The last 18 months have seen Bristol’s Eats Everything seemingly come from nowhere to land international success as a DJ and release a string of well-received productions on top labels such as Dirtybird and Pets Recordings. As he prepares to play at one of DJ Mag’s renowned Miami parties at WMC, he talks candidly about Transatlantic crowd-pleasing, his upcoming raft of collaborations and how his success has, in truth, been anything but overnight...
As the global EDM juggernaut continues to gather momentum, many European DJs and producers have given up everything to move to California and chase the bright lights and huge pay packets commanded by dance music’s elite. It’s a road similar to that travelled by Hollywood wannabes, but the allure of success and the money that comes with it is too much to resist for many.
When we catch up with Dan Pearce, the man who’s better known as DJ and producer Eats Everything, it soon becomes clear he’s not going to be giving up life in his native Bristol to chase a champagne lifestyle over the pond anytime soon.
“Ibiza, San Francisco and Brighton are the only other places in the world I could probably see myself living, maybe New York,” he says. “But I don’t think I’ll ever live anywhere else permanently other than Bristol.”
The fact is, he doesn’t need to sell his soul to crack the US as he’s already achieved global success on his own terms. Catz ‘N Dogz snapped up his bassy, retro-edged house cut ‘Entrance Song’ for their Pets Recordings label in the summer of 2011, and this was swiftly followed by the release of ‘The Size’, with its violin hooks and quirk-heavy percussion, on Claude VonStroke’s influential Dirtybird label.
This momentum grew throughout 2012. On the production front, the full-force acid house of ‘Vertigo’ and the downtempo deep house of the ‘Slow For Me’ EP seemingly sat at opposing ends of the dance music spectrum, but both stirred dancefloors, and cemented Eats Everything’s reputation, worldwide. On the global DJ circuit, his bookings went through the roof, with appearances across the US and Continental Europe, as well as back home at Fabric and Secret Garden Party and in Ibiza, including playing last summer’s closing party at Pacha. He ended the year with another Essential Mix for Radio 1, which was entirely made up of his own edits, and to cap it all off, he then scooped DJ Mag’s Best DJ Of 2012 Best Of British award, adding to his Best Breakthrough Producer gong from the previous year.
“It feels fucking weird,” he laughs when asked about his success. “People probably think it’s bullshit, but I still can’t believe it.”
While success may seem to have fallen into his lap, that couldn’t be further from the truth and Dan’s disbelief is borne out of many years of persistence, determination and sheer hard graft.
“I’m fucking old, I’m 33,” he explains. “I’ve been DJing in Bristol since 1996 so I’ve been around a long time, I’m just a newcomer to the table, if you like. I got my first set of decks for Christmas of 1992 when I was 12. So this has been my dream for 20 years.
“Most people don’t take as long as I have, most people get to where I am when they’re younger or they don’t start as early or whatever. I’m not saying I’m some sort of enigma, like I’m the first person that’s ever been 12 and not been professional until he was 32, but it seems like it’s quite a rare thing.”
Having modelled his DJing style on hardcore DJ Ellis Dee, he won a competition to be resident at DJ Easygroove’s house and speed garage night in 1996. He then went on to become a resident at Sundissential’s Bristol-based sister club, Scream, which led to a few years of playing in Europe. When this fizzled out, he became a builder and then a recruitment consultant, but never turned his back on DJing, and continued to hone his production skills. But his major step up was made possible by his now wife, who gave him a year to break through doing the one thing he loved.
“She never told me to give it up, but I left my recruitment job and quit everything,” he explains. “I was on the dole and worked and worked and on the 11th month, Catz ‘N Dogz signed me up! The thing was, I made ‘Entrance Song’ on the third month, in June 2010, and it didn’t get signed until March 2011 because people just didn’t want it. I really thought it was going to be the end, but somehow I pulled my finger out of my arse and it worked out!”
His talents as a DJ were quickly picked up on by Pioneer, who he now works regularly with. “Pioneer heard my Essential Mix and they were like, ‘Do you do that live? So you’re actually quite a good DJ then?’,” he says. “Then they lent me some decks and that’s how the relationship started.
I basically get free stuff in return for doing videos and demos for them and shouting about their stuff, but I genuinely think Pioneer’s stuff is by far the best on the market,” he says. “I love Native Instruments’ synths and VSTs and the Maschine etc, but Traktor, I just don’t see the point in. It’s a fucking pain in the arse when someone’s setting up Traktor after you or before you! It’s the worst DJ etiquette. I’ve had USBs pulled out, cables pulled out, the crossfader.”
As with all DJs, production has formed a vital component of attaining any level of success. “Obviously, music production had to become a part of it but I always saw myself as a DJ before a producer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely proud of what I’ve done and my productions are doing really well but if I hadn’t had to do it, I wouldn’t have done it. Now I love it and wouldn’t change it.”
His productions have formed the launchpad for his DJing career and 2013 promises to be another fully booked year for Eats Everything, with an appearance at one of DJ Mag’s very own Miami parties, which are being held this year at Miami’s Delano and their lounge club, FDR.
“I went to see Catz ‘N Dogz play at the DJ Mag party in Miami last year. I’d already met the DJ Mag guys when I won the Breakthrough Producer award, so I wanted to go and hang out with them as they’re all salt of the earth, sound, normal lads; just normal beerhead twats like myself,” he says in typically self-effacing style. “It was a wicked party, so when they gave me the offer to play this year, it was like, I’m definitely going to do everything I can to do it. I don’t know who’s on the line-up but it was amazing last year so if it’s anything like that, then I’m honoured to be on the bill.”
Eats Everything is now becoming something of a regular on the US club circuit and says in some respects it differs little from home.
“I would say it’s the only place that I’ve played that’s really comparable to the UK, if I’m honest,” he says, though he adds, “When I play in America, I mostly play very varied sets. For example, in New York I played for five hours and I was playing Tyree and some techno, and no matter what I played it was going crazy, whereas in England in certain places, if I tried that, then it would go down like a sack of shit.
“Then again, I played Junk in Southampton a few weeks ago and I was playing acid house and everything. I had like a DC10 sit down to a Bodikka record! I think there are sometimes certain expectations of me, though I suppose when you’ve made a few records that are big like ‘The Size’, ‘Entrance Song’, ‘Tric Trac, ‘Vertigo’, records that are well-known and played by a lot of people, then people are going to want to hear those records.”
EVOLVE OR DIE
But with each new production, Eats Everything confounds any expectations people may have by flitting from genre to genre — whether it’s deep house, acid house, bass music or techno — and demonstrates the same musical prowess whatever he turns his hand to.
“I feel personally that you have to evolve,” he says of his eclecticism. “When I get in the studio I make what I want to make and if I’m making a booty bass record, I’m making a booty bass record. If I’m making a straight-up house record, then that’s what I’m making. For every tune I’ve released, I’ve got about a hundred on my hard drive that will never see the light of day because people aren’t into them.”
But playing the numbers game that many other producers do isn’t for him. “I don’t want to be the guy who’s on like a million record labels,” he explains. “I’m happy being on Pets, Dirtybird, Futureboogie and Hypercolour, they’re the only ones I want to release originals on. I’ve spoken to Loefah about putting something on Swamp 81, which I think would open me up to that kind of scene a bit and something a bit more banging and a bit darker. But I’m never really going to move from those labels, they’re my home and they’re my friends.”
One of his closest friends is Dirtybird’s Justin Martin, who he’s just collaborated with on the ‘Feather Fight’ EP. “We’re like the same person, just from different worlds,” says Dan. “Basically, it just boils down to the fact that we’re a pair of absolute idiots! When we’re in the studio, half the time is taken up by being ridiculous and the other half is spent working. We’d have made 10 tracks by now, if we weren’t sellotaping bowls to our heads and shit like that. He’s been my favourite producer for years, so to actually work with him and be his mate, it’s amazing. Justin’s just one of my favourite people on the planet without a shadow of a doubt.”
This creative connection is being explored further in the coming months. “We’ve got at least another EP coming out on Dirtybird this year for sure,” reveals Dan. “That’s signed and ready to go.”
Other upcoming releases this year include ‘The Withywood Walk’, his wonkily anthemic contribution to the upcoming 'Dirtybird Players' compilation, and a varied host of collaborations with TEED, Skream, Disclosure, Catz ‘N Dogz and Richy Ahmed, among others. There’s also talk of an Eats Everything solo album, but that may have to wait till 2014.
“I was going to do it this year but I may release it during summer next year,” he says. “This is all just conjecture. I’ve no idea whether I’ll make the right music or whether I’ll have the time or whatever.”
So now he’s made it to dance music’s top table, how does life compare to being in recruitment?
“There’s no comparison mate,” he says, suddenly serious. “It’s like hell and heaven and I’m not even slightly exaggerating. Don’t get me wrong, this job isn’t easy, it’s a lot harder than people might think it is, but it’s also the thing I love most, other than my wife.”