Pete Gooding Interview

From the minute he was sneaked into Amnesia under age at just 15, Pete Gooding fell in love with dance music, the idea of becoming a DJ and the island of Ibiza. Fast forward 24 years and he has turned that first experience into his way of life. He now lives on the island, successfully produces dance music and delivers energy filled sets to adoring dance floors throughout the world. Pete spent numerous long hours behind the Café Mambo turntables between 1996 and the present day, delivering musical journeys to compliment the island’s beautiful sunset.

He plays throughout the island and indeed the world. As well as his solo productions and previously being one half of Doman & Gooding, Pete has enjoyed a successful recording career. He has spent the last 10 years collaborating with Afterlife as No Logo as well as working with Chris Coco and many others. Pete dedicates a great deal of his time to the studio, delivering tracks to inspire the next generation as well as making the current one dance. Now the season is well and truest over for another year, we caught up with him in Bali to talk about Ibiza, Dance Culture and that career defining Mambo residency.

Hi Pete, its an absolute honour to chat to you. Can we start by revisiting those early days? We know you used to be a glass collector in a club in your home town of Solihull and progressed to running your own night at the club, but where did that passion to DJ come from? What were those early days of house like? Was it really all your sisters fault? 

Well I was always into music, the first records I bought were albums like Nick Kershaw ‘The Riddle’, Def Leppard ‘Hysteria’ and Public Enemy ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’ then my sister gave me a compilation called The House Sound Of Chicago – Volume 1 to listen to in 1986 when I was 13 and that changed everything for me, so yes, it’s all her fault. The following summer we went on a family holiday to Ibiza, I was still too young to go to a club but I heard some great music in the hotel disco, tracks like ‘Electra Salsa’ by Off, this was Sven Vath’s band in the mid eighties. The first time I heard this music in a club was 2 years later back in Ibiza in 1989, again my sister took me and my brother to Amnesia and Es Paradise, these experiences really blew me away and started my passion for collecting music, buying as much vinyl as I could every week from my wages as a glass collector. Looking back, the music I heard back then was really varied and something I really miss in todays scene is how varied the music would be on a single night with a variety of styles and tempos with no boundaries, I guess this refers to what I understand as the term ‘Balearic’, you rarely find this today but that is why I love playing at Cafe Mambo as that mentality is alive in well there and it allows me to play the variety of music that I love.


You were a big Sasha fan back in the day and like you he’s done pretty well. Who else inspired you in the early days and have those idols changed over time? 

Well I collected records fanatically as I was a real enthusiast. I had Technics decks and mixed at home but there was no real desire to actually be a Dj, it just wasn’t something I thought about. Then on returning from another amazing summer holiday from Ibiza in 1990 we started going to a weekly party called ‘The Snapper Club’ at The Hummingbird in Birmingham and this was another life changing experience, the atmosphere was electric and I heard all the best local DJ’s like Lee Fisher, DJ Dick, Neil Macey and Nathan Gregory. Towards the end of that year The Snapper Club had had it’s day but we found out about a new place called Shelly’s in Stoke where a new dj called Sasha was resident, I had heard some great DJ’s in Ibiza and Birmingham at this point but Sasha, for me, was in a league of his own, he played the best music I had ever heard but the thing was when other DJs mixed it was just a way of getting from 1 track to the next but with Sasha his mixing was what set him apart, it was the best bit, he mixed in key and just has a real flare for what he does, this was what made me want to DJ for a living. The following year I heard Jose Padilla at Cafe Del Mar in Ibiza and his music influenced me as much as Sasha’s and I started collecting the cassette tapes he sold at the bar and using them to educate myself as for me he incapsulated the meaning of the word Balearic. He played such a wide variety of music and somehow made it all work together with electronica from from the likes of Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream and Aphex Twin alongside Flamenco music from people like Paco De Lucia, soundtracks from Enio Moriccone and Vangelis even The Rolling Stones and Chris Rea, this was mixed with the new wave of what would be called chill out from people like, Enigma, Deep Forest, Afterlife, Mixmaster Morris and many others. Sasha and Jose remain a big influence as I have a love of deep, melancholy sounds which they are known for. Not long after that Norman Jay was a big influence as I spent much of my early clubbing days in Birmingham listening to Rare Groove, Jazz Funk, early Hip Hop and Soul and when I first heard him at Cafe Mambo he let me record his set which I still have now, so this was also a big discovery for me. Then others like Andrew Weatherall, Laurent Garnier and Danny Rampling were amazing, all introducing me to different sounds in the early 1990’s then people like Tenaglia was really important for me from the late 90’s onwards but in more recent years Luciano and Greg Wilson have been favourites.


2012 marked the twentieth anniversary of Renaissance. They ran a series of parties at which you were headlining a room playing classics. How tough was it to find balance between playing tracks people expect and the ones you wanted to really play? 

It was great to be part of this, a proud moment for me as I went to the club every week from the day it opened in March 1992 as a customer, so to become one of their residents 5 years later was another dream come true after landing Cafe Mambo the year before. Playing at this event was easy in some respects as Renaissance defined the sound of Progressive House so people knew what they were going to get. I guess the obvious tracks worked the best like: Age Of Love ‘Age Of Love’, Remake ‘Bladerunner’ and Gat Decor ‘Passion’ but some of my personal Renaissance classics worked equally as well like: Dance 2 Trance ‘We Came In Peace’, Paolo Zerletti ‘My Beat’ and ‘Stella’ by Jam & Spoon, so it was great. What made it even better was that I knew about 75% of the people in my room, that was a really lovely night because of that, loads of old faces made the effort to come.


After much success in the UK your made the move to Ibiza to work as a resident at Cafe Mambo. Tell us how that all came about and what a typical day would be like.. 

Well after my family holidays to Ibiza in 1987 and 1989 I started going with my mates the following year. A few years later in 1995 a group of us went over and Steve Lawler who was with us ended up playing a few tracks one afternoon, this lead to him becoming one of the residents and the following year he got me my job. I stayed in my initial stint for 10 years solid as the only night time resident, playing 9 hours every night of the season. A typical day back then was waking up around 5pm generally tired and hung over from a big night out, then to Rincon Da Pepe for some wonderful tapas like Gazpacha, Grilled Squid and their amazing tortilla and then off to Cafe Mambo. I would start playing chilled down-tempo stuff, Acid Jazz, classic Balearic stuff like The Blow Monkeys, St Etienne then soundtracks, classical stuff and electronica for sunset. Atmospheric deep house followed as the sky got dark then a daily headline guest would play for about an hour, through this period it was Roger Sanchez every (Monday), Erick Morillo (Wednesday), Pete Tong (Friday), Frankie Knuckles and the Def Mix crew (Saturday) Judge Jules (Sunday) plus regular appearances from people like: Fat Boy Slim, Sasha, Digweed, Nick Warren, Dave Seaman, Danny Tenaglia, DJ Sneak etc etc. Then I would play till 3 or 4am then head to a club till around 7am and head off to bed. If I didn’t go to a club after Mambo me and some of the other DJs like: Danny Whitehead, Andy Warburton, Louis Osbourne, Jim Breese and Bongo Steve our resident percussionist would head to a little restaurant in the middle of some woods up in the mountains called Can Talias, they opened around 2am till 7am and we eat amazing roast leg of Lamb, Steaks, potato salad and Gazpacho all made by a lovely old lady called Catalina, great times!


You’ve had a lot of success with your recording career too and I notice you’ve remixed some of the best house records of the 90s, namely Ultraviolet – Kites, Humate – Choose Life and the irrepressible De’Lacy – Hideaway. How do you tackle those remixes? 

Well I guess I only remixed tracks that inspired me to be honest or there is no point. With De’Lacy, I felt I just updated it respectfully and was very proud when Dubfire and Sharam (Deep Dish) who made the original told me one night in Mambo they they really liked my mix and were playing it. Kites was an old Shelly’s classic that Sasha used to play, I loved the original but it was really dated so I made a really warm, deep, atmospheric mix and when I saw Sasha was playing it I was very pleased with myself. I’m now about to remix 2 of my all time favourites in the next couple of months, Bent’s classic Balearic track ‘Always’ and Slam’s debut track from 1992 ‘Eterna’ both tough to do as they are so good but I have ideas for both already so I am really excited about getting started when Im back from Bali.


You’ve released a couple of tracks this year on Secret Life, you’ve also continued to work with James (Doman) as The Machine, so I guess life is as busy as ever? 

Well me and James stopped producing together as full time studio partners about 2 years ago now but are still good mates, he lives in L.A so the time difference was a killer in the end. We did our more commercial stuff as Doman & Gooding, our first track ‘Runnin’ was signed to a major label and was a big radio record and the video was heavily rotated on MTV, then we hit number 1 on Beatport’s main chart for over 2 weeks which was great as well. The icing on the cake was being nominated for a Juno Award in Canada for the track. Following this was 2 solid years of remixing some of the world’s biggest artists like: Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Tini Tempha, Jess J and many, many others. The Machine was a more underground project we had at the same time, this was a real contrast as people like Luciano, Carl Cox, Slam, Nic Fanciulli and others played the tracks. James is still going some amazing pop stuff in L.A but Doman & Gooding and The Machine are no longer. Me and Chris Coco made a fair few together a few years ago but again for the last 2 years we haven’t done anything new. I still work with Steve Miller (Afterlife) as we are half way through making our second No Logo album and then I have been doing solo stuff mainly for the last 2 years as I have neglected this for many years and I really enjoy it. Secret Life is my label which I run with my partner Phil Dockerty who used to be one half of Futureshock so most my stuff will be on there in the future with the odd track coming out on other labels. So yes, still very busy, as always!


With the advent of technology the way we consume music has changed. Gone are the days of avid music fans spending hours in the record store finding ‘that tune’ while our partners tut and look bored beside us. Whether thats a good thing or bad, do you think that the kids these days have the same understanding of where dance music came from that we did? And to that end do you think the future for the scene is assured? 

That made me laugh, I spent every Saturday afternoon in record shops like: Don Christies, Pure, Summit, The Chart Shop and Hard To Find in Birmingham starting in the late 80’s with my first girlfriend looking incredibly bored at the back of the shop! This later progressed to me and Steve Lawler driving up to Eastern Bloc in Manchester 1 week and down to Black Market, Tag and Atlas in London the next. In the end we ran a record shop called Vinyl Matters in Birmingham. It’s easy to say kids now don’t understand this mentality or where dance music came from but it’s all relative. Beatport, Juno and other sites are the new record shops but I miss the human interaction as there was a great social and networking side to this. As far as understanding the origins of the music goes, when I was 16 years old I saw the origins being what was happening in NYC, Chicago and Detriot in the late 80’s from people like: Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson on labels like: Trax, DJ International and Transmat and I had no idea who Larry Levan, Nicky Siano and David Mancuso were at this point but as you get older you look back further and learn more if it’s of interest to you. I was always interested in the history of music, maybe if your 18 years old and living in the States now you may think David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Avicii started it all and if your going to most of the world’s biggest events in dance music right now that’s totally understandable and a fair point but there is room for everything and everyone, as long as everyone is having a great time that’s all that’s important to be honest, musical snobbery is of no interest to me, just concern yourself with the music you do like as so many people slag of music they don’t like all the time, music is all about being positive and having fun whether you like House, E.D.M, Techno, Rock, Classical or anything else.


Do you think the ‘Summer of Love’ (1988) and the following growth in the rave scene was a good thing culturally? Its said that the introduction of E’s at parties got rival football fans to dance together and enjoy the music. 

Well for me it was, I hated football when I was young because of all the negative violence associated with it, all the mindless yobs it seemed were into football and fighting at games every weekend, I just never understood this and as a result have never liked football. But there was a sudden change at the end of the 80’s when a large chunk of young people started taking E’s and going to illegal parties in warehouses and fields all round the U.K, people were suddenly united and came together to have a great time and to celebrate life. Another great thing I remember so vividly which may sound corny now but he didn’t matter who you were, where you were from, what you did, how you dressed or what colour you were, every one had this amazing sense of togetherness, there were no barriers where as now in too many places it’s all about who you know, are you on the guest list, are you in the V.I.P, do you know the dj or the promoter, no one even talked about things like that before and I really dislike that as it’s turned on it’s head now in some respects but thankfully not everywhere is like that.


DJs who learned to mix on turntables but refuse to move with the times are doomed to mediocrity. Discuss.

Not at all, each to their own, but some people seem to think they are so cool for saying they are playing vinyl, like its a fashion statement, which is missing the point but they are usually young or a bit affected but what they think is in fashion. The only reason I don’t play vinyl is there is a very limited selection of music, it’s costs so much money and a full record box weighs around 20KG and I have served my apprenticeship buy carting 2 big boxes round the world more times than I care to remember and throughout my life I have built up a vinyl collection of over 15,000 records, so I have paid my dues I think. I love playing vinyl and nothing will ever beat it but Ill take Serato for gigs like Cafe Mambo where I want about 40,000 tracks to choose from or a flash drive in a CDJ2000 for regular club gigs any day, it just doesn’t make sense to do it any other way.


Whats the best and worst thing about your job? 

The best thing is that I have worked in around 75 countries doing what I love. Right now I’m on an all expenses paid weeks holiday in Bali with my girlfriend as I am playing out here. I have had great experiences and met some amazing people, also playing your own music to a crowd is a great buzz. The worst is sleep deprivation when on the road, missing all social occasions with your family and friends, but you can’t have everything and I’m certainly not complaining.


You’ve been fortunate to DJ at all manner of festivals, clubs and after parties. Is there a particular favourite gig you remember? 

Glastonbury is always great, so are my annual residencies at Bestival and the Stella Polaris festival. Internationally there have been more than I can even remember over the years but gigs that really stand out of the top of my head have been: Plus Soda in Greece, Sirena in Brazil, Home in Sydney, Zouk in Singapore, The Shelbourne in Miami, Sundance Festival in India, Dance Valley Festival in Holland, Renaissance at The Cross in London, Ministry Of Sound in London, Lush in Northern Ireland, Exit Festival in Serbia, Club 13 in Moscow, Redlight in Paris, the roof top at Trilogy in Dubai, the list could go on for miles but I think best of all is Ibiza and I have played pretty much every club from the main room at Pacha to the terraces at Space and Amnesia but on a good day if I’m honest I am most at home at Cafe Mambo doing a 9 hour set flying the Balearic musical flag playing a huge variety of great music from sunset till we close, nothing beats that for me!


Whats the most outrageous thing thats happened during one of your gigs? 

I remember a outrageously graphic Sex show at club in Pigalle in Paris maybe 15 years ago when right in front of the DJ booth  with 1 guy and 2 girls really going for it. I guess that guy who used to give himself a blow job at Manumission was also pretty extreme but in the earlier days of Ibiza this was commonplace anyway so you get used to it really.


Which other artists do you find most inspiring? 

For DJs at the moment that I would go and see: Luciano, Sven Vath, Ben Hoo, Lulu Rouge, Horatio, Mixmaster Morris and the best concert I went to in 2013 was The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, amazing! Bjork, Public Emeny and Chic were also great at Bestival last year, there are too many to mention to be honest.


You’re still in the game after all these years, whats the secret to longevity in this industry? 

I work very hard and love what I do, If I didn’t love it so much, It would be impossible to work such long hours, for example, in the last 2 years since I set up my management company I have worked 12-19 hours a day and until this current working holiday in Bali, I could count days off on 2 hands since the end of 2011 but I have found some great people to work for me this year so it has really helped and I can work a much more sensible amount of hours now, well that’s the idea anyway! lol, so being incredibly passionate is the key.


Finally, whats 2014 got in store for you? 

Well 2014 kicks off in style for me here in Bali as Im doing a 1 week residency at one of the world’s best venues, Ku De Ta. On returning to the U.K it’s business as usual to be honest. I have been running my own management company for the last 2 and a half years now, I have staff based in Ibiza and here in the U.K and we look after various people like: The Shapeshifters, Dave Seaman, Hauswerks, App, Horatio and more, that’s a really full on but very enjoyable business as I get to use all the things I learnt over the last 23 years in the business. Then there is my ongoing productions as Pete Gooding and No Logo. Me and Phil Dockerty run our blog and our label Secret Life Records so we have a busy year of releases and events coming up. I have my radio show The Global Network which is now in it’s 8th year and is currently on around 200 stations worldwide every week. Then there is the constant touring, I generally play outside the U.K about 95% of the time, Ibiza in the summers, I’ll be at cafe Mambo again this year, it’s also our 20th birthday so there are lots of special things happening so that’s really exciting for me as I have been there for 18 of those years and I still write reviews for magazines and blogs, something i have been doing for nearly 20 years so on top of that If I get time to go to the gym I’ll be pretty happy! :)