BBC Radio 1 DJ Arielle Free has stepped up to the main stage this summer with her first ever island residency at David Guetta’s Future Rave night at Hï Ibiza. From interviewing Judge Jules in the toilet of Eden to commandeering a private jet to fly competition winners to the White Isle for 24 hours, Arielle knows a bit about Ibiza nightlife.
DJ Mag Ibiza meets her to find out how her debut residency in Ibiza has been so far
What's your normal week like in terms of getting prepared for Ibiza, how does it work for you?
“It depends. I booked a lot of my flights really early when I first found out I was offered the residency, which was almost back in February. I got most things fixed up pretty quickly — hotels and flights. I mostly fly in first thing on Friday morning, so I can have a day for prep — go through everything, go through any tracks that I’ve been sent that week — because I am sent a lot with the radio show. Generally, as I have got an early flight back the next day (I usually have gigs on the Saturday) I don’t hang around too long, just long enough to say hello to a few people and see what some of the other DJs are playing. I try to be well behaved but once I get to the island I'm like, ‘Oh, I want to see that person and see this person and see what they’re playing’. I do try and see as much as I can, but am also aware that I am getting up really early in the morning to catch a flight back.”
It sounds like you’re managing to fit in a lot of things in that short space of time?
“I'm someone who likes to soak things up. I want to see what Idris is playing and what his audience is vibing to. I want to see what Morton is playing, David Guetta, how he is playing and how that differs from his set at F*** Me I’m Famous and his festival sets, which I've seen. I've never had the pleasure of seeing Vintage Culture live before and to see how huge he has become. Luckily, I got the chance to hand over to him and I just stood there watching just to see what his sound is like, what the people vibe on, why he is so celebrated now. For me, it's almost a massive learning curve. Yeah, I want to make the most of it.
“I've never had a residency in Ibiza before. Certainly, I haven't had one in a room that can fit up to 6,000 people, which fills up within like five minutes. I'm just trying to soak it all in. Like, I feel really fortunate that my first residency is in a place on that scale. Hï is such a huge club, obviously, and it has just been voted the No.1 club in the world as well, which is pretty incredible.”
You mentioned that this is your first residency in Ibiza, how does that feel?
“It’s mad and magical, yeah. It's equal parts magical and mental, because it's just a huge club. What I love about it… many years ago I was a dancer and I performed in theatres, and what I like about it is that Hï has this theatre sort of set up. There's something that's like, I don't know, kind of nostalgic for me. I remember performing in a space like that at that time, dancing around on my toes. Although I still very much dance around behind the booth and enjoy getting other people dancing on their toes, I have to say that I am just fortunate to play in a room with that many people week in and week out.
“The first week I was very aware of the crowd and very conscious, it must have been nerves noticing everybody staring at me — that took a lot of getting used to. Now I’m comfortable with it, by week three, four, five, six and the last week just gone, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is great, the most incredible job in the world’. Yeah, it’s just magical and mental.”
Future Rave is currently one of the biggest nights on the island, how did you get your residency there?
“Last year, when there were still restrictions in place, Ushuaïa were doing a thing called Palmarama, and it was tables only. At that point you could dance at your tables, but you weren't allowed to mix and whatnot. It was their way of trying to open up in some capacity. I was invited out to play for David — it was me, Riton and him. Riton was running a bit late and I played for about two-and-a-half hours, and my set went really well. I was only meant to play for an hour-and-a-half I think. And honestly, for this I will forever be grateful to the Ushuaïa family, the staff fed back to the booker on how they loved my set and how good I was, and they told me that I had really impressed the staff and that they would like to book me. Word got back to David, and here we are.”
What advice do you have for other up and coming DJs to land a slot like this?
“I really wish I knew the answer to that. I think it's just being in the right place at the right time, or just constantly playing to the best of your ability. Hustle — I think just taking those opportunities that are given to you. And you do have to do that thing, say hello and thank you to everyone you speak to. You really do have to make the most of the opportunities that you are given, regardless of if you are playing to 50 people or 6,000 people, and going out of your way to say how much fun you had. You've got to really stand out by giving the most of your time and seizing the big opportunities that you find yourself in.”
How have the nights been going?
“It is a brand-new night on the island, we are there for 18 weeks every Friday. Friday night in Ibiza is a really busy night on the island, you’ve got Marco Carola’s Music On, Trick at DC-10, Amnesia also — we’ve been fortunate as to how good the crowds have been.”
What are your favourite nights on the island?
"If you ask me what is one of my favourite nights in Ibiza, I have to say Glitterbox at Hï. It has to be one of the most amazing nights on the island — the detail that goes into it, nothing beats it for me. There's the mix of the disco and the classics, and also you get the harder stuff in the second room — and the dancers and the spectacle. It’s such a visual experience as well as a sonic experience. I love it. I mean, not just because of the production levels — visually it blows my mind. They change it every week. This is what blows my mind, the fact that they change the production every week. Every week they’ve added something to the visuals, they do something different that is just going to make it pop even more. It's just a huge production. I'm impressed by it all. I mean, I know I do sound like I'm shouting up Hï, but they blow my mind every time with the production — and not just at Glitterbox, at the other nights as well. They really put so much into it.”
What would be the perfect weekend in Ibiza for you?
“Okay. We're landing. I don’t know, say Thursday, shall we say I dive straight into the club? What happened Thursday? I mean, you’ve done Tale of Us, which is huge and an experience like no other. Then it is Friday morning, you want to get up, get out to the beach, go for a nice swim in that gorgeous ocean. Soak up all the energy. Get ready, maybe treat yourself to a nice dinner or something like that late Friday evening.
“I've recently discovered Terra Masia, which is like a farm to table experience — just beautiful. I’m a big fan of actually just doing the classic Cafe Mambo sunset, and dinner and drinks. Afterwards, then you’ve got to get yourself down to Future Rave, obviously. If you've got time before maybe pop into Calvin Harris at Ushuaïa, because it's such a huge show and the production levels blow my mind.
“Then on Saturday you’ll be a wee bit hungover, so feel like you just need to have a pool day. Get yourself some jamon flavoured Raffles, and some Fanta lemon and lots of fizzy water, agua con gas, then dive into Ants late in the afternoon when it's not too hot, and get yourself dancing. If you do have some energy, you can always pop into Black Coffee if you wanted. Then there’s the Sunday, you want to get yourself down to Bora Bora beach, and then you're going to go into Glitterbox because Glitterbox is the only way to wind up the Ibiza experience. When I say you need to have your energy for Glitterbox, you will need to have your energy because you'll go thinking, ‘I'm probably not going to make it because everyone's burst by the time they get to Sunday’. But no. There you are and you're alive, it is one of the most thriving, most wonderful sensational experiences on the island. And if you are still there on Monday night, maybe pop in to see Danny Howard at Amnesia.
"I mean, it's going to cost you a fortune, but if you can do, go down the street and grab yourself some discount tickets from the promotional teams — that will help. You've got to do the full Ibiza clubbing experience as much as you can, especially if it's your first time — you’ve got to dive right in. Oh, and if you do get a chance, you've obviously got to pop into Pike’s for a little cheeky cocktail, because Pike's cocktails are absolutely delicious."