Pete Tong’s in Wonderland – Pete Tong Interview

Pete Tong’s Wonderland 2010

Pete Tong’s decision to leave Friday night in Pacha to launch Wonderland
in Eden raised more than a few eyebrows in clubland, as he gets set for
the third season, Wonderland has become one of the island’s must visit
parties. Essential Ibiza caught up with Pete as he puts the final touches
to the Ibiza 2010 line up�

What inspired Wonderland and the move to Eden?

We started the idea in London in 2007, I was very much aware of easing my
way back into DJing in London again and actually hosting a party by
myself, it went really well and it felt really good and it got our
imagination running. A lot of the inspiration for this party was to bring
the flamboyance from Ibiza back to London and we sold it really hard, even
though Wonderland didn’t actually exist in Ibiza at the time. So when the
opportunity came to do something like that I had to jump for it.

I was having a fantastic time at Pacha and things were going from strength
to strength but this was the one thing that I couldn’t do there, to change
the name and concept of the night. That was a crossroads that we reached,
it was either stay and keep doing what I was doing at Pacha or start
something new.

It was a difficult thing to do because we were in a very comfortable
position; it’s not been easy, it’s probably been a much bigger job than I
thought when we started it. I feel that we’re really on top of it now and
really understand what it takes, because we’re running the whole show, not
just picking some DJs and sticking a banner up saying Wonderland. And even
though I’m a veteran on the island, to really understand how to promote on
the island and operate on the island as the four major clubs do you have a
lot of learning to do. That’s where we feel we’re at, at the start of the
third season – we finally know what we’re doing.

How much has the change and challenge reinvigorated you?

It’s the only way to survive really; you have to keep throwing yourself
out of the window! It’s something that earlier in my life I wasn’t
particularly good at, I mean for someone that stayed in the same radio
slot for so many years, change hasn’t come easy to me. I’ve managed to
find myself in quite comfortable positions but I’ve learnt, in life,
change is fantastically invigorating and exciting.

Has the level or immediacy of Wonderlands success surprised you?

Working Ibiza is like being on an oil tanker, and you can’t turn an oil
tanker on the spot, it takes a while. There were so many things to change
people’s perception about, firstly the fact that I’d moved, a lot of
people couldn’t get their head round that because I’d become a bit of a
part of the furniture on Fridays and everyone just assumed that I was
going to be there.

Secondly, the fact that you’ve changed location and that you’ve changed
location to San Antonio and Eden and people have perceptions about those
things. Some people don’t actually; the younger end don’t and the
Americans don’t, people who don’t come to Ibiza all the time and who are
just discovering Ibiza, we’re on a level playing field with all of those
people. But people that are Space or Amnesia veterans, they have their
perceptions about San An and Eden and it takes a while to change that. The
only thing you can do is consistently be as good as you can be and wear
people down eventually. We’re never going to be the coolest club but then
if we’d set out to be a techno club we never would have succeeded so we’ve
got to be Wonderland and we’ve got to be Wonderland Friday night where
people know what their going to get, which is a bit of variety actually.
It reflects what I do on the radio, I tend to champion a bunch of genres
and it’s the experience of what I think will work in Ibiza.

We’ve been through a period where ‘very niche’ was good but I think the
younger element, which is the future for all of us if we want to stay in
business, is more open minded and a little bit more akin to the way we
were back in the late ’80s, when we first discovered Ibiza. There’s
probably a bit more of the Balearic spirit about the way I’m booking the
club than there has been with other things I’ve done. The fact that you
can have Aeroplane, Erol Alkan, Boys Noize, Afrojack, Annie Mac, Layo
& Bushwacka and Dubfire in the same space, that’s Balearic to me, and
don’t forget Roxy Music!

The Wonderland opening line-up must have raised a few eyebrows; how did
the Bryan Ferry connection come about?

Yeah, mostly in a really good way; he’s an iconic figure, Roxy Music were
one of my favourite all time bands, the first two albums in particular, if
you play them today, they sound as fresh as they did in the seventies and
it shows how monumental an influence they’ve had on contemporary music
over the last 30 years. It’s well documented how important Eno’s been but
I think people forget how important Bryan Ferry was as well and they went
on to make loads more brilliant music after Eno left. Bryan’s been coming
to Ibiza for years, he’s been to Wonderland and hung out, he’s done his
research, he’s actively excited about what he’s seen in Ibiza, hence the
hook up with DJ Hell and Groove Armada.

I wanted to do something different, like we did with Lady Gaga, and I
think this is a good curve ball to throw at people. He’s really bought
into the performance, it’s going to be very tailored to work in a club and
I was very hard on him, I wanted to make sure he was going to do some Roxy
Music tunes as well so I think it will be really entertaining. It will be
30 or 40 minutes, like we did with Lady Gaga and I think it will blow
people away. We couldn’t really top Lady Gaga from last year so I wanted
to do something completely different.

Which guests in the forthcoming season are exciting you most?

Erol (Alkan) and Boys Noize, it’s their one and only appearance together
in Ibiza, I think that’s a real event. I think Erol fits in his own space
musically, outside all the trends and he’s a really bright, entertaining
and visual DJ.

Boys Noize, to be fair, I’ve been asked to book Boys Noize by all the
workers since I started Wonderland and some of the people behind the
scene’s at Eden, not just Wonderland, they all love Boys Noize and it’s
taken me three years to talk him into doing it. I don’t play Boys Noize
records every week but again I think that will be a real event.

What do you look forward to most about spending time on the island?

It’s an amazing place to play, that first ten minutes after you go on, you
feel like you’re home in the driving seat of your favourite car and also,
for me, getting out to the water or on the water, over to Formentera,
sitting at my favourite beach restaurant eating fresh fish. Being able to
do both things is important.

What’s your favourite place to eat?

Es Torrent is a favourite place but there are many.

Do you have a favourite spot on the island to chill out?

My secret hideout!