Interview With Dave Pearce

Dave Pearce is one of the UK's most loved Trance DJ's. He hosts his weekly "Dance Anthems" show on BBC Radio 1, he's played at most of the main Trance festivals in the UK, had residencies in Ibiza, and he's a Ministry Of Sound regular too. Despite being renowned for his commercial dance show on the radio, Dave tells us about his main passion when he's out DJ'ing in clubs - Trance music! Read on to find out how our interview went....

Carl: We're with Dave Pearce at Escape Into The Park in Swansea. Thanks for talking to us Dave.

Dave Pearce: No worries! Good to see you.

Carl: You're here performing at Escape Into The Park today in front of thousands of people - how does playing at a festival vary from playing in clubs in terms of atmosphere, mood of the crowd, etc?

Dave Pearce: Well, its quite weird because its during the day, so you kind of hope that people are already in a relaxed vibe when they get here. I have to say that the thing about Swansea is that it's a pretty up for it town anyway. I play here a lot in Wales, and so they're pretty unhibited and errrr... they're pretty much up for it, otherwise, I normally prefer to play later at a festival because people tend to get into it. I think, the best time to be on normally, is round about when it's getting dark because then it becomes quite magical. So... they're good fun, but, I think when it gets dark is probably the best time to be on.

Carl: Apart from festivals, you've DJ'ed around the world in many countries, toured Ibiza with Radio 1, erm... obviously you've got your Radio 1 career - those are some great career highlights. What would you say has been the best moment in your DJ'ing career so far?

Dave Pearce: Well, one of the highlights of my club DJ'ing was when we did the Ministry Of Sound in the Millennium Dome in London erm.... and we actually, it was supposed to have 45,000 people in it, they did 45,000 tickets, but erm... they said tickets were available on the night, so 55,000 people turned up, and the police just said "You're just gonna have to let them in", which is quite unlike the police actually because normally, they prefer them to just shut - they actually said, "From a safety point of view, you're gonna have to let them in" - so that must have been the only time the Millennium Dome was actually full. Erm... and to be standing on a stage in front of 55,000 people, in an arena, erm... with a roof, its unbelievable. I've played to big crowds outside, but never in one building, so it was, erm.., it was just goosebumps - it was amazing!

Carl: Obviously, the Millennium Dome, that was in the year 2000, when many people said that Trance was at its best - obviously Trance has changed quite a lot over the last few years. What would you say was your favourite era in dance music?

Dave Pearce: Well, there's always, you know, you get these little periods when good records come along, and so, I suppose around 1999-2000 was a really great time for me personally because it was just, more or less, every week you got ten great records and you almost couldn't decide what to play because they were all so good and, you know, it was pure joy every time the postman came really because you were like "oh my god, this is amazing!" and erm... every time you went to a record shop, you were like "oh my god, i've gotta have this, and this, and this!" and then, as you know, what happened is errr, a couple of years ago, it kinded of bedded down a bit, but, but whats happened recently is, I think, Trance producers have sort of got their confidence back. I know that sounds a bit corny but, there's some really good records around. People have stopped being afraid of putting big moments back in their records. Everything got a bit boring and a bit flat - and now people have gone "yeah, you know, it is alright to have those big euphoric moments" and erm... they've kind of ignored the music press that kept slagging Trance off, so you've got some really good people - a good new breed of producers, as well as the old-skool. People like Cosmic Gate and Signum are doing really good new productions, so its amazing. You've got the people that were doing it before doing really good stuff, and you've got new people doing really good stuff aswell.

Carl: John O'Callaghan, Aly & Fila?....

Dave Pearce: John O'Callaghan, Aly & Fila... yeah...

Carl: We saw you at the Gatecrasher Summer Sound System last month and the enthusiasm you showed behind the decks... I don't think anyone comes close to that. How does it feel when you're stood in front of all those people? You're one of the most loved DJ's in the country.. How does it feel?

Dave Pearce: Well, I... I find Trance music very emotional, and I think if your a Trance fan you totally understand that. If not, they all think we're mad, but... so Trance to me is a great shared experience of music, and for me, the best thing about it is when there's, you know, hopefully ten or twenty thousand people, all with their hands in the air, and all experiencing that moment at the same time. So, you actually get quite emotional with it - its really weird! I mean, I say this sometimes in interviews, like Delerium - "Silence", you know, there's been more than one occasion i've played that in Ibiza or whatever, and its been so special, you've all had like tears in your eyes, errr... It is a weird feeling really.

Carl: You've recently released an album called "Delirium" - Can you tell us a little bit more about that like some of the tracks that are on it - are they your favourite tracks at the moment?

Dave Pearce: Yeah, what I wanted to do with Delirium is that, it’s basically a new Trance album, and, its been really hard trying to get record companies to put out erm.. Trance albums – they all wanna put out classics and stuff like that, so I went to all the record companies, and nobody wanted to do it, but luckily Ministry did eventually, and erm… they gave me free reign to pick what I want, so what’s on there is very indicative of what I play, you know, when I do like the nights at the Ministry of Sound or something like that – and it’s a live mix so its done, you know, we just did it in one take – its not.., most mix albums you buy are all done on computers and they spend days – we just did it as it was, like a DJ set – and I just wanted to make it feel very real, and erm… luckily all the record companies and producers all let us use their stuff, which is quite unusual because err.. often when you do an album, you’re restricted to what labels you can work with. You’ll find that other Trance albums are, just like, maybe from the.. mainly from the label thats put the album out, so what was great, you know, we went right across the board, from everything – from Armada, to, you know, little small labels.. you know, so it was really cool. What ever I wanted!

Carl: You’ve been a big part of Radio 1 since the late 90’s with your Dance Anthems show. You started out as a Hip-Hop DJ didn’t you, I believe? How did the move from Hip-Hop to dance come about – it’s quite a big change isn’t it?

Dave Pearce: It’s.. it’s.. what actually happened is, when I was doing Hip-Hop, that was in the middle 80’s, and erm… House music, as it, as it became known, didn’t even exist – so all you had was black music in various forms that was dance music – so you had Hip-Hop, you had Soul and Funk, and Jazz-Funk – there wasn’t House music or anything like that, so at the same time as I was doing Hip-Hop, when House music started in Chicago, I started playing that aswell, and I had two shows – one was a Hip-Hop show, and the other was a House show, and erm… when House music started, it was like very early Hip-Hop – early Hip-Hop was based on eight and sixteen track recordings, early House was made on eight track – they were literally made in people’s bedrooms – so all that Chicago stuff, very raw, just drum machines, and very simple keyboards – and the whole thing evolved, and then, as the House scene evolved, and then eventually electronic music and Trance developed, and then I really got into that. I was put off Rap music when it became really negative – when I got into it, it was all quite positive, and then erm.. it got all about killing people and stuff. It wasn’t really like that when I was doing it – it was all about having fun, you know.

Carl: And that’s why you like Trance, because like you say, it’s an emotional…?

Dave Pearce: Yeah!

Carl: Obviously, your show is called Dance Anthems, so its obviously tunes that everyone likes. You must get sent thousands of tunes a year – how do you know, which tunes are going to be anthems?

Dave Pearce: Well.. you sort of get an instinct really as a DJ – I mean, what I do is, obviously, road test lots of records in clubs, but usually, erm… you just get a feeling when you hear a record – like my current favourite record is Filo & Peri – Anthem, bizarrely, it’s called Anthem, but there are certain records that just give you a buzz as soon as you hear them, erm… and they’re usually… it’s gut instinct that usually pays off really.

Carl: Obviously, your Dance Anthems show – that covers House, Trance, erm – other things in-between. Do you like dance music in general, or is Trance your thing?

Dave Pearce: Well, I like all dance music, but Trance music is my, sort of, passion err… but I like all the other stuff aswell, I mean, there’s a real connection between all dance music, and in fact, all music is connected in some way and, you know, I found what happened, I think the dance music press have been pretty bad because they created all this tribal thing that “if you like this, you can’t like that”, and in reality, people go and, you know, say you like Trance, but you still might go and buy an album by a rock band or something, you know, you have got wider tastes – people don’t live in these little boxes – and any good producers, you know, from the classic producer from Paul Oakenfold, through to Tiesto or anybody – they’re all influenced by lots of different music, and, you shouldn’t really be narrow-minded - so Trance is my sort of passion, but beyond that, I like the other stuff aswell.

Carl: You’re one of the very few DJ’s that’s never gone into production, as far as I’m aware – is there any reason why you’ve never gone into producing?

Dave Pearce: It’s really been time really, I mean, when I was doing.. a lot of my career at Radio One was like five or six days a week - and then the gigs, and then I was writing a newspaper column, and running a record company – so, and then, at the moment, I just seem to be in a different place every day so it is quite difficult – but it is something I’m interested in. When I was doing Nulife, I was, sort of, remixing records and editing them and re-arranging them – so, when we did a record like Oceanlab- Satellite or something, we’d spend ages getting it right, going back with the guys and doing that – so I did enjoy that process, but when I did the record company, we would spend ages getting a record absolutely right, and nowadays, a lot of records are made in just half-a-day or whatever, and its finding the time to do it really really well because I hate all these, you know when you hear a record and think “well that’s really good but if they’d just done that, it’d be even better”, you know?

Carl: Do you think its something you might do in the future?

Dave Pearce: Yeah, I’m quite interested in maybe looking at doing that next year actually!

Carl: Oh Yeah?...

Dave Pearce: Yeah… Yeah!

Carl: Finally, what’s next for Dave Pearce – are there any Ibiza tours in the pipeline? You’ve got Global Gathering in July – erm.. anything else on the way – albums or?...

Dave Pearce: Well, I’m doing… I’ve just started my Ibiza Gatecrasher series which goes through until September, and erm… “Delirium” is the real.. the album and the live concept are my, sort of,  real ambitions for the next.. well, we’re gonna do a couple of more parties at the Ministry Of Sound, and then hopefully err.. at the beginning of next year, we’ll take it around the country – but I wanna find the right venues. The Ministry is amazing because you can make it totally dark in there erm… – there’s no bar in the main room so, what I love with Trance is having a total blackout, a really good sound system – and just the euphoric atmosphere – and its so hard to find clubs that really match that. So that’s what I’m looking at – hopefully next year, so that everyone hears it in the way that I… I like the whole experience – not just the music, but everything around it aswell!

Carl: Smashing! Thanks for talking to us Dave, and we look forward to hearing your set a little bit later on!

Dave Pearce: Cool, cheers!

Carl: Cheers, thanks Dave!

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