Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Café Mambo has to be one of the most famous clubs in all Ibiza, and that is saying something. Known for being one of the ultimate places revellers go to watch the sun disappear over the horizon and for where the nocturnal naughtiness starts in earnest.
For the third year in a row the man charged with supplying hypnotic music at sunset is resident Matthew Charles. I caught up with him for more insights about the summer season ahead.
1) What makes Ibiza special for you? What are some of your fondest memories?
What makes Ibiza special for me kind of changes, as I get older. When I was younger it was 100% about the clubs, the bars and the DJs. We slept all day and went out all night. But as I get older I’m starting to appreciate the extremes this island has. You can go out any night you want and have an amazing time but you can just as easily chill on an amazing beach and eat great food. My fondest memories are spent with friends in the Pacha Funky room or live Essential Mix at Amnesia and nearly every sunset I see and I see a lot. There’s something really special about that ritual.
2) Can you remember your first trip and how you felt?
Yeah I can definitely remember it. It was 1994 and there was 3 of us on a Club 18-30 package holiday in EL Faro near the West End in San Antonio. We were pretty wet behind the ears, so on the first day the reps had kept all our money safe and we didn’t make it very far past San Antonio because we went straight to Café Mambo and so our Ibiza education began.
3) Do you think the island has changed?
I’m not a great one for claiming things were better back in the day, things change and you have to change with them. Some things have improved such as the San An – Ibiza road. That was a dangerous road which a lot of people died on so that is definitely for the better. Things perhaps aren’t a free as they once were. There’s more legislation in place with regards to music and parties but as the numbers have grown there’s some responsibility that has to be taken to make sure everybody is safely enjoying themselves. Ibiza may have changed for me but somebody is experiencing it for the first time today and that’s a special thing.
4) Tell us how the Mambo residency came about…
I’ve been a DJ for 20 years now and I always had ambitions to play at Café Mambo. I live in Dubai during the winters and one of Café Mambo's resident, Pete Gooding, was in Dubai for a gig and happened to mention he wasn’t going back as a full time resident that summer. I immediately got on the phone to Charlie Chester who is a friend of mine and asked him if he knew anybody at Café Mambo. Being Charlie he of course did and hooked up a meeting with Javier, the owner of Café Mambo. The problem was I was getting married in Dubai that week, so as my guests began arriving in Dubai, I popped into Ibiza for 24 hours to meet Javier. I got the job on the first meeting so I went home got married, then 4 weeks later packed my stuff and headed back to Ibiza for the summer.
5) Blimey! What does this residency mean to you then compared to other gigs?
Café Mambo is somewhere I’ve spent so many special times as a customer because I genuinely love the place, so to be resident DJ there now is beyond amazing. To be part of it’s massive musical history is something I’m immensely proud of. When people come up to tell you you’ve made their holiday that’s a pretty unique feeling and I would never have dreamed of I'd be here when we first got here in 1994!
6) How do you keep the creative stimulus alive every day?
My aim is to give people the best night of their lives, never mind just their holiday, but there’s various stages to a day or night at Café Mambo. I will start of with some daytime classics, a bit of old school hip hop, disco, soul and funk. Then nature dictates what I play, sound tracking the sunset at Café Mambo is a big responsibility and something I still get nervous about. I don’t think I’d say I’m a traditional Chill Out DJ, it sounds cheesy but I’ll play stuff that has that feeling of sunset, a sense of drama but with a relaxing feel. Then straight after sunset we have the pre party guests. This year my sets are Wednesday and Sunday, which is Guy Gerber’s WIsdom Of The Glove and Solomun’s +1. Both perfect for me musically so I set them up to shine and then take over after them. Late on in the night I dig the classics out.
7) Do you still get nervous? And does the sunset still excite you as much as ever?
Yeah I do get really nervous. I find sunset more nervous than DJIng to 15,000 people on a beach in Dubai. People come down expecting that spiritual moment and they’ve saved up all year to pay for their holiday so they deserve to be blown away. The fact that I do still find it special myself helps, I get as excited and in awe of the sunset as the customers do so that definitely helps me to set it on the right track.
8) Give us an insider’s view on the island, a secret tourists don’t know…
I’m not sure if it’s a secret as it’s always full of Spanish people but certainly worth seeking out by the tourists is a Tapas Bar called La Bodega to the left of the ramp into Dalt Vila. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is electric.
9) What else you looking forward to this summer?
I’m really excited to get my production career in full flow. Over the last couple of years I’ve been educating myself in music production and music theory. To take that next step as an international DJ you need to be producing. I’ll hopefully have some tracks I’m willing to share with the world by the end of the year.
10) Finally, what do you like to do away from music in your downtime?
When I’m at home in Dubai I’ll head to the snow park and snowboard or head to the beach with my wife and kids. Spending time with them in the winter is a big kick for me as I spend so long away from them in the summer.
*This interview was conducted in 2013 for The Ibiza Paper.
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Farah is a journalist, music producer, DJ and mentor. She has been at the forefront of the dance music industry for over a decade and loves to write about thought provoking musings from the underground world.