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Pete Tong - Ready To Hit The Studio

Author: Simon Stuart
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Prior to his set at Shindig in Newcastle, for which the club was chosen to host the first of a select series of live broadcasts for Radio One's Essential Mix tour in the UK, Simon Stuart caught up with musical taste-maker and the dance music veteran, Pete Tong, for an exclusive interview in which he revealed what the future holds for himself, Essential and the music industry.

What's the main idea behind the new Essential Mix tour-
We just felt it about time to take the original idea back to the smaller clubs and the core of what makes clubbing in this country so great and really reflect on that - especially as there have been quite a lot of negative stories about - so it's an appropriate time. It's very much like moving back to what we did when I started the Essential Mix eight years ago, plugging into something that was already happening. In the last couple of years the events have sort of squewered towards events that wouldn't have happened without the radio station, whereas now it's time to go back to places that are packed, with or without our involvement.

Which other clubs are you doing-
We're doing six or seven monthly nights, the first being Shindig - the rest are all listed on the Radio One website. I'm doing the first couple and I'll do one or two next year, but also Fergie, Seb and Jules will all be doing others. Coverage wise we're trying to be reasonably geographical too.

How would you say Essential, almost like a brand, has changed over the past ten years-
I don't think I'd really regard it as a brand it's more just an extension of what I do. First and foremost it's a radio show, I've always tried to keep ahead of trends and look constantly for new things to champion.

What's been your favourite Essential Mix to date-
There've been some amazing ones, this year the Manumission one on the Saturday night with Sasha will take some beating. Historically those early ones we did at Venus in Nottingham and places like that, they were sort of seen as very groundbreaking then, it seems silly to think of it like that now but taking Radio One into a little club in Nottingham was pretty sensational. Then probably on a bigger scale our involvement with Love Parade was all great, but the Millennium gig with James Barton and Cream crew was special because obviously it was a complete one-off and will never happen again. No matter how hard I try I'll not be there for the next one!

You've achieved a great deal over your career, have you still got any burning ambitions to fulfil-
I wanna make music I think, I've never really had the chance 'cause I've had so many other jobs. I'm slipping away from the record company now, but for me to just stand up and make a Pete Tong record I'd find a little scary. I'm more and more interested in the soundtrack area of things. I'm just waiting for the right opportunity. I've been very, very close in the past couple of months to diving in and it's just not quite worked out, then something popped up on Thursday actually, so I'm constantly taking discussions about it and looking for the right thing. After all, being very hands on A&R man is not that different to being a Producer really, there are times in the past where I could've almost credited myself for things so I'm not that far away from it. Being the head of A&R at a record company during the nineties and also hosting the show, I always felt I would have compromised myself, plus you've got to be able to take time and have headspace to actually do it. So that would be one thing. I also kinda fancy looking at some kind of new model for the music business. Looking to start something new that you could call a label but wouldn't be in the conventional sense, something that is truly international and in tune with modern media, MP3's and all that sort of stuff.

How do you think the club scene's changed Internationally over the past decade-
It's just getting better and b