Bristol’s Eats Everything is in a great mood when DJ Mag calls him up with the news that, for a second time in three years, he has won the Best British DJ award. It is one he cherishes above all other polls because, first and foremost, he is someone who prefers to rock a club than toil away in a studio.
“The ideal scenario would be to be a family man and just DJ all the time and only put out records when I want,” he says, talking in a quick, enthusiastic and energetic manner akin to how he plays records.
“I love this award because it means I have the little steel trophy that, in a few years time, I can show my boy and say, 'There you go, that year your dad was the best DJ in the country'.”
He has won the title after another tireless year that has seen him playing all over the world in sweaty underground car parks in Manchester, intimate, small capacity back rooms in Essen and Ibiza superclubs. In fact, one of the latter gigs is one that really stands out for him above all else. “When I first went to Ibiza aged about 17, I saw Carl Cox at Space and it was amazing,” he beams.
“Ever since then, that has been my dream gig, and this year I did just that. I’ve played before but I played the Terrace. This year I played just before Carl on the Discoteca and he let me play on for an extra half an hour. It was just fucking perfect.”
Never one to simply turn up and play the set you would expect, the man born Dan Pearce strongly believes that DJing is about context. He says that although he is technically sound as a DJ (having been playing for decades, firstly jungle and drum & bass before he got into bass-heavy house and techno) he is still always learning about context, about what works where and about what certain crowds and countries need to get them going.
“I get paid a fucking extortionate amount of money to entertain people, and that’s what I want to do. As much as I would like to play totally unknown and underground records, people don't come and see me for that.
I’m not the coolest DJ in the world but I try and balance some older stuff they might not know with some new unrelated cuts, as well as the odd track that they might have heard me play somewhere else. I want people to have as good a time as possible.”
It is a recipe that is truly working for the likeable Bristolian, and one that makes him as at home with the more populist festival end of the spectrum as well as the more heady crowds of mainland Europe.
Reckoning that he now gets booked as much for his DJing as for the records he releases, Pearce is surely right given that in 2015 he has toured America more than once, Australia and South America as well as hundreds of gigs closer to home. Playing off USBs and CDs, Pearce is a dexterous DJ who has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, but first and foremost are his track selections.
“What I do is a few days before each gig, I put my laptop in the corner and play iTunes through for a few hours on shuffle. It’s like record shopping because there is so much music on there that I didn't know existed. It always kicks out tracks I've forgotten, or tracks I wasn't into at the time that I now really like.”
Also helping to make his sets bang that bit harder is the fact that Dan edits or re-masters older tracks to make them full of flavour and nice and loud. “I don't really have a style, I play rowdy techno sometimes, repetitive house music, or all over the place. I just try and cater to the crowd.”
Anyone who saw him at Garden Festival this year will also know he is a dab hand at dropping disco and boogie. Whatever he reaches for, though, you can be assured that the resulting soundtrack will make dancefloors — any dancefloors — party like they may never party again.
Words: KRISTAN J CARYL
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