Spotify and self-believe: 5 minutes with Ben Pearce

Spotify and self-believe: 5 minutes with Ben Pearce

To many, Ben Pearce’s name is synonymous with ‘What I Might Do’, his anthemic 2012 deep house debut that dominated club floors across the world. 2 years on Pearce has situated himself as one of the leading light of the deep house scene, and as part of his upcoming Australian tour he will be stopping over at the mansion for his debut Cake set. (For an idea of what we can expect check out his recent Let Them Eat Cake podcast.) We took a quick 5 minutes to catch up with Ben’s to find out what he’s been up to….

 

You’ve really developed your djing style by preparing for sets according to what people in certain countries like. Do you determine that from experience or research? What kinds of music have you found Australians like in accordance with your formula? I've always done it by experience, as I've found every one is different. Sometimes it takes a while. The first time I visited Aus, it was interesting. I thought every show went really well, it was hard to describe the style in words but I loved every gig, the crowds were great. 

It’s interesting that you still use Spotify to listen to music, considering most people who are against the service are musicians. Do you think Spotify is taking money away from artists and disconnecting musicians from their fans or is it harmless? I think there's been a lot said about Spotify. If you look at it, it's in terms of listens and not one time purchases. If you buy a song for £1.79, you can listen to that song 10 times a day for 10 years, which is like 35,650 times (I think). If that song was played that much on Spotify I'm sure you would get a larger amount across those 10 years. I firmly believe music streaming is going to be the future of music listening, as a label owner I'm paying close attention to the figures as they come in. 

You don’t only listen to house music, and it’s a little funny that that surprises people – variety is the spice of life. Do you use influences from other genres of music that don’t fall into the category of dance music? I think I use influences from all over. I listen to everything from classical, jazz to heavy metal and death core in the space of a few hours sometimes. It's not for everyone but it's not my place to judge on what you enjoy. People spend too much time worrying about what's cool and forget that music is for enjoyment, what pleases you may not please others but who cares. I don't definitively think of influences when making music but I'm sure they seep into my productions regardless. 

Your name has become synonymous with your breakout hit, ‘What I Might Do’. Do you ever feel like you could shake off that association after a year of its release or are you still very proud of that? I went through a period of hating it, not wanting to play it and resenting thinking or hearing it. Now I'm past that, and it's what has enabled me to be doing this for a living and helping others on my label to achieve similar heights. I'm proud of playing it now, I don't always play it. I have a few edits that I like to play of it plus the remixes. I'll stop playing it when nobody wants to hear it anymore. 

Catapulting to dj stardom after 5 years of hard work must mean that all your dreams now feel really achievable. Ultimately, what is it that you want to achieve in the industry? I've already achieved way past what I ever dreamed of, so everything is new. I have a low opinion of myself and I'm constantly trying to improve. I'm not sure what the future holds, I'm taking smaller steps but making sure they're on the right path. Luckily I have the most amazing management team behind me. 

The first time my friend heard ‘What I Might Do’, was after I burnt her a mix cd of my favourite house and techno songs at the time. She instantly fell in love with it. When was the last time you instantly fell in love with a track, house or not house and what was it? I recently heard a new Mark Ronson song featuring Bruno Mars, my manager Becci was shocked to hear I'd like it but it's damned good funk. Modern but so vintage at the same time, I repeated it straight away and tweeted about it. Mark Ronson actually replied saying he was a fan which was so surreal, I really look up to that guy. 

One thing you’re admired for is your ability to remix a track, and really well at that. You’ve also spoken about how you often doubt yourself, and it seems the two shouldn’t go hand in hand. How do you keep self-doubt at bay, especially when working with other people’s music? In a short answer, I don't. It sometimes engulfs me in the studio. I enjoy working with remixes because there's already gold there. I take on remixes that inspire me to begin with and it's a more fluid process. It's a hard balance sometimes but I think the doubt keeps me on my toes and I can go back and tweak, change or completely remove elements if I don't think they're working. I'm self-taught, I'm still learning, I wouldn't go out there and say I'm great at what I do just yet, I've got a long way to go before I get to where I want to be. 

You run Purp & Soul along with your friend Gemma Roberts and you’re doing really exciting things, especially by supporting young and upcoming artists. What are some record labels you aspire to or admire? How do you manage to balance touring, producing and running a record label all at the same time? There's a lot of labels I look up to for various reasons, there's the ones with consistent quality output like Moda, Aus or Ten Thousand Yen. There's the real innovators like Numbers, Don't Be Afraid or Jiaolong. Of course it's difficult juggling the label and touring/production. It gets a lot sometimes but the rewards are completely worth it. We've got a family now, it's really inspiring to have those friends around you.