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Pete Tong interview

Pete Tong interview

We quiz the Radio 1 tastemaker on Ibiza, how he picks out the killer tunes and on making his own music..

When did you first go to Ibiza?

"86, with Nicky Holloway, a year before the famous trip. I came out with him on a slightly less successful trip I suppose. We came and took over a couple of clubs, one of them was ok and the other kicked us out. It was a formative experience, but it was fun. I don't even think we thought it was pioneering back then, we just thought it was something fun to do. And then I didn't come for a couple of years and I didn't start to come regularly until the end of 91 and worked for Manumission and have pretty much been coming back every year since. I used to be called a resident at Space in terms of regular appearances but not a proper fully fledged resident where you went weekly until half taking over Oakie's night in 2003.

"I'd worked a lot at Space and Amnesia for either Cream or We Love when it started and then Paul got a Perfecto Tuesday night at Pacha in 2002 and he was moving to LA because he had a big film to do and he asked me to share the residency with him. I did more than half of that year and it was me kind of re-uniting with Danny Whittle who I'd worked with before at Space and he was now managing the entertainment side of Pacha and they offered me the Fridays which I started in 2003."

Has Ibiza always been a party island for you?

"No, very much not. I think that one of the reasons I've been coming back for so long is that there's always so many other things to do. It's a place where I've totally always appreciated the beauty of the island and the more naturalistic side of the island and I've always got both."

How's Wonderland going?

"It's been amazing, it's been a kind of renaissance , a revelation, a kind of rejuvenating experience. I just think you've always got to enjoy what you do and you've always got to be challenged by what you do. And I'm very lucky doing what I do and I'm doing something that I like, but I just felt that you do five years in one club, doing the same night for every week for like 17 weeks in the summer, at some point you've got to change, that's my belief anyway.

"I've been around an awful long time and I think one of the things I've managed to do to keep people interested and to keep myself interested is always giving myself new challenges. And I think it was the right time to change to go from probably the most comfortable, the most successful, the most kind of upscale night, it was all very VIP. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to stay there (at Pacha). It was almost that it was so successful that it was beginning to become a little bit restricted musically and my head was getting turned by other things I was seeing on the island, Cocoon in particular and DC10 and I just felt that I wanted to do something different. I knew I wanted to move on before I knew where I wanted to go. And then when the opportunity came up to go there, I hadn't even been there before. I was a complete snob about going to Eden I just thought it would be the tackiest thing that I could do, that was my initial reaction but then I got head round it and thought logically about it and looked at what was on offer, in terms of something that you could completely control from top to bottom. And suddenly the biggest nightmare became the most exciting thing to do. It was also a good move in terms of just going back and doing something very young again. Something that people who are coming to Ibiza for the first time can experience as well as the people that have been here forever."

We love your new mix…

"Yeah, I'm really pleased with it. It's funny because I've done compilations for so long but I think I'm finally getting good at them! Because I think compilations are done for different reasons and back in the day I think I did the first ever Cream compilation and I remember it clearly - it was me standing in a room, putting records on, mixing one after the other and trying to recreate the experience of playing in a club and it was done in a very lo-fi fashion you didn't have the technology that's available to you now, it was very innocent. And then the whole market exploded and I found myself fronting compilations like the 'Annual' with Boy George that were selling a million copies, mind blowing numbers, numbers that are unheard of today. And it was me and Boy George's brands representing the best of the year and Ministry spending a fortune on television advertising and it was fun to be part of them and you can't say you didn't get paid well cos you did, but I suppose creatively it wasn't saying that much about you as a DJ, they were more a celebration of dance music over a whole year.

"You end up doing enough of those and people kind of assume that that's what you do. In other words I suppose I was in the right place at the right time for the compilation market and doing very well out of it, but it probably set me back a little bit in terms of doing a serious compilation where people start to come and look at your DJing. I mean I love doing the Pacha ones but they always wanted me to share the CD with another DJ and so it became quite limited. And it's taken all this time to actually get up to this point with Wonderland where I have creative control, there's no TV budget to fret about justifying and you can just kind of be yourself and I think that what we've done in London with the club and what we've done in Ibiza last year and after all this time on the island you've got a better understanding of what it is and what you want to say and what works and that's finally coming through on those CDs."

Have compilations changed?

"I get an email every day from somebody pretty decent saying 'have you got anything new and exclusive send it to me cos I'm doing a compilation'. And I actually had a conversation about that with a couple of friends and associates about this ('Wonderland') compilation and thinking, do you know what? Do you think that's relevant because I don't think anybody knows about everything, because there's so much music out there, everyone's a bit confused, no one knows if it's been out , it's coming out, number one, number 100, you know, everyone just knows what they like, right? Unless you're working in your job or my job, unless you're really in it day to day everybody's just like 'we like that club, we like that sound' they're not that trainspottery, cos it's just too confusing. And I thought I just want to make a CD and pull together things that I think are the most vital and that really represent the club and what I'm doing right now and I don't care whether they're not out for a year or for six months or whether they've been out for six months I'm just going to put together what I think is right and that's the way it's come out and I think it's better for it. "

You do have a good ability to pick out THE tunes, how do you do that?!

"Well, (laughs) I suppose if someone were to write my epitaph it would say 'he could pick a tune', I suppose that's kind of what I do… I suppose I've been lucky enough to have a kind of taste that sits on the right side of the overground, underground. I guess a third of the time they're obvious, a third of the time you're a bit lucky and then another third it's quite skilful."

And what about you making music?

"Well I wanna do more and more. I've got a studio that's fully functioning now and I'm buying more and more equipment. I've never been more serious about it but I don't ever get enough time to do as much as I wanna do. I suppose there is a little bit of conflict of making something that I'm then the person that has to break it, but that's not an excuse. I do as much as I can and as well as I can. Me and Paul Rogers have been having our heads down for the past three months doing this Michael Caine movie, doing the score and the last thing we did was the U2 track."