Ewan Pearson—Berlin's Best
by McClain Johnson

Ewan Pearson is one of the world's best up-and-coming DJs. He has done remixes for many artists including Goldfrapp and The Chemical Brothers. Ewan recently took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss hip Berliners, playing free parties and working with Gwen Stefani.

Lunar: Are there certain qualities you look for in a track before you agree to remix it?

ewan pearson photo courtesy of soma records Ewan Pearson: On the whole I have to like it! Or rather, I have to know that I can come up with an end result that both the artist and I will like. It's no good if only one of us is happy—we both have to be. I have to do something that I think is consistent with what I do and yet meets their needs too.

I've been quite lucky over the past 18 months to be offered some really great music to work with—Goldfrapp, Ladytron, the Chemical Brothers. But I try to choose projects according to whether I get excited at the track, not the size of the artist.

Lunar: What's been your wildest gig?

Ewan Pearson: Erm, I like little gigs that are packed with people who love music—small clubs of 2 to 3 hundred people where everybody is just there to dance and have a good time, not to be noticed or to pick each other up! There's a club in Paris like this called Kill the DJ which is free and therefore full by midnight and stays that way until 6 in the morning. That gets pretty intense.

Lunar: How did you ring in 2004?

Ewan Pearson: I was DJing in London alongside Ivan Smagghe of Black Strobe, Erol Alkan and 2 Many DJs.

Lunar: Who are some of your favorite DJs?

Ewan Pearson: Ivan Smagghe—a good friend but an amazing DJ who always seems to have records that I've never heard of but always sound brilliant. He's constantly searching out new stuff and never stays still—a real innovator. A guy called Rob Mello, who's a London DJ, taught me a lot about putting together a set and mixing musical styles. My first ever favourite was Andrew Weatherall, another British legend, from the start of acid house. I don't always like what he does, but he's never boring and really passionate about music—a real inspiration.

Lunar: Why did you decide to move to Germany?

Ewan Pearson: More for personal reasons than musical ones; I had lived in London for 8 years but had recently ended a 7 year relationship. I lost my studio space, and one of the guys I did a lot of stuff with moved to New York. So all in all it felt like a good time for a change of scene.

Lunar: Is there a good scene there?

Ewan Pearson: Yes. There are a lot of really good producers. Clubwise there are almost too many things happening, and Berliners are quite spoiled I think. They tend to have so many things happening, and they are a little bit 'too cool for school sometimes!'

Lunar: What do you miss about the U.K. while in Germany?

Ewan Pearson: Fish and chips! BBC radio. Lots of friends. Phonica records (a great record shop in London—weirdly Berlin record shopping is not so good—it's quite hard work).

Lunar: Do you have a favorite place to perform?

Ewan Pearson: Well, I have a residency in London at a club called Come Shake The Whole. That's probably my favourite gig, as I can play whatever I like and I know the crowd and their reactions quite well. Apart from that there's a free party called Secret Sundaze in London which is really good. They have over a thousand people turn up every other week for that. I played a couple of times last year. And there are some other really good places in Europe—Kill the DJ in Paris, some great places in Ireland, Germany and Spain.

Lunar: You seem to make records more dancefloor accessible. Do you remember the first record you remixed?

Ewan Pearson: That's why they hire me! My first remix was a long time ago for some friends in Ireland. Kind of when I was just doing techno.

Lunar: Are you working on any new projects?

Ewan Pearson: I am making an album at the moment for Soma Recordings in Glasgow, Scotland. I did an album for them a long time ago (1997) and my contract was for two records so I'm honouring that. It's much harder than doing remixes, as you have to start from a blank sheet as it were. I've also been doing some programming—I've been working on Gwen Stefani from No Doubt's solo album, which is something different for me. I'm not doing remixes for a little while. I miss it though!

Lunar: Would you mind describing what electro house is for people unfamiliar with the scene?

Ewan Pearson: Well, I hate labels but I guess it's a kind of house that references certain sounds—synth pop, italo, new beat and acid—that has become popular over here in the last couple of years. But the difference between the records I and others were making and "electroclash" is that [the latter] wasn't often danceable. It was quite cold and harsh. I wanted to make records that were still disco records above all else, whose primary purpose was to move a dancefloor.

Lunar: Do you have any hobbies outside of DJing?

Ewan Pearson: I read a great deal.

Lunar: What do you think makes you so in demand as a remixer?

Ewan Pearson: Partly it's just that I'm the flavour of the month! Maybe it's cause I take quite a lot of care over the mixes that I do, and I manage to keep a lot of what makes the original record special in my version. In some ways lots of my mixes are quite 'old-fashioned' extended mixes in the manner which were popular pre-house, when one just changed the original enough to make it work in a club and no more. I think artists quite like that, and that I usually manage to work with the entire song, rather than just doing a dub and throwing the song away.

Lunar: Do you have a favorite remix that you've done?

Ewan Pearson: It changes from week to week. I guess out of last year's stuff it was Goldfrapp 'Train' and the Chemical Brothers dub mix.

Lunar: Are there any artists that you would like to remix?

Ewan Pearson: Loads! Bjork, Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Britney. And then more underground people like Soulwax or Michael Mayer, whom I'm big fans of.

Lunar: What's been your longest set?

Ewan Pearson: 5 and a half hours. Berlin is notorious for having to play long long sets. I have complained a couple of times and asked if someone can take over (I am a wuss). Sometimes it's fun, but it's better if you know in advance that you've got to play for that long, not three hours in when you've got no records left!

Lunar: What do you think is the best aspect of being a DJ?

Ewan Pearson: Being able to inflict your musical tastes on other people and getting paid for it. That and the girls, obviously. (joke!)

Lunar: Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?

Ewan Pearson: Quite a few. I'm a massive Fleetwood Mac fan. That's all I'm going to tell for now.

Lunar: You produce as well as DJ. Which do you prefer?

Ewan Pearson: They're very different. DJing is more immediate and is an amazing feeling when it goes well. Producing is harder and can be gruelling and depressing at times, but is ultimately the more satisfying. You build up a body of work that for the most part you can be proud of and look back on.

Lunar: Do you have any advice for aspiring DJs?

Ewan Pearson: Try and start your own night and build up an audience for what you want to play, even if it's only somewhere small or every month or two. The best way to learn how to play and to develop your original style is to play for real people rather than on your own in your bedroom. Technique is not as important as learning how to structure and programme a set—beat mixing is only a tiny part of it. You can only learn programming the hard way—in front of people.

Ewan's remix of Goldfrapp's 'Strict Machine' is out now on Mute.

At Amazon.com
The Chemical Brothers - Get Yourself High

Track Listing:

  1. Get Yourself High (Extended Version)
  2. Get Yourself High (Feliz Da Housecat's Chemical Meltdown Mix)
  3. Get Yourself High (Switches Rely On Dub)
  4. The Golden Path (Ewan Pearson Extended Vocal)
  5. The Golden Path (Ewan's Rave Hell Dub)
  6. Nude Night
  7. Get Yourself High (video)

Order Now at Amazon.com

back to top