A couple of years ago Bristolian Dan Pearce was stuck at a desk finding people jobs. After spending the best part of two decades DJing and dabbling in the art of production with little success, Dan decided to give it one more year. Eleven months later his ‘Entrance Song’ was snapped up by Pets Recordings and the floodgates opened. An Essential Mix, gigs around the world and collaborations with heroes such as Claude von Stroke soon followed. Few producers in the history of dance music have made such a rapid and far-reaching impact on the electronic music scene as Eats Everything. In a matter of months he defined a whole new genre of forward-thinking underground house music that draws elements from classic house, UK bass music, Detroit techno, jungle and early rave, paying homage to everything from Randy Crawford to Ray Charles and Murk to MK. Dan Prince speaks to the man on everyone’s lips…
Dan welcome to DMCWORLD, where in the world are you right now?
“Hi Dan, would you believe just leaving my studio after having a back massage for the last hour.”
Well it’s okay for some…
“Hardly, my back is fucked. I’ve had to hire this machine which slips over my chair and massages my back, it lets me work and get better at the same time. I think the combination of doing nothing really for ten years to all of a sudden being in the studio a lot, DJing five times a week, lots of travelling on planes and sleeping in strange beds all of the time has done me in. A complete lifestyle change and it doesn’t help being a fat bastard.”
You should have given Tiesto a call, he’s cancelled a whole US Tour because of his dodgy back…
“Ha ha I should have. I’ve just done the same, had to cancel a tour of America because of the pain, luckily I’m back in November and December touring there with Pete Tong.”
Right let’s crack on. Your first musical loves were Queen and Michael Jackson. Two artists very much about the performance. At what age did you know you wanted to be a DJ?
“I was about eleven when I first started getting interested in DJing and I got my own decks a year later. I used to listen to The Pet Shop Boys on Radio 1 on a Sunday and that was where I first heard Felix ‘Don’t You Want Me’ which changed my life. I was also into wrestling at the time, you’ll love this story Dan – fuck knows why I’m telling you. My bedroom was designed like a wrestling ring with the ropes painted on the walls and I used to walk in pretending to be a wrestler wearing my wrestling pants on, with ‘Don’t You Want Me’ blaring out as my entrance song. Whenever my family downstairs heard that song, they knew I was going in for a wrestle.”
Dan it’s answers like that that make my job so much worthwhile. So much better than some boring producer from Sweden going on about his change of BPM. Thank you. So who were your early DJ heroes?
“Ha ha. Glad to be of assistance. The early crew; Sasha, Carl Cox, Top Buzz, Ellis Dee – basically all the big rave DJs who’s mix tapes I could lay my hands on.”
You were resident at Scream around 2001 in Bristol for a number of years, a night that attracted a wide array of DJs from Paul Van Dyk and Tiesto to Erick Morillo and Roger Sanchez. What was it like for a young DJ with a very credible musical taste to see DJs filling a club in your home city playing big crowd pleasers…
“Shit, I’ve never been asked that before. Er, well It was good. I enjoyed that time, it was a real baptism of fire. Before that I was just doing the smaller clubs like Ripsnorter, Infamous, Bar Latino and Heresy and then all of a sudden I was playing in front of 1700 people.”
But what about the superstar DJs earning £20,000 playing big room bangers. What was your feelings on that, knowing that you could do better, it was your home crowd after all…?
“Some of the nights were a bit dodgy and it was frustrating, but that’s the way of the world. I am sure all of these DJs went through it at one time in their career. You have to take the rough with the smooth and earn your stripes.”
After this big night moved on your name was out of the limelight and a succession of jobs such as a recruitment consultant and builder came along so you could pay the rent. Did the dream ever die, did you ever think you weren’t ever going to make it?
“There were a few low points. Working as a recruitment consultant was an absolute killer, earning money for people who hated you whilst you were on the phone talking to people you hated. It was good money, but whenever I walked out of the door – even on a Friday, I was always depressed thinking about how soon I would be back at my desk.”
You were with your future wife Leah back then, a lot of partying happened, a lot of drugs and it’s fair to say that you were a bit of a mess. What was the turning point – did she give you an ultimatum?
“No there was no ultimatum. We sat down one night and I said, right I’m 30 now and I want to give this producing one more crack. I’d been doing a little bit of production for a while but not taking it that seriously. She said fine, give it one more year and see what happens. Eleven months later Pets Recordings picked up ‘The Entrance Song’ and that was that. But, it was a close call.”
So when did the really good production work start to begin, were you in a home studio?
“I was yes, I’m just about to move into Factory Studios in Bristol which I really need to do as I am about to start work on my debut album. When I completed ‘Heavy’ I was really pleased with it and thought I was ready to blow up. A load of labels passed on it without really listening to it until Southern Fried picked it up, but it didn’t really make any waves. The funny thing is Dan, whenever I play it out now everyone is clambering into the DJ booth to see what the fuck it is. When Claude von Stroke heard it in a club where I was playing he was like, ‘fuck I passed on this didn’t I?’ I get that all the time about that record, especially from the people who passed on it!”
I remember you once said to me that everything changed for you when you invested in new speakers…
“Yep. I paid about a grand for some Mackie HR824 Mk II monitors. The thing is, journalists and clubbers are always asking me technical questions about my studio and my sound and I haven’t got a fucking clue what they are going on about. All I know is that with those babies, you could hear more definition and bass, my music felt more real and my music sounded like it does in a club.”
So you the hell do you find your way around the studio if you don’t know anything technical?
“It’s all self taught. If it doesn’t sound right, it’s not right. Simples.”
So as you mentioned, the first track that exploded for you was ‘Entrance Song’ picked up by the Catz N’ Dogz duo at Pets Recordings. It had been passed by a few labels before, who were the labels?
“Ha ha, I’m not naming any names. I don’t want to sound like a cock but that record was way ahead of it’s time. There were no records like that at the time and I’m not saying I sparked a trend, but it’s fair to say I was around when that whole sound started.”
You admitted that doing the Radio 1 Essential Mix at Motion in Bristol was “the most daunting experience of my life”…
“Thirty minutes before I went on I was puking up. I’m a better DJ when I’ve had a few drinks and…”
Well you think you are dude…
“…heh heh. Well yes maybe. But anyway, I hadn’t touched a drop as I wanted to keep a clear head. I also hadn’t had anything to eat all day because my stomach was all cramped up, so there I was in a corner in absolute bits. As soon as I did my first mix though I knew I was going to be fine and it was a wicked night.”
Can you remember what your first record was?
“Yeah it was my mix of Murk’s ‘Amame!’.”
You are the toast of the UK airwaves being the first dance music producer to have two different tracks featured on two different shows on Radio One for thirteen consecutive weeks. Where were you when you heard your tune for the first time on Radio 1?
“I was in my living room with Leah. I’d been told he was going to play it so we stayed in for it.”
Does Leah accompany you to a lot of your gigs?
“Not really, she used to and she’ll come if she knows that some of her friends will be there. But she knows if there isn’t I’ll just fuck off and talk to the other DJs which isn’t fun for her.”
How much advice has Pete Tong given to you over the last couple of years? You got on well with him at his night at Pacha in Ibiza…
“He hasn’t given me any advice to be honest. I just think he is an all round great guy with a great ear for music. He also takes chances on unknowns and their music. We get on well and when he interviewed me live on his show we had a laugh. I’m just a normal fat bloke from Bristol and not your stereotypical DJ, he has always been very good to me.”
What has been the most scary gig to date club or event wise?
“It was probably that Pacha gig for Tongy. I mean come on, it’s Pacha for god’s sake! I pretended I wasn’t nervous in front of my mates, but I was totally bricking it. And then as soon as I went on and started jumping around like a dick, I was fine. Pete’s manager said that in the 2 months of the seasons far, that was the best set he had seen and the best crowd reaction.”
Most DJs complain about the never-ending touring, you do it with a smile on your face though…
“Dan, I’ve only been doing it two minutes!”
Yes, and you’re already complaining about your back!
“Ha ha. Well I’m still loving it, however if anyone wants to be buy me a christmas present, a time machine would be greatly appreciated. But all of this travelling is part and parcel of the job and I am not complaining. How many other people can say that they do their hobby as a job and get paid for it?”
So you got married this year at last, congratulations. Why did you choose Ibiza to tie the knot?
“I just love it there. I am thinking of moving there as soon as I can, I have met some lovely people and it seemed the perfect place to get married.”
I saw your photos of your honeymoon hotel The Hacienda, very nice dude…
“It was, until the final night when I put my foot in it big time. We were sitting outside looking out to sea and Leah said to me, ‘so what do you love more, playing in front of 5000 people chanting your name or having dinner with me under the stars?’. I replied ‘I love both occasions equally darling.’ I think it’s fair to say that was the end of the honeymoon!”
I can’t believe this was the first year you have played on the white isle – and it was for Radio 1 at Ushuaia!
“I know, I have a lot of catching up to do. That first gig was mind blowing. I had so many friends there and it was an unforgettable experience.”
I saw you down at Carl Cox and Jason Bull’s Sands Bar rocking it out in September too…
“I love that little place. Jason is such a top bloke, I went back down there again and did a cheeky little set during my honeymoon as so many people had come to the wedding. I had my £400 sunglasses nicked by some arseole and Jason paid for another pair which I thought was so kind.”
Why has it taken so long for Bristol to finally re-awake after it’s late 90s heyday?
“I get asked this question a lot. I think it’s down to a lot of things but one thing is for sure, we owe a lot to Julio Bashmore who has definitely opened the door for house music in the city again. My theory is that once a connection with a style of music has been made with a city, all the influential people in the industry have their eyes and ears opened to that place. They think to themselves ‘well, who else is doing stuff down there?’ and it snowballs from there.”
I know you like to be known for your unique sound which can’t be pigeonholed, but how would you describe your sound in October 2012?
“Hmmm. A little bit different from what I was doing last year. It’s still a big mix of all my influences such as jungle, hardcore, early house and early Detroit techno. An infusion of everything that I listened to as a kid mixed into one record.”
What’s coming next release wise?
“My new ‘Vertigo EP’ came out today on Dirty Bird.”
What’s it all about?
“One track is a full on acid house record, sort of along the lines of Fast Eddie ‘Acid Thunder’, one is a crazy, weird noise thing that I can’t really describe, there’s a lot of different suff on there. House music with lots of bass – there you go, you’ve got me pigeonholing myself at last!”
You’ve had a cracking summer of festivals around the world. Where has stood out?
“My favourite part of Glastonbury is always the Glade area so it was fantastic to play at Glade this year, it is fair to say I gave it some more bollocks than I usually do. Secret Garden Party was amazing apart from the mud. I’d never been before although Leah had. I didn’t know what to expect, it was different from any festival I’d been to before and was basically people getting off their heads wearing their secret clothes getting smashed on posh vodka. It was great. The Garden and Hideout were really good in Croatia and Exit in Serbia was surreal to say the least. To be fair, I’ve not had one bad festival or club gig this year.”
What has been your anthem of the summer – and yes, you can name one of yours…
“I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but it was my rework of Adam F ‘Circles’. I always like to tease the crowd a bit with it, but as soon as they hear that ‘check, check, check’ vocal the place erupts. I’ve been thinking about this recently and I think I should play it early doors to get it out of the way, because so many people are waiting for it and don’t really let themselves go before they’ve heard it.”
And what has been your club of the year?
“Three clubs for three very different reasons. First off Fabric and Room 3 about a month ago, it was fucking dangerously busy, absolutely mental. Then there was Mint in Leeds on a Thursday night with Heidi, unreal. The place was still rammed at half seven in the morning. Then there was Concrete down in Portsmouth, it was a Tuesday night and the place was going off so badly – I had to have four security guys holding the decks down, the mixer flew onto the floor at one point and people were literally falling into the DJ booth…I haven’t seen anything like that in a while! But as I mentioned before, I haven’t had a bad club night this year, I have been very lucky.”
What does it take to stay relevant in the scene?
“You always have to evolve, never stand still, people will always get bored with one sound so keep moving…”
You are off to America in a few weeks, have you been warned that certain club owners have kicked DJs off in the past if they don’t play commercial enough?
“Ha ha, yes I’ve read those stories and yes I’ve been warned. There is one club in Las Vegas in particular I have been told about, but the simple fact is, I just don’t have those big records. It’s going to be interesting.”
Oh you’ll have Pete Tong looking after you, you’ll be fine! So to round things off, apart from cruising with Tongy down the Strip, what is already set in stone for the next few months?
“I’ve remixed Chicken Lips’ ‘He Not In’ for Defected, there’s a more up tempo, discoey house EP coming out in December and a collaboration with Justin Martin coming out early next year which is great. I love working with Justin, he’s a great producer and a really good friend. January 3rd I’m off to DJ on that Holy Ship cruise party around the Caribbean, then BPM in Mexico, some dates in the UK, South By South West and Miami. And in the middle of all that I am taking February off to write my album”
Have you started writing it yet?
“I’ve done a couple of things but I really need to get into my new studio and get some vocalists down. I’m looking forward to it.”
Looking back on an enormous two years – what has been the most satisfying? Has it been proving every fucker wrong?
“Ha ha. Not really, but is has been satisfying showing people what I am capable of. Two major things jump out at me. Getting married was the best thing that has happened to me and the second was doing the Essential Mix, which I didn’t expect so soon into this Eats Everything adventure.”