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Riding the Grooves of Time: An Exclusive Interview with Veteran DJ Pete Bones.

Kono Vidovic June 8, 2023 395 4 5

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Step into the musical journey of a lifetime as we dive into a candid conversation with legendary DJ Pete Bones. With an expansive career that has seen the ebbs and flows of the music industry, Bones shares his intriguing origins, his experiences with Ugly Bug Records, Red Ant Records, and the transformative world of electronic music. From the Surrey barns in 1989 to the enchanted woods of Wild Wood Disco Festival, his stories resonate with the raw authenticity of a life well-lived in the harmony of beats.

Pete Bones - Wild Wood Disco Festival

Thanks for taking the time to talk, where are you today and what are you up to?

I’m at home in Brighton. It’s Sunday and I’m listening to Cerys on the radio and contemplating the day ahead. There’s going to be a roast involved at some point.

Where are you from originally and where are you based these days? 

I was born in East London but grew up in Feltham, West London. After being very transient over the past 25 years or so, I have now settled in Brighton. Home of the art-loving 50 somethings who refuse to grow up or grow old. One of those two.

You have had a long and eventful career in music. What was your first taste of the music industry?

I’m not really sure how to answer this, as for me the ‘music industry’ is the irritating distraction that gets in the way of a good time. That term conjures up images of PRS registrations, wanky A&R men in oversized offices and lame roof top parties with free booze and no atmosphere. Needless to say, I’ve always had a rather strained relationship with the non-creative side of the music biz. Maybe I should pass on that one…

When did you first start to DJ? 

1989. I’d played on turntables a couple times at mate’s houses, but my first proper gig was in a Surrey barn around April ’89 and I figured out how to ‘mix’ in the middle of my set. A kind of Eureka moment I suppose. 

What kind of music were you playing in the early days? 

Well, we were all playing the same kind of music back then, whatever you could get your hands on. There were only 3 or 4 record shops in west London that I can remember shopping at, and you just had to make sure you were there when the shipment came in. There were only two types of house music then, good, and bad.

DJ Pete Bones

Who were the DJs and artists you were into in those early years?

DJs were Weatherall, Robertson, Eddie Richards and Alfredo and artists would be harder to pin down, but the likes of Derrick May, Seduction, The Minutemen, Westbam and 808 State kinda spring to mind. 

I’d love to know about your time with Ugly Bug Records.

That’s probably the craziest 5 years of my life. Going from nothing to being in a 3-way bidding war between XL, A&M and Manifesto to sign me about 2 years into launching my label. 

Ultimately it became a bit of an albatross around my neck as the sound had been placed into a box by those ‘record industry’ people and I had to change lanes again. From the embers of Ugly Bug came a Red Ant.

When did you first step into the studio?

In 1991. My mate Justin Drake was interested in learning to engineer dance music and suggested we make a track, with me producing. I was a musician but had zero knowledge or experience of production, so it was a learning curve for both of us.

What was the first record you put out? 

It was called ‘Fixation’ and was a white label. I think I pressed 1000 and sold them all myself, driving from record shop to record shop in my car, loaded with boxes of vinyl. Nuts to think of it now when you consider how much things have changed.

What do you think has been your most notable release in your career? 

The next one hopefully. Seriously though I suppose the last full album, Hyena Hopscotch, with my band, the Stones of Convention. As a body of work, it’s what I’m most proud of.

Which one of your releases do you think was great and that slipped under the radar? 

Good question. I guess we’re about to find out. Hopefully one of the early Shaker releases.

Tell us a little about your time on Kiss FM. 

I was a fairly regular guest on Jules’s show ‘The Judge and the Jury’. It was a weekly reviews show on Fri night from 7-9pm I think. I was a bit of a mouthy yob back then and I think they loved having me on as they knew I would never toe the line or care who I upset. Bit cringe really.

Under your Shaker guise, you were signed to XL Records. What was a highlight of that time?

Ha, getting the tunes back that they’d signed after a year and keeping the money. That’s slightly glib as I would have much rather they were released I suppose. The label wanted to lay vocals over one of the instrumental tracks and it just didn’t work. It was a transitional time for me personally, and those tracks were a moment in time that had passed. I had moved on already.

Red Ant Records – What’s happening with the label right now? 

As 2023 is the 30-year anniversary of both Ugly Bug and The Shaker, I’ve dedicated the year to releasing new mixes of the old Shaker classics from the early/mid ‘90s. ‘Just Lick It’ is coming out in a few weeks time, and will be followed by ‘Star’, and ‘Mooncat’, later in the year. The reaction I’ve been getting from the dance floors so far has been terrific. 

What’s the last new record you bought? 

I buy new music every week. But the last actual thing I bought was yesterday afternoon and was Daypak Solo’s new album, No Filter.

What’s the last old record you invested in?

Time or money? I’ve been investing plenty of time in remixing my old ones and doing some edits of some classic old acid house tracks that I will be playing out throughout the year.

Who do you think is making great music at the moment?

Well, my peers Duncan Gray, Mark Cooper, Matt Gunn, Jezebell, Pete Herbert, Steve Mac are all putting out some wicked stuff right now. Of those I have not met/worked with, Joyce Muniz is always right up there.

What kind of vibe can we hear in a Pete Bones set these days?


Festival season is here, and we know you are playing at Wild Wood Disco in a few weeks.  Is this your first time at the event? 

Nope, second. I played last year in the little enchanted wood and rather serendipitously it stopped raining right before I started and started again right as I was finishing so I got lucky with the dance floor. It was pretty magical, and I don’t use these terms flippantly as most will know…

What can you tell us about the Wild Wood Disco? 

It’s in a beautiful setting, the size is small to medium I suppose, like 1500 people over 4 stages varying in size, and the music/line up is pretty underground but totally top notch. 

Who do you hope to catch on the star studded line up? 

Haven’t thought about it tbh. When I’m playing at electronic only festivals I tend to just wander around with my crew til we find something we dig. Unless it’s a mate playing of course. I’ll be in front of the booth for my bestie D’Oli Disco and want to check out what PBR Streetgang is all about.

What will be your festival secret weapon record? 

Is this a trick question? 

Will you be staying the whole weekend? 

Yes, of course. I’m a raver, not a prima donna.

Are you any good at roughing it? 

I suppose I’m in the middle range of the roughing it stakes. Being a ‘starving artist’ I’m certainly not precious but yeah, after 3-4 days in a tent with no creature comforts I start to get a little twitchy. I’m lucky enough to be able to hire a camper van for a few of my festival gigs this summer. 

What is your festival survival tip? 

A sit down and a nice cuppa at least twice a day.

Wild Wood Disco Festival Line-Up

A few last words.

As we close this insightful interview, it’s clear that Pete Bones is an artist who has truly lived the evolution of music. He continues to enthrall audiences with his dedication to the craft, vibrant energy, and his ever-vibrant acid house sets. We are excited to see him perform at the Wild Wood Disco Festival and to hear the remixes of the old Shaker classics. As festival season heats up, we encourage our readers to catch up with Pete at his gigs and immerse themselves in the resonant experience that his music promises. Thank you, Pete, for sharing your journey with us, and we look forward to your continued contribution to the world of music. Don’t forget to check out his latest releases and follow his journey as he continues to redefine the boundaries of electronic music.

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco

Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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