Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Beats

GILLES PETERSON with DERRICK MAY, ANNE SAVAGE and others, at the Liberty Grand (Exhibition Place), Friday (June 21), $30-$40. 416-870-8000..


GILLES PETERSON with DERRICK MAY, ANNE SAVAGE and others, at the Liberty Grand (Exhibition Place), Friday (June 21), $30-$40. 416-870-8000.

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If Gilles Peterson sounds cocky, it’s with good reason.

After years of plugging away in the underground, the hugely influential BBC Radio 1 DJ and founder of the Talkin’ Loud label has finally seen his eclectic, open-ended approach to club music go global.

With a jazz-inspired thump that stretches from Brazil to Berlin via Dakar, the London DJ’s Worldwide show has been the catalyst for a rootsier and more organic club music scene. Peterson-supported groups like Zero 7 and the Gotan Project and Toronto’s own Moonstarr have gone from strictly underground curiosities to, in the case of Zero 7, selling almost a million records.

What was once a scene shared amongst friends has become a truly international sound, and Peterson admits that after beating on the mainstream’s door for years, he feels vindicated.

“There’s more of a global network for this music now,” he agrees in a car en route to Bristol. “The music’s always been there, and the scene’s kept developing organically rather than being controlled by trends or the media. There were always little pockets of places that were good for this attitude to DJing, but as club culture’s generally become more global, there have been more people looking for the kind of stuff I like.

“Eastern Europe’s really good at the moment, especially in places like Belgrade, Zagreb, Warsaw and Prague. Some of the best stuff comes from the most unlikely, and poorest, places. You expect good music from places that have a bit of money, but the element of surprise is the most exciting part at the moment. I never know where the next great record’s going to come from.”

More than anything else, Peterson credits the Internet for opening up this music to a worldwide audience. His radio show is available online at www.bbc.co.uk/radio1, and most of the records he spins can be bought through the Net, whether you’re living in San Francisco or Saipan.

“People now know how to get the music, which is massive,” Peterson continues. “That’s really helped this music in America and Canada. I get a lot of feedback from people listening to my radio show in, say, Toronto, because there’s never been a strong radio culture for anything apart from the really obvious.

“In the UK, radio’s always played a large part in breaking the music, and as a DJ, it’s something I’ve always done in parallel to playing in clubs. You can go into a club and drop a Cinematic Orchestra track and people are ready for it because they heard it first on the radio.”

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