The world of dance would not be what it is were it not for people such as DJ and label owner Gilles Peterson. As a DJ, he’s entertained and educated crowds with his eclectic selections of jazz, funk and electronic beats. His labels Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud kick-started the career of Jamiroquai and catapulted the likes of Incognito, MJ Cole and Roni Size into stardom. Today he runs his latest imprint, Brownswood Recordings, organizes the Worldwide Festival and, on Thursday, will be on Koh Tao to headline that island’s first ever music festival.

Gilles’ rise to fame started in the late ‘80s as a resident DJ at London’s Talkin Loud Sayin Something, a club famous for its jazz, funk and hip-hop. The music played at his event would also serve as a blueprint for his then label Acid Jazz. The label’s name was a tongue-in-cheek riff on the late ‘80s acid house scene, but ironically would come to describe the fusion of jazz-funk-hip-hop music coming of that era.

In 1990 Gilles would leave Acid Jazz to start Talkin’ Loud, a label he set up with DJ Norman Jay MBE of Kiss FM/Good Times Sound System.

“I needed to take the scene to a higher level and work with more budgets and spread the word around the world, which is why I started Talkin’ Loud,” Gilles told Notes From The Underground.

It was Talkin’ Loud that introduced me to music ranging from the UK hip-hop group Urban Species to the sample-based jazz of Japan’s United Future Organizations. The label widened my musical palette and its no-rules attitude sparked my interests in ‘90s trip-hop and jungle.

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Apart from making his name as a club DJ, Gilles ran the highly praised BBC Radio 1 show “Worldwide” from 1998 to 2012. The show can still be found on Soundcloud.

Now he’s got a radio show on BBC Radio 6 that continues the eclectic vibes, on which he’s had Bangkok’s DJ Maft Sai as a guest.

So what music is he into now?

“The current British Jazz scene is very exciting: Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings, Moses Boyd Exodus and Ezra Collective are doing great stuff right now,” Gilles said.

As for music coming from Southeast Asia, he said he loves a band from Hong Kong called Blood Wine or Honey.

“Crazy stuff,” he said.

Gilles’ Thai fans are in for a treat. On Thursday Giles will be doing what he does best – playing his eclectic funk at Tao Festival – Koh Tao’s first ever music festival. Gilles says he’s got plenty of tropical beats to play and has some unreleased tracks he wants to test out at the fest.

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“My new Sonzeira project recorded in Brazil is just about ready to be shared!…. also the Dayme Arocena project produced in Havana is giving me thrills to play out,” he said.

Gilles headlines Tao Festival along with Arrested Development, Trus’me, Jazzanova, T-Bone and the Bangkok Paradise Molam International Band which runs Tuesday through Thursday on Koh Tao. Catch Gilles on the Beach Stage from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday.

The festival opens at 1pm daily. Tickets are 1,500 baht per day or 3,000 for all three days. They can be purchased online.

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Photo: Gilles Peterson / Courtesy
Photo: Gilles Peterson / Courtesy