Pete Tong's Thoughts on EDM of the 'Grand Theft Auto Generation'
Fabian Ortiz / OC Weekly Pete Tong at the Yost Theater
There's a reason why Prince William recently honored Pete Tong with the title of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his work in broadcasting music at Buckingham Palace. After years of dominating European airwaves and radio streams via the internet, the BBC Radio 1 host has brought a similar radio show stateside with Evolution. The show can be heard on iHeartRadio daily on over 90 FM stations across the states including our own KIIS FM on Sundays. He recently moved to LA, the current mecca of dance music and DJ transplants, to expand his many businesses as FFRR label head, spearheading William Morris Agency's electronic division and hosting his own monthly DJ residency at Sound Nightclub in Hollywood.
After years of being Europe's gatekeeper to dance music, he's making that same transition stateside as the popularity in EDM has skyrocketed. He's played every major festival which includes his own arena at Creamfields in London and upcoming gigs from Spring Awakening in Chicago to Electric Zoo, Mexico. It's a treat that he makes his way back to Orange County at Sutra this Saturday. We spoke to Pete Tong last time he was in town at the Yost Theater to get a better understanding of what this LA move means to him and where he thinks EDM is headed.
OC Weekly: (Alejandra Loera) So tell us what was the turning point in your career that finally made you decide to make the move to Los Angeles?
Pete Tong: I think it's been a very different year for me because normally the year's are dominated by Ibiza and then everyone else fits around the edges. Last year was slightly different because by April, after another big weekend in Miami and then having an opportunity of doing both weekends at Coachella, I kind of cemented the idea that it was now or never. I've talked about moving to America for so long. Last year was dominated by thoughts of being based here and thoughts of what I can really do here.
Well an entrepreneur and savvy music biz guy like yourself must have lots of things planned. What's something you've gotten to do DJ wise, which you haven't done before?
It's funny, for as long as I've been DJing there's certain things I haven't managed to do. I mean I've played Coachella before, but not two weekends. It was a much bigger role last year. I was one of the first to play in the new Yuma tent, which was the first time they actually tried to create a kind of club within Coachella as opposed to just a stage. I did EDC for the first time last year playing Damian Lazaru's "Get Lost Stage." He's a really good friend of mine who used to work for me years ago at a record company. It was totally the right time slot and everyone just went crazy. I've never been able to play EDC before because I've always been in Ibiza. I didn't commit to one of those really long residencies last year. It wasn't so much by design, by chance it turned out that when I moved to Ushuai it just worked out I did a short season. This left June free to come here. That month was when I was really locking down the move. Also, obviously launching Evolution here in America. Funny, I was actually listening to myself driving around LA tonight. It's on a Friday night at my old time slot with BBC.
In a sense your starting full circle all over again, what you experienced in the UK and bringing your knowledge to the US, right?
There are certain parallels, but I'm not suggesting for a second it's the same. The scene has been established here for a long, long time. In the last few years it's gotten to another level that no one ever believed it could in this country. I think now is the interesting time to think "well what's next?" Is the bubble gonna burst or how is it going to evolve? We're already seeing it more and more with artist coming from the states and Canada. Some might never need to travel back to Europe now. It's just the music is working here. That's why I want to be here. To be in the middle of it, see how it evolves and to see if I can help it evolve a bit, the way I did in the UK.
What do you see are the biggest changes in the evolution of dance music from when you first started playing records to today?
Today we're in uncharted territory in that technology has changed the accessibility to get in the game. You get very clever kids now that it's almost like the Grand Theft Auto generation who have mastered the use of the computer. They're learning it in school, which I never did. They pick up a production program for the first time and some of them find it really easy. So all these kids like Zedd and Madeon have essentially gotten a hold of a program like fruity loops and ripped it apart in only six months. They can produce dance music and they have never even been in a nightclub. In Zedd's case he heard a record by who was it, Justice? He gets influenced, makes some music, posts it on Skrillex's facebook or whatever and suddenly gets picked up to tour America. Next thing you know he's touring with Lady Gaga, incredible.