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Themba on the energy of Ibiza and his White Isle residency

Themba returns to the island at a new home, Chinois, bringing a distinctive house and techno sound to Ibiza

South African DJ and producer Themba has become an Ibiza fixture in recent years, beguiling crowds with his lush house and techno mixes. After performing a string of gigs in the last 12 months across the US, and in Switzerland, Greece, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and beyond, his new Ibiza party, Colours, is settling into the White Isle's freshest venue: Chinois. Themba sits down with DJ Mag Ibiza's Mick Wilson about the event’s ethos, his love of the island, and why the time for a fresh sound is now.

What were your first visits to Ibiza like?

“They were mind-blowing. The first time I came to the island was in 2011. I’d obviously always heard about Ibiza and knew that the biggest DJs play here, but I was never ready for the level at which things were happening. My first club experience here was at Pacha and I definitely didn’t go home the same person, because I saw a different side to how BIG being a DJ can go!”

What’s your favourite memory of the island?

“After coming to the island a few times and living here during the summer, I can safely say the lifestyle here is top tier and very conducive for a creative. I made my album ‘Modern Africa’ while living here, and the island is a big reason why I took the non-conventional route musically.”

What effect did the island have on you then?

“It’s grounded me on a spiritual and emotional level. You can’t ignore being affected by the energy of the island as soon as you land. Being African means I’m already in touch with my spiritual side, so it was interesting for the island to affect me the way it has. I fully understand why those that come here get captivated by it.”

How have you found the summer here in Ibiza so far?

“I’m so glad things are back to ‘normal’, and you can see how people are excited about it, too. The openings were insane and I couldn’t help but be grateful for normality. I toured during Covid, and I can tell you for free that if things had to stay the way they were during that time, it was going to gravely affect the mental health of anyone who loves the nightlife and dancing.”

A shot from behind the decks of Themba performing to a crowd by David Montes

"Now I have a home to express myself weekly and really step out of any comfort zones I might have”

Do you think that the island still holds that spirit of discovery?

“I think you have to come to the island a few times before you see that side of Ibiza. I was blown away when I discovered the non-clubbing side of it, and to be honest, the day-to-day lifestyle of Ibiza comes above the nightlife for me. If you’re a creative or spiritual being, Ibiza is high up on the list of the best places to live.”

Where do you see Ibiza placed in terms of the global dance music scene?

“Ibiza is the mecca of the dance scene. It heavily influences the rest of the world. I don’t know any DJ that doesn’t dream of playing on the island, and not many get to. And as you’ve seen, the No.1 club in the world is now in Ibiza, which is telling of the power and influence of the island.”

Do you think that DJs and records are still discovered here?

“Definitely. In fact, Ibiza is a year ahead, I would say. People that come here love music, which is more important than loving to party. That makes DJs more comfortable to try new sounds and experiment more — and if it works here, you see it start to gradually roll out across the world.”

Would you say that it is difficult for someone new to come to the island and make their mark?

“Look, at the end of the day, it’s all business to anyone who makes a living off the island. Unfortunately, that comes from a place of fear and a place of wanting to control the market. Luckily, the music is uncontrollable, which is great for everyone else because no one can dictate who’s hot/relevant or not. From what I see, artists are levelling up their own game and thus deserving a seat at the table, which is great for the entire scene.”

Themba smiling while performing shot by David Montes

Chinois is set to become one of Ibiza’s new hotspots. What does it mean to you to be playing/holding your new residency here?

“It’s been a childhood dream of mine to play in the biggest and best clubs and cities around the world, and an Ibiza residency for any DJ is a big deal. Firstly, it shows me that the energy I’ve been putting into my music and sets on the island and globally is recognised, and now I have a home to express myself weekly and really step out of any comfort zones I might have.”

Tell us about the concept behind your new residency at Chinois?

“The name of the party is Colours. The entire world just came out of a pandemic, and there are lots of different social and mental issues globally, so it’s time for perspective and gratitude, and Colours represents our diversity as humans and the emotions we all feel and express.”

What were the main challenges in getting the concept off the ground in the new venue?

“I’m a perfectionist, so getting the imagining and the look and feel to a place where the team and I were proud was intense. The club is new, so part and parcel of promoting Colours was also to make people aware of the new space. You also don’t realise how much work goes into a well-oiled machine of a clubnight until it’s yours, so I have a new-found respect for my peers on the island.”

Mick Wilson is DJ Mag's Ibiza editor and tech editor

Want more? Check out Themba's On Cue mix and interview here