Pete Tong
Pete TongPete Tong

When I began to get in to electronic music back in the 90s there was always a set of import CD’s that crossed my path and ended up doing the regular rounds in my disc player. I would always purchase my imports at a place called Play Da Record and Traxx in Toronto. They also sold vinyl but I found a lot of the times I couldn’t find specific versions of a track unless I got the CD. It was harder to find mixes on the internet because we weren’t quite there yet so these imports from the UK were a great way to experience new mixes and DJs. When I got first introduced to the sounds and the voice of the BBC Essential Mixes – Pete Tong – I was blown away. There is something really passionate about Pete’s approach to electronic music and I felt a relatable factor to his natural celebrity prowess he possesses. He is someone who is respected in both the mainstream and underground when it comes to the EDM culture. I see him as an ambassador in many ways. I was really excited when I got the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about the culture for the film…

Pete’s knowledge of the dance underground, coupled with his ear for a crossover hit, saw him appointed A&R manager at newly-founded independent label London Records in ’83. While looking after the careers of pop acts like ’80s girl group Bananarama, he continued to pursue his budding radio career. Put off daytime shows by the discovery that the DJs didn’t pick their own playlists, Pete accepted his own programme on Kent’s newly-launched Invicta station in ’84. Influenced by radio DJ heroes such as Robbie Vincent, Greg Edwards and Emperor Rosko, he hosted a soul show there for three years, before briefly returning to Radio London. Almost immediately, however, he was poached by Capital Radio, where his weekly dance programme became cult listening with London clubbers.

In ’91, with an indigenous club culture now thriving in cities across the UK, Pete quit Capital Radio to go national. His Essential Selection show every Friday evening instantly established itself as a welcome to the weekend for a new generation of young clubbers. Heavy on house, but with room for the best breaking techno, jungle, hip hop, funk and soul sounds from both Britain and around the world, it appealed to all tastes in contemporary dance music. Moreover, it merged the cutting-edge with the mainstream. Pete became the country’s best-known dance DJ, while keeping his credibility intact. “I’m not too concerned with credibility,” he claims. “When I started out, I was obsessed by jazz-funk and soul. I couldn’t see life beyond the end of a Donald Byrd album. I was prepared to punch anyone who tried to talk to me about other types of music. But I grew up and discovered that I love hearing new sounds and having my perceptions changed. I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed. I also realised that I could achieve much more by staying on the edge of several scenes, rather than being immersed in just the one.”

Perhaps Pete’s biggest contribution to British pop to date was his involvement in the reshaping of BBC Radio 1. When the nation’s biggest radio station decided to re-invent itself in the mid-’90s, controller Matthew Bannister knew precisely who to ask for help. After Pete’s ideas were taken on board, the likes of Tim Westwood, Danny Rampling, Judge Jules, Paul Oakenfold, Carl Cox and more recently every possible superstar in the global EDM scene today. The station’s daytime playlist began to reflect the extent of the impact of modern electronic music on British kids during that era to the present. It began with over a million and a half listeners each week and grew from there. The show remains the UK’s most popular dance music radio show, thanks to its host’s consistent ability to change with the times. Pete’s popularity began to grow and eventually led to the BBC Radio 1 show’s global success through compilations and airplay back in the day. The audience has grown it into one of the most recognized electronic music radio shows on the internet. It attracts over 13 million plus listeners on a weekly basis.

Check out a SAMPLE of the show with this classic ERIC PRYDZ essential mix set – Click Here

For more information on Pete Tong check out his site on the link below…