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Ewan Pearson talks

Ewan Pearson talks

Remixer of choice and Best of British nominee Ewan Pearson spills the beans on his successful career to date and his new 'Fabric' CD.

You've moved from the UK to Berlin. How is life over there?

"Very good, yep. It's a very vibrant and exciting place to live, but it's not the be all and end all, the hype is a bit over the top at times, it can be slightly bemusing. But it's still a very beautiful and fascinating city."

Well, you've certainly come an awful long way to get to where you are now, tell us where it all began...

"Both my parents were mad into music so it's something I was living and breathing and gradually it turned from being a hobby into a job - it just kind of crept up on me. Then at some point in my twenties I realised I was actually making a living from it."

You said once that your initial aim was simply to get your name committed to vinyl...

"Well, I did my first single when I was 22, just out of college and that was the only thing I was really bothered about, that was the sum of my ambition - to have a record out in a shop. But you know, you do one and people like it, and then you do another and then an album and then slowly, very slowly, it kind of gathers its own momentum."

How did you hook up with Soma?

"One day I went up to Glasgow for a friend's party and just door-stepped them. I had a fully finished EP that probably wouldn't have suited the people I was recording for in Birmingham, so I rang them up. This guy I'd engineered vaguely new them, so I mentioned a couple of names and they were sweet enough to let me come in. A few days later I got a phone call from Orde Meikle saying they'd love to put it out, which was great!"

How did you land your first remix?

"After I did an album for Soma, people just started asking for mixes. It's funny because once again it's been a slow, 10-year process, that's just built and built. Then something like five years ago, the mixes I did started to get played by a lot of people and it all just moved up a gear. I've just been quietly bemused and happy to make the most of it at each stage, really."

Tell us about your approach to remixing...

"I always try to be responsive to the material, listening very carefully to the track. I mean, I won't take a project on unless I've got a strong idea of how I can work it... or certainly whether I can do it successfully. "I've been offered all sorts of stuff, from Shakira to goodness knows who, and I've no objection to doing them, but I have to be able to think of a way to do it right - much to my manager's disappointment as I end up turning down plenty of potentially lucrative work. "The important thing is to have a body of work that you're really proud of - that's the way to build a career. If I'd really milked it, three or four years ago, everybody would've got so bored of me."

Is the process made more difficult with a track like Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy the Silence'?

"Yes, it makes it a lot more difficult. You've got the whole pressure of knowing that it's already a classic. Something new doesn't carry all that baggage so you just get excited, but with something like that, there's this whole thing that you could make a mess of something people really love… and they'll never forgive you! "I remember being a bit rude about DJ Hell's remix of the Pet Shop Boys' 'West End Girls', saying something like, 'You shouldn't mess with a classic', and of course that's when I got offered the Depeche Mode remix so I just thought, 'Right, you're going to have to be really careful not to bugger this up'. But it went okay."

How did you get into the artist production side of things, working with people like The Rapture and Tracey Thorn?

"Traditionally, people get into it via the technical route, through working in a recording studio, training as an engineer. Other people, meanwhile, will get into it having been artists themselves. "Making dance music was my education. I learnt the most through my remixes, and I think one of the reasons that these went down so well was because I did a lot with full vocals that people still liked, you know, I didn't throw away the entire song. That may have been when people realised I could be useful for more than just remixing."

How does the process differ from that of producing your own work or remixing?

"Where it really differs is with the interpersonal side of it - the people management, ego management and psychology - it's all these other things that I've had to grapple with over the last two years. "When you're making a record like that, you're with the people the whole time and it's so much about negotiation, trying to get the best performances out of them while trying to guide them down a certain path. And, of course, they might not want to go that way. It's this whole other level of complication, but it is exciting... just hard, hard work."

You worked with Paul 'Phones' Epworth on The Rapture album. Did you find it difficult sharing the production responsibilities with someone else?

"Actually, it was brilliant! If you had said to me, 'Right, I want you to produce the Rapture album on your own' I would have absolutely..."

Shat yourself?

"Yeah, not to put too fine a point on it. So to work with Paul was great because he's a brilliant producer and he was also a really big fan of my work, so we had this kind of mutual respect and just got on really, really well. "There was no sense of boundaries or hierarchy, we just got stuck in and, as a result, Paul and I have become really good friends."

You were nominated for Best Producer in our Best of British awards...

"Well, funnily enough, Paul popped up on I-Chat the other day and said that we'd both been nominated. Obviously, I'm ever so flattered. The only thing I ever wanted was to be able to have a career, to make a living from doing this, and to have people rate your stuff and consider it to be of enough quality for something like that… it makes me very, very happy."

Tell us about your new 'Fabric' mix?

"The idea was very much to give a flavour of what it would be like to hear me in room one on a Saturday night, you know, at 3am with all guns blazing, but I still tried to put a few different styles on there and make it a little musical so it's not just banging techno."

There seems to be definite shifts in styles throughout the mix...

"I think it's really important to have structure and I always want there to be a little bit of musicality in there. That's how I try to play as well - with a distinct sense of beginning, middle and end. "It's a weird balancing act. You have to remember that people are going to listen to it at home or in their cars and it has to bear being listened to again and again. I mean, I just get bored of listening to hours of minimal drums and clicks and stuff - I don't think I could ever do anything that was just like that."

Anything forthcoming under your World of Apples or Partial Arts pseudonyms?

"I haven't done a World of Apples record for a while, but there's a chance I might do soon as I'm starting up a little label with a friend of mine that's going to be quite leftfield; still dance music, but more oddball, so I'd actually like to do another World of Apples record - it's on the to-do list. "Partial Arts is a project I'm doing with my friend Al Usher, we released our first single for Kompakt in January and have the second ready to go. I'm just waiting for a Radio Slave remix of that to come in, so hopefully that'll be out at the end of the summer."

Anything else?

"Well, I'm doing a retrospective of remixing, which is going to come out on K7 in the autumn, covering the best from the last five years. It's weird because you kind of forget how much stuff there is, and getting the track listing together and narrowing it all down is quite hard work. I mean, I could do another one - I could do 'Ewan Pearson - The Goldfrapp Years', a whole CD of Goldfrapp mixes!"