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Marching On: Syreeta & Andrea Oliva celebrate a decade of ANTS in Ibiza

ANTS has grown exponentially since its first event a decade ago, and the Ushuaïa Ibiza party is now regarded as consistently one of the best day parties on the island. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, DJ Mag Ibiza invited original resident Andrea Oliva and newcomer to the colony, SYREETA, to get together for a chat about all things ANTS for this landmark birthday

What memories do you have about your first visits to Ibiza?

SYREETA: “My first visit to Ibiza was before I even started DJing. A few years ago, there was about 15 of us. We were renting a massive villa in the north of the island, and we literally booked every club on the island. We did a club tour — DC-10, Amnesia, Ibiza Underground, we just went everywhere. It was amazing. It was like the best time ever. I used to love Cocoon on Mondays, it was probably one of my favourite parties at the time.”

Andrea: “My story is, I was already DJing, and I know it exactly because I always said to myself my first time in Ibiza has to be when I’m playing, and it was! I played Space on the Terrace, it was the after-party of the Carl Cox night, Wednesday morning. I started playing at 7am and it was rammed. That was 2004, crazy.”

S: “That was your debut — Space?! I love that. Well, Ibiza was the reason why I started DJing. I left this island, and I was like, ‘This island is crazy, I want to make people feel like how this DJ made me feel’. That was it. I went back and I started learning, and then my dream was to play here. This was the catalyst. Came here to party, wanted to DJ, and then came back many years later as a DJ.”

Can you remember that first time when you played ANTS?

A: “Yes, of course, as if it would have been yesterday. It was myself alone, no one was there, just my friends. It was early, 12:30, and I was feeling like the king of the world. You play in Ibiza, in the sunshine, and you play your favourite tunes. The whole party was designed to be like a workers’ party. It was in a small DJ booth where the light guys are. We had workers’ passes and they would get in for free — it was an after-party for workers, for people working on the island. It would open at noon, from 12 till 12. The first party was so rammed we had to open the big stage, very crazy experiences. It really hit the island.”

S: “It’s amazing. That’s exactly how I feel. For the opening party I played the first tune of the entire season. I mean, the Ushuaïa crowd is just so full of energy, and it’s like a connection that’s just unmatched on this island.”

Photo of the Ushuaïa Ibiza stage with red lights and the ANTS 10 celebratory logo

This season you’re celebrating 10 years of ANTS at Ushuaïa, how does that feel?

S: “It’s been a magical experience for me, because obviously I wanted to DJ. I have played for the parties that I’ve loved from the beginning, like ANTS, and with the most amazing line-ups, the most amazing vibe. Ushuaïa is like one of the most amazing clubs, it’s just mind blowing. Still now, today, I’m like, ’Is this really happening?’ I love it.”

A: Well, my answer is going to be long, because I’ve got 10 years. Yeah, it’s crazy. I played the very first season of the new Ushuaïa, and it was a party called Propaganda. At the same time, I also played for Cadenza, for Luciano. At one point, I had to make a decision. Back then you had brands like Cadenza who had a lot of DJs on the roster, and sometimes you play, sometimes another DJ does. I was like, ‘Do I want to do my own thing, or do I want to keep behind someone who takes all the decisions?’

“You want to explore, and you want to find yourself, your identity musically. Obviously, I was very happy for the opportunity Luciano gave me, but Yann [Pissenem, Ushuaïa Ibiza owner] was like, ‘I have an idea about the party, and I would love to do it with you as a resident’. He was like, ‘I have this thing in mind, and we are not going for big headliners, we’re going to build the brand. We’re going to build you as a DJ and ultimately the brand is going to help you. You are going to help the brand’.”

S: “I love that. I feel like that’s what’s happening with me right now. You’ve got Andrea and ANTS that are believing in me, and they’re helping me push and grow on the island as well. Growing as an artist with a party like ANTS, it’s just the best.”

A: “Yeah, also I think sometimes you have to make choices, and you don’t have to take the easy way. I could have stayed with Luciano and played with him, but I had the chance to experience so much more. Everybody told me back then, ‘You’re crazy, Andrea, you’re making a mistake’. And I was like, ‘No man, Ibiza is all about day parties’. Like, Ushuaïa is a day club. I saw all of Yann’s ideas and the stage and the production and so many things, and he really made me feel like a big part of it. Sometimes you just have to believe in something, and also represent it.”

Did you ever think, after the first season, that we’d be sat here talking about 10 years of ANTS?

A: “Obviously ANTS is taking place on a Saturday. Back then, no one wanted to play on the island on a Saturday, because DJs made their money outside of Ibiza on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Ibiza was good for every DJ to play Monday and midweek, because here, midweek on the island is like weekends elsewhere. Therefore, we had an easy path because no one did this kind of music on a Saturday. This is one thing which really helped, as did the diversity of the line-up.

“You come to an ANTS party and you’re not going to hear the same tech-house sound for 10 hours. You have people who play more melodic sets, people who play more epic, people who play more dub, more housey, more big room, it’s very diverse. This is why I think we knew from the start that if this is going into the direction it’s taking, it’s going to be here for a long time. Because 10 years on the island, which is a competitive island, is hard.”

Photo of SYREETA and Andrea Olivia laughing in a colourful wine bar

It’s been mentioned earlier that there is a certain kind of energy associated with ANTS...

A: “Well, if people want to make it, they need the energy like this one [points to SYREETA]. The brand needs DJs like this, with this kind of energy, people who love to connect. Whenever she plays, she’s here from way early before and is the one who leaves the last, really someone that cares.”

S: “I like to get a vibe and see what’s happening and feel the crowd and go into the crowd and party before my set, and be like, ‘Right, okay, I know what I have to do’. Then you go on the stage and then you do your thing. Afterwards, I go and party, I’m here to the end.”

A: “That’s the best thing. When you build a brand, which is not built around one single artist, the brand is going to live forever. You can bring in new talents and push them, and the brand is going to be there forever if you want. That’s the good thing about ANTS having people with the energy, and the team as well.”

How do you see the season evolving?

S: “It’s crazy. I mean, for the opening I played at half-five and it was absolutely jam-packed, which I didn’t expect, and the same the following weeks. I just think it’s going to continue this way with the energy and the excitement. I mean, the new generation is going to come, feel this same energy for the island, and it’s just going to keep going.”

A: “Yeah. Every season is the same, but different. The same maybe because of the set-up, but different because you meet new people. Ushuaïa, especially our party, always has a different look. I don’t know how the season in general on the island will be. You have to spend a week in Ibiza during summer, where else would you want to go if you’re into this kind of music?

“I’ve played maybe 200 times at Ushuaïa, but every time it’s special. Every time I feel... not nervous, but a little bit of excitement. I have the same feeling when I land on the island. It’s a beautiful island, it’s a beautiful piece of land in this universe.”

Black and white photo of the tenth anniversary ANTS sign against the sky

Andrea: “I have a very mean question for SYREETA: who is your favourite DJ at ANTS?”

S: “I hate you. That’s a good one. I think one of the first people I saw was Maya Jane Coles. That was like, of course, number one. That’s what did it for me. And who’ve you been most excited to see on the line-up?

A: “Back in the days we had, obviously, Joris, Nick, Maya, Cassy, Radio Slave: all a big part of ANTS — they used to play all the time. Maya is always amazing. A Radio Slave housey set back in the days — incredible. I don’t have a favourite one, I love everybody. When Solardo play, I love watching the guys going totally crazy. Joris plays very melodic. Everybody has a different energy.”

What’s been your favourite Ibiza season?

S: “One of my favourite seasons was before I DJed, I think, because you’re just experiencing the island from the other side. That first moment when you see the daylight coming, Amnesia Terrace, was probably one of my favourite moments. Just being in a club with the daylight coming through and you’re just like, ‘Where am I? What is this? What is going on?’ Those are crazy memories for me. And then now to experience it on the other side, it’s just like a whole different world.”

A: “I would pretty much confirm the same. Back in the days, DC-10 Terrace, Luciano playing all the Masters At Work dub mixes, like dub B-side mixes, while everything was minimal house. Villalobos, Josh Wink, DJs like Kerri Chandler, that was literally mind blowing. Every season is full of sound. Music lives in cycles — listening to all those different DJs, it’s insane. Every season gives you something, musically speaking.”

Want more? Read DJ Mag’s recent feature on how Everything But The Girl’s ‘Missing (Todd Terry Club Mix)’ became the ultimate club-pop crossover

Mick Wilson is DJ Mag’s tech editor and Ibiza editor. Follow him on Twitter @DJMagTech