"Sexy” … “house-music base” … “Techno attitude” … “Girly friendly.” That’s how legendary DJ Pete Tong describes—with hesitancy—what his set will be like in Vegas. “It’s funny,” Tong laughs. “For someone who’s been around for so long, I don’t know what people know me for.”
You might think a DJ would consider hanging up his headphones as he approaches 50, but Tong shows no signs of stopping. “It’s becoming an obsession to do more and more music every day,” says Tong, the rare superstar without a plethora of original productions under his belt. “I’ve spent a life championing other people,” he says. “You couldn’t really be a new DJ today without making your own music … I’m one of the lucky ones from the era that we were known for stacking together other people’s music in an entertaining way.”
That’s changing a bit for Tong. While he doesn’t have specific plans to put out his first artist album, he’s working on original music every day, including scoring a forthcoming motion picture, Harry Brown. “I want to make more music, that’s for sure,” he says, explaining that future tracks could be in the vein of his Kings of Leon “Use Somebody” remix, which has turned into a club favorite.
Tong’s popular BBC Radio 1 show, like his career, is also evolving in a positive way. After 18 years, the show recently moved to a later time, providing freedom to include more cutting-edge programming than the previous drive-time slot allowed. “My radio show is much more in line with what I do live now than maybe it was a year ago,” Tong says. The new show should translate better for those streaming around the globe.
But wait. There’s more. Tong just finished the second summer of his Wonderland party at Eden in Ibiza, Spain—raising some eyebrows after leaving a residency at the upscale Pacha club. “I could have stayed there forever,” Tong says of leaving Pacha, his “home” of five summers. But, he explains, his mission to re-glamorize the Ibiza club that has been around since the ’70s had been accomplished, and he was ready for another project. Tong’s goal with Wonderland? Revitalizing an area with a less-than-sparkling reputation. “We’re two years in, and it’s all going in the right direction.” Also heading in the right direction: the International Music Summit, for which Tong helped lay the foundation.
So things haven’t gone wrong for Pete Tong, much as a cockney slang (“It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong”), which was coined by a rave-days fanzine and which ultimately found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary, might suggest otherwise. “It got used out of context,” Tong says. “It was meant to be something to wind me up, but ended up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. Never bothered me, always bothered my mum.”
Somehow, Tong has found the time to make a journey back to Las Vegas on November 4, when he’ll get behind the tables at Body English. “I don’t get to play America very often,” he says. His mate Sander Kleinenberg will also be spinning. “We complement each other’s style really well, I think,” says Tong. “Maybe we will decide we’ll go back-to-back for a minute. That might be fun.
“The thing I love about Vegas is the people that really live there, the workers,” Tong says, adding that he had a great time when he previously played Godskitchen Wednesdays at Body English. “It’s a fascinating place to come and play and meet the people as opposed to the tourists. I think [locals are] brilliant. They’ve seen it all, done it all, and they work in such a weird, mad life over there.” Pete, you have no idea.