I’m originally from a town called Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire. I started my working life as a photographer, and I moved to London in my early twenties. I’d always been a huge music collector – since I was around nine years old. My older sister was really into her music and she got me buying records and going to gigs really early – I saw Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols – you name it. Anyway, I bought an apartment in London and the day I moved in my life tur ned upside down. I was burgled – everything was taken. My camera, my photography kit, the works. The only thing they left was my record collection – too heavy to shift I imagine. Of course I still hadn’t sorted out insurance so I was pretty fucked. That night, a friend who’d just opened a bar asked if I could DJ. He knew I had some great music. I said yes, and that was that really.
I moved to Ibiza in the late 80s. I’d been once before on holiday with my mum, and as soon as she was in bed I’d be out the door and down to the port, discovering the island on my own. I even played a couple of times down there. I knew straight away that I needed to come back. Eventually I made the move from the UK in a hippie bus with two friends. We packed the bus with music and my sound system, and drove through France and Spain. When we arrived in Ibiza my friends and I drifted apart; we parted company. I was utterly broke at this point, with nowhere to live and no food. I’d go to a café and wait until someone left a bun or some bread on the table – then I’d grab it. It wasn’t a great time for me, and certainly Ibiza didn’t feel easy then. On top of that, my friends had disappeared and I thought they’d left with my music and sound system.
I hit rock bottom one day hitching a ride near Salinas. A car came too close and knocked me off the road. I fell deep into a ditch – maybe 10 feet down – and it was full of glass and rocks. I was knocked out and badly cut. When I managed to get back onto the road, the first car driving by was a local guy named Nito – he stopped immediately and picked me up. Nito was the owner of Sa Trinxa, and he brought me down here to the bar, where he cooked me food as I cleaned my wounds in the sea. He also told me that he knew where my gear was – my friends had left it for me at a house near Salinas! That night I slept on the beach and I felt hopeful again.
The next day, Nito’s Spanish DJ didn’t show up. Nito told me to go get my records and get back as soon as I could. The DJ booth was just a wooden shack then, and I had to wire my system in myself. As I played my records and looked out over the sea, I knew I was home. That summer was incredible – the word on the street was that there was a new DJ at Sa Trinxa, so people would come by to hear some music. There were Dutch, Germans, English and Spanish. Spain had been in the shadow of General Franco for so long that a lot of young people still hadn’t heard some of the bands that were huge. I played Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, and got the same reaction I’d have got playing it in the UK 15 years before. It was new, it was magical, and it felt like it was written for that moment in time.
Back in the UK I’d always played really diverse records – hip hop, classical, African music and a lot of Penguin Café Orchestra. I played really eclectic music back then, much the same as now. Some hip-hop, some African stuff, some really deep, slow stuff. My sound was Balearic before I even knew what Balearic was, and it worked perfectly at Sa Trinxa. The beauty of the booth here is that it looks out over the beach. The DJ isn’t the main event; there are no crowds facing me. In this way, I’ve spent the last 20-odd years watching people, instead of the other way round.
Some of the things I’ve seen are just wonderful – from back in the old days when everyone would dance naked, to a decade ago when Manumission used to bring their boat ashore here. I’ll never forget the time their boat anchored just off shore, and Claire and Mike started heading to the beach in this huge duck-shaped pedalo. Behind them was a stream of mini duck pedalos, each pedalled by a Manumission girl. The mummy duck and the ducklings! Those days were magic – truly something from another world. I played for Manumission a lot, and they became great friends of mine.
That’s the thing I think I love most about Ibiza. It changes constantly yet the soul remains. People are always saying Ibiza is over – the hippies said it, the clubbers said it, and now we have a lot of luxury tourism here. But Ibiza has an incredible capacity to absorb whomever and whatever arrives. I think it’s amazing that one small island has found a way to cater to all these diverse tastes.