How Hollywood’s favourite music producer created three unforgettable Ibiza moments with a little help from Ibiza Unlocked

This little island is full of surprises: After-parties in hidden villas, Hollywood stars gurning on the DC10 dance floor, unannounced sets from superstar deejays in obscure bars, secret gigs by high-flying rockstars, they’re all here. If you know where to look. 

So often these are the real ‘Ibiza moments’, the memories that’ll keep you warm through the long winter months. Last summer the award-winning soundtracker of Hollywood blockbusters, multi-talented producer, composer and deejay David Holmes created three magical shows for those of us lucky enough to catch his ‘I Heard Wonders’ sets at Pikes Hotel and Hostal La Torre.

‘I Heard Wonders’  is an Ibiza Unlocked co-promotion as well as the name of one of David’s tracks. The IHW concept features music experienced in full Technicolor – The True Spirit of Ibiza – dance music from across the universe: Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Africa, Italy, Turkey, the West Indies, France, England, Germany and America!

‘I Heard wonders’ represents music with spirit, individuality and real emotion.’
It would take a small book to list all David’s musical contributions, from scoring Tinseltown blockbusters, being the producer who ‘changed Noel Gallagher’s musical life’ to creating a string of genre-busting tracks & remixes. It’s not bad for a guy who grew up the youngest of 10 in Belfast at the height of the Troubles.

To hear more from David about his music and projects as he speaks to Howard Boyle for the Ibiza Unlocked Podcast.

When David came to Ibiza we had no idea what sort of tunes he would bring. In some ways we still don’t know. Nothing could have prepared us for the sonic range of his playlists at Pikes and Hostal la Torre. Many of the tunes were totally unfamiliar to this writer. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.
Normally, in these circumstances, I’d cheat. Way back when I used to review rock gigs I’d sneak up to the front of the stage so I could grab a note of the gaffer-taped set-list. I could then retire back to the bar knowing I’d be able to file some apparently-knowledgeable copy through the fog of my hangover.
These days I’m a bit more high-tech. And sober. Shazam and Soundhound are my friends. It’s not just so I can wing it in reviews, but also because I genuinely want to discover the background to the tracks that had me, well, ‘dancing’ is perhaps too strong a word, moving in some approximation of the rhythm.
At Pikes that strategy didn’t work. The apps just kept coming up blank. Wondrous track after track flowed in musical Technicolor from the speakers. I wish I could say what they were. Then I could listen to them now. The vibe was stirring, uplifting and somehow cinematic, switching seamlessly between house, techno, funk, tech house and even hints of progressive house. The dancefloor was crushed to overflowing by the international crowd.

From Belfast to Balearia

One way to describe the breadth of David’s musical vision is ‘Balearic’. So, it was more than fitting that he was followed into the deejay booth by the godfather of the genre, Alfredo. His set was a more familiar collection of remixed classics that got the crowd rocking. Through countless sets the Argentinian, who embodies the spirit of Ibiza, has never let us down. The unforgettable night had been more than ably warmed up by Ryan O Gorman behind Freddie’s decks.

Actually, nobody needed much warming up. Before we moved inside to the dancefloor David had treated us to a dreamy poolside set from his vast repertoire of global music under the Balearic skies. In many ways this was the ideal time and place for the multi-award-winning movie soundtrack creator. Like the perfect film score his set subtly and unobtrusively set the tone for the party, drifting gently in and out of our consciousness.  

As day turned to night, he explained he’d brought together tunes to match the languorous early mood. The vibe he created was perfect. There are times you don’t want to be hit over the head by the music. Here, by the pool, was one of them.

By the following day, word of David’s appearance had spread through the island’s cognoscenti. The last of his three shows was the busiest Hostal la Torre had ever known according to its music boss Pete Gooding. From as far away as the USA and Russia they filled to bursting what is arguably the best place on the island to watch the sun go down.

None were disappointed as they watched and listened to David playing his first ever Ibiza sunset show. It was magical. His movielike playlist provided a flawless soundtrack for the dying embers of a warm Mediterranean day. In the end, few wanted to head off into their night’s reveries.

After all, who could want to miss any of this opportunity to be in the company of a genuine Hollywood musical megastar. Even on this special island such events are rare.

George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Danny DeVito, Steven Soderbergh and David

David’s been part of the Tinseltown aristocracy since 1998 when he was commissioned by Danny DeVito to score the George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez crime caper Out of Sight. The director was Steven Soderbergh and David has been his go-to music producer ever since, soundtracking movies such as, Oceans 11 and 13, Analyze That, The Girlfriend Experience and Logan Lucky. He’s collected Ivor Novello Awards for his work on the highly-acclaimed film ’71 and a further Ivor Novello for his score on the BBC series London Spy.

More recently he scored Sodebergh’s The Laundromat featuring an A-List cast including Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas. With American musician, composer and music producer Keith Ciancia he also created the music behind the first two seasons of the hit BBC and Netflix TV series Killing Eve for which they won the Original Music category at the BAFTA TV Craft Awards. They’re currently working on the score for the third season.  

 This year he co-produced & co-scored the film ‘Ordinary Love’ which is already seeing co-stars Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville being tipped for Oscar glory. He also has his own production company, Canderblicks Films, which released the BAFTA-nominated Good Vibrations, a comedy drama set in Belfast’s 1970’s punk scene.

Elsewhere, for Noel Gallagher he’s the producer who ‘changed my musical life’. He has remixed tracks by artists such as U2, Doves, Manic Street Preachers, Primal Scream, Page and Plant, Saint Etienne, Therapy? and Ice Cube.

It’s not just music for other people. He’s produced a string of albums featuring everything from house to ambient psychedelia. Many of the tracks from his first album This Film’s Crap, Let’s Slash the Seats were used by TV director Lynda La Plante for her series Supply & Demand. One track was used in the Michael Douglas and Sean Penn film, The Game.

The title tune of his 2008 album, The Holy Pictures, featured on the soundtrack of Pro Evolution Soccer 2010. Another track, ‘I Heard Wonders’ was used in the movie Cherrybomb and the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. It was a rare treat that he brought many of those same skills to Ibiza.

How Ibiza Unlocked put Holmes in the sun

Two days. Three gigs. What brought this award-laden producer out of the studio and into the deejay booths of Pikes and Hostal La Torre? In some ways it’s a typical tale of Ibiza Unlocked boss Howard Boyle, flexing his skills by being what the Spanish call ‘enchufado’ – literally ‘plugged in’ or, as we might say in English, ‘having the right connections’. 

Those connections were much in demand when Howard was brought in to act as ‘fixer’ for the full-length documentary, Ibiza: The Silent Movie. Its director, Julien Temple, recommended Howard to BBC and Observer chief film critic Mark Kermode. He was bringing his family for their first ever visit to the island and wanted recommendations. Howard took them under his wing for a memorable trip which culminated with an invitation to join Norman Cook, Fatboy Slim, for his raucous birthday party at Pikes.

The Kermodes obviously enjoyed themselves because within a few days Mark had emailed to say somebody he knew, David Holmes, was coming over to Ibiza. He’d like to have a quick chat over a beer. In the course of that conversation David asked if Howard could get him a couple of gigs on the island. 

Within a fortnight Pikes and Hostal La Torre were booked. And that’s how it all began. Did David enjoy himself? The answer, as they say in Hollywood, is in the box office. He’s working with Howard setting up a string of dates for summer 2020. Watch this space.