One of the most consistently brilliant producers whether on the dancefloor or in more contemplative mood, Ewan Pearson's excursions into deep house, Detroit techno, electro, downbeat electronica and punk funk are always a breath of fresh air.
Recording under the pseudonyms World of Apples, Partial Arts (with Al Usher), Maas and Sulky Pup, among others, he's also amassed a substantial body of remixes for The Chemical Brothers, Playgroup, Freeform Five, Franz Ferdinand, The Rapture, Pet Shop Boys, Goldfrapp and Depeche Mode. A collection of his best are out on !K7 now. DJmag linked up with the production king to get the lowdown on remixing, writing and Berlin life…
Listening back to your new remix compilation, 'Piecework', it's remarkable how varied your production is. Have you set out to do something different with every re-work?
"I try to keep it mixed up, partly to keep myself interested, and partly because I try to respond to the tracks on an individual basis, what would suit the artist and the song. I wouldn't want people to think that they know what they're going to get from a Ewan Pearson remix. I do try to keep things different, be sensitive to the original material."
Your mix of Cortney Tidwell's 'Don't Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up' is quite a momentous track, with loads of DJs hailing it as a modern classic. Where were you coming from when you created this track?
"Obviously I'm really chuffed that it's had such a good reaction. The idea was just to do something very spacey, somewhere between deep house and cosmic stuff, keep as much of the original as possible but just give it that lift. It seemed like the ideal track to be made into a club record without really ruining what was so great about it in the first place. I think people were responding to her to be honest, she's an incredible singer. It was a proper promo thing, I did it for free, for the love, to get as many people to hear it as possible."
You co-authored a book on dance music, 'Discographies'. Any plans of putting pen to paper again?
"I don't know whether I've got another book in me. I really enjoy writing, and I enjoy doing my blog, which is a good way of getting that out of my system. I actually write a little thing for Groove Magazine in Germany now, every couple of months. That gets translated into German, though, so I've no idea how it ends up sounding! I do a little bit, just to keep myself into it, it's another thing to get enthusiastic about, essentially what my job is really. Hearing really good music, representing it to people, saying this is great, whether that's playing it in a club, writing about it, remixing or production, they're all facets of the same job."
Are you finding life in Berlin more inspiring for your music with the thriving dance scene there right now?
"I've always been a fan of German music. I find life out here a little bit more relaxed. I've got a better quality of life here, I'm probably happier. Although I love a lot of the music that comes from here, I've always been more of a fan of labels like Kompakt from Cologne or Playhouse from Frankfurt. And you hear stuff everywhere now, minimal techno is as big an influential in the UK as it has been here."
Do you have any plans to resurrect any of your other production aliases?
"I've been doing a little record label called Miserychord which I'm doing with Sasse from Mood Music. We put out the first record with Al Usher who I do the Partial Arts stuff with. And the idea is it's more leftfield disco, and a little cosmic, a little slower, not so full on. The next record is from Mugwump, which is 107 BPM but an absolute bomb. Next year I'm going to do another World of Apples record, an EP, and I'm going to do it for Miserychord because it's the right place to put something like that out. It's on my list of things to do for next year. And me and Al have another Partial Arts record due out on Kompakt."
What about productions under your own name - can we expect a Ewan Pearson album any time soon?
"No! In a word, I can quite confidently say. With production for other people and remixes, although my name is part and parcel, I like the fact that I'm not the focus. I think that any more original stuff that I do will be a little bit more low-key. I don't want to be the main focus, if I did do an album it would be under an alias."
Do you have any more production work for other artists planned?
"I'm doing the album of this band called Los Valentinos, I did a single for them. I was in Australia in January, and I went into the studio with them for three days and we did the single. They're doing their debut album, we got on really well and asked if I would come over and do it. Which I thought would be kind of fun. Next year I don't know, there's nothing that I'm sure will happen yet. There are a few more things that may happen but I can't really talk about them yet."