Ibiza Classics is the follow-up to the Number One 2016 album Pete Tong ‘Classic House’, a landmark record that saw the dance pioneer rework classic Ibiza dances tunes with an orchestra. A collaboration with arranger and conductor Jules Buckley, the record became the biggest-selling debut of 2016. To date, it has sold over 270,000 copies. For the follow-up, Tong combines the euphoric experience of touring Classic House alongside Buckley and the Heritage Orchestra with knowledge accrued over four decades immersed in dance music culture. “Watching Jules and these fantastically classically-trained musicians and this arena full of people partying, I was thinking, ‘We need to do this again’”, says Tong. “The question was: how could we do it again, but differently?”
The answer is Ibiza Classics. The Classic House album sought to capture something that had already taken place – an album kickstarted by the celebrated one-off show at London’s Royal Albert Hall to mark 20 years of Radio 1 Ibiza coverage. From a clean slate, Tong was able to draw on his prestigious contact book, reaching out to the likes of Becky Hill, Craig David, Candi Staton and Jessie Ware as well as rising stars Raye and the aforementioned Becky Hill to name but a few, giving the new album a more featured-artists feel as well.
The bulk of the album was recorded at producer Mark Ralph’s studio in west London and programmer Dennis White’s studio in Putney. “They were like the Creative Control Centres of the thing,” says Tong. “Last time it was performance first, record second, but this time I started the project from a programming and arrangement perspective with Mark and Dennis. Then we had the Heritage Orchestra’s band going into the studio and playing on top of what we did and adding in the live elements.” For the final piece of the puzzle, Buckley arranged the tracks for the wider, 65-piece Heritage Orchestra, recording with them over five days in London’s Air Studios.
Following a sold-out UK arena tour, another run of arena shows took place at the end of last year including two rapturous nights at The O2 in London, as well as engagements in Australia and at LA’s Hollywood Bowl. Never one to rest on past achievements, Pete Tong is making music as exhilarating as anything he’s done before. “It feels appropriate to be celebrating the legacy of dance music,” he says. “This is the soundtrack to so many people’s lives.”