We sat down with the legendary British DJ to talk about spearheading the Future Talent Awards Initiative.

Pete Tong, who’s famed for crafting up utterly insane beats – sprouting the phrase “It’s all gone Pete Tong” into existence, has progressed his DJ academy to the next level. Searching intently within the academy, one lucky student will be crowned the 2023 Future Talent winner, in association with DJ Mag.

Getting the green light to apply from January, only a select 10 students will make the cut – entering into the illustrious PTDJA Future Talent Top 10. Being bestowed with the opportunity to attend the prestigious awards ceremony at IMS in Ibiza, and also to share the stage with Tong, and Carl Cox – an action-packed programme awaits.

Giving back to the community, Tong’s aim is to strengthen the future generation of DJs. Providing them with a platform, the programme’s objective is to shine a light on talent that deserves to be seen. To preserve, and conserve the art of DJing – Tong is imbuing the new generation with the tools, connections, and facilities to excel at their craft. That’s one of the driving forces of the Pete Tong DJ Academy, which was launched earlier this year at IMS Ibiza. A rigorous, comprehensive online learning platform, Tong breaks down the entirety of what goes into a DJing career – which has been a smash hit. With participants from all over the globe, Tong’s teaching prowess is snowballing.

With the Future Talent Awards now in the equation, the influence of Pete Tong’s DJ Academy is on the up and up. To have your career bolstered and put on the map, with global media exposure to boot – is truly a priceless opportunity. Right on! Luckily enough for us, we had the chance to chat to Tong about the star-studded new Future Talent Awards, and passing the torch to the future generation.

To read our interview with Pete Tong, head below…

Hi Pete, congratulations on the launch of the Pete Tong DJ Academy this year. What encouraged you to start it, and how has the feedback from students and colleagues been so far?

I’ve always been interested in the music education space, particularly what’s been available online over the past 10 years. There are some really good music production courses out there but I felt there was an opportunity to create something bespoke and stand-alone, that focused purely on the art of DJing, both from a technical and theoretical perspective. I also wanted to create something that celebrated and preserved the essence of what it takes to be a great DJ, so it’s also about legacy and passing on knowledge and experience.

We want to start at the very beginning and ask, when and how did you first get into DJing? How do you think this has influenced you to start the academy?

I was in a band at school playing drums, and we were playing at a school concert and a DJ set up on stage to follow us. It was the first time I had ever seen a DJ; it was a very early basic set up, 2 belt drive turntables through an amp, but when he started playing real vinyl records back to back and I saw the reaction I was hooked. The early days were pretty humble – school discos, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and some gigs in pubs. I eventually found my feet when I started specialising in the soul & jazz funk scene back in the day. I was a sound system guy who could also play, and I had started to get into specialist radio both legal and pirate. I hustled and broke into the Soul Mafia. Chris Hill, Robbie Vincent and Froggy were my early mentors, and they had a huge influence on my early days. By the mid 80’s I was playing in all the right places in and around London and the southeast and then the rave scene started with the arrival of house and techno. I was in the right place at the right time.

My career definitely inspired me to start the academy. I have been fortunate to have grown up in the golden era, and had all these amazing experiences, gaining all this knowledge, and all these relationships in dance and electronic music. I want to make sure I can share it with the next generation of aspiring DJs.

You have just announced the Future Talent Awards, where students can submit a mix from January to be in with a chance of being championed one of the Top 10 from the Academy. What is the mission behind this idea?

To create a platform where we can help set our students on a path to success and give them some valuable exposure, and stay engaged with our community after they have completed the course. The Future Talent Awards gives the students the chance for some instant recognition and feedback on how they are doing. We don’t just want to teach people about the art of DJing we want to use it as a path the talent discovery as well.

How will you go about selecting the Top 10 – can you give us some clues on what you’ll be looking for in that star student?

We are looking for a combination of DJ skills and technique and musical personality. What are the DJ’s expressing through their musical choices and the sequencing? What vibe or mood are they trying to create? Curation will be a big part of it too.

With the addition of the awards this no doubt sets your academy above the rest, with students in for a chance to play with you in Ibiza and have media coverage. Do you think this is enough to kick start a potentially successful career?

I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s “enough”. I’m not sure how you quantify “enough” as there are infinite paths to success, some long, some short and many stops in between, but what we are trying to do, is open a door and help get the best of our students on the right path at least and give them some immediate opportunities and goals.

You have a roster of exciting mentors, including Carl Cox, Jamie Jones, Nicole Moudaber, and TSHA. What was your thought process when choosing who was to act as mentors for the academy? Are there more to be announced for 2023?

Even though my name is on the door I wanted to pull together a team of like-minded partners/mentors to give the Academy real credibility and depth of experience. We want a diverse team as well, and that is a big factor of how we add to the group.

Carl and I started out at a similar time. We have been around each other our whole careers and I couldn’t think of anyone who defines and embodies the art of DJing more than him. He’s still as enthusiastic about the art of DJing as the day I met him nearly 40 years ago – and he’s still learning. He’s a legend and a role model, and it’s an honour to have him as my partner. Jamie comes from a different generation, but is also a role model as a DJ and entrepreneur and has a real passion for curation and developing talent. We are lucky to have him on board. Nicole joins with a wealth of global experience and is really respected as a very technical DJ. She’s an accomplished producer and that really informs her DJ style and even more importantly she was a clubber and a promoter so she has deep knowledge to share. TSHA joins at the other end of the age and experience spectrum but in many ways is a lot closer to our students.

Finally, aside from the academy launch, what else are you looking forward to this year?

Discovering new talent and getting back on the road with the 2023 edition of Ibiza Classics with Jules Buckley and The Essential Orchestra.

For more information, head here


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