Pete Tong Is a Very Big Deal in EDM, and Now He's in L.A.
In the world of EDM, they don't come much more influential than veteran DJ and radio personality Pete Tong, who has spent 20 years hosting shows on BBC Radio 1, introducing new electronic music artists to the masses. But guess what? Now he's in L.A.!
Derrick Santini Pete Tong
In fact, he just arrived. But he's no stranger to the city, and has been coming here for the past 15 years for gigs. More recently he made the city his temporary post during Coachella season. "That got me more comfortable with the idea of basing myself out here full time," he says.
Last year, he jumped on board with Clear Channel to launch the online dance music station Evolution, and corresponding terrestrial stations in Boston and Miami, where he DJs Mondays through Fridays. We asked Tong about his move to Los Angeles and his assessment of the local dance scene.
What prompted your move to Los Angeles?
I think it's very inspiring creatively. It feels like it's become a bit of the center of the universe for my world, dance and electronic music. It's an inspiring and exciting place to be that takes me out of my comfort zone, so to speak. I'm very established and set up with deep roots in the U.K. and Europe. I just thought for this stage in my career with everything I've done and achieved and everything I've learned, I thought that this is the best place to be for the next year or so or maybe longer.
It's funny, when I was a kid, almost first starting out, I came to America and got all the initial inspiration, in a way, for my whole career, in terms of shaping what happened to me and getting involved in dance music. We took all that inspiration and took the story to the U.K. and exploded it from there. The U.S. market has flirted with its love for electronic music and dance culture over the last 20 years, but it's finally kind of got it in such a big way in the last four or five years. It's been uncharted territory in America. Opportunity is coming along now that people from our world never had before. Now is the right time to be here. Maybe I should have been here a year or two ago.
For a long time, it seemed like L.A. was an afterthought as far as internationally recognized dance scenes go, but that's been changing. What do you think was the turning point?
I think that the scale, for a start, of what has been able to be achieved in L.A., that's what really put it on the map. When I came here and played as a DJ, anytime during the past 15 years, Los Angeles has always been on the circuit as a place to come and play. But, thinking back to the '90s, it wasn't considered to be as essential a place to play as New York or Miami. For everything that New York had -- and, certainly, Chicago -- with those kind of legendary early clubs, the club names that everybody quotes in any dance music story, whether it be Paradise Garage or Twilo or all these great clubs. New York's fame has always been about clubs and Miami's, to a certain extent, was always about clubs as well until Ultra came along, and the Winter Music Conference. L.A. has taken a bit of both of those and made its own contribution. I think the early, giant, kind of one-off events -- I don't really want to call them raves -- but those early one-off events... that's really what put Los Angeles on the map, the ability to take everything that was going on and actually do that on a professional scale, that started to resonate around the rest of the world.
Who are some of the artists that you found inspiring here in L.A.?