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By Tom Murphy
Renowned DJ and producer Pete Tong (aka "Lord of the Dance") has had quite a year: He celebrated twenty years of hosting a show on the renowned BBC Radio 1 by taking the station over for twelve hours; he returned to Ibiza's legendary Pacha; he relaunched his FFRR label under the Warner Brothers umbrella; and he kick-started a Las Vegas residency at Encore Beach Club — and after all that, he still calls Beta "one of the most amazing clubs in the world." We recently chatted with Tong about his time at Radio 1 and his take on the American electronic-music scene.
Westword: Can you talk about the significance of making twenty years of music on Radio 1?
Pete Tong: I don't think there's another radio station on the planet that quite has the impact that Radio 1 has, and I think in all my experience traveling all over the world and listening to radio stations — although there are some good ones — I count myself fortunate to be part of BBC Radio 1. From my earliest memories as a kid, that's what I listened to. It's a special feeling.
What's changed throughout your years on Radio 1?
The music's changed a little bit, but the actual ethic — the reason to be there — is pretty similar. It's always been about trawling the electronic world of music in the broadest possible sense. My thing's always been about bringing what I feel is the next wave from the underground into the mainstream. If you imagine a fishing scenario, I'm always looking 25, 50 meters below the surface. I don't turn water into wine; I just speed up the process of getting the music to a wider audience.
Can you give us your take on the American electronic-music scene today?
It's, without question, in my lifetime, the biggest explosion there's ever been in America. I think it's fair to say that it's bigger than disco now. Over the years, I've seen America flirt with electronica, get quite interested and then move away again. There weren't roots; the difference is that there are real roots now. The festival circuit has been getting to a level of popularity that has surpassed that of Europe. If you look at the Winter Music Conference and Electric Daisy Carnival and Detroit Electronic Music Festival, they're all serious festivals bringing in serious numbers. It's got an awful lot more below the surface, and there's now a consistent conveyor belt of new names coming through.