Belgian techno supremo Amelie Lens has risen rapidly over the past few years, thanks in no small part to the community feel she has built around her renowned EXHALE parties, which she started in Hasselt in Belgium in the middle of the last decade.
Now she’s bringing EXHALE to Ibiza, to the celebrated DC-10, for Wednesday nights through August. DJ Mag Ibiza caught up with the Lenske label boss to talk about her White Isle experience, plans for her EXHALE nights, and supporting new and other established artists.
What were your first visits to Ibiza like? What’s your favourite memory of the island?
“In the summer of 2017 I visited the island for the first time with my agent (who is also a very close friend) and his family. My agent loves Ibiza, so he was the perfect person to show me around. We visited some clubs and I got to know the island and completely fell in love with it. My favourite memory was my first gig ever, Circoloco at DC-10. I played super-early, but people came early to support me for my Ibiza debut and the energy was amazing.”
So, your Ibiza experience is relatively new, how has that impacted you?
“I think Ibiza is an island that fits with every mood you have, whether you feel like going alone to a beach or going hiking, or maybe you want to go out to meet a lot of people. Whatever mood you are in, you can always find the perfect thing to do in Ibiza. I often hear that the island has changed a lot over the years, but I still think that Ibiza has a huge impact on the new generation. Even when the older generation says it’s not how it used to be anymore, but the energy is still magical. Like anywhere you go, it’s always what you make of it.”
Are you staying on the island for the season?
“Yes, I am living on the island for the first time this season, and it’s been extremely busy! It’s almost impossible to rent a car or even to get a reservation at a restaurant. Because I’m touring so much, when I’m home on the island, I don’t feel like going out that often. I’m just enjoying the positive energy, excitement, the sun and the beach! Like I said, I’ve learned the island can fit any mood you have.”
Ibiza has always championed the spirit of discovery, do you think DJs and records are still discovered here?
“For sure, it’s true that most DJs and records are discovered online these days, but I think a lot of people who visit Ibiza, especially the older generation and fellow DJs, might discover new sounds or artists while being there. This is another reason the island holds its own magic. A lot of people choose their holiday dates and then check out which parties are going on, versus the other way around. This pushes you to discover or go to an event/set you wouldn’t normally see.”
What do you think needs to be done to ensure that the scene addresses its diversity issues, especially here in Ibiza?
"I think the first thing everyone one has to do, no matter what profession you are in, is to be aware. Take time to reflect on how your life experience may differ to someone else’s, and why that is? The only way we will change ‘the scene’ is by first becoming aware and working to make changes within ourselves and the actions we take on a day to day basis, personally or professionally.”
What does it mean to you to be holding a residency at DC-10?
“It’s honestly something I am still grasping! I don’t think I will realise it is real until after our first event on 3rd August. It means a lot that the DC-10 crew put their trust in me and EXHALE. We feel it’s an honour — and in some way a challenge — to bring a techno party to DC-10. A challenge we are really ready for. Techno isn’t only played in warehouse raves. It’s grown to reach a wider audience. This residency represents that!”
Tell us about the concept behind your night?
“EXHALE is really based upon the idea that we are one community, no matter if you’re in the DJ booth or on the dancefloor. In August we are working on some ‘community meet ups’ — more details about this will be shared soon.
“We want to bring people together! Not just at the event, but even the days before or after. It is a ‘destination island’, so it’s a great opportunity for our EXHALE community to spend some more time together. Of course, we also hope everyone arrives early and stays late to get the full experience. Every Wednesday we will have the main room and terrace open. I am personally really excited to hear what the artists bring to the table. For example, Farrago will be playing a ‘groovy set’ on the terrace on 24th August. This is something I am really looking forward to.”
How important was it to include a wide range of influences in your programming for EXHALE?
“I loved programming the line-ups. They aren’t just colleagues or friends, they are artists I truly admire. It’s true — it’s a wide range of artists, and when I was programming I realised how big the EXHALE family has grown.
“Some of these acts I listened to before I was DJing professionally, some acts I literally found during lockdown when I had tons of time to discover new music online, and some are my fellow Belgians that I am so proud of for pursuing their dreams. So, it was important to make sure all these different pieces of the EXHALE community were represented in Ibiza. It’s a big moment for us all.”
Do you feel that the programming brings to Ibiza something that it’s perhaps been missing?
“Yes and no. Who is to say what is ‘missing’? Music should be subjective! But yes (laughs) from my point of view and from what I love, I definitely think EXHALE will bring a sound that is missing. Techno can be happy too, come to EXHALE to find out.”
Tell us a bit about the music we can expect from you?
“In the last few years I’ve always played special sets in Ibiza. During the whole year I worked on my ‘Ibiza folder’ where I added new tracks every week; high energy but always groovy, nothing too dark or distorted. But I feel that this year the crowd is ready for anything, and I’ve played tracks that I would not have played in recent years.”
What are your Ibiza essentials, the things you have to do while on the island?
“Go hiking, visit beaches and enjoy the beautiful nature of Ibiza.”
Do you hold an Ibiza secret?
“I don’t, and if I did, I would not share it (laughs)”
Where’s your favourite place to go in Ibiza when you are not in the club?
“My new home on the island.”
Do you think that you will ever get bored of the magic of Ibiza?
“Never, the beauty of nature keeps surprising me every time.”
What has been your standout Ibiza moment so far?
“This summer when I went to DC-10 to take some pictures to promote our event, and realised I’m hosting EXHALE!”
And your favourite Ibiza DJ set?
“Sven Väth at Circoloco earlier this summer. I was feeling a bit lost musically right before summer, because of how fast the sound changed during Covid. BPMs went up and everyone (including me) in techno started to play harder and faster. Meanwhile, I also realised in some places that I was not sure what to play anymore. I celebrated my birthday at Circoloco, and Sven Väth was playing. It was not very hard or fast but full of energy, and this set really inspired me a lot.”