I brought it to the second meeting we ever had and said do you want to use this? So, then we were thinking, Melon Disco Head, then Melon Bomb Disco…
Ben: Then we decided to drop the disco.
Paul: We didn’t want to call it disco because you just get categorised.
The view from the forest behind the beach at Cala Bassa.
What have been some of your 2017 highlights?
Paul: It’s gone crackers this year! I think getting taken on by Defected [as management] was massive for us.
Juan: Having that big brand behind us got us into Glitterbox and we did eight gigs with them this year.
Paul: Glitterbox has been incredible for us.
Juan: And the Hï Ibiza opening was massive for us, we got press from DJ Mag and Mixmag for that.
Ben: The thing with that was we had the toilets all night and nobody knew the venue, so nobody knew about the toilets.
Paul: They kept it a secret until the week before!
Scott: People would see you in there and be like look! There’s a DJ booth in this place.
Ben: The element of surprise with the DJ booth being in the toilets, that was probably the highlight for me.
Juan: We did some other big gigs, like Glastonbury and Southport Weekender. We did Pacha and Ministry in the winter and that was really big for us too.
Paul: And our parties at Pikes have been really, really good, they’ve really grown this year, we are getting a younger crowd in as well, that haven’t heard the music before which is brilliant.
What were your first impressions of Hï Ibiza earlier this summer?
Paul: I saw it when It started getting built, I had a hard hat and fluorescent jacket on! I’d seen the plans the year before and I knew there was going to be a disco in the toilets. I know they always do everything amazingly but I just had this vision of a table in the toilets. When you go in there, it’s got the best sound system in the place. It’s just brilliant, they’ve done it fantasticly, and it’s completely different from Space. They had to do that, didn’t they?
Scott: I really, really love it. I got in there and the first thing I thought was, this isn’t Space. I like the way they’ve brought it in completely. For me it really works. And as DJs, the hospitality there is second to none.
Paul: It’s something completely different for Ibiza, isn’t it? The whole team there is amazing, it’s a proper little family.
Juan: I thought it was something incredibly different. The outdoor areas and the Wild Corner were a master stroke for me, they’re really unique. I mean the main rooms are main rooms, but while disco toilets have been done before, here it’s been done really well. The system in there is just killer.
Ben: I really liked it. If I’m honest, I walked in there like, yeah come on then, let’s see if you’re better than Space and now I can’t help but admire what they’ve done to it. They’ve moved it forward. The thing that kind of struck me most was that if Space had not sold the venue and had done those refurbishments themselves and reopened this year, everyone would be losing their shit at ‘the new Space’. It’s now my favourite club in Ibiza.
The view from the beautiful seaside road that winds through the beaches of the north including Cala San Vicente.
What’s a typical day like for you in summer?
Scott: In the summer, I see my friends… err… never!
Paul: I just get up and work, get up and work, it’s just constant.
Juan: Summer is really busy – I get up and try to go to the gym, then sit in front of the laptop getting music for gigs and listening to music for my A&R work.
Ben: I’d love to have a glamorous answer but all I do is work.
Does it change for you in the winter?
Paul: In the winter, I just take dogs for a walk and spend time with my mates and with my wife. I go away to work sometimes at the weekends but on weekdays, we’re up at six in the morning and on the beach with the dogs – it’s perfect. And we’re in bed for 10pm! Coronation Street and cup of tea. Brilliant.
Corbi: In winter, it does change – there are still gigs and I have A&R all the time for the labels, but I’m way more relaxed. I spend time in the studio and I have a lot more time to spend with my girlfriend Lydia and we go on a couple of holidays…
Scott: It’s a lot more relaxed – it’s ‘normal’. Like on a Sunday we just go and have some food and spend time with friends.
Ben: I’ve spent a lot more time touring over the last couple of winters. My life is just one big episode of work! But I’m loving life, I count my blessings every day – I just want to make the most out of every opportunity while it’s there.
Rita’s Cantina – a legendary breakfast spot in the Marina of San Antonio.
What’s your favourite part of the island?
Ben: Sa Talaia. I love nature, it’s so quiet and the panoramic views of the island are beautiful. You feel completely cut off and within nature.
Scott: I also like Sa Talaia – I like going there for sunrise. I actually like that whole part of San Jose, past the village and down towards Es Vedra. It just feels kind of wild.
Juan: I think my favourite part of the island is Santa Eulalia. I live up there and it can be quite wild too when you get away from the main part. Up towards San Carlos and Portinatx, Cala San Vicente – I like all the drives up there. I like to hang out up there, walk the dog, get out amongst nature. It’s really nice.
Paul: I love Cala Bassa, which is where I live. It’s just beautiful, especially in the winter time. Taking the dogs out in the morning, we go for a long walk in the forest and let them off… it’s absolutely incredible.
Do you have a favourite breakfast spot?
Paul: Rita’s, always Rita’s. It’s a bit of an island institution isn’t it? A Bloody Mary and a healthy breakfast, the ‘athletico breakfast’ as they call it. [Laughs] Obviously, you can tell I’m an athlete…
Juan: There’s two places for me, in Santa Eulalia, Granarium, on the port – it’s really healthy and really reasonably priced. They do great vegan sandwiches and then if I want a proper fry up I go to Project Social.
Scott: Vegan Ibiza in San Antonio for the waffles.
Ben: Does it have to be a restaurant? No? OK, my terrace. It faces north and I see all the coastline and out to sea. That’s my favourite spot…
Can VegeTable – keeping the vegans and vegetarians on Ibiza’s east coast happy!
Where would you choose for a nice long lunch?
Ben: [Laughs] My terrace. Or The Skinny Kitchen in the San Antonio Marina.
Paul: Can Pujol for me. The fish in there, there’s nothing better – though the waiters are a bit miserable! But the food’s just incredible there.
Juan: For me, Cas Pages on the way to San Carlos. I love it there. Straight up basic food, run by some lovely locals. You can’t book, you just turn up and you can’t pay by card, only with cash. It’s proper old school and I like that. Very meaty, good grilled vegetables and always a quality meal.
Scott: I like Can VegeTable in Es Canar.
And a dinner recommendation?
Scott: I would go to Casita in Cala de Bou, where they have a full vegan menu alongside a regular menu, so you can bring your friends who are vegan and your friends who are not!
Ben: Can Domingo. I love the way they have a real enthusiasm for food and wine. In the winter, they go off into the middle of nowhere and find things – for example, last time we were there they brought out the cheese board and talked us through all the cheeses and some were really rare and made by monks. I love the whole experience; I like the food, I like the service, I like the wine, the setting.
Juan: My favourite is Bambuddha. As an experience, I love it – the food, especially the tasting menu, is quality. And the black cod is unreal.
Paul: Mine is Es Tragon in Cala Gracioneta – they only opened last year and it’s mega. They do tasting menus and the food is mind blowing. They will definitely be up for a Michelin star. I love it, it’s amazing. Best food on the island by a mile.
The magical gardens of premier Ibiza fine Italian dining restaurant Can Domingo in the hills of San Jose.
Best place to go for a drink?
Scott & Paul: [In unison] Paradise Lost!
Juan: When I just want to be in Santa Eulalia and not drive, the best place is Project Social. It’s like a little bit of London, but the local Spanish go there too. The cocktails are really good and they have really nice beer.
Paul: Malanga is really cool too. I’ve only been once but I absolutely loved it in there.
Ben: Raco Verde in San Jose. I quite like it there when Andy Wilson plays, it’s a cool little spot with good music. It’s proper Balearic.
Do you have a favourite beach?
Paul: I really don’t like beaches!
Ben: Mine would be Cala Vadella but to be honest I don’t get down there anymore.
Scott: Benirras or Cala D’Hort. Before I lived here, they were the two main beaches we went to. But now I live here, I don’t go all that often.
Juan: Just north of San An, I think Cala Salada and Saladeta are really pretty and the water’s lovely. I don’t do too many beach days, but if I can get up there I will.
What do you do when you want to escape?
Juan: I quite like my little routine that I try and keep to in the morning: I go to the gym, take the dog for a walk on the beach. That’s my way of relaxing. The occasional spa, but I don’t really don’t get much time for that sort of thing.
Scott: On our days off, my wife Mandy and I like to get up early and go to Ibiza town, mooch around the shops, have some lunch, spend some money – a bit of retail therapy. I love Ibiza town.
Ben: I find it quite hard to relax though I have gotten into mountain biking.
Paul: I just like being in my house, with Fay and my dogs, putting some good tunes on and dancing around the living room with a bottle of tequila! That’s relaxing for me and I think listening to music expands your mind.
Does your work allow you much of a chance to go out clubbing?
Paul: No not a lot not, I went to Harvey the other week which was brilliant, absolutely fantastic. I go to Melon Bomb!
Juan: For me it’s really important. I make an effort to keep on top of it, especially when there’s an interesting DJ on the island. I like to go to DJ Harvey at Pikes, or to DC10 from 6pm ‘til midnight as much as I can.
Scott: I like going to Harvey and Wax Da Jam at las Dalias.
Ben: I don’t go out that much but I went to the last couple of Harvey nights. Luciano is the one for me, I love him and I think he plays differently depending on what room he’s in. I like him best at Destino.
A bird’s eye view of Ibiza town – the best place for retail therapy on the island.
What’s your favourite place to DJ in Ibiza?
Juan: Mine is the WC at Hï Ibiza. The set-up is perfect, and I can have three decks when I’m in there on my own. It’s just perfect – the monitors are good, the systems good so your music sounds good in there. For me, it’s just enjoyable, especially when you can play for six hours. I really enjoy DJing at Pacha as well.
Paul: The toilets for me as well, 100-percent! The whole sound system in there, it’s like every Saturday is like the best Saturday night I’ve ever had. It’s just brilliant.
Scott: I feel most at home playing at Pikes actually. When you’ve got a full room, and it’s just going off, I love it there.
Ben: Amnesia for me. Everyone is there to proper rave and it’s where you see the most action on the dance floor.
Juan: I wold love to play there!
Paul: [Laughs] It’s too big! I’ve only been to Amnesia once in my life. I like little clubs, and being in a small environment. It frightens the hell out of me in there!
What’s your ultimate Ibiza track?
Scott:Free by Ultra Nate. It was a big track the first year I came here and I just always loved it – it talks to me. It featured quite heavily in our decision to move here. I play my own remix of it all the time,
Ben:Beloved – The Sun Rising. It’s like 1989 and very Balearic. I think it epitomises that Balearic sound and spirit of Ibiza ’89 (not that I was here then). The last time I played it was on the radio – it’s not very dance-floor friendly.
Paul: Mine is Larry Heard – You Rock Me. They don’t play it in a lot of clubs, but it’s just a beautiful tune and I was playing it a lot when I moved here so it has a lot of memories. I played it today at Ushuaïa Tower by the pool actually, because Fay was here and I was trying to be all romantic, like it’s ‘our tune’.
Juan: I was thinking Larry Heard too, The Sun Can’t Compare as a personal choice. And I think Café del Mar just epitomises the sound of Ibiza.
Paul [left] accepting the award for Best Ibiza DJ alongside co-winner Graham Sahara at the 2017 DJ Awards at Hï Ibiza.
Can you share your best Ibiza memory with us?
Paul: Can I have two? Winning the Best Ibiza DJ Award was epic, absolutely amazing and made it all seem worthwhile. But doing eight hours at Space closing last year – I thought I was getting an hour like everyone else. In the end, I just don’t think they thought it was going to stay open that long, but then they shut the other area and a lot of people came through and it was epic. I don’t think I ever will beat that… but I try to every Saturday. That moment when the sun was coming up, when we were outside and all bouncing around the box – it was just brilliant.
Juan: For me, it was probably the first year of Melon Bomb and when I got the opportunity to play on the Sunset Terrace at Space. That really stands out and got me on the path to where I am now. Playing at Space was a massive deal – to say I actually played at that club, even though it was towards the end of it, was huge. I am eternally grateful for that one, definitely
Scott: Mine was last year, playing on the Space Terrace, 19 years to the day I met my wife on the same terrace and she was wearing a dress with a print I had designed for her.
Ben: The one that comes to mind is when I first came here on holiday – it’s a bit silly, but when I left the airport, I kissed the ground! I just felt respect and love and gratitude.
Scott: [Laughs] He thought he was the pope!
What makes Ibiza so special to you?
Juan: In three years, since I moved over, I’ve made more friends here (other than where I grew up) than anywhere else. I mean, good friends, like-minded people, on a work level a spiritual level and an emotional level. It’s all about the people I’ve met, the friends, I’ve made and [gestures around] these guys. That’s what makes it special.
Scott: Everything he said and it’s a beautiful looking place with all that history of music. If you’re into what we’re into…
Ben: I just think it’s a magical place. I have nice friends here – the island attracts nice people. Nature plays a big factor. Whether the island is full of VIP clubs and no matter who’s coming of here, I don’t think anything will ever kill the spirit of Ibiza. That’s what I love about it and that’s why I’m here.
Paul: Ever since I moved here, it’s been like a bit of a jigsaw. Every year things are just fitting into place. There has been a line of things that have happened and people I’ve met that have paved the way for everything that’s gone on. It’s been amazing and I feel like I was meant to be here. Life just clicks into place and feels right here.
The tiny cove of Cala Saladeta, just north of San Antonio but worlds away.
MELON BOMB PLAY HÏ IBIZA CLOSING PARTY ON SUNDAY OCTOBER 8, 2017
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