It’s fair to say that Pete Tong’s history is intertwined with the history of acid house and electronic music itself. His career mirrors the story of dance music over the last 25 years. A true renaissance man, Pete has never been about one thing. 2010 is on course to be his busiest year to date, with a schedule that combines constant touring, production work, remixes, music supervision, film scoring, a weekly Radio 1 show, and his Wonderland club brand (with homes in London, Ibiza, and worldwide).
At the heart of all of this, is Pete’s ability to discover and nurture new talent. From A to Z – Axwell to James Zabiela if you will – there are few electronic artists who haven’t had the Pete Tong Push TM. “That’s a big remit of my Radio 1 show,” smiles Pete. “But I don’t turn water into wine - all I ever saw myself doing was fanning the flames of something that I thought was inevitable. I’d like to think that by backing the special ones that I can help it happen for these artists... a little bit quicker”
It’s been a long, tumultuous ride for Pete. “I left school at the end of the 70s and always wanted to be a DJ,” he starts, “To make a name for yourself back then you had to have the coolest and rarest records – if you managed to get hold of the hottest tune in the record shop, it could be months before any other DJ managed to track down a copy; your status and ability to call a tune in the underground record stores was very important, it’s hard to conceive that today with the instant access available online”.
Pete’s radio shows are revered around the world. Now the proud host of the 9pm-11pm Friday night slot on BBC Radio 1. 'The Pete Tong Show' (or Essential Selection as it is still tagged internationally) regularly attracts over 2 million listeners via a combination of live feed and 'listen again' courtesy of the BBC i-Player and international syndication. Pete also hosts and co-produces the legendary Essential Mix show.
Last September (2009) Pete flipped his time slot with Annie Mac. Pete says he’s honestly more energized than ever. "What happened in September has turned out to be one of the most invigorating things I’ve experienced. It’s not necessarily something you choose – but I always knew at some point something would have to change because nothing goes on forever, the show ran in the same time slot for 18 years, which is quite incredible, I don’t think that will happen again... Of course, there is a stylistic change from broadcasting at 7pm That show was about bringing through the daytime audience to the night and starting the weekend. Now I feel the show is a more consistent and often more adventurous listen, it has no other job than to entertain you with the best electronic dance music I can get my hands on.
“We have some new features that are going down very well. "15 Minutes Of Fame..." and "24 Hour Party People" are about getting familiar with the new names on the scene and the voices that go with them. I think people got to know the major DJs’ personalities via my show over the years, figures like Sasha and Carl Cox, Tiesto, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk were all first heard on my show and I want to carry on that tradition in 2010 for the new generation”
There was one other change that caused something of a seismic shift, in 2008 when Pete moved from Pacha, for the green grass of Eden in Ibiza. “I was under the cherry spell for five years and had a really good time with them,” he says. “Our Fridays at the club were pretty special. However after five fantastic years I decided the job was done and that I wanted a new challenge.
So, when Eden came calling, Pete made the unprecedented move of jumping ship to the shores of San Antonio. “I wanted to try something different. It was the 20 years anniversary of Acid house and the birth of the Balearic scene and it felt right to take myself back to where the story started – San Antonio. It gave me the opportunity to get much more hands on in terms of running the night and booking the talent, and experimenting with mixing up the lineups. I’m enjoying the challenge of being part of the rejuvination of San Antonio too, and I think we are succeeding.
Fast-forward to 2010 and Wonderland will be in its third year. “Changing peoples perceptions about San An has been the biggest challenge but we are getting there slowly but surely. Last year we bought Luciano, Deadmau5, and Lady Gaga who is probably the biggest pop star on the planet right now. People sat up and took notice all over the world.”
The 2010 launch party features Bryan Ferry, Steve Lawler, and Radio 1 newcomers, Jaymo & Andy George (who will host the backroom all season), and kicks off a series 15 parties with more epic, and inspirational lineups to be announced.
Pete’s own music output is starting to become more frequent and free flowing – working alongside the likes of Paul Rogers, Dave Spoon and Steve Mac, Pete’s fast-becoming a production powerhouse. “Sometimes I have to explain why I didn’t do more of it before,” says Pete, who has been in the studio with Rogers almost every day this year – it’s an important part of his career now. “Running a record company from 1983 – 2000, I didn’t have time to make music before and I come from an era where DJs didn’t always make music - which would be very unusual today. Back in the day, trying to make a record was more difficult and expensive”.
Recent remixes include; Gorillaz 'Stylo’, Phoenix, Underworld and U2 with Paul Rogers, and Robyn, Madonna, Cheryl Cole, James Blunt and Razorlight with Dave Spoon. There is a new original Tong & Rogers EP just out on Toolroom and a collaboration with Spoon for Steve Angello's Size on it’s way.
Pete is also finding more time to combine his twin loves of music and film. Historically, he was the soundtrack supervisor for Human Traffic, Event Horizon, Shopping, The Beach and 24 Hour Party People and executive producer (with a cameo role) in the seminal It’s All Gone Pete Tong. Recent work includes the music and score for Beyond The Rave for Hammer Films and supervision and score for the award winning Harry Brown which starred Sir Michael Caine. More projects are currently in the pipeline.
Which just leaves one last question: did he ever see such longevity being possible back in the early 80s? Pete ponders the question for a moment. “If we’re fortunate of one thing, it’s that we were in the right place at the right time. Without wanting to sound crass, in our own way in our own world, it was a bit like being in The Clash or The Sex Pistols around the time of punk. We all loved music before acid house, but when the rave explosion started, we were in the right place at the right time – and we made the right moves.” He’s still making them now.
All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Pete Tong for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Pete Tong speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.
Please Note: All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Pete Tong for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Pete Tong speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.
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