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MIKAELA: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

We check out Mikaela & Friends, one of the island's more intimate nights that still boasts a cutting-edge soundtrack...

 

New nights come and go all the time in Ibiza. Only a few of them, however, manage to leave a lasting impression. One such party that’s definitely making the right sort of noises is Mikaela’s Love The Underground session. Set in Destino’s Tox club, it’s an intimate gathering of musical minds that’s notable for its cutting-edge soundtrack and its propensity for pushing the unexpected. 

If you don’t know Mikaela, then maybe a bit of background is necessary first. A native of Russia, she was bitten by the electronic music bug a few years ago in Ibiza, where the likes of Loco Dice and the music policy at DC10 left a distinct impression on her tastes.

From here, she immersed herself in house and techno culture, becoming a DJ, then a label owner and more recently, a producer. Her label showcases, simply entitled Mikaela & Friends, see her draw on some of the scene’s most prominent and talented names, as she shares the stage alongside some of her musical heroes.

The 2015 season has already seen Mikaela spin tunes alongside the likes of Nicole Moudaber and Tania Vulcano for her Off Sonar showcase in Barcelona, while Shlomi Aber, Shaded and Kenny Larkin are just some of the DJs who’ve dropped by Tox already this summer.

For an up-and-coming night like Mikaela’s, Tox is a truly fitting choice of venue. Classy but not pretentious and smart but also welcoming, it’s without doubt one of Ibiza’s best smaller venues — and something of a hidden gem on an island that’s not exactly renowned for intimate, smaller capacity clubs.

Pacha’s Destino Hotel is a beautiful backdrop too, with its impressive pool area and its stunning views of Talamanca beach the perfect place to sink a few pre-party drinks. The courteous and hospitable bar people are worthy of note, but it’s the venue’s acoustics that really give the club that extra something. The antithesis to the calm, serene surroundings outside, the soundsystem is crisp but loud — and the perfect way to take in Ellie Petterson’s opening set.

Playing off Traktor, the fledgling Love The Underground label member keeps things at a fairly consistent pace throughout, calling on numerous uptempo cuts from tech-house titan Miguel Bastida, amongst others. As the dancefloor swells, so too does the night’s intensity, and as Mikaela takes over around 1.30am the place is heaving with an eclectic array of guests.

In one corner there’s the yacht owners and the hotel guests, clad head-to-toe in the sort of attire that’s seemingly customary for any self-respecting millionaire in Ibiza. Then there’s the younger crowd and the workers, who might not dress as sharply but are certainly making their presence felt.

The one thing they all share is that they’re here to let their hair down and unwind a bit, and although it’s an unlikely meeting of people, it’s also one that seems to evoke the positive energy of electronic music and the accepting nature of Ibiza in the process.

As Mikaela’s set gathers momentum, we’re momentarily lost in the musical moment ourselves, and although her strict ‘no vocals’ policy is a somewhat unusual move for a DJ, it actually makes perfect sense at a party and a venue that sticks out from the pack for its stripped-back and raw vibes.

Although her time behind the decks is light on renowned tunes, it’s a shrewd exercise in restraint, and the manner by which she leaves the dancefloor yearning for more tells us that she’s already more than adept at juggling the Tox crowd.

In that essence, she quite exceptionally set the wheels in motion for tonight’s international guest, Marco Bailey. The Belgian — a regular at Carl Cox’s night over the years — takes the reigns around the 4am mark and immediately pushes the night into a more techno-focused domain. Much like Mikaela’s set, Bailey calls on a series of darker, more obscure cuts, all of which seem to work a treat. 

As Bailey’s set winds down to an inevitable conclusion, we notice that the crowd has trickled out slightly, with the 7am end time seemingly too much for some. What we’re left with is a dedicated and hardy bunch of revellers, all of whom seem intent on capturing the underground ethos that Mikaela and co are so keen to promote.

If you’re looking for a genuine Ibiza experience that’s a world away from the occasionally more commercial aspects of the bigger clubs, Mikaela’s sessions are sure to be just the ticket this summer.

 

Words: Stephen Flynn

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