Long after his days of being a skint self-employed musician, and 11 years on since his first record was pressed, it's quite obvious Ewan Pearson has undoubtedly found his groove – and his sound is anything but soulless or uninspired. And his ever-changing, avant-garde productions seem to always surprise even the most jaded of ears.
Offbeat yet on point, with a charmingly unpretentious disposition, Pearson makes pop-friendly music drenched in bass and sprinkled with addictive melodies. From his beginnings on Birmingham's Bosting label as Villa America and Dirtbox, to his highly celebrated work on Soma as Maas, to his ever-expanding DJing career, Ewan Pearson has quickly climbed the ranks as one of electronic music's most prodigious underground idols.
His production credits also include Ladytron, Chikinki, two tracks of Gwen Stefani's first solo album and seven tracks on Tracey Thorn's recent cult phenomenon/media diamond 'Out Of The Woods.' He's remixed and re-rubbed some of the most fascinating names on the charts, including Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp (three times in fact), The Chemical Brothers, Pet Shop Boys, Fields and Franz Ferdinand. DJing is challenging and enjoyable, but not the only string on his bow.
Ewan Pearson: Haha! Please call me Ewan, for goodness sake! I'm fine.
Beat Factor: You've recently said that DJ-ing is your fourth of fifth job.. How come?
Ewan Pearson: (Laughing). Yes, I guess I've never been very good at doing just one thing. Basically, DJ-ing is something that I've been doing for fun, since I was quite young. But it only recently became something that I do for a living, only recently became something that I do professionally. I consider myself a record producer first, a remixer, an artist, and then I put DJ maybe the fourth.. Actually, DJ-ing isn't the most important part of mine. For my work it means traveling, meeting great people, a way to promote my music in different places in the world. It also helps keeping me alive, it helps providing things that makes me more carefully in my job. I'm very lucky.
Beat Factor: Do you really feel like a lucky person?
Ewan Pearson: Yes, for sure.
Beat Factor: What reflects for you the forthcoming mix CD on Fabric?
Ewan Pearson: I wanted people to listen of what they would here from me in Room 1 in Fabric, on a Saturday night at 3 in the morning. When you play in different clubs, you change the style and the records you play, when you go from club to club. I wanted to give people an idea of what would be like to hear me at the moment on a Saturday night, with the lights going and the speakers pumping; just to give people a good indication of my spirit. The idea was to be a little bit more tough, a little bit more techno, to give you that Fabric experience.
It took me quite a long time to find the tracks, because originally this was supposed to come out in May, but then I switched places with somebody else, because they had to change the schedule. So I've been thinking about this CD for a long time. Some people when make mix CDs, they always try to feature the newest tracks, unreleased tracks. I always think that's a little bit of mistake, because when I put a record together, I want to be a record that I know and I love. Obviously I don't want all the tracks to be well known, but there's a couple of old familiar track inside this mix. So, as I said, I really wanted the mix to actually show what I play in clubs at this time. And I will play these tracks for one more year, if I love them, because when I really love something, I really love it. I don't like the idea that if a track is older than three months you can't play it anymore, that's bullshit.
Beat Factor: Do you have any expectations from this mix CD?
Ewan Pearson: I try not to have any expectations! (laughing). Obviously, I hope people will like it, but we'll see.
Beat Factor: With so many promo mixes and live sets available free on the internet, do you think that the music industry can still hold copyright mix CDs?
Ewan Pearson: Obviously, it becomes increasingly hard for people to do commercial mix CDs. From Fabric's point of view, this is a very good promotion of the club, it's a very good way to take the Fabric name out of the UK. Obviously it's an honor for me to be part of the series. All you can do is to make sure that it's at the highest quality. Unfortunately, lots of people are going to pirate this, but whatever I do, I try to make sure that this is as good as can possible be. Last year I had a mix on the Resident Advisor website as a pod cast, but that was the same quality you get from me on a commercial mix CD. The only thing that matters from my point of view is that whatever I do, whether playing in the club, or a podcast, or anything else, I just try to make sure that it's always as good quality as possible.
Beat Factor: Being producer for so many years, how much time takes you now to make a track?
Ewan Pearson: Oooo, you know what? It doesn't get any faster! (big laugh) The older I get, it doesn't get any faster. Each time it's like starting again, it's strange. It takes me ages; I know people that are doing it really quickly and I'm really jealous on them.
Beat Factor: Yes, but you can see the result.
Ewan Pearson: Yes, I know. The most important thing is to be at the best quality. With remixes can take me between five days and two weeks. I can't work on such a high speed. For example the Goldfrap remix which I did last year it's 15 minutes longer; it has five different sections. It's like three records into one and it's more complicated. So that kind of thing takes a lot of work, and also takes a lot of time.
Beat Factor: Can you write beats from zero point or you have to find your inspiration?
Ewan Pearson: Yes, I can do that from zero, I learnt the techniques.
- [a:rpia:r] - A successful story
- Simian Mobile Disco - New Future Electro Disco Heroes
- Luciano: I'm Still the Same Guy
- The Model - A Special Man With Special Needs
- Me and You is M.A.N.D.Y.
- Carl Craig: I'm Not A Fortune Teller!
- Audio: In Between with Paul Van Dyk
- Audio: Steve Bug - 'I Don't Make Music for Bugs!'
- Ricardo Villalobos - from South America with love
- Lee Burridge: Balance, drugs and Tyrant
- Audio: Ricky Stone, a busy combination
- Hook N Sling - a Fat Australian Export
- Break-Beat lessons with Krafty Kuts
- The other side of Ellen Allien
- The Balance of Luke Fair
June 5, 2007 at 11:17 AM CEST
Ewan Pearson: Well, it's a mixture. With remixes for example, I listen very much the original track; I don't remix tracks that I don't really like it. I listen very carefully to the original material, I think about what it needs to work in the club and how I need to change it, but I take my inspiration from the original artist and the original music, and I think about how do I translate this, how do I make this work in a contemporary club, without loosing what's important from the original song. That's kind of how I work.
The only think that matters from remixes is listening to the original track. I like the remixes which don't loose everything from the original record. I don't like those mixes, where you take one little bleep or one little noise from the original. I mean I've done this kind of remixes for a couple of times, but it's not really what I like to do.
Beat Factor: How do you see the current electronic dance music scene?
Ewan Pearson: Hmm,,it's big! (laughing) It's interesting; there's so much music being made now and it's harder and harder for people to make a living from it.
Beat Factor: Can this be compared with a battle field?
Ewan Pearson: Well, it's sometimes feels like that, yes. It feels like a long long war. And it's harder and harder for people to do it professionally. Especially with so much piracy and record labels being down..I'm very lucky, this is my job and I can live by doing this alone. But I know a lot of people who struggle from week to week to pay their rent or to have enough money to live, just from doing music all the time. It's exciting but it's tough.
Beat Factor: How come you start working with The Rapture? How big a deal was for you to remix their tune?
Ewan Pearson: It is a big deal, I'm very excited. I met them a couple of years before in Ibiza, I played music with them and then I hang out with two of them. They really know about dance music, they're not a rock band who decided to get into dance music because it's trendy or because it's cool. Two of them DJ'ed in bars in New York, they understand house music, they know how it works. So we became friends and they asked me to remix one of the singles, which I did. And then I went to New York to DJ and they came to gig and said " we were thinking about people to work on a new records and you are on the top of the list". And I was really surprised; so I was very happy.
Beat Factor: You've made remixes for Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp (three times in fact), The Chemical Brothers, Pet Shop Boys, Fields and even Franz Ferdinand. After all these years of woking as a musician, do you consider yourself an accomplished person?
Ewan Pearson: I don't want to repeat, but I consider myself very lucky. I managed to make a living from music, which it was my dream when I was younger; but I never thought it would happen. So, I wake up every day and realize I'm a lucky guy. I'm getting to do from my job the things that I love, so it doesn't get much better than that. What I'm doing is not the best thing I can do, there's always can be better.
Beat Factor: How do you see the future of electronic music?
Ewan Pearson: I hate this kind of questions! I don't even know what I'll be doing in three weeks. The exciting thing is you don't know what's going to happen; that's the good part, that's what makes this job enjoyable.
Beat Factor: There's a lot of producers whom moved to Berlin to produce minimal techno. You've also moved three a few years ago, but still you have your own groove. How do you keep alive the Pearson style?
Ewan Pearson: I was always just carry on doing what I do, I moved to Berlin because I love the place. I didn't move there because I wanted to change my musical style in any way, even if I love German music and I've been influenced by. My favorite people and my favorite musicians are from Berlin, people like Kompakt, from Cologne, Playhouse in Frankfurt. It's good when listen to that, but you don't do the same as everybody else, you know? Everyone who thinks about Berlin is associating it with minimal techno, minimal techno, but it's a lot more diverse than that. And there are a lot of people playing different music and it's a mistake, this is not the only thing happening there. Actually, at the moment there's more house in Berlin and less minimal playing.
Beat Factor: Any new releases on the pipeline?
Ewan Pearson: The next thing is a double CD in the autumn, like a compilation with my remixes for the last five years; it's more like a retrospective. It's going to come out on K7. I hope this will include the best remixes I've done. I'm doing some stuff for Kompakt under the name Partial Arts, there was another single under the Partial Arts which came out in January and people seemed to like it. So, I try to keep myself busy, so I can keep myself out of trouble.