Marking number 2 in the new That Danny Savage Show podcast he invites electronic innovator Ben Pearce and speaks in great detail about what makes and motivates Ben personally and professionally with a host of hot music industry navigation tips.
Danny Savage and Ben connect on a mix of subjects.
Ben hosted his ‘supper club’ last night, interesting to know he classes cooking as his meditation and informs it’s actually his second passion to music. Ben then provides thoughts into combining cooking with his music. Reflecting back the first CD he bought was Limp Bizkit which reminded him of a ‘hotdog flavoured water’ experience.
Originally brought up on classical music by his dad, Ben moved onto Hip-Hop as a skater before engaging with Electronica around the time he first took narcotics around the age of 18/19. As he progresses he listens to everything from ambient to jazz. Next Ben discusses his early clubbing experiences with friends at Sankeys & Area51.
Danny and Ben find they used to attend the same club around the time Danny savage was promoting Filth.
Launching his career Ben firs borrowed decks, then learnt how to DJ on a whim
as it actually paid for his weekend ‘party’ life. Soon starting his work for a night at Joshua Brookes handing out flyers, which became his entry point to working in the nightlife industry. Ben started promoting his own event Treehouse in Manchester and fell out with the other promoters. It was a hard, but happened for the best.
Initially learning to mix with 2 x copies of Micha Moore ‘Space’ Ben soon moved to production where he released a few tracks before his big track ‘What I might do.’
The break from Treehouse gave him the motivation to prove himself as a solo artist.
He was actually a manager at an RBS call centre whilst DJing over the weekends abroad, balancing both jobs for 3 months. Thankfully his parents always supported him with his music. Ben then started earning more money from DJing than his own full-time job. Rag from Grade Management heard him play and he got picked up early and they signed him across to Coda agency.
Ben suggests agents are quite proactive in seeking DJs for the next big thing, giving advice on choosing the right agency, preferencing a smaller agency over the bigger agencies, with hot advice on finding an agent: “Dont push it. Do you see yourself as a marketable product? If your’e a DJ you have to produce, suggesting DJs aim to get a residency. Extend your name across blogs and also soundcloud with a strong belief in yourself … don’t feel down or annoyed when you get rejected, he gets rejected loads.”
You need to be OK with failure.
He’s a DJ first and a producer second, strangely he doesn’t class himself as good producer. He wangles productions together and shares you have to make tracks and have a marketable thing to put out if you want to be a DJ worthy of note.
No one actually listens to mixes anymore, getting a track heard is a lot easier showing that you should make the bare bones structure and then get an engineer to mix it. Joe Ashworth engineers his tracks, although he wouldn’t go down the ghost producer route, as it sits badly within the industry. You have to do something to stand out as a DJ these days far above technical ability.
Ben’s advice to start producing: Use Ableton, practice filtering and chopping up tunes.
- Watch Youtube videos to learn skills
- The first 100 tracks you make won’t be great
- Sample & remix things. Get remix stems online
- Use easy to access hardware including Roland & Korg mini tools if you have the resources
- Make sure what you do you enjoy it and put the time in, making sure you learn your craft which could take years
- Hit the ground running & stay positive
GO-to places for training:
- Youtube, Point Blank, Masterclass
- Surround yourself or hang out with people that are good at producing
- Associate with people that are better than you
Affects and Introspective
- Lacks motivation 90% of the time through productions
- He suffers self-doubt after making his big track because he doesnt thinks he’s good enough
- Motivation comes & goes. If you get a block, take yourself away, have a break, come back the next day
- “Producers only put out 1% of what they release” – Moodyman quote
- Your next good track is only around the corner
Production timeline (Case Study):
- Made initial structure in his bedroom and arranged and mixed at Beehive Mills
- Put it in a mix, then David from Under The Shade messaged him on Soundcloud and signed it straight away
- It needed tidying up, so he made the bassline better.
- It almost went out on white label vinyl
- His friend Stretford Dogs Club had Solomun playing for him in Manchester, and Solomun heard it in the car on the way to the gig. Solomun loved it and starter playing it regularly
- Will from Chase & Status called him after hearing it played by Solomun in Panorama Bar/ Berlin. He thought it was originally a stitch up, a mate winding him up hearing the feedback
- NTA signed and Ben split his 50% with Under The Shade
- Featured in a Tesco advert
- Reached Beatport number 1
- It was most Shazzamed track in the UK for 3 or 4 years
- Virgin signed it an re-released it
- Went no 7 in UK national charts, no1 in Italy, no2 in Belgium
- It all went crazy, doing interviews with TV channels and more
- He went head on into crazy schedule 3 or 4 gigs per week, partying and didn’t look after himself, he felt under surmountable pressure
- Lack of sleep and traveling on his own in hotels and airports
- Coming from club environment
Mental Health :
- Problems, realised he wasnt happy, started drinking a lot
- Didn’t want to burden anyone else talking about his depression
- If he didnt take the time off, he wouldn’t actually be here (suicidal)
- He was scared of being alone and didn’t want to go off travelling again
- He was on a downward spiral
- His best friend moving in saved him
- He needed the time off and to recoup
- When he cancelled his shows it was just to let his fans know
- He didn’t expect it to blow up like it did, it was announced in the national papers
- His Facebook post was sincere
- It was all a very unexpected
- He said he didn’t want to mention it any more after his break
- He didn’t want asking about it in interviews but now is more open
Mental Health Advice:
“Talk about it. If it feels like it’s going down, it will eventually go back up”
- Get a therapist
- Calm zone helpline
- Ben actively helps musicians he works with, he does panels; they did a study about music industry mental health, there are many resources online https://www.grammy.com/musicares/news/study-shows-70-percent-musicians-struggled-anxiety-or-depression. There was a new service launched in December
- Offered anti-depressants and didn’t want to take them
- The after-math of Chester Beddingtons suicide made people more aware
- The AFEM Association For Electronic Music provides an industry sounding board to help change the perception and address issues collectively
- Promoters: Don’t be offended when DJs aren’t wanting to party
- Electronic music was originally founded or fuelled on drug usage
- Drugs & Mental Health talks should be held separately and never linked
- Alcohol is far more destructive than drugs
- He’s still not 100% recovered. He still has the down days. He’s more aware of the dips and what to do
- When he doesn’t spend money on boosting posts he feels down from being detached from his fans
- He thinks people should move away from spamming and into more direct contact with their true fans forming a connection
- Silicon Valley people think social media is bad for you, they don’t use it
- Social Media is potentially poisonous and holds many negative traits
Resolution & Roundup:
Returning to the musical mix Ben and Danny Discuss –
- Ben on his new themed EP about Dancing Astronauts
- His Essential Mix feature http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08p60l8
- He didn’t know what the Essential Mix was until he was older
- It didn’t trigger any childhood memories as he was into metal at a younger age
- He treated it like a normal mix, putting in the same effort and energy he always does
- He never prepares a playlist, he plays on-the-fly after studying the crowd and DJs playing beforehand
Hear More Here:
New residency in Manchester: https://lazylizardmanchester.com/brand/ben-pearce-renegades/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/benpearcemusic/
- Spend time with people that make you happy and only do things that make you happy
Why We DJ: Slaves to The rhythm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFmfOSt2uCE
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