Arguably the finest thing to come from his hometown of Kidderminster, Pearson has certainly had an eventful career, with activities ranging from remixing and producing bands, through to authoring a book that looks into the politics of dance music culture. He's no stranger to the world of DJing either, with mixes for the renowned Fabric and Sci.Fi.Hi.Fi series acting as calling cards for his countless international appearances behind the decks. While Pearson may favour the standard DJing setup when playing out, his recent studio mixes have seen him harness the power of Ableton Live, working long blends and editing tracks on the fly.
Ewan has again used this methodology for his Kompakt mix, which goes under the name of We Are Proud Of Our Choices and sees him focus on the melodic tech-house sound that he's been cultivating throughout his DJing career. Neville Watson, Lusine, John Talabot, Hot Natured, Taron Trekka and Wah Chu Ku all feature on the mix, which strays away from the more popular club tracks of the year and instead focuses on the secret weapons that Pearson has been utilising in his sets of late.
We asked Pearson a few questions about the mix, the future of his Partial Arts project with Al Usher, and what he's been digging this year.
How did the idea for the mix come about? Did you pitch it to the Kompakt guys, or did they approach you?
I wanted to do something new for Kompakt and Partial Arts was on a bit of a hiatus because Al had just become a dad, so I had a chat to Jon and Michael and suggested I do a mix CD for them. It had been a while since the Fabric one, and they have an amazing track record with mix CDs I think. They really still consider them to be important and Koze's All People Is My Friends and Michael's Immer are two of the best ever made. It was originally going to be out in April of 2009, but then I got asked to produce the Delphic record so I had to postpone it for a bit in order to do it properly.
Is the a concept behind the mix at all?
There wasn't really a concept. I knew I wanted it to have a certain melodic sensibility and a lushness in places because of Kompakt, but it moves around in styles quite a bit—there are a lot of key mixes. I think there's a little of lots of the things I like in there—echoes of the Breakfast at the Villa of Joy mix which became the RA podcast and even of the SciFiHiFi mix. I guess it is a little bit of a counter-reaction to lots of the tracky rolling world-percussion post-minimal house that's about. Not that I don't like the odd bit of that, but variety is the spice of life, I reckon.
Can you explain a little about the title?
I was reading a book by a guy called G.A. Cohen (a political philosopher who sadly died this year) and he was quoting socialist songs he learned growing up as a kid in Montreal. It's a line from one of those—I liked the suggestion—all we have to show for ourselves in some ways are the decisions we make, the things that we choose; as DJs and in a much wider sense, so we had better be proud of them.
How did you put the mix together this time around?
I trawled around a lot through the last couple of years of music, looking for things I've loved and have been overlooked and I got some unreleased new goodies from Ivan Smagghe and Roman Flugel, the Culprit guys from LA and a brand new John Talabot remix of Al Usher that I'm putting out on Misericord in the new year. And I did a dub edit of one of the tracks from the latest Little Dragon album, which I really love. Then there's some DJ favourites from this year—there are lots of key mixes too and hopefully a sense of a melodic thread and mood going through it. As usual I put it together in Live, then mixed it down in Pro Tools. I'm playing almost entirely with CDs now and it definitely reflects the way I play—longer mixes and more stuff in key, but the only way to do it with any precision is to do it on the computer. I'm happy to admit that.
Do you have any more original Partial Arts material planned?
We have a couple of tracks on the go. We've had to pause as I said because Al has a little boy now and a proper job too, so he has very little time, but we're going to make a concerted effort to get more things out in 2010. In the meantime Al has a new single for Misericord coming out in February which is really beautiful.
Now that it's coming to the end of the year, can we press you for a few of your favourite musical titbits from the last twelve months?
Oh, I hate the end of year lists thing. And the end of the decade lists that are doing the rounds are even worse! But this year I've loved (in no particular order) Grizzly Bear, Andre Lodemann, Weatherall's album, St Vincent, Azari & III, 6th Borough Project, Gold Panda, The XX, John Talabot, pretty much everything that Paul Woolford and DJ Koze have touched, Fuck Buttons, October, Seth Troxler's been ace too and quite a lot of others—some of which are on the CD. Hint hint.
01. Lemonade - Bliss Out (Gold Panda Remix) / Pitch And Hold - We Have Come To Bless Dave Smith
02. A Ldric - Birds On Tree
03. Rmnvn - Uno
04. Lusine - Cirrus
05. Wah Chu Ku - T Times Too
06. Yukihiro Fukotomi / Foog - Open Our Eyes
07. Neville Watson - Full Flight
08. Taron-Trekka - Shiroi
09. Hot Natured - Equilibrium
10. DXR - Faderpushing Sunday
11. Yosa - Margaret
12. Gregor Tresher - The Life Wire (Petar Dundov Variation)
13. Xenia Beliayeva - Analog Effekt
14. Chris Fortier - Sunday Is A Travel Day (Ink & Needle's Skybed Remix)
15. Al Usher - Silverhum (John Talabot's Wilderness Remix)
16. B.D.I. - City & Industry (World Balloon Dub Mix)
17. Little Dragon - Fortune (World Of Apples' Cosmic Edit)
18. Bot'ox - Blue Steel
Kompakt will release Ewan Pearson's We Are Proud Of Our Choices on February 15th, 2010.