Pete Gooding

PETE GOODING has long been synonymous with Ibiza. But if you’ve ever set foot on La Isla Blanca, or heard him at his countless UK and international gigs, you’ll know his musical clout extends far beyond chillout or obscure ambient electronica – his repertoire includes tracks that take you from beach to sunset to block-rocking main room without missing a beat. Up until now, Pete has been best known for his residency at Café Mambo, he’s been behind the decks there for eight hours a night for the last 10 summers.

As Mambo grew from a handful of tables on the beach front to a luxury terrace complete with ice-cold water spritzers to cool the crowd, so did its reputation as the prime position for a perfect sunset vibe, long since eclipsing Café Del Mar thanks to Pete’s chilled beats that gave way to a writhing mass of clubbers the second the sun dropped behind the ocean. 2002 saw him scoop Best Ibiza DJ at the prestigious Pacha Awards. Pete Tong’s Essential Selection confirmed Gooding’s role as Ibizan institution (alongside vodka-limons) by adopting Mambo as its spiritual home, and made Gooding a fixture on Radio One’s various summer broadcasts, where he also played on shows for the likes of Danny Rampling and Seb Fontaine.

But there’s much more to Pete than Mambo, and after 10 fantastic years he’s decided to say “buenos noches” to sunset and “hola” to peak time, main room gigs and the launch of his own record label, Freefall Recordings. “Chillout is such a small element of what I do, so it seems weird that people sometimes associate me with that. I play cutting edge electronic dance music, and that’s what I want to put out on the label, and what you’ll hear at my club night.” It’s the obvious next step for Pete, who fell instantly in love with house music aged 12 after being given a cassette of The House Sound Of Chicago Volume 1 by his sister. He subsequently started to drag his midi hi-fi into her room where she had the same system, and his first foray into mixing involved playing one record on each deck.

A holiday to Ibiza at 15 cemented the relationship, and Pete invested in his first decks and a mixer. “From then on I was addicted to buying vinyl every single week!” In 1992, desperate to give his tunes a public airing, Pete took a job as a mobile DJ in a tiny wine bar near where he lived. “I’d drive 20 miles to Coventry to hire the sound system, drive back to the bar to set it up, play for six hours in this place that only held about 40 people, then pack the system away and drive back to Coventry, It used to cost me £10 more than I got paid, but I didn’t care because I was so excited about playing records I loved to my friends.”

Clubbing around his home town of Birmingham at The Hummingbird and Shelley’s in Stoke, and then onto Renaissance in Mansfield the scene of Sasha’s groundbreaking sets, Pete found his inspiration to get serious about his involvement with clubland. A humble glass collector at his local Solihull club, he started his own night with DJ Phil Docherty (who later formed Futureshock), booking all the biggest DJs from around the world (Erick Morillo, Dave Seaman, and Graeme Park) and playing himself. He then launched a night at Birmingham’s biggest bar, Rafael’s, and began playing out at the likes of Moneypenny’s and The Steering Wheel.

A day job at record shop Global Grooves led to Pete opening his own record store, Vinyl Matters, and expanding his contacts to land even more gigs across the UK. In 1996, 3 years after he started DJing, he landed his Mambo residency through old school friend Steve Lawler, and the following year released his first award-winning Café Mambo compilation. He’s since released seven more of them through Neo, Sony, React, Defected;  all have received rave reviews.

In 1998, Pete met Renaissance promoter Geoff Oakes, and puts his next set of bookings down to the crafty exploitation of years of train spotting. Every week when Jeff came in I’d play a tune that I knew would make him come over. The first time he said “I’ve only ever heard Sasha and Digweed play this; what’s your name?” Then Frankie Knuckles was with Geoff at Mambo, and quizzed Jeff about who I was.

The following week Danny Rampling did the same and asked for one of my mix tapes. Soon after, Oakes was listening to a tape around the pool. It was one of Pete’s mix tapes – a mate of his who worked for Renaissance had slipped it on and Oakes offered him a residency that he still holds today. In fact, you’d be hard pushed to find a club in Ibiza that Pete hasn’t played at as a resident: he’s done Privilege (where in 2000, Pete played Renaissance Live alongside Moloko, Kylie, Leftfield and Moby) and Amnesia for Renaissance, he was Cream’s resident in Ibiza and Mallorca, and at Dave Seaman’s 4:4 night, and Steve Lawler’s Harlem Nights at Space.

Represented initially by Renaissance for bookings, he’s now been with Dave Seaman’s Therapy agency for the last six years. “I’d say I’ve been abroad virtually every weekend for the last seven years, and have played in over 35 countries,” says Pete. In 2001, Pete hit the studio with production partner Adam Routh, and under the moniker Drax and Gooding the pair released their first two singles on Renaissance’s label. More productions followed on Junior Boy’s Own’s offshoot Fuju, and on Lawler’s Harlem label, putting the duo in demand to remix for the likes of Hooj Choons, Positiva, Slip n Slide and many more.

After a prolific period of productions and remixes, including De’Lacy’s club staple Hideaway hammered by everyone from Steve Lawler to Roger Sanchez and Pete Tong, it became obvious that Pete needed his own label with more freedom to put out tunes and give him control over releases; Freefall Recordings is due to launch at Miami’s WMC 2006. Watch this space for release news. Pete and Phil Docherty have also started to run a clubnight again, Hero, at the Boiler Room – in their Birmingham stomping ground, along with Jim Breese, another former Café Mambo resident. As well as work on Freefall, Pete’s doing an album project with Afterlife’s Steve Miller as No Logo. Even with a reprise from the sunset gig he’s gonna be busy, so let the main room fury begin.