Craig David’s TS5 at Ibiza Rocks is the epitome of the daytime pool party phenomenon that has taken Ibiza by storm in recent years,.
Game-changer has become one of those abused and overused terms, but in the context of Craig David’s Ibiza Rocks Pool Parties the game was changed in every way – Where there was dark, now there is light. Where there were moody blokes with guitars, now there is swagger and a mic.
He’s back for more, with an extended 12 week run from July 10th and in our exclusive interview with the Flava-Changer, we find out why he likes it intimate, how many people can fit in his front room, and why he’s dreaming about chicken wraps.
- I was at the opening party for TS5 last year and I was just struck by the adoration that you were getting from the crowd. What does it actually feel like to be on that stage surrounded by all that adoration?
CD: Do you know what, there’s never a day that, that feeling when people are singing the words back to certain songs and you know that they’re not just singing it out to me; those songs mean something to them, they’re timestamps in their life and they remember that song and they remember that moment with the friend they are next to or friends they were with. And I never take it for granted; weirdly enough it feels like the first time, every time. Like when I walk on stage and you’re just like, who would have known that this kid who was making these songs would have this response so many years later and that they would mean so much to people. So for me, that’s why every time I jump on stage I’m really like a little kid, like, in a toy shop, just like, wow this is amazing, and I’ve actually got some songs that I can actually play that people know, it’s wicked.
- That does come across actually as well when I’m watching your performance, you can just tell that you’re really enjoying it and loving it as much as they are.
CD: Because, I think it’s really also, that people that have spent their hard earned money to come on holiday and they may have made Ibiza Rocks part of that package or part of their holiday, so this is a big deal for people. It’s not like, oh I’ve just come out, we can keep coming to Ibiza all the time, it would be like, I’m here for a week, that’s my summer holiday. So when you know that it means so much to people in terms of their life and what they’ve worked hard for, you want to make sure that when they go home they’re like, I had the best time ever and we just enjoyed our summer holiday in Ibiza.
- This is the third year that you’ve been at Ibiza Rocks and you’re doing 12 weeks this year, so even more weeks than before. When you started with TS5 did you ever have any inclination that it would become so big and popular?
CD: I hoped that it would have the same feeling that people had when they used to come to my house party in Miami. That’s where I originally started off, and to see how that grew from a few friends having a few drinks, playing some tunes, to it being my home packed out with about 100 people, which would be a lot of people in my living room, I never thought I’d see that many people in my room, and then no one wanted to leave, and everyone was like why do we want to go to a club now, because the tunes are feeling good, we’ve got drinks on tap, the vibe is nice, the ambience was correct. I always feel like that host that wants people to have the best time ever, that’s something that I feel inherently is what I’m about. So to be asked to do 12 weeks this time, for me it’s just like, I feel there’s something very intimate, about the way that, I was very vocal about having a booth that was circular and low and be in the crowd. You get those elevated stages that are too far back and everyone feels like, you see that too predominantly in a lot of EDM set ups where there’s a big light show and you’re miles away. Whereas this summer I wanted you to feel almost like you’re at the stage height with me and you can be on the same level and we can maintain that. We’ve changed it a little bit this year and moved it to the pool, which I think is like, we’ve got a pool here, if we don’t treat it like a pool party and have the pool and part of this booth now closer to the pool people will always not know, should I be in the pool, should I be out, whereas now I actually come out and actually play to the pool and I can play to the crowd as well.
- And you’ve taken the party to other places as well now haven’t you? Where else are you doing it?
CD: Well yeah, we get some really amazing bookings. We’ve been out to Dubai doing TS5 parties, we did TS5 as a segment in part of my Glastonbury set that I did last year. It’s amazing to think that there’s nearly 100,000 people going crazy, to something again that started off with 10 people in my home; that’s always what I go back to. And it’s the little things, like, they call this, the home of the pool party and on my little flyers that I used to give to people when they left my home, I always had TS5 the home of the house party, and I just love how it’s developed into that because that’s just, Craig, this is crazy, we talked about doing things like this and now you’re doing a residency in Ibiza which is very unheard of with this style of music with DJing, MCing and singing and …
- I wanted to ask you actually about what you think about the phenomenon of the pool party because it’s a relatively new phenomenon. I was talking to Andy McKay yesterday from Ibiza Rocks and he was telling me how the market has changed now and what the 20-somethings want, they want pool parties, they don’t want to be in a dark room listening to a band any more or a performance. They want a pool party during the day.
CD: Yeah, I think that they saw that from the first year when they had a stage setup which was more for bands and more night performances which played their part and they had some huge acts coming into perform, but I think people like, listen, the sun is blazing, I want to be, I came here to, I’ve been working hard, with my little 6 pack, I’ve worked out, I want to wear my bikini, do the whole thing, and they want to come and enjoy this moment when the sun is shining and hear good music.
I just think that all we’ve done is just elevated what a pool party really is, because even a lot of pool parties I’ve been to, you can hear music but people are quite isolated, I’m at my table, we’re having drinks, we’re doing other things, and there could be whoever playing, but we’re not engaged. Whereas I feel like this party, because again, the round booth in the middle of the venue and low makes people engaged, that there’s a performance going on here, and I love that. I just know, I’ve been to all the places on the island, it’s just different, and now it’s like wow we’ve got something very special here at Ibiza Rocks, and I’m happy for Andy, because he trusted me enough to kind of be like, well what shall we do this year, and I was like, OK, well lets move that across, lets make it so people still feel the intimacy of the performance.
- Which brings me nicely into my next question. Are there any changes this year or any surprises for us?
CD: I mean, every time like a year goes by, there’s more songs that I’ve released, so therefore the song I Know You with Bastille, I can now perform, and there’s a whole new album I released called The Time Is Now, so I can do songs like Heartline which I have with Jonas Blue, so I can play new music in the mix which I like. But also I like the fact that there’s that fine line between playing those party classics that people kind of want to hear, the MCing stuff that I do over certain instrumentals, so I try and keep my set, it can move, I can finesse it but like people to feel I know what TS5 is about, I know what I’m going to get. But yeah, in terms of the décor they’ve put artificial grass down, the canopies are different and so the shading is different, but the main one was moving the whole DJ booth from one end to the other and kind of getting rid of any more higher stages. And we think we’ve cracked that, so this year it’s going to be great to see how the pool works with me being on that round circular stage and actually being able to play to the pool as well.
- So what else is lined up for you this summer?
CD: OK, so this is a biggie for me, because every summer now, it’s like I can’t wait, it’s one of the highlights for me. We just did the Biggest Weekend for Radio 1, which they did all over the place but we did the Swansea one, which was great. We’ve got some really good headlining festival stuff, so we’ve got SW4 over at Clapham Common coming up, we’ve got Rise Festival that used to be V Festival this year.
- Are the festival things TS5 or …?
CD: Yep. TS5 and then we’ve got band stuff that’s kind of like, there’s some racecourse stuff that’s going on, but I think the one we’re doing at Aintree is going to be a band/TS5.
TS5 has become very much part of the live show now, which is great. I love that something I used to do as a kid when I was growing up as a DJ and MC, and all those things that I kind of wanted to do when the first album went so crazy and I was more seen as an artist, I was singing, with an acoustic guitar and a band, whereas now I’m bringing the DJ thing back again, and people are like, oh man how did you even think of putting this together, and I’m like, this is what I used to do when I made mix tapes, so it’s come full circle.
- And you’re doing the Capital Radio show at Wembley Stadium aren’t you?
CD: Yeah, Summertime Ball.
- What’s the difference in playing a venue like Wembley stadium or playing an intimate venue like Ibiza Rocks, what’s the difference, how does it feel, do they feel different or is just a different experience?
CD: Different experience. I love the intimacy of these kind of shows. Even playing the Summertime Ball, as epic and amazing as it is, I still try to look at the closest people who are around me because I want to see people’s faces, I want to see their eyes, I want to see what’s happening, because once you start to look out it becomes a sea of people, and the magnitude is great, it’s great for photos when you look back and for video footage and you go wow that’s amazing, but to be on stage, I want to see that person who’s smiling up like crazy, which I get from here. So I do that for all of my shows so however big they get, it’s always, when we did O2 arena, it was like epic but I still like to stay with the people I can see.
- Are you hoping to get a bit of time out when you’re in Ibiza to do a bit of exploring and see the island?
CD: I’d love to. I’d love to get more time to go to other shows, to Ushuaia or Pacha or Blue Marlin, just to get a feel for what other people are doing, because I think I’m always learning when I’m away, do you know what I mean?
If I hear a DJ play something and think wow I love the way he edited that song, it must be only his because I can’t find it. Then there’s great food here as well, and there’s the most amazing chef here at Ibiza Rocks, which is actually one of my highlights, she makes the most incredible pita bread, chicken wraps.
- Oh, the Chicken Pita’s, yeah they are good aren’t they?
CD: Yeah, I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s the mayonnaise that she puts in or what, but it’s unbelievable. And it’s crazy to think that of all the amazing places there are on the island to go to, I’m thinking about a chicken pita bread.
- Quite a lot of people do. What do you like most about Ibiza?
CD: There’s a real magic to the island. I know people say that for a lot of different reasons, but I can feel the spiritual, meditative side of it. The energy of the island when you step in you feel like something’s resonating and that you’re in the right place as a human being. And then there’s the other side of it, obviously there’s the beautiful culture and the food and people, and there’s beautiful places; I’ve gone up to, what’s the name of the place now, the Hacienda Na Xamena up on the mountain. Just to look off that mountain, is just unbelievable. And then on the music side of things there’s just something about the culture and the people love music in so many different ways here and I think that the greatest thing over the last couple of years is that R&B and hip hop and more slightly alternative styles of house music and EDM are starting to really infiltrate in some way, so the mix up is great. But yes, I love coming here, it’s wicked.
- Well our time’s up, so thank you very much. Have a great party, It’s going to be great.
CD: Ahh, it’s really my pleasure, and thank you, I can’t wait.