Pete Tong: It’s about looking to the next generation and finding DJs who can bring their sound
Once compared as a mix of the great John Peel and eccentric Jimmy Savile, Tong has learnt how to capture crowds and give the masses what they want, while still experimenting and setting trends. As he heads to the Ibiza for his second year of hosting All Gone Pete Tong at PACHA, I catch up with him to find out how he’s managed to keep dance music fresh for the last 21 years.
“Consistency plays a huge part,” the Radio 1 DJ says as he talks about the International Music Summit (IMS), something Tong’s been running for the last five years . “We always wanted to be a summit not a convention. It’s a meeting of the best minds in the EDM business, a focus group discussing the issues of the day, bringing together experts from different fields and it has a certain educational value.”
Aside from hosting his own residency, presenting a globally renowned radio show and DJing on a regular basis, Tong helps to keep the EDM train on the tracks with his hand-picked selection of counsellors and keynote speakers.
“I think we hit a new level in 2012,” the Dartford-born DJ continues. “Just delivering a quality conference and attracting the right people five years in a row goes a long way to achieving that goal. You cannot fast track something like this, you have to put the years in – the positive feedback we get from delegates keeps us going.”
Now considered the official start to the summer season, the IMS boasts a Grand Finale that makes closing weekend at Space look like any other night. With the likes of Diplo, Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold and David Guetta gracing the stage, it’s an honour and a privilege to get the call from Tong to kick off the summer.
“It comes together fairly naturally,” he says as he takes me through the process of picking the right acts for the job. “It’s always about finding the right mix and creating the right journey. Diplo and Oakey’s appearance, for instance, were about complimenting David Guetta’s appearance without repeating it.”
Talk quickly turns from IMS to PACHA, Tong’s second home on the White Island, as he employs the same philosophy to his ‘All Gone Pete Tong’ nights. If you’re thinking his residencies are just an extension of his award winning Radio 1 show you’re very much mistaken.
“It’s always about looking to the next generation and finding DJ’s who can bring their sound and expand at PACHA,” the 51-year-old says. “It’s a very competitive island with so many amazing club nights and DJ’s. Year two and we’re hopefully establishing our musical identity a bit more as we have Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones playing at the club for the first time. Plus Reboot is doing a back to back with me.”
It’s evident the Peel-like tendencies of Tong come from a want to be ahead of the game as he constantly pushes the boundaries of not just his show and his nights, but EDM as a whole. His residencies at clubs such as MAMBO and PACHA, along with his live Radio 1 show, attracts millions every week and that’s not even mentioning his Creamfields or SW4 appearances.
So what is it that keeps listeners tuning in, keeps party-goers buying tickets and music fans buying his compilation albums?
“Consistency,” he reiterates, “like we spoke about with the IMS. If you can deliver quality over a long period of time people stick with you and you get generations of listeners because of your reputation.”
As 2012 passes its halfway point, Pete’s been involved in a number of significant milestones, one of which saw him retain his prime time Radio 1 show despite a number of shake ups at BBC HQ. With a career that spans more than a quarter of a century the DJ, producer, presenter and businessman is mirroring the journey of dance music – or, should that be ’shaping it’.
All Gone Ibiza 2012 is out now on Defected. Pure Pacha all gone Pete Tong is held every Friday at Pacha, Ibiza.
Tong & Rogers ‘Shake The Dice’ is out 6 August on Toolroom Records.
Tagged in: All Gone Pete Tong, Carl Cox, clubbing, dance music, David Guetta, Defected, Diplo, EDM, Ibiza, International Music Summit, Jamie Jones, music, Pacha, Paul Oakenfold, pete tong, radio 1, Seth Troxler, space
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