My move to Ibiza and the birth of The Rolling Soul

The Rolling Soul Ibiza
When I first approached Marisa and Virgil about writing a blog for Ibiza Inside, I was delighted that they were into the idea too. It’s now my fifth year on the island and as it would seem I’m doing all the four professions I couldn’t decide upon when I was younger: singing with my band, The Rolling Soul, teaching how to play the guitar and vocals at Morna International College, designing and making my own clothes. And now writing for Ibiza Inside!My journey didn’t really start until I booked my first flight to Ibiza…

Once upon a time

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 21 years old. Me and my best friend, Gemima, were at a loss about where to turn next. We were unhappy and stuck in a rut in Wolverhampton, England.
“What about Ibiza?” she asked. We could have gone anywhere. Anywhere other than where we were, was what we needed. But sure enough, two weeks later, we’d jacked in our jobs in retail, given up our apartments, said goodbye to our friends and family and we embarked on a journey that neither of us could have predicted the outcome of.

Adjusting on Ibiza

I look back now feeling like such a weight had been lifted off me as soon as we both got off the plane, a weight on my shoulders that had been replaced by this amazing sun-kissed Ibiza warmth. I’d never even been on holiday with friends before, so the freedom that had suddenly been made available to me was so exciting! I did a lot of different jobs in those first couple of months and just before I ran out of money, I found a PR job in Bar Colon, a cool, dark Spanish haven in the West End. What an experience! The community between the West End workers is something unrivalled anywhere else.
In my old retail job, I felt like my uniqueness freaked my other colleagues out whereas here, we could all be weirdoes together! Basking in our individuality! I have so much fun with the holiday makers; singing their favourite song for a euro each, betting them I could piggy back two men at the same time, one of top of another (My record was 26 stone!), taking them out to parties…
We also had to laugh on Ibiza at all the things you do wrong in those first couple of weeks that I’m sure so many others did in theirs. Let’s see…..

TOP 5 Ibiza rookie mistakes

1. Sunbathing on SʼArenal Beach, San Antonio instead of multitudes of other blissful locations.
2. Doing actual food shopping in tourist shops. We didn’t even find Eroski for weeks!
3. Not wearing sun tan lotion…ooops! Ouch!
4. Spending nights drinking (for me, in The Mermaid) instead of looking for work.
5. Wearing stupid high-heels for nights out….yeah, heels aren’t good on the beach at 6 am!

Cala D'hort Ibiza picture by Michale Bennet

Facing the Stage

Before I came here, I hadn’t been on stage since I was 16. I’ve always loved singing more than anything but it had been a mighty long time. There were some demons that I needed to squash. Then there was Hoganʼs Rock Bar, and it was there that I was reborn into the performer you see today. Almost every night after work, around 3 or4 am, me and Gemima would get ourselves into Hoganʼs and sing with the band, led by Chris Langley. Gemima had never had a problem with her confidence and I would envy her up on stage belting out AC/DC. However, one night after a few shots of Hierbas, I too, graced the stage. It felt amazing. I was hooked. There was a great crowd of workers who’d be in there rocking out until 6 am, showing off their talents and we’d all have our standard songs; Sean from The Huddle Bar with “Walk of Life”, Paddy from The Boozer with “Mustang Sally”, Gemima with “Rock ʻnʼ Roll” and I would always do “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”.

An Unmissable Opportunity

What I didn’t know then was that it was all about to get even better. I’d spent the winter in England living with my family and working to save money. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do having had a taste of Ibiza. An email arrived in my inbox that made the decision much easier though: It was from Chris Langley from Hoganʼs Rock Bar, offering myself and Gemima the jobs of being the lead singers for the band for summer 2010. We were beside ourselves with joy! I was going to get paid to sing!! I’d have probably done it for free drinks! We worked hard in the first few weeks to learn a lot of songs and having never sung so much before, I remember literally squeezing honey down our throats on the way to a gig in Donneganʼs. It took some getting used to but it wasn’t long until me and Gemima had quite a following. We’d get huge crowds in there for bar crawls sometimes and I knew that this was what I should be doing. No wonder Iʼd never felt so lost before. This was my calling. People who knew the island had always said to me that Ibiza is different from other places, “If Ibiza likes you and what you’re about, it’ll let you stay and things will happen. If Ibiza doesn’t like what you’re doing, forget it. It will make sure you leave.” These words haunted my first year and maybe I took them a bit too seriously but I definitely started to feel in 2010 that maybe Ibiza liked me a lot.

Sunset Cala Comte Ibiza 2

Making music on Ibiza

When Hoganʼs finished up, I felt I had no choice but to carry on my path: enter The Melody Makers. Me and Gemima had been jamming on our guitars and hosting open mic nights in England for years, but we weren’t the best guitarists…luckily, I had been living with Alex, a kind-hearted and talented musician, since my first year and he stepped in as well. The three of us along with our guitars had had such a blast for a couple of years playing in loads of different venues. Whether we were playing our dreamy acoustic version of Massive Attackʼs “Teardrop” in Raco Verd or hollering “Irish Rover” in Joe Spoons, we went down well everywhere! For me, it was great! Me, my best friend and Alex were really starting to hit it off as well! Weʼre crazy about each other now and having met him over here is also a massive reason Iʼm the person I am today. I don’t know if I could have done all this without him keeping me grounded and keeping me smiling all the way there!

The Rolling Soul singer Nell Shakespeare in action

The Rolling Soul Ibiza

Keeping The Momentum Going

The Melody Makers had gotten everyone to notice us but I started to feel like I needed another step up so this time, with Alex playing keyboard, his main instrument, the two of us started playing a different kind of repertoire. We introduced more unique cover versions and tried to make it a bit sassier. With Alex on keyboard, we could use more different sounds and he could put in some solos. I missed Gemima but I knew sheʼd be okay and find her own path too. If you missed her last summer, she’ll be back playing rock ʻnʼ roll with Backbeat again this summer!
Myself and Alex just work so well together musically, itʼs like we can read each otherʼs mind on and off stage; a proper partnership.

The Birth of The Rolling Soul

The Rolling Soul was born in Putumayo Cafe in the Winter of 2011. I was running a funk night called Superfly. My friend, Stef, had taught me how to DJ on decks and given me a spot in Canguiri playing funk and soul for sunset and I wanted to keep going so The Putumayo Cafe was perfect. I invited musicians and guest DJs from all over to jam along with us too. We had some magical and unexpected nights and even did a Christmas special. Then it just happened one night. Me, Alex, Tommo on drums, his brother Dave on guitar and Matthaus on bass…there it was. As the classic song goes, “Donʼt Look Any Further”. We got better and better as the weeks went on and our first Saturday night gig in there was a huge success. From then onwards, there was no stopping us! We managed to convince Kanya Beach Bar in San Antonio to give us four days a week for the summer and it was great to see a bar that hadnʼt catered for live music in years doing so well! I hope weʼve managed to pave the way for other musicians to play there now. It was so amazing playing on until sunset. Despite a change in personnel (guitarist Dave went back to UK to do his masters degree, and we got in the self-coined Rick Rockdriguez), weʼve been getting the crowds going ever since! Donʼt believe me? Come see for yourself!

The Rolling Soul is about to conquer Ibiza

The Rolling Soul Ibiza

When you like to know when and where The Rolling Soul is playing we invite you to visit their Facebook page with all the information. What is your favourite spot to listen to live music on Ibiza?

Marisa is the co founder of Ibiza Inside and together with Virgil she has a mission to empower as many people around the world to become better versions of themselves in body mind and lifestyle. Marisa is ready to move you in to action, and she will share beautiful Ibiza with you at the same time.

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5 Comments

  1. Winni Wendorff ,JazzYbiza

    Great story Nell! And you surely will conquer Ibiza, if you haven´t already done so! Wishing you soooo much succes ! xx winni

  2. Lovely story Nell!. Thanks for the mention too…. how I miss those nights at Hogans! “Keep on rocking in the free world!!”

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