Ibiza clubbing: Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano – My Ibiza
Dutch DJ duo Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano have over 25 years of Ibiza experiences between them, from their early days rising up the clubbing ranks as resident DJs for the Swedish House Mafia to their own hugely successful night in 2017 at Ibiza’s newest superclub Hï Ibiza. They know the island well – preferring to be adventurous and seek out the unknown, always on the lookout for hidden gems and secret places rather than opting for the typical beach clubs or famous destinations.
They consider each other family and this summer, both DJs brought their partners and small children (who recognised them on the billboards dotted around the island) for a shared holiday. Clearly still enjoying each other’s company after all these years, their camaraderie is obvious, as they bounce off each other and finish each other’s sentences like brothers. Having just wrapped up their successful Wednesday night residency, the DJs are turning their thoughts to next season already. Ibiza is a special place to them both, somewhere they intend on returning year after year.
Tell us about the first time you came to Ibiza? Sunnery: My first time was back in 2003 when someone asked me at the last minute to go to Ibiza to fill in for a DJ who had cancelled at El Divino – the old club where Lio Ibiza is now. We were playing separately at that time but we were friends. I asked if I could bring Ryan and they said no… that they didn’t have enough money! Ryan: [Laughs] I was too expensive! Sunnery: I remember I was warming up for about nine people and the DJ who played afterwards wasn’t really in the vibe, so the promoter asked me to take over… and I had to tell him to get off the decks! But the crowd went crazy and then we came back together the year after. Ryan: My first time was his second!
What were your expectations at the time? Sunnery: All I thought about Ibiza was that everyone would be doing drugs, you couldn’t have a normal conversation with anyone, and there were just parties everywhere. The guy who brought me over had been living here for 15 years and so he took me to all these secret places. I was lucky that I saw all the really beautiful stuff my first time. I learned it’s a place where you can party, but it’s also a place where you can have a proper vacation. Ryan: But people don’t talk about that! You know, even back in the day, they were only ever talking about clubbing. People all around the world were thinking one thing about Ibiza… but there’s so much more.
These days, how do you feel when you arrive and step out on the tarmac? Sunnery: For me, it feels like coming home. You know exactly where to go, where the best restaurants are, where to go if you want to chill out, what beach to go to and where to party. I love breathing everything in. There was a point when we were talking about moving the family to Ibiza for a few years, to figure it all out and get away from all the madness, just hang out and go to the beach every day… but we still haven’t made that decision yet. Maybe one day in the future… Ryan: This is the first year where I kind of lived here with the family, we had a house near Playa d’en Bossa so it feels like an extended vacation. I was supposed to leave in a few days, but there are so many things we didn’t do yet that we’ll stay a few more days.
Does the island ever feel like work to you? Sunnery: No matter how much I work, it will always have a special place in my heart, for the rest of my life. It was one of the places where we blew up internationally, because we came up with the Swedes. And my first ‘love’ vacation was on this island with my wife. A lot of things happened for me here. And it always feels like a vacation! Ryan: The only thing is, when we‘re really busy in the summer, we come in on Wednesday afternoon and want to sleep, eat, chill a little bit before the show, but everyone is here, saying come to dinner, come to this beach, so it can be like, ohhhh… come on weekend! You always want to go out and do something. Sunnery: Summer is crazy like that – I mean, we can’t complain, if you’re busy that’s good – but sometimes you think, how long can we do this? But then every time you come back, you get your energy back and forget you were tired.
What’s your favourite part of the island? Sunnery: It used to be Cala Jondal, but I’ve just found a place in the north called Aguas Blancas that is just paradise. It’s like being in the Maldives – really, really amazing. We went there on a boat with some friends and it was only after 15 years that I found out about this place. Ryan: I used to love Talamanca, but now it’s getting bigger and bigger with all the big hotels. I still do like it, but before, it was only Spanish people there, no tourists, and it was great. So now I guess I like Aguas Blancas too… though I’ve only been once! I’ll have to go again…
The Caribbean-like waters of Aguas Blancas, on the island’s northeast coast.
Where is your favourite place to go for breakfast? Ryan: We’ve been going to Passion a lot… Sunnery: Box 7 in the Marina is still my favourite, after all these years. For me it’s perfect. I’m not a guy who likes fancy breakfasts, I just want to have my eggs and my toast – that’s all I need in the mornings.
Tell us where you like to go for lunch? Sunnery: I like Es Xarcu… Ryan: Es Xarcu, Sa Punta and Beso Beach in Formentera. Sunnery: But don’t go there when it’s your birthday! Ryan: If you don’t like attention, you will get attention then! But I like Beso Beach because it’s not too big, it’s just really intimate.
Where do you like to go for dinner? Sunnery: I love Macao in Santa Gertrudis. It’s so good for the kids, they can play and it has amazing Italian food. I go there a lot. And I must say I love the new IZAKAYA restaurant. Ryan: The food at IZAKAYA is amazing. At the beginning of the season, we were like, ok let’s go once because we also have an IZAKAYA in Amsterdam, and then we just kept going, every Wednesday night before the show.
Tell us how you became involved with Hï Ibiza? Sunnery: We were looking at a few options for Ibiza this year and then this opportunity came to us through Armin van Buuren. He’d been talking to the club and he called us up and said: “I can do Hï Ibiza, but I need a host for the second room. Are you guys interested? You can do whatever you want, because we want trance and your housey style.” We wondered how it was going to work but we love challenges. And now, at the end of the day we have one of the best nights on the island Ryan: Armin has such a huge trance following, so at the beginning we were a bit scared about how it would work with trance and house, but in the end, it was fully packed every week. What I actually like the most, was when we’d have two or three people in our room in Armin t-shirts, standing in our room all night. Sunnery: [Laughs] Maybe that’s the drugs? Like, hey, what happened to Armin… now there’s two of him!
What were your first impressions of the club? Ryan: Our agent went to the opening and he said to us this club is amazing, amazing, amazing. I said you’re just telling us that because we have to play there every week, all summer! Sunnery: I was so used to Space, because I’d been there every year and been to nights like Carl Cox, so for me it was like hmmm… I don’t know. When it was still empty, I thought there would be no vibe, and that the Theatre, Armin’s room, felt like Omnia, the club in Vegas to me at first. But then when the night opened, the vibe, the energy was just like wow! They’re going to do really well.
What’s your favourite thing about Hï Ibiza? Sunnery: The garden terrace outside, it’s just something else. You can hang out and you can talk to someone who didn’t even go inside to the party! People are doing business there. I mean, the whole club is amazing – they thought about everything. In Ibiza now, there’s no other club you’d rather be in. Ryan: The garden is amazing with all the teepees but of course… there’s a DJ BOOTH IN THE TOILET! And it’s not like a little table, it’s a proper booth and people are in there hanging out. It’s nuts. Next year, we want to play in there once in the season. Play some ‘shit’ music! [Laughs]
How would you sum up your summer season in Ibiza? Sunnery: Our summer season was insane. It was one of the best summers of our career. We got a lot of exposure and a lot of recognition from this night, it was a big success for us. Armin was really happy too – he didn’t expect these kinds of numbers. Next year we’ve got to do it even bigger. We’d love to do more nights, extend our season. Ryan: [Joking] Next year, we’ll kick Armin out! Sunnery: I’m sad the season is over. It’s nice to have a little time off, but after a couple of weeks I feel like I’ve relaxed a little too much already and I want to go back already. The closing was one of our best nights. Ryan: When it started and we had 13 weeks ahead of us, it was like, OK, this is going to be a long summer. But it went by so fast. Really fast. The closing was really amazing – we had Afrojack come by to play with us and we had to kick him out of the booth! It was like yo! Hey! It’s our party… Martin Garrix also came by and he played house music like we do too. Sunnery: That’s quite an expensive line-up right there, haha!
What’s your personal favourite place to DJ in Ibiza? Sunnery: Obviously Hï Ibiza. From the very first moment we played there. How they built that club is amazing and the sound system is on point. For a DJ, there is absolutely nothing you could complain about! Ryan: And the people are also so cool. Everything is really taken care of, from the airport to your hotel to the after party. They take care of everyone around you too. Sunnery: And then I would say Ushuaïa, and Pacha. Ryan: We still have a nostalgic thing for Pacha because we really started out there with the Swedes and with Erick Morillo for Subliminal.
Teatro Pereyra has been known for its live music in Ibiza town for over 30 years.
Where would you go out for a dance yourselves? Sunnery: I would go to DC-10. Nobody cares there, it’s just music, a party, no bullshit and that’s it. You don’t have to think, you just enjoy the music. And if you want a little bit of VIP, go to Marco Carola, and hang out and be like, ‘I’m all that!’ [Laughs] Really though, it’s nice music there… Ryan: I just go to Teatro Pereyra in Ibiza town. I love that place – they always have great live music.
What’s your ultimate Ibiza track? Sunnery: Mine is a song by Erick Morillo and DJ DLG – Where Are You Now. I first heard this track in a podcast by Roger Sanchez and then during my first experience in Ibiza at Pacha, Erick played it and the whole club was just shaking! For me as a kid, it was like a magic moment. Ryan: Mine is Âme – Rej. Whenever I hear it, it’s Ibiza for me.
What do you do on the island when you want to escape? Ryan: Just stay at home, maybe go to the supermarket and cook, enjoy the weather. Or go to a quiet beach. I like going to Figueretes in between Playa d’en Bossa and Ibiza town, it’s really quiet there. Whenever you go to a beach club, you always run into someone and it’s like, let’s have a hierbas! Then two, then three… Sunnery: That’s the thing – one drink, doesn’t exist.
Can you share your best Ibiza memory? Sunnery: [to Ryan] It’s got to be the dc10 night right? It has to be, we always talk about it. Ryan: Yeah – it’s funny, we were flying in, back when we were first starting out in 2007, with our manager and some other artists. We were with Benny Rodriguez and Afrojack – he wasn’t was the big ‘Afrojack’ then. They told us we needed to go to DC-10, and we were like DC-who? We only knew Pacha, Amnesia and Privilege. So landed, changed our clothes and went straight there and it was sick! The energy in there. I mean, it’s the ugliest place, but the energy was amazing. Sunnery: And I got kicked out! We had loads of toilet paper and were making strings around the club. Ryan: All the people around us were like, wooooo! Sunnery: But the security didn’t like it. Two came in front of me and said: “Out.” There was only 45 minutes left so went out and then I paid 80€ to get in again. They gave me another chance. It was one of the best nights.
What do you think makes Ibiza so special? Sunnery: It connects people from around the world, music wise. But it’s a party island where you can also chill, you don’t have to be around music all the time, you can be on a quiet beach place somewhere and just have a barbeque… Ryan: When people come here, they really have to look for that. Don’t just go to all the places everyone tells you about – they’re the really expensive really nice spots, but go and find the adventure yourself. Two days ago, I went to Hostal La Torre – wow. The view of the sea and the sunset is so beautiful. I hadn’t ever heard about it. We’re still always discovering things.
The beautiful sunset hideaway of Hostal La Torre in Cap Negret.