The freshly launched That Danny Savage Show podcast provides some essential insight into the music scene and many of its prominent operators. The recently aired interview of electronic innovator Ben Pearce speaks candidly about what motivates him and influences have played part in his personal journey on the way to the top.
Tuning into the new weekly show you’ll receive some hot music industry navigation tips and in the linked show with Ben Pearce you can unravel his timeline of servicing the scene and get to learn what has impacted him professionally. Ben Pearce shares some very personal moments from the roller-coaster ride spanning his illustrious career with many highs and lows relating to pressure, touring and mental health. Danny Savage and Ben connect on a mix of subjects including cooking after Ben hosted his own ‘supper club’ sharing he classes cooking as his meditation and informs also his second passion. Ben then provides further thoughts into combining cooking with his music so stayed tuned for what the future holds in this combination.
Flashback Sets The Scene:
Reflecting back the first musical experiences he remembers indie bands like Limp Bizkit which contradicts his classical music originals with his dad, but led into Hip-Hop (as a skater) before engaging with the electronica scene around the time he very first took narcotics around age of 18 (this spearheads another issue as his career progresses). Eventually touching everywhere from ambient to jazz Ben extends his musical knowledge which assist with his production. Looking back at early club events at Sankey’s and Area51, Danny and Ben find common ground around the same time Danny Savage was promoting Filth. This kickstarts Ben Pearce sharing he first borrowed decks before learning to DJ on a whim as it actually paid for his weekends ‘party’ life. This led him into promotions handing out flyers as an entry point to the nightlife industry. Ben soon started promoting his own event Treehouse in Manchester where he shares promoter politics, where he fell out with the other brands but now realises it was for the best.
DJing & Early Direction:
Initially learning to mix with 2 x copies of Micha Moore ‘Space’ Ben soon moved onto production releasing a few minor tracks before his big track ‘What I might do’ broke. The time away from promoting gave him the motivation to prove himself as a solo artist. He acknowledges he was a manager at an RBS call centre whilst DJing over the weekends abroad, balancing both jobs for 3 months so understands the first few years are never easy. Thankfully his parents always supported him with his music and once he started earning more money from DJing than his the full-time job the transition became easier. Rag from Grade Management heard him play and quickly got picked up early and they signed him across to Coda agency which really leveraged his career. Ben instantly suggests agents are pro-active in seeking DJs for the next big thing, giving open advice on choosing the right agency to suit your skills and sound, noting a smaller agency often pays more attention to your growth than some of the bigger agencies.
Ben shares- “Don’t push it. Do you see yourself as a marketable product?” If your’e a DJ you have to produce to make a mark with aims to get a residency to build your profile and following. Social media matters, extending your name across blogs and Soundcloud with a solid belief in yourself … don’t feel down or annoyed when you get rejected, he also gets rejected loads. You need to be OK with failure, it’s a part of the industry.
Delving deeper into his own character, Ben Pearce shares he’s a DJ first and a producer in second (strangely he doesn’t class himself as good producer) which we don’t agree. Looking at is own productions he pulls them together re-asserting you have to make your own tracks to have a marketable commodity if you want to be a DJ worthy of note…. Suggesting no one actually listens to mixes anymore, getting a track heard is a lot easier.
His production tip includes making the bare bones structure and then getting an accomplished engineer to mix it. Joe Ashworth engineers his tracks, although he would never suggest the ghost producer route, as it sits poorly within the industry. You have to do something to stand out as a DJ these days far above technical ability.
Ben’s Advice On Production:
Use Ableton, practice filtering and chopping up tunes at first and watching Youtube to learn the initial skills. Your first 100 tracks you make won’t be great but they will progress. Try sampling and remixing getting stems available online with easy to use hardware like Roland or 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, this is a consistent theme throughout these podcasts. Ben shows your approach should be to hit the ground running and stay positive, going to places for training like Youtube, Point Blank, Masterclass or surrounding yourself with others that are good at producing (associate with people that are better than you).
The tone then moves to the effects and an introspective of the industry: Sharing on a personal note as an example Ben tells Danny he often lacks motivation 90% of the time throughout his productions ; suffering self-doubt which followed after making his major track because he didn’t think he was good enough. The outlook shows that motivation comes & goes and If you get a block, take yourself away, have a break and come back the next day with fresh eyes and ears.
Something to note is “Producers only put out 1% of what they release out” – Moodyman quote. So your next good track could only be around the corner.
Insight For Producers via Ben’s Own Case Study:
Ben made the initial structure in his own bedroom before arranging and mixing at Beehive Mills. He then put it in a mix and David from Under The Shade messaged him on Soundcloud and signed it immediately. It actually needed tidying up, so he revisited the arrangement and made the bassline better which became a hit. It almost went out on white label vinyl which could have changed it’s direction. His friend Stretford Dogs Club had Solomun playing for him in Manchester and Solomun heard it in the car on the way to his gig, loved it and starter playing it regularly. Will from Chase & Status called him after hearing it played in Panorama Bar in Berlin, funnily enough he thought it was originally a stitch up, with a mate winding him up after hearing the feedback. NTA signed and Ben split his 50% with Under The Shade. The track next featured in a Tesco advert before reaching Beatport number 1 and becoming the most Shazzamed track in the UK for 3 to 4 years. Virgin then signed it an re-released moving it into number 7 in the UK national charts, number 1 in Italy and also number 2 in Belgium.
Talk About Touring & Mental Health:
Bookings and schedules went crazy, doing interviews with TV channels, radio and more. He went head on into 3 or 4 gigs per week, partying and didn’t look after himself, feeling under surmountable pressure. The lack of sleep and traveling on his own in hotels and airports really started to impact his health and also coming from club environment. After an extended amount of time, Ben realised he wasnt happy and started drinking a lot , he didn’t want to burden anyone else talking about his depression. Reflecting if he didnt take the time off, he wouldn’t actually be here today with suicidal tendencies. He was scared of being alone and really didn’t want to go off travelling again, moving into a downward spiral. He was offered anti-depressants but didn’t want to take them. Thankfully his best friend moving in saved him with support and advice where necessary. He really needed the time off to recoup, when he cancelled his shows it was just to let his fans know, not expecting it to blow up in news channels like it did, it was announced across the national papers. Sharing his Facebook post was a sincere action, Ben notes it was all very unexpected, not wanting to reflect any more after his break not including it in interviews but now he is far more open offering advice “Talk about it. If it feels like it’s going down, it will eventually go back up.” Ben’s suggests to get a therapist and also contact Calm Zone helpline.
He himself actively helps musicians he works with, doing panels with a study about music industry mental health there are now many resources online including this study. There was a new service launched in December that has really helped the broader industry. He feels the after-math of Chester Beddingtons suicide made people more widely aware.
The AFEM Association For Electronic Music provides an industry sounding board to help change the perception and address issues collectively (link below). Looking at key aspects that should be communicated:
Promoters: Don’t be offended when DJs aren’t wanting to party Electronic music was originally founded and fuelled on drug usage, this as a theme needs to be addressed. Drugs and Mental Health talks should be held separately and not inter-linked, alcohol is far more destructive than drugs to society.
Ben Pearce actually features in here and is open for the benefit of the industry. Looking at the long term impacts Ben shares that he’s not 100% recovered and still has the down days, but is now more aware of the dips and what to do when they happen. When he doesn’t spend money on boosting social media posts he feels down from being detached from his fans and this is part of the reward system you’re mind can promote. He informs people should move away from spamming and into more direct contact with their true fans to help forming a better connection and interaction. Highlighting key facts that Silicon Valley people support that social media is actually bad for you, they don’t use it directly as it’s potentially poisonous and holds many negative traits we are only starting to witness now.
Resolution & Roundup:
Returning to the musical mix Ben and Danny Discuss the new themed EP about Dancing Astronauts and Ben’s Radio 1 Essential Mix feature http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08p60l8 which funnily enough Ben didn’t even know what it was until he was older as he didn’t experience it in childhood and was heavily into metal in his teens, so he just treated it like a normal DJ mix, putting in the same effort and energy he always does in hindsight a great approach. He never actually prepares a playlist, he always plays on-the-fly after studying the crowd and DJs featuring beforehand when at a gig.
Ben Pearce’s parting thoughts are to spend time with people that make you happy and only do things that make you happy. Something we can all learn great value from.
Tune in to the rest of the That Danny Savage Show podcasts and receive unique insights from DJs, Labels, Promoters and many from behind the scene including influencers, managers, marketers and more. That Danny Savage Show is available to listen, download, comment and share:
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We suggest you support their friends and partners at:
Last Night A DJ Saved My Life Foundation – A charity creating opportunities & fundraising initiatives to enable the dance music industry to help children in crisis.
Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) – A not-for-profit trade association created to represent the common interests of those companies and individuals whose business is Electronic Music and to advocate best practice for the genre.
The Everyday Agency – A creative marketing agency that provides Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, Web Design, PR, Social Media Strategy, SEO to the international music industry.