As the longtime host of the BBC Radio 1 shows Essential Selection and Essential Mix, Pete Tong is arguably one of the most influential DJs in the world. Beamed across the U.K. and the world, those shows have introduced millions of listeners to the latest and greatest sounds in dance music for years. Aside from that, Tong is also a globetrotting DJ/producer who knows a thing or two about keeping a dance floor moving. We recently talked with Tong about his influence, what's hot in dance music, and his U.S. tour.
Westword: What's it like being the biggest personality in U.K. dance music?
Pete Tong: Well, I don't go around thinking like that. I'm just happy to be still involved after all these years, still enthusiastic. Lucky, I suppose, to be doing something I like and something that makes a difference and that people seem to enjoy — the club gigs, the music in the studio, the radio gig, the whole bit.
Your position puts you at the forefront of emerging sounds in dance music. Can you tell us what's exciting and upcoming that maybe the U.S hasn't heard yet?
From a European perspective, the biggest story of the summer — it's a revolutionary, groundbreaking, shocking revelation I'm about to make to you — is that house music is back. It doesn't sound necessarily like the house music that left New York in 1986, '87, but it's house music with sort of a techno attitude. And disco, dare I say, is almost back in fashion. It's sexy, it sounds fresh again, and you're starting to hear melody and vocals — not like diva performance, but it's a mix-up.
Tell us about the contest you're running on this tour.
I get sent millions of links and CDs and vinyl. Everything's a sea of information — an infinite supply — and you get lost with all that. The idea with this is bring it back to basics: Hand me your CD or memory stick or records, and I promise I'll listen to it and get back to you, and we'll see if we can discover a new style on this tour. Everyone said to me a year ago, "You're fucking crazy if you do this; you'll get swamped." And you know what happened? Hardly anyone does it.
Is your recent Wonderland CD representative of what we'll hear on this tour?
They're 100 percent — 110 percent — representative of where I am as a DJ. The roots will be always be house music — it's got to have some soul. It's got to be sexy; I don't want a room full of boys! It's not cheesy; it's not anthem after anthem.