Ben Pearce was always one of the most likeable figures in club culture.
A dexterous selector and a highly talented producer, his work was able to absorb fresh ideas while also retaining that impish sense of humour.
Perhaps that's why last year's events his fans and contemporaries so deeply. Issuing a statement, Ben Pearce was open and brave about his mental health issues, and opted to take a step back.
Since then, little has been heard from the producer, with Ben able to convalesce in peace following a stunning few years of international travel.
Opening the New Year with renewed strength, Ben Pearce has revealed plans to release a four-strong series of EPs containing a conceptual arc.
Following the journey of an astronaut, the storyline mirrors and reflects the producer's own experiences within the music industry.
New EP 'Ascension' is incoming, with Clash able to premiere new Elias-bolstered cut 'Crescent' below. The production is immediately recognisable, while the soulful victory takes it to another place entirely.
Tune in now, and then catch a new interview with Ben after the jump...
You took a step back last year, and were very open about the mental health issues in your life. Was this a decision you took with trepidation? Was it heartening to receive such widespread support?
To be honest I think everything I did at that point was with trepidation, I did feel trapped a little bit because I knew deep down I wanted to carry on with music but it felt as if it was killing me. The support was incredibly heartening, I didn’t think the post would reach so far, it was only my intention to just let those going to the shows why I was cancelling as I felt I owed them that much. I was reading those comments every day and I was helping. In fact part of this storylined EP is about receiving those messages of support when you’re lost.
Do you feel mental health within music is now being taken a little more seriously? What do you hope for in the future from this conversation?
I think it is, it’s a really good thing. There is a difference between it being talked about/becoming a buzzword and being understood however. I’ve been involved in a panel recently for Mind/Percolate/Resident Advisor and I truly think more events/articles/resources like this are the way forward. Education is important and getting that across to people in the industry who need/want it I think is what needs to be done.
Did you entirely divorce yourself from music during your time off? Is it even possible for you as an artist to fully switch off that part of your brain?
Not from music, I think that’d be impossible for me. I listened to a lot of bands as I usually do on a daily basis anyway. A lot of what I grew up with tackles the emotions I was feeling & often tackles depression/mortality. I stopped listening to electronic music, I tried to stay off social media because seeing the music scene I’m in carrying on felt like I was looking out through a dirty window.
I think switching off and not listening to electronic music helped to give me clarity in the direction I wanted to go. To some extent the broad theme of the series is this sense that everyone is shouting for attention on social media all the noise transforms into silence. You send out tweets/tracks/mixes but you don’t know if anyone is hearing/listening/understanding and that’s how I think of this astronaut.
The new EP is focussed around your experiences in the music industry, both good and bad. Do you feel you needed to take a step back to gain some perspective, in this sense? Did the break help you take a more measure approach?
It’s based on it but all in a metaphorical sense, the journey the astronaut goes on has metaphorical ties but I didn’t want to make it fully about myself because that felt a bit self indulgent to me. The step back gave me so much clarity not only in music but in everything in my life. You sort’ve see the world from a different angle, it’s something I say in advice now if anyone is suffering. I feel now I have more of a handle of what I need to do, what I want to achieve and how much I want to be involved in certain aspects of the music scene.
What music inspired you when making these tracks? Did you look back on your own influences from past recordings, or seek out new sounds?
I sought out new sounds to be honest, I’m not here pretending it’s groundbreaking, I’m not where I want to be as a producer and I want to get better. It’s music that comes from the storyline that I’ve created, what I like, what fits in with what I DJ when I’m playing my ideal set. I’m hoping to grow as a producer over the course of this series, already EP II is sounding like a maturity compared to the first.
We’re able to premiere ‘Crescent (Running)’ – how did this begin? Did you start with the beat, or focus more on the synth line?
I pretty much always start with a beat on a drum machine or just getting something going to then have a play around with melody over. It started as a deeper swelling pad sort of thing, then I added the arp causing everything to sort of almagamate and reach a new level.
Elias’ contributions really take this to the next level, how did he become involved? How did his vocal impact on the way you approached the production?
I heard Elias’ solo stuff which is incredible, highly recommend anyone to go and check it out. I was glad to send it to him and what he sent back was surprising but definitely had so much potential to become a great track. I rearranged some bits in terms of the synth line to let the vocal come through. There was a little back n forth to develop a chorus but all in all was such an enjoyable process.
The track shifts through different emotions – there are dark segments, aggressive segments, but also moments of real light. Was it important to you to bring all these elements – good and bad – together in one place?
It definitely is important to me, not essential but if that’s what comes out in a track it makes a lot of sense to me. I think the whole EP series will have this, maybe not in each of the tracks but certainly moving between dark and light is a theme that runs through. Even thinking about it that’s sort of how clubs work with the lights too.
What’s next for Ben Pearce? Are you ready to move back into the game full-time, or do you want to move a little more softly?
I’m taking it carefully, I have a better understanding of my demons and the warning signs for when they’re coming around. Some of the shows back I’ve had bad anxiety before, I’m trying to find ways to deal with that but there doesn’t seem to be any pattern. Could be a small club, big club, friends there, friends not there. I want to be out playing but I need to consider the effect it has on my well-being.
I’ll be releasing a lot of music and also doing a lot of production for others, currently just finishing producing April Towers’ debut album. I hope to be DJing as much as I can.
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Catch Ben Pearce online HERE.