THERE are plenty of misconceptions about just what DJs do and CamelPhat, in the midst of their summer residency at Ibiza’s Hï, are here to set the record straight. ‘Our job as DJs isn’t to stand there and wave our arms around,’ laughs Dave Whelan, one half of the duo with Mike Di Scala.
‘Funnily enough, we have a job to do. We find the music, break it and curate it. We sit there for hours opening mail and listening to as much music as we can. Don’t get me wrong, it can be tedious at times but it’s worth it when you find that rough-diamond track.’
The pair recently played at an incredibly plush villa in Ibiza for the Beats by Dr. Dre party, where they and Zane Lowe performed for some of the biggest names in the influencer world.
‘We’re terrible at Instagram,’ Mike laughs. ‘I think I’ve done about 30 posts on my account in four or five years! The CamelPhat one we use more, though.’
‘Social media is so important. A song can be a hit without even trying,’ Dave adds. ‘No sponsored posts or mainstream radio play, that’s what happened to us with Cola. That all came from other DJs playing it, videos posted online and people asking what it was. That’s when our name was being thrown about. It was the tip of the iceberg and it just went from there. All from some videos.’
Later that evening, they played a five-hour, back-to-back set with Manchester duo Solardo. It’s a test of stamina, says Dave, though not perhaps in the way you’d expect.
‘There’s a lot of time to get a drink, as we play three records each, so as you can imagine, it’s messy by the end. Come the final hour, it’s last man standing. You think you’re doing a great job, then the next day you see a video on social media and you’ve whacked on Club Tropicana. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!’ he exclaims.
The weekly residencies help keep the pair on their toes, as no two sets are the same. ‘It’s a different crowd every week, you have different nationalities,’ says Mike. ‘Sometimes you’ll have a load of English, sometimes it’ll be all Spanish.
‘We never play the same set twice, you just can’t. We can’t programme it — you have to go by the feel of the night and the reactions that the songs are getting. Their tastes are totally different. It depends who’s on before you, too.’
The duo have had chart success, with Cola in 2017, last year’s Breathe with Jem Cooke and their most recent single, Be Someone, with Jake Bugg, for whom they have nothing but praise. ‘Jake is just so normal and genuine — what you see is what you get. He’s so hard-working,’ Dave enthuses. ‘As for Jem, we’re actually going to be releasing a new song with her called Rabbit Hole, the follow-up to Breathe. We’re hoping for a September or October release but Be Someone is still hanging around!’
It’s a nice problem to have. If you’re new to CamelPhat, Dave recommends going back to their earlier releases. ‘Check out Constellations [from 2016]; it sums us up as a record. It opened the doors for us. It was originally called Ibiza because it couldn’t be more Balearic if it tried — it’s Ibiza in musical form.’
Despite their success, they still get nervous at times. ‘We still worry that we’re not interesting or important anymore,’ says Dave. ‘I worry that people aren’t going to care. That’s my drive to get back into the studio and make records.
‘Some of these younger artists have a little bit of success and that’s it, it’s all “#blessed” and getting ahead of themselves. There’s no guarantees, we just keep going.’
As they perform a DJ set in front of an infinity pool, with a mountain view and clear blue skies behind them, to some of the most in-demand people on the planet, it’s hard to imagine things ending for them anytime soon.
■ CamelPhat play Mayfield Depot, Manchester on October 25, Brixton Academy, London on Oct 26 and Bramley Moore Dock, Liverpool on November 16, facebook.com/camelphat