Interview with Pete Tong
Mention the name Pete Tong and if you are an electronic dance fan, you will find his name synonymous around the world as one of the best DJ’s in the world.
Born and bred in the Uk Tong was heavily influenced by DJ Froggy which he credits to his originality in mixing music.
Tong is in Australia with the Heritage Orchestra led by the Amazing Jules Buckley. Live and Loud was fortunate to speak with Pete while in Sydney.
Good Morning Pete, how are you?
“Yeah Im good, Im here.”
First off how are you enjoying our weather so far?
“It’s good, it’s kind of like Sydney, I’ve been out side most of yesterday which was good, I’ve been on the water yesterday and went to rehearsals on a boat. Windy very windy.”
Pete, you are here for your monstrous tour with the Heritage Orchestra with the amazing Jules Buckley. How did the concept come about initially?
“A little bit of luck and kind of making the most of your luck I guess, I was invited to curate a concert at The Royal Albert Hall as part of ‘The Proms’ in 2015 which is a series of classical concerts which have been going on for 100 years believe it or not, and they wanted something more contemporary, they talked to BBC Radio One 1 about it, Radio One asked me if I wanted to do it, It happened to be a big anniversary for Radio One, It was 20 years of broadcasting for the beef of that year, we were looking to do something special and this thing was the perfect fit.”
So, I spent about six months planning the show, I had never worked with Jules before, I knew about him through a couple of artist like Basement Jaxx and Goldie, we got through it. Totally new territory for me, totally out of my comfort zone in terms of how you go about curating a show with an orchestra like that. It took us six months, I picked the tracks put them in the right order, talk about the flow with Jules, then he sets about arranging all the parts for these 65 individual players. We did this from January to July and I never heard a no. I kept saying to Jules “what is it going to sound like what is it going to sound like” and he just kept saying “trust me” I didn’t really get to hear. I knew what the original sounded like and I blended them all together perfecting this sequence, I never knew what they were going to sound like until rehearsal the day before. It was an amazing experience.”
That’s how it actually started, there was never a discussion about whether we were going to do it again, but about 5 minutes into the first song the place is going crazy and we knew we were onto something rather special and then when we got backstage we said we have to do this again, how are we going to do this again as it involves so many people it’s just a logistical five dimensional chess game in terms of trying to get everybody back together. It actually took us the best part of 18 months to form again which was the end of last year, then we did these three sell out arena’s in the UK, that created a lot of momentum, the album went to #1 and we ended up doing about 156 shows this year.”
Touring with The Heritage Orchestra must be a huge massive feat especially when coming overseas, was there ever a time when you said I don’t think it’s going to work was there any negativity regarding the tour?
“Not really it’s about more a case of logistically and financially trying to make it work , it’s impossible to tour with 65 piece orchestra, you have to take apart the core orchestra and you start working with local musicians . We still bought a core group of about 20 people down and you augment it with the best players you can get your hands on and that’s where I trust these guys impulsively doing these things around the world, and they have become a class of musicians they work with and a style of musician they work with and that’s exactly what it took to get to Australia. It’s honestly the core team, there’s a band within the Heritage Orchestra of about7 or 8 people so they come down, then you have your lead string player your lead horn player then you pick up the rest down here. We travel with our core singers, we are picking up some features locally as well.”
“We want to take it everywhere, it just a case of working out the best way to do it.”
Will you be showcasing any local talent on the tour?
“Yeah Sandy Phoenix is performing, stepping up and performing a song with us, Rapper from here called Remy who was discovered on You Tube performing a track and Connie from Sneaky Sound System which I do have a relationship with, she’s guesting as well, and then we’ve got Sam White Beringa and Brendan Ryrie, three singers in the Heritage Orchestra,that do all the shows as well .”
The tour starts off in Sydney followed by Melbourne and then off to the Hollywood Bowl, is that the intent to get this show out to as many people and showcase what you guys can do?
“Yeah that would be the dream, I would love to take it to iconic places, if it goes well tonight I’d love to come back, what would be a dream would be to play the Opera House , you know outside or inside just play show’s and take it to iconic venues would be the real dream.”
Working with Jules Buckley is amazing, you guys gel so well, is there going to be any future projects from you guys in the works?
“Well we have done the second album which comes out on the 1st December, we have actually started recording some new material together as well, which we couldn’t, it doesn’t come under the category of Ibiza Classic’s, as you say we gel so well, we want to explore where we can go with this. I think the idea of doing new music it’s really up to him, I really want to keep working with him and the Heritage Orchestra and , it’s been a dream so far, we don’t get together that often, it involves so many people, so it still feels so really really new and fresh to us.”
You started DJing at an early age, who were your musical influences?
“In the early days when I started all that was coming out of the Uk it was the Soul and Jazz Funk scene, my kind of mentor’s was a guy call Chris Hill and Robbie Vincent to a certain extent, then when I started going to New York and seeing that scene, Danny Corvette Frankie Knuckles and Timmy Regesford, they were the ones that opened another door in my head, they took DJing to a whole another level of importance and on a performance scale, they were my guiding light”
If you weren’t DJing what profession do you think you would be doing?
“In a dream sense I am a massive fan of road cycling , so I would of loved to have done something like that, that’s kind of a hobby of mine that I do to this day. Chef would have been quite good like Gordon Ramsay Or Jamie Oliver.”