Ibiza 2014 – Trace Smartie Partie Harris

Hear the drummer get wicked! The Cala de Benirrás percussion king

Interview by Dan Prince

Trace a massive welcome to DMCWORLD. I have been going to your parties for nearly 20 years now. You were The Ministry of Sound’s percussionist, took Smartie Partie to Turnmills and when that closed took the party around the world. How did you end up in Ibiza?

“I ended up in Ibiza to search for a peaceful balanced life after 20 years of doing parties around the world, which although sounds like a glamorous lifestyle, is also very stressful and can be quite lonely (because you don’t know who your true friends are). I moved  to Ibiza searching for a new beginning with a new partner which went wrong (I’d split with my amazing SP partner and girlfriend Claire for personal reasons)…we are however best friends now which is quite special and Smartie Partie still survives. These days though it’s downscaled and is entirely intentional, Ibiza is an extreme place and I’m not here for the clubs, I’m here to learn to be a better human being. I’m getting there with the being a better man bit, but peace, balance and harmony is still what I’m searching for. It will come and Ibiza will give it to me, providing I stay focused.”

You posted a very honest, heartfelt post on Facebook last month. It began with you explaining you once had a £500,000 home, a Ferrari, a Mercedes, a Harley Davidson, a Ducati and more money than you needed. You lost everything when a so called friend and business partner conned you out of £400,000…debts that you had to repay. You now live in Ibiza and lead as you say “a simple, uncomplicated life”. Has the island brought you peace?

“Great question Dan. I received hundreds of comments over that post, mostly encouraging but some critical. One guy ripped into me saying it’s ok for rich guys like you saying you are tired of the money. God and I politely explained I’m far from rich, I’m 50 years old and I lost everything except a small amount of money I came to Ibiza with. I’ve experienced total financial ruin before and this time it took me many years to fix and it took it’s toll…hence I’ve no desire to ever chase big money again (despite always being offered olive branch deals etc.), all I want now is what I need…NOT what I think I want. I came here because I was at a crossroad in my life, I’ve been promoting at a high level for over 18 years and as explained, I appeared to have everything I needed in life. This however was not really the case, my first year was probably the loneliest year of my life because I came here with a shared dream and nothing worked out, I tried to chase the Pound again which was the exact opposite of why I came here. I was also going through a personal relationship that imploded as soon as me and my now ex set foot in Ibiza, not one thing we planned happened and that was both of our faults. I was angry for a while as I felt let down, but anger achieves nothing. I’m letting go of that dream with that person, however…I still want that dream, which I’ve pointed out in the earlier question and I feel a light heading my way. They say Ibiza is a spiritual island, it’s true but only if you are a spiritual person and not bluffing it.” 

Lovely words Trace. For our overseas readers who have never been, can you please explain the magic of the drummers down at Benirras on a Sunday…

Benirras has been my salvation, my healing and my church. Whenever I feel lonely or sad I DRUM and it always brings me back to simply being ME and grounded. It’s a very special place to play, I’ve played in front of 25,000 in a thousand clubs, sometimes for crazy money and I loved those years. Yet this is different. There are no egos at Benirras and when all the drummers play as one it’s musical Nirvana. It’s beautiful, sometimes the Sundays are too hectic and often the musicians divide and the loop falls away (musical harmony), but it’s still amazing when we connect. I go mostly Fridays now, it’s not so well known and the drummers always stick together (rhythm. I will be there all winter too in fact, it’s better then and my favourite night in winter is Tetra Jam, wow that’s special every Tuesday evening.”   

Ibiza made the news for all of the wrong reasons in July when Steve Angello, Paul Oakenfold and Afrojack were interviewed on Radio 1 claiming that Ibiza had become too expensive, too VIP and had lost it’s mystique. Most of us who live on the island have different opinions on this, what’s yours…?

“Sadly I agree mostly with this statement. Ibiza has lost some of it’s soul, the VIP world makes me cringe, however there are still a few hidden gems like Las Dalias and a few other secret places. However this is why winter in Ibiza is the best kept secret, it’s incredible here during those months when greed leaves the Island. You can feel the atmosphere change when that last budget airline soars over DC10 and we all breathe a sigh of relief and realise Ibiza is now ours again…”

Paris Hilton earning $200,000 a pop at Amnesia. Thoughts…

When you think about it, a club like Amnesia putting on the cheesiest and also the coolest nights on without it harming it’s reputation, you realize just how amazing this club is. Regarding Paris Hilton DJing (or maybe I should say simply pressing the synch play button), I think it’s pathetic. However, you can’t blame her for rinsing more money and although it’s massively criticized, what we should really be concerned with is the thousands of people that go and support this rubbish.” 

The drilling for oil in the gulf of Valencia, just a few kilometres off the coast off Ibiza financed by Scottish company Cairn Energy. Done deal? Have all the Alianza Mar Blava opposition been for nothing? Is this a potential disaster for the island?

No it might scar it but Ibiza will always be a Global Village, and shine on.” 

It has been another crazy summer on the white isle, it seems every celebrity and their mother has been partying here this year; Madonna, Bieber, Rihanna and Kanye West have all been spotted out and about on the white isle in recent weeks. Is all this celebrity action good for the island or is it inevitable with all the attraction of Ibiza?

“They have all jumped on the Ibiza bandwagon (about 20 years too late). Celebs have always come here, it is what it is. Will Ibiza end up like Marbella? I pray not, that will be very sad.” 

What 1 record always reminds you of Ibiza?

“It’s hardly played, but ‘Plastic Dreams’…”

True or false : Part of the reason you became a party promoter was due to your body building past?

“True. I did a show and took over 100 people to watch. The next show I arranged to have a DJ on stage during the pre-judging break and I played percussion in the best shape of my life. The promoter offered me a job, I said no thanks and I ended working for Ministry of Sound. And the rest Dan, is history…”

Aside from sunset strip, Ocean Beach and Ibiza Rocks, San Antonio has had an absolute nightmare this year. Bars closing every week, the whole Gatecrasher disaster, the West End looking like a ghost town. The writing was on the wall a long time ago for the town, especially with how Bossa has exploded. Is there any way back for one of our favourite clubbing towns?

“No maybe sideways is the most they can expect.” 

You have performed all over the island throughout the summer. What have been your favourite parties of the season?

My Balearic Bliss parties at Sands (more coming soon), Clockwork was amazing at Sands too – I played percussion for Danny and Andy and I must say the drums were hugely appreciated. EXCEPT by a couple of the DJs that didn’t like the focus taken off them (it happens in our game) and kept turning my mic’s off. However the whole soundsystem went off twice and I alone kept the crowd dancing just with the drums (the DJ needed me then), but as soon as the sound got properly sorted the DJ (who I know personally as he’s played for me many times) turns me off again. So I gave up and left (you don’t get that at Benirras hehe). Great party though despite a few egos.” 

It is your birthday. Who are the five DJs you ask to come and play?

The DJs that have stood by me as friends, even though they now know I can’t make them into superstars.”


Have you ventured to any of the super clubs this summer – if so…where have stood out and where have been shit?

“DC10 is still OK, not what it was but worth a few hours, Music On at Amnesia was quite special too. There have been lots of shit ones, but I’m not saying in case they ask me to play hahaha.”

And finally, what are the next plans for Trace Harris over the next twelve months…

Winter approaches and it’s my 3rd winter. It will be the year everything falls into place, I’ve experienced some emotional pain recently and it will all soon make sense. I will continue drumming for love and the occasional cuddle, I will fall in Love With An Angel, she’s making her way to me now. Talk to me next year and I will tell you her name…”