BACK on the scene with a renewed energy and fresh sound, Ben Pearce is turning heads with his new summer-infused single, Fireproof – a track which marks a fresh start for the seasoned producer and was inspired in a very unexpected way.
Supported by Mistajam and Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1, as well as being made Mixmag’s ‘Tune Of The Month’, ‘Fireproof’ is hitting all the right buttons; with that in mind, we sat Ben down and grilled him about the new direction his sound is taking, how he manages expectations, and about positivity in dance music.
Hi Ben, great to see you back with new music – for those who haven’t heard it, how would you describe Fireproof?
Thanks! I guess it’s summer-inspired warm electronic music. Built around an earworm of a hook, some synths and a live bass. It’s got a bit of disco inspiration, a bit of a UK sound – just something feel good for the sunshine.
Is ‘Fireproof’ a good indication of what fans can expect to hear from future releases too?
A little bit, I’m really excited to be writing songs and then producing the club mix from them. I think they’re going to vary a little bit, but I hope they’ll all fit into one story and sound.
What inspired this fresh sound?
At a really basic level, I think moving from always working in windowless studios to writing in a room that has plenty of light coming in has had a huge impact on my productions and the way I approach song-writing. I’ve always played a bit of everything when I’m DJing and this is the first time that I feel like I’ve nailed down a sound and a direction, so it’s pretty inspiring just to have that in your head when writing.
Have you ever consciously noticed the effect of your studio environment on your productions before now? Do you think it’s something more producers should consider to help develop their music?
It makes a big difference. I think perhaps I didn’t pay too much attention to it until it changed dramatically. I often go for long walks and listen to what I’m working on to try and work things out and I think there’s obviously a reason a lot of great albums were written immersed in nature. For most producers, especially when starting out, your studio options are fairly limited, but I definitely think there are things you can do to help make what space you have available as conducive to productivity and creativity as possible.
Has your approach to production changed at all over the years?
I’m a lot quicker now. I used to pull my hair out sitting at my desk all day and getting frustrated when it wasn’t working. Now I stay away, do other things until I hear an idea in my head. I can get everything down very quickly once I’m in the zone so it’s just sometimes a case of waiting around for that to flip and get going before it goes away!
It’s refreshing to hear a positive, uplifting dance track amongst all the ‘huge drops’ and dark warehouse techno – do you think dance music needs more of this?
Haha, I don’t really pay much attention to what’s going on; that’s partly from not having as many shows at the moment as I’ve been concentrating on working on my own music, and also not really listening to electronic music a lot – something that has massively helped me to feel inspired again. I think there’s a time and a place for dark warehouse techno and big drops – and don’t get me wrong, I love both – but there’s something to me about writing music that people can listen to and connect with. I’ll always keep doing club mixes and tracks but having a focus that’s slightly away from that feels really good.
With a shift in how people consume music and its detrimental effect on the commercial profit side to singles, do you think this now allows artists to be more experimental? Thinking less about the saleability and more about the vibe?
I think it sort of works both ways. You see a lot of artists trying to be on a trend and you see a lot doing something completely different. Often it comes down to luck and what seems to hit people’s ears at the right time. I think it’s about both standing out and also fitting in at the same time, quite the duality to have to deal with when you’re trying to create. Obviously though, the main focus is getting out and playing shows, that’s how you connect with your audience and really see what they are into.
Do you find that people have expectations of your music as an established artist? Do you embrace them or find yourself challenging them?
I don’t really think too much about it. Some people will like what you release and some won’t. I put myself down enough without having to focus on what others expect of me. I think as an artist you challenge yourself every day so in a way, you’re in the same bracket as the people listening to you.
How has the new music affected your DJ sets? What can we expect from a Ben Pearce set in 2019?
I’ve been doing a lot of disco sets which are super fun. I think a lot of this new music will fit in with those as well as when I’m doing my own thing. I’m always trying to fit what I play to the night – what was being played before and what is going on after. A DJ I don’t think should be self-indulgent, the whole experience of the night for the people who bought tickets is what’s important. If I can work my way towards a live show, then I’ll get to fully dictate what happens and that’ll be interesting.
And finally, aside from the single, what else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
Hopefully some lovely DJ sets, more music, remixes and a few food pop ups.