Pete Tong on Commercial Dance Music: "The Craft Has Gone Up to Another Level"
Last week, we here at Crossfade got five predictions for the biggest hits of Winter Music Conference, Miami Music Week, and Ultra Music Festival 2014 from none other than Pete Tong, BBC Radio 1 host and the world's chief electronic dance music tastemaker.
And with EDM's biggest week coming up -- not just for the 305, but the world -- we couldn't pass up an opportunity to pick Mr. Tong's brain on the state of global dance music and what he has in store for international revelers in Miami this month.
Crossfade: What do you think have been some of the most significant trends in electronic dance music this past year? Which international sounds, artists and scenes do you think are pushing the envelope?
Pete Tong: I think at the commercial end of the market, the craft of songwriting, performance, and production has gone up to another level: Avicii and Calvin Harris -- and to a certain extent, Zedd -- are in new territory for DJs. This has resulted in a change of style for the likes of Armin [Van Buuren] and Tiësto, and some of the mainstay acts from the last ten years. It will be interesting to see what David Guetta does next.
In the UK, the rise of the deep house scene has been remarkable. This has almost become a catch-all term for anything that isn't "EDM," but the creativity and urban influence has come through very strong: Disclosure, Duke Dumont, Clean Bandit, Rudamental, Hot Natured, Gorgon City, Shadow Child, and Hot Since 82.
Hip-house is back in the shape of Dansson, Marlon Hoffstadt, and Tapesh & Kant, and expect a West Coast reaction from Destructo soon. I'm liking the original sound of Blood Orange, Mar, and Bob Moses too. And never forget Berlin, which has brought us the rise of Tale of Us, via Italy and DC10, and Panorama Bar and Berghain are still producing the next wave.
Any personal favorites as far as artists, tracks, parties or general musical highlights?
Chris Malinchak is a refreshing artist and I'm keen to hear how his story unfolds. I love the Hot Natured album and Anabel Englund, but I'm biased as they are signed to FFRR Records! Hot Since 82's Little Black Book was great and the Life and Death label has been on fire with Tale of Us, etc. Daft Punk's return, of course, was inspiring, and sitting and talking through the making of the album with them at Coachella was a big highlight for me. Marco Carola showed how it should be done in Ibiza at Music On, and Richie Hawtin's Enter project is pretty special.
What do you have in store for the rest of 2014? Any forthcoming projects we can look forward to?
We have some very exciting new developments at Evolution Radio, and I'm very pleased with the impact we are making via iHeart and the Clear Channel network. I'm getting involved in more film and TV projects now, because I'm based in L.A., and making more original music and developing the All Gone parties. Behind the scenes, I work with the WME [William Morris Endeavor talent agency] electronic team and continue to develop artists for FFRR. There is some special news to announce while I am in Miami as well, so watch this space.
So what do you have planned for Miami Music Week? What can partygoers expect this year?
It's going to be a full-on year for me. My All Gone pool party returns to the Surfcomber, where I will be making a very special announcement. I'll also be playing my traditional breakfast set on the Space terrace. What's great about Miami is that even after all these years, I still get to see, hear, and experience new things during conference week. This year's no different, and I'll be doing some firsts: playing Crosstown Rebels' Get Lost party and Ultra. Very different events and crowds, but I'm sure both will be amazing shows. See you all on the dance floor!
All Gone Pete Tong Pool Party Miami 2014. Friday, March 28. Surfcomber Hotel, 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The party starts at noon and ends at 11 p.m. Tickets cost $80 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-532-7715 or visit surfcomber.com.
Pete Tong. With Seth Troxler and the Martinez Brothers. Sunday, March 30. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. The show starts at 6 a.m. and tickets cost $50 to $60 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-375-0001 or visit clubspace.com.
Pete Tong. As part of Ultra Music Festival 2014. Saturday, March 29. Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $399.95 plus fees via ultratix.ticketfreak.com. Visit ultramusicfestival.com.