Ben Pearce: Never Predictable
He’s had ‘The Most Shazam’ed Track Ever’ on his list of achievements since 2013. That same ‘What I Might Do’ track also featured in a Tesco ad, and is possibly responsible for a substantial amount of the mainstream population falling into a deep-house infatuation. But Ben Pearce has no intention of resting on his laurels. With the Lego EP, released in January receiving serious online props from non-other than electronic music monarch Moby, and a newly released Predictable EP collaborating alongside cult heroes Black Orange Juice, Data Transmission caught up with the man himself for a quick beer at Snowbombing Festival.
Last time we spoke, it was at Garden Festival, Croatia, 2013. What’s changed in a year?
My waist size and my beard – both substantial gains!… Nah, It’s all gone kind of exponential. It was from September time that my What I Might Do track went onto the Tesco advert, and after that things just picked up in a very big way.
Toward the end of last year that same track was named ‘Most Shazam-ed track of all time’. A lot was made of that – how did it feel your end?
To say indifferent sounds really cocky, but I couldn’t quite get my head around the concept at the time, because I didn’t really know what Shazam was when I heard! I’d never used it – so it was initially difficult to quantify that in terms of success, but when I learned more about the app and the implications of that stat, then I realised that it was massively important! At the same time, it also reminded me that I’m still known in some circles for just one particular song, which inspired me more than ever to push forward and keep releasing new stuff. That itself has gone really well, I had a new EP out in January, the Lego EP, which had Zane Lowe and Moby get behind it which was really cool. I was really nervous about getting that new EP out, so when I got good feedback that was great. The new EP – Predictable – is also getting positive signs.
Your Predictable EP features collab work with Black Orange Juice. There’s been plenty of names that have been interested in collab work with you – how did this hook up come about?
I have had great offers, but I’ve been fans of Black Orange Juice for years! I went down to the studio and I wanted to work with them so much that when they wanted to work with me, it just made sense. They’re so talented. They can go into the corner of the room, work away for a bit and come back with two sets of lyrics, verses and a chorus – and it’ll be so catchy! We did a couple of songs, and this is the first one we’ve finished. We used a packet of couscous for a shaker! We just got really good vibes from it, which is awesome.
In doing some serious collab work – does your perspective as a producer change?
Definitely. It grows your perspective – you learn new things. Working with different people – you pick up tips and tricks that you didn’t really know. I’m a self taught producer – and there’s no right way to do music. But, often – especially if you do a course, you learn in just one way, and I personally like the fact I do my own thing – I’ll put effects on stuff I don’t think those effects are intended for, and mess around. So you then pick up little tips and alternate methods when you work with other people who have their own production quirks too. Also, a lot of the fun of production really comes to the front when you’re essentially hanging out with a mate in a studio, bouncing ideas around.
What’s next on the release schedule?
After the Predictable EP’s all spread and settled, – I’ve been working with a couple of vocalists recently, for original stuff, and once that comes together I’ll look at releasing the results of that. My touring schedule’s hectic this year, so getting back into it will be a challenge, but I’ll just have to do it. Crack on!
You had such enormous success last year – do you ever feel you want to take an entirely new direction perhaps because one element of your career – a massive crossover hit – has perhaps now had the box ticked?
Not at all. So much of what I currently do involves DJing. I’ve been DJing at a high level for a year and three months so far so if I’d achieved everything I’d wanted to so far I’d have been pretty lucky! With DJing, you’ll get to the point where you’re playing a similar set sometimes if it’s two similar clubs in quick succession and that can run the risk of feeling a bit repetitive, but there’s always new challenges along the way – coming on after someone who’s been playing something completely different for example, or coming on before someone that’s very different. I DJed before I was a producer, so I enjoy working at the skills needed to play a disco set, or a hip hop set, before jumping into more techno focused stuff. There’s always new music around too. So, no I can’t say I’m done with this part yet – but yes there are new things I’m looking at too.
How are you managing to balance your gig schedule with the agency you run, Purp & Soul?
My girlfriend runs the agency and does most of the management stuff now. It’s really smooth and she’s doing a wicked job. I sort of oversee bits, and it’s working really well at the moment, the label’s growing and the next couple of releases we’ve got are really good, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m letting it grow organically. I’m enjoying the steady growth because I feel if it does become massive I’d have to hand it over to someone else rather than oversee it myself, so I’m enjoying it still being the size that I can be involved with it. I’m lucky in that I’m in a situation where I can help artists grow – I’m out there myself, I’m making the contacts for remixes, for gigs, they’re doing festivals with me. It’s passing on good karma – I’ve been given an amazing, lucky gift doing what I do, so I can try it pass it on and help other people. A lot of them are very young. I’m young – and yet I look on them as even younger – and they look probably look at some of their aspiring peers as younger still. It’s madness!
What’s the rest of 2014 got in store for you?
Honestly, I don’t even know! There’s a lot of things that are happening but that aren’t officially announced that I can’t say – I’m gonna have to get a list for what I can and can’t say! I’m going to Hideout, I’m off to America, I won’t be sleeping in my own bed for weeks on end, so it’s crazy. I did Miami for the first time last year, but I was just sort filling in gaps rather than playing headline slots, whereas this time now I’ll be out in the US as my brand, as it were – so I’m excited for that.
Final, non-music related question. Everytime we bump into you you’re wearing leftfield T-shirts. Where do we get one of those?!
Ha! This is a Moda Black T-shirt. Jaymo and Andy George’s label. Jaymo, aside from being a radio host, label owner and DJ, is really into his design, so he’s created this t-shirt line with his own input. I like T-shirts… you know, they’re pretty handy. It’s their party I’m going to later so I’m going to look like a douche wearing it. I did that last time I saw them too!
Looking to catch Ben in a festival environment for yourself? Then head to Secret Garden Party July 24-27. For more information and tickets visit to www.secretgardenparty.com