Instead, a simple fax was sent, saying "We agree to play at the Slam Tent," signed Thomas [Bangalter], of Daft Punk. It would be the most unconventional booking Geoff Ellis, the founder of the festival, would ever see.
Dave Clarke, the omnipresent "third member" of Slam and the logistics operator behind all the Slam events, recalls the moment he phoned Ellis to tell him. "I was like, 'Geoff, we've got them'. And it was such a great success, it was so raw."
Since that first year, the Slam Tent has gone on to become an intrinsic part of the annual festival, setting the bar for dance tents at festivals across Europe. Curated by Clarke and Slam, aka globally renowned DJs Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle, the Slam Tent has become "a labour of love" for the threesome. They coordinate it, along with numerous Slam events throughout the year, in tandem with running their Glasgow-based label, Soma Records, which is now in its 21st year. The label's output feeds into the events, and vice versa, but the Slam Tent is always high on the priority list.
"We think about it all year," says Clarke over coffee in the Soma Records HQ. "Although we're doing Pressure events all year [Slam's residency at The Arches club in Glasgow], we start thinking about who's playing at the next Slam Tent as soon as T in the Park is over. Stuart, Orde and I talk about it all the time – and we're always critical of ourselves. Were there any gaps? Who shouldn't get booked? What did we do right ... or wrong?" he laughs.
It can be hard trying to please so many people. The tent runs for 11-12 hours a day over the course of Saturday and Sunday – "We've always had this notion that you should be able to stay there the whole weekend," says Clarke – and this year, for the first time, it will be open on Friday night too, with Slam doing a four-hour set (even now, the duo says they still get nervous because they're playing to their home crowd).
"Although TITP's been successfully selling out each year, there are so many stages within the festival that everyone's competing for the same audience," admits Clarke.
And that audience has changed. "There used to be people who were just dance music fans or just indie fans, but now everyone likes a bit of everything. There are people in the Slam Tent who might wander off to see the Stone Roses [Saturday's headliners] – I can appreciate that. We're just fighting our corner."
Perhaps because of that, and due to changing tastes in electronic music in younger audiences, there's an obvious change in this year's line-up. Saturday will feature dubstep artists such as Benga, Skream, Major Lazer and others who "don't fit into the 4/4 beat".
"It's not a genre we deal with, but it's a popular form of dance music," acknowledges Clarke.
A deliberate move towards something different? "Yeah – and we always do," he replies. "But this year we've made a conscious decision to put the non-house and techno stuff into the Saturday, so it's quite unusual. Before, we tried to mix genres up each day."
But not everyone's happy. "I saw someone on Facebook say 'Yeah, I'm definitely going [to the Slam Tent] on the Friday and Sunday ... but it looks like they got the work placement to book the Saturday'," he laughs.
That said, Clarke has heard people say that, without the Slam Tent, the festival would lose its credibility. And Sunday's line-up should please the more traditional Slam Tent fan. It features Paul Kalkbrenner, famed for appearing in a movie about a techno DJ called Berlin Calling ("he's massive all over Europe," says Clarke, with millions of Facebook fans) and young, female up-and-coming, DJ Maya Jane Coles, who sold out The Arches in February.
To round off the weekend, reunited DJ duo Orbital will be headlining. "Everyone, young and old, loves them," says Clarke. "They were the last act to be announced and it was nice because people wait to find out what it's going to be. And it seems to have gone down well."
Clarke adds that, since the Slam Tent began – with dance music developing into a worldwide phenomenon – there's now a bigger global demand for the electronic artists they'd like to recruit.
Despite this, there remains a "willingness" on the part of acts to play in Scotland. "If they haven't played T in the Park before, it will be on their choice of places to play. It's definitely on the map in a big way."
As such, the line-up and running order is planned months in advance. But, on the day, organising so many artists can be a logistical nightmare for Clarke, who's usually backstage, constantly checking artists' flights on his computer with a list of mobile numbers in hand. Any big no-shows over the years?
"Jeff Mills," he replies, referring to the techno legend. "He got as far as Dublin and then it all just ground to a halt. For hours I was aware of it and thought, 'If I could get someone to drive him to Belfast ...' But there were no connections. So waiting to announce that one ... I got a few moans."
However, ask for highlights and Clarke cites Plastikman – the alias of Canadian minimalist techno DJ Richie Hawtin – and his 2010 live visual set. "And I can remember one afternoon Laurent Garnier played quite early. He dropped Out Of Space by The Prodigy and the whole place was bouncing. It was just the perfect thing to do at a festival."
WHILE Clarke and Slam are busy with T in the Park, Glenn Gibbons, Soma Record's fourth owner/founder, keeps things ticking over at the label back in Glasgow. It's only by having clear divisions of labour that Soma Records and Slam Events seem to work so well: Slam (the DJs and face of the label) who are usually playing somewhere, whether it be Glasgow or abroad, on almost every weekend of the year; Clarke, the logistics master and promoter behind it all; and Gibbons, who directs and controls the day-to-day running of the label.
After Soma's 20th anniversary last year, Clarke says they feel "rejuvenated". And Gibbons agrees: "Our release schedule is incredibly busy – an album a month and three singles every month until the end of the year. We're running like wee hamsters in the wheel." The focus for the future remains on quality recordings. "We'll put out ambient stuff, with techno and deep house material in between, but it's still eclectic. We're known for that; we're not techno Nazis."
Clarke adds that it's about getting a balance between the deeper, "more listening electronic music" and the sounds that are filling the dance floors in Ibiza. "But between the two types," he says, "there is the thread that is good-quality underground electronic music."
Decisions on the label's output are taken as a group, "90% of the time," says Gibbons. "We'll send files over to Stuart and Orde [Slam] and we'll talk about it in the office and bounce back ideas, so we all have an input. Sometimes it can take longer to make a decision because of that, but it seems to work and that's the way we do it."
"But we don't pigeon-hole," adds Clarke. "We don't mind taking a chance on something more eclectic, unusual or experimental." Just like the Slam Tent itself.
T in the Park runs at Balado, near Kinross, from July 6-8. For line-up and ticket details, visit www.tinthepark.com. For information on Soma Records, including the label's online shop, visit www.soma-records.com