Clubplanet Interviews Pete Tong

Clubplanet Interviews Pete Tong

by Marcos Colón
10.22.2009

When it comes to electronic dance music, one of the biggest names in the genre is Pete Tong. Not only is he the voice behind BBC Radio 1’s legendary Essential Mix program, but he also has quite the list of mixes and releases, making him sought after talent for nightclubs all around the world. Once the featured resident at Pure Pacha in Ibiza from 2003 to 2007, Tong now hosts his own “Wonderland” event in Eden located in Sant Antoni de Portmany. The man knows his music and knows how to play for a party, and soon he’ll be embarking on a major U.S. tour that has him stopping in EDM hotbeds like Miami, New York City, Los Angeles and Denver.

Clubplanet recently caught up with Pete Tong and chatted about his upcoming U.S. Tour, the creation of his new contest “The Tong Factor,” and how there’s a small chance that “Wonderland” may become a touring party.


Clubplanet: The year’s nearly coming to a close. How’s it been for you so far?

Pete Tong: Yea, really good actually. It was an amazing summer in Ibiza again, with the second year of Wonderland. I’ve been making a lot of music. We’ve also just re-launched the radio show in the UK. So everything’s been good. I did a movie soundtrack as well. I’ve been messing around with music for a while, but I finally put together a score for a new Michael Caine film called “Harry Brown,” which is amazing. It showed at the film festival in Toronto and did very well.

Clubplanet: You’re about to kick off you’re U.S. tour in North America. When you’re about to take off for something like that, what do you look forward to most?

Pete Tong: Well it can be a hassle changing locations everyday. You can’t do it by bus, which can be a lot of fun, you have to do it by plane. That means you have late nights and early starts in the morning, and you have to go through security. But I like playing day after day. I find it very rewarding and it can be quite the creative process. You end up playing 12 to 13 shows in 15 days you get on a roll, and you learn more about your set and you can develop it. I’m actually going to try something a little bit different when I got out on this tour. It’s a creative time. I get a lot of ideas and bounce them around when I’m on the road. When you’re in Europe of England you wait until the weekend to play, but in North America is now literally one of the only markets in the world where you can actually set up a tour where you play seven nights a week.

Clubplanet: Can you talk a little bit about the “Tong Factor” talent competition?

Pete Tong: It was just an idea really. I listen to so much music all the time through all mediums. It’s really hard to get through it all, and I’ve hired some people to help me, but it’s still difficult to listen to it all. What I tried to do when we introduced the “Tong Factor” a couple of tours ago is kind of a play on the whole American Idol, X Factor thing. It’s meant to be personal. If you come to the show, anything you hand to me will definitely be listened to and most of the time I will get back to you. We do it on a rolling process, day by day. If we find something at the end of it, I’ll put it out through Beatport. It’s something we came up with to be able to put the spotlight on people, it’s also an open invitation for people to come and meet me and give me their music, sort of bringing it right back to the old-school, and putting the music right in my hands.

Clubplanet: You’re definitely one of the biggest figures when it comes to EDM, and you’ve traveled all over the world and seen how people react to music in these different markets. What are your thoughts on the development of electronic music in the States?

Pete Tong: It’s a on and off story. Since back in the day with me first coming to America in the late 80s really, it seems like twice a decade it seems that dance music is going to take over America. Then it kind of doesn’t. We’re definitely in one of those up surges, but this time around we’re in one of those up surges that America hasn’t seen before. For the first time there’s quite a lot of music that’s getting on the radio. You have artists now like David Guetta who’s made himself more appealing to American radio by working with the likes of Akon, Kid Cudi and Kelly Rowland. It’s definitely in a very positive time. There was that time during the mid to late 90s where the classic bands like The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers and Underworld played all of the festivals and got a lot of props. But ultimately that didn’t translate into record sales. This wave seems to be a bit different though, with names like Deadmau5 and Kaskade it’s a good time.

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Clubplanet: What are some of your favorite cities in the U.S. to play when you’re on tour here?

Pete Tong: I really love playing Beta in Denver, it’s unbelievable. The space is almost as good as any space in the world. The licensing issue is a little crazy there because no one gets there until 12 a.m. and it closes by 2 a.m. So you have these really intense two hours in this amazing club with amazing sound and a great crowd. LA’s always really strong and is a home to some of the biggest festivals in the world. It’s incredible for the electronic scene. Canada’s off the hook as well. I go to Canada as regularly as I go to the U.S. I’m looking forward to going to Washington D.C. because haven’t played there is so long.

Clubplanet: I read that you may actually take “Wonderland” on the road to festivals. Now is that close to becoming a reality?

Pete Tong: The show involves a lot of performers and an immense amount of work so it’s a difficult thing to take on the road. You’ve got to find the right location. A lot of people said to me that Vegas may be that place because of the stages. I’d like to find somewhere in America where you can bill the show strongly. We couldn’t really bring it in and do one night and then move to another city, unless we start putting out huge hit records like Guetta. (laughs) Vegas has had its moment but I’m not sure it can sustain something like that on a weekly basis.

Clubplanet: You’re going to be in Miami on October 27th at Mynt Lounge. What’s it like for you to play Miami outside of Winter Music Conference?

Pete Tong: Always good. I’ve done that quite a lot. I think it’s a really good thing to do for the locals because I’ve always tried to play outside of conference when I know the attendance of locals will be strong. I love playing places like the Space Terrace or Mynt for my friend Roman, because he’s put a lot of passion and dedication into the show because he’s a big fan of electronic music.

Clubplanet: Who are some up and coming producers that everyone should keep an eye out for in your opinion?

Pete Tong: This summer it’s all been about the Central Europeans and the Swiss. Reboot is a guy that I’m a massive fan of, as well as Nick Curly. There’s a lot of house music and house influenced stuff that’s coming back. It’s very fresh sounding and it’s putting more vocals on the dance floor.

Clubplanet: What can everyone expect from you for the remainder of the year and into 2010?

Pete Tong: Well right now my highlight is coming to the States. I have a new radio show that’s starting up in the UK that’s been getting some amazing response. We’ve changed up the format up a bit and now it starts at 4 p.m. in Eastern Time. It’s more energized.

 

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