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As the esteemed host of BBC Radio 1's Essential Mix and Essential Selection, Pete Tong has kept a finger pressed on the pulse of global dance music for the better part of two decades.
Though broadcasting from Europe, where electronic dance music dominates the mainstream airwaves, Tong has seen his influence seep into the budding American EDM scene with the 2012 launch of Evolution, his syndicated internet radio show on iHeartRadio. Add his work as a producer, DJ, and FFRR label head, and it's clear why he's so widely recognized as the world's chief electronic dance music tastemaker.
We recently caught up with the eminent Mr. Tong to chat about the latest trends on the global scene. He even offered his top five predictions for the biggest hits of Winter Music Conference, Miami Music Week, and Ultra Music Festival 2014.
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New Times: 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 2014? What can we expect from you this year as far as personal projects?
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 can partygoers expect during Miami Music Week?
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 is 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!
Mr. Tong's five predictions for the biggest hits of WMC, MMW, and Ultra 2014.
Ten Walls' "Walking With Elephants"
"It was the underground anthem at BPM this year, and it's been in very limited supply since," Mr. Tong says. "Dark, naughty, and addictive — like Heath Ledger's Joker."
Guy Gerber & Dixon's "No Distance"
"Guy is probably one of the most underrated producers on the scene — always weaving beautiful musical patterns and rhythms. And now he teams up with RA's number one DJ to produce this anthem. Amazing."
Hot Natured's "Benediction" (Lxury/Nic Fanciulli Remixes)
"Twenty-twelve's summer song is back with brilliant new mixes from rising UK star Lxury and Mr. Saved himself. Might be a genuine hit this time 'round."
Oliver Heldens' "Gecko"
"Another young Dutchman blows up on YouTube and Beatport via the Spinning and Musical Freedom production line, but this time it's much more housey. Loving his work and his remixes, and very excited to have him on FFRR for worldwide release."
Tong Flynn Rogers' "Hear Me Now"
"This was the result of a fun session with Tom Flynn and my main man in London, Paul Rogers. We actually came up with three parts to this. But the first is coming out on Pets Recordings for Miami, and it's been driving people crazy in my sets this year."