Pete Lawrence is a conceptualist, recording artist, DJ, music programmer, writer, photographer, broadcaster and global traveler.

His latest project is a social network called Pic-Nic Village - an ambitious blueprint for an evolutionary community for creative thinkers, funded, part owned and shaped by its own members. Launching initially online, it aims to take social networking to the next level, offering its members a social media platform where members will be able  to showcase their own projects. In addition, a wide range of common interest guilds (forums) will act as a focus for new ideas, initiatives and collaborations.

Previously, he was best known as the co-founder of The Big Chill which has spawned a ground breaking festival, club event and London venues.

Lawrence conceived an idea for a new type of Sunday multimedia club back in early 1994 and, with then partner Katrina Larkin, created a unique environment in the back rooms at Union Chapel in Islington, north London. Here people were able to network and enjoy an experimental, audio-visual environment, as part of a multi-faceted eight hour event. It was the first London club to have its own website and to offer free internet access and initially became trailblazing for its ambient and downtempo soundtrack, paving the way for the chill out’ boom at the turn of the Millennium, for which it was arguably responsible. The club immediately attracted much positive press, with a major article by David Toop appearing in The Times the week after the event was launched, followed by much attention from the dance music press and NME.

After the press described the event as “a festival in a club”, it took only a small leap in imagination for Lawrence to adapt the formula for an outdoors setting. After a meeting with a friendly farmer in the Welsh borders, The Big Chill Gala took place in August 1995, an unlicensed camping weekend for 600 friends in the wilds of the Black Mountains, which has since acquired mythical status. Whilst working tirelessly on their earliest events, Pete and Katrina had no financial backing and were living from hand to mouth, working from a bedroom in a London, dealing with tricky new event legislation post Criminal Justice Bill, which produced some documented problems at their first licensed event in Norfolk a year later.

Considering its early rollercoaster history, it was hard for Pete and Katrina not to become personally and emotionally attached to an event that had already become central to their lives. Although providing many traumatic moments for them at the time, they arguably set a new agenda for festivals in the UK. The attention to detail, idyllic rural locations chosen, and nurturing of a loyal online community, in the process creating a blueprint for an event that went way beyond just being a festival and which has spawned many imitators, with varying degrees of success.

Widespread recognition was swift to follow with the press lauding early achievements : The Guardian described The Big Chill as “Britain's premier youth culture and arts specialists", The Times as “the leader in multi-media entertainment” whilst Time Out said "plenty of elements that we take for granted about contemporary club culture, from multimedia nights to innovative ambient listening, really stemmed from London based event The Big Chill."

In the mid 80s Lawrence was becoming recognised as a respected tastemaker with a flare for doing things differently when he discovered and spontaneously recorded US folk singer Michelle Shocked on a walkman around a Texas campfire for his fledgling Cooking Vinyl label. The resulting album ‘The Texas Campfire Tapes’, with its £1 ‘field recording’ budget, went on to top the independent album charts in 1987 and sell over 250, 000 copies and establish the label at the forefront of the world and roots music scenes. Subsequently, Pete also became a writer, radio DJ and journalist. Through the 90s he had regular columns in Top, Update and Jockey Slut as well as founding, editing and publishing his own On magazine.

Then came The Big Chill, which quickly attracted a large number of very loyal followers, building to its current capacity of 35, 000 and in the context of the festival, Pete gave early exposure to such names as Lily Allen, Goldfrapp, Amy Winehouse, Gotan Project, Mr Scruff, Röyksopp, Zero 7 and Lemon Jelly. After establishing itself as one of the top half dozen UK festivals, The Big Chill has recently branched out into opening London venues The Big Chill Bar in Brick Lane, followed in autumn 2006 with the three storey Big Chill House in Kings X. Three months later, Pete and Katrina were voted into Time Out’s Top 100 ‘movers and shakers’ alongside the likes of Ricky Gervais, Gordon Ramsay, Madonna, Phillip Green, Brian Paddick, Ken Livingstone and Tony Blair. The magazine famously described him as “chief eskimo of kingdom chill”.

Pete is arguably one of the most influential and respected tastemakers on the electronic and downtempo scenes and has produced many mix albums for The Big Chill and other labels, and made his BBC Radio 2 debut on August Bank Holiday 2006 with a two hour chill out show, and repeated the slot at Easter 2007.

As an artist, he records under the name of Chilled By Nature, and in 2006 released his first album ‘Under One Sun’ on Big Chill Recordings, featuring a number of live guests, including The Swingle Singers, and Mozez of Zero 7 fame, who collaborated with Pete on a brand new track, ‘State Of Grace’. As for the written word, his latest work was featured in the book ‘Crossfade - a Big Chill Anthology’ (Serpents Tail).

Most recently, after several trips to India to research and plan a new type of event there, Pete conceived a proposal to take The Big Chill concept to Goa for what turned out to be a successful first festival in April 2007 on Aswem Beach.

He resigned as a shareholder and director of The Big Chill on February 6th, 2008 and is currently involved in launching his latest project Pic-Nic Village.

His first book, ‘The Big Chill and Other Alfresco Stories’ is due to be published by Unbound this summer.

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