Pete Tong Exclusive Interview
Our gorgeous friend Cila spoke to Pete Tong recently and gave us this exclusive interview.
His name has entered the language as rhyming slang for “wrong” but things couldn’t be more right for DJ, impresario and all-around Ibiza legend Pete Tong. At the beginning of the season all the island was a-twitter over his defection from Pacha to San An gin palace Eden. And when people weren’t gossiping about his new night – Wonderland – they were discussing the inaugural International Music Summit, headed up by Tong. Now, as we survey the end of season, it seems only fitting to return to the man who defined the beginning of summer 2008 to fi nd out if it lived up to all its promise.
Pete Tong is a passionate advocate for club culture in general and Ibiza in particular, and brings to the scene a balanced, thoughtful view. He’s seen all the ups, downs and sideways moves of 20 years of rave culture. And he never stops thinking about how to embrace change and progress. We were delighted to get his views on all things Ibicenco…
You started the season with the IMS – what did it mean to you?
We dreamed it up on the terrace at Pacha a couple of years ago and the partners (including Ben Turner, Danny Whittle, et al) were
a little frustrated last summer that we hadn’t got it off the ground. We realised no one was going to come and make it easy for us, so we went for it. The months leading up to it were totally focused on getting it to happen. When we were actually stood at Atzaro the first day we thought ‘wow.’ It was brilliant. It couldn’t have gone any better.
Will it be back next year?
Definitely. It will be the same time – the Wednesday to Friday before Space opening in May. We’ll be announcing ticket prices soon
and they’ll be on sale in the next few weeks.
Will there be major changes?
The format won’t be significantly different, but there will be evolution on several levels. We want to keep it intimate, but increase the size from about 300 to 500.
This year we didn’t have the infrastructure to do follow up, to really reinforce the message, so we’d like to do more of that. Also, we’re working to make it more Spanish, more Euro-centric.
What feedback did the IMS receive from the government?
Paco Medina was impressed with the professionalism of the whole thing. He thought it promoted a good image of the industry. He
was very complimentary. We would like [the government] to embrace us, we want them to feel we’re doing something positive for
And what of your big move from Pacha to Eden? Did Wonderland go to plan?
It’s been an amazing challenge and I’m very happy. I feel almost 100% vindicated. I stuck my neck out and we’ve done well. You
just couldn’t beat the vibe in the middle of the dancefloor. It was incredible.
What are the biggest differences between Wonderland and Pure Pacha?
I find the biggest challenge is getting people to try Wonderland. I’ve been more successful than I thought I’d be at getting familiar faces from Pacha to come over. Eden has worked hard to accommodate what we wanted to do, but they’ve also taught me about
what it takes to sell tickets in San An. Pacha operates on a different plane from other clubs. They lure the boat and private jet people.
In San An it’s different. You have to work on the street level. But it’s been nice to get compliments from the Pacha people – they’ve been very sweet.
Who were your stand-out guests at Wonderland?
We had Deadmau5 doing his first big Ibiza show and Eden turned out to be a great venue for live bands like The Whip and Pnau.
That’s an element we’d like to continue with next year.
Much was made of you going ‘down market’ to San An – what is your view on the city?
My feeling is that if you give a better product this place will change. People have traded on the existing infrastructure for too long. There hasn’t been much investment, it hasn’t been upgraded. I’d love to see it evolve. It’s not so different from Playa d’en Bossa and in some respects it is much more beautiful. It is an amazing place, you’re just fighting a perception that it is dominated by the English. I just want San An to get better, to continue the regeneration that’s come with Ibiza Rocks, Savannah, Kanya…
How was the Radio 1 Weekend in August?
Fantastic. However, San An is a frustration for Radio 1 because they’ve brought an awful lot to Ibiza and it felt as if the local authorities were quite heavy handed. The Weekend went great, but we had to do it on their terms. We ended up doing most of the shows from the Ibiza Rocks hotel. We would have loved to have done something at Mambo or Cafe del Mar…
What’s your perception of the season as a whole, and the economic health of Ibiza?
No one has any control over the state of the world’s finances and the fallout to our tourist numbers. You can only pray Ibiza stays attractive enough to get our audience back next year. The reality is that it’s a very competitive island.
What can we do? Just do our best. Put on our best show. Offer better value for money. The things that have been good have been really good this summer. Cocoon has had a great year, David Guetta going weekly at Pacha worked, Space has stayed strong. It’s not all doom and gloom.
Clubs are very expensive. Do you think the prices have to drop?
I’d like to see consistency. Ticket prices seem to fluctuate like share prices. Every week it’s different, which is very confusing for the punter. Is it going to be a €40 night? Free? €70?
What about the effect of the changes in the afterhours laws?
It is hard to separate out how much of a negative the changes have been versus the natural decline because of the economy. Ibiza is expensive, for the English crowd in particular. However, people who came had a great year. Unfortunately the perception outside
the island was that it wasn’t a great year because clubs were shut and there was no daytime dancing. It’s hard to know what the fallout of that will be.
I said to Paco Medina: I think killing daytime clubbing is really, really bad. Let it happen on the weekends, or when school is out, or even just in July and August, but don’t stop it completely. It should have been allowed to continue.
Do you think DC10 will be open next year?
From what I hear, it won’t be. But it continues to defy everything. I don’t think anybody wants to see it go. It’s part of the history of the island. Everybody supports (Circoloco promoter) Andrea.
Every year some city or night spot is branded ‘the new Ibiza’ is there a new Ibiza?
Maybe it would be good if there were. Competition could be a good thing. You can’t rest on your laurels. That being said, I can’t
think of any other place that has the infrastructure Ibiza has.
For the first time in a long time there will be direct flights to Ibiza during the winter months and various island insiders are working to promote winter tourism. Are you involved in that?
No. But I would be if they asked me. Anything that promotes Ibiza and brings people here in the winter is a good thing. Ibiza is a stunningly beautiful place. There is a lot to enjoy during the winter.
What are your plans for the winter?
I’m off to America for two weeks in October, then India, and at the end of the year Central America, Columbia, Miami, and Brazil for carnival. I’d also like to play more in Europe. I want to do things that will help set up next year [in Ibiza]. I’m a fidget. I’m impatient. I want everything to be brilliant! Wonderland was busy, but we can squeeze in a few more people next year.
What word would you use to describe summer ’08?
Wonderful. It’s been a great year. When you’re doing well it’s hard to challenge yourself, but sometimes it’s good to change. Five years of Pure Pacha was fantastic, I want it to remain as a great memory. But I’m not getting any younger and I want to do new things. I want to make a contribution to Ibiza. Everyone close to me thought I was insane, but I’ve pulled it off. It feels great.
Interview by Cila