Interview | Pearson Sound

Interview | Pearson Sound

U.K. bass music upsetter talks passé dubstep, raving in America and the dizzying London music scene.

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published on the Time Out Chicago blog 

Signal, a new night dedicated to emerging trends in the world of bass music at acclaimed Chicago club Smart Bar, is laying down its second installment this Thursday (tonight) with a set from U.K. bass-music maverick Pearson Sound, whom you might know from his more dubstep-centric days as Ramadanman. Somewhat famously quoted for saying there's only so much you can at 140bpm, the producer and DJ has pulled away from the tempo—and the prevailing sound that goes with it—to carve new paths in U.K. bass music. 

We chatted with Pearson Sound, a.k.a. David Kennedy, at length via Skype about his thoughts on these new trends bubbling in his home and the meteoric rise in the dubstep sound across the pond, here in America. 

For the last few years, Thursday nights at Smart Bar have been dedicated to dubstep, but 2012 is seeing a move to the more progressive side of bass music. So you make a perfect fit for the night. It seems that “dubstep” as a catchall phrase doesn’t really sum up what you do anymore. 
 Yeah, that hasn’t really been the case for about three years. I still play some, but it's just what the word represents is quite different now. Inevitably what I’ve been playing has changed and my tastes have changed and what I make has changed. So those are all reasons why, if people see me this week, it’ll be very different to what I was playing six years ago. 

Is that part of what brought about the name change from Ramadanman to Pearson Sound? 
Yeah, that’s part of it. The way the music has changed has also changed the way its perceived, and also maybe partly it’s a more serious name. I always felt that my older name was a bit more gimmicky. 

You also play around with some old-school, Chicago house sounds as Maurice Donovan. Based on what you’re doing with that music, are you keen on coming here? 
It’s funny. From what I understand, a lot of the music made in Detroit and Chicago often isn’t appreciated as much in the cities themselves as it is in, well, especially Europe I guess. I don’t know if that’s the case in Chicago, but it seems in Detroit that the actual Detroit legends don’t seem to be quite as loved as if they were to come play in London or Berlin or whatever. I don’t really know the musical history of Chicago that much, but part of the reason that I’m excited to come is that I’ve always had quite a lot of messages over the last few years from people in Chicago who have wanted me to come, and I just haven’t been able to sort the date on previous occasions. 

Most overseas DJs and producers do still hold those two cities to this reverence and are very excited to come because of the musical history, but your point is one that most of them don’t realize. The hometown love can be a little lacking. 
I guess it’s like if you came to London and went to Croydon and expected to look around and see record shops everywhere and bump into Skream. It’s not really going to happen. People get a slightly idealized image or a city. I guess Chicago and Detroit are very mythologized in Europe, and it’s important not to be sucked in by that. 

Speaking about the music you’ve been making lately, has there been anything that’s spurred on a move to more garage influences or the use of 4/4 rhythms and sounds? 
I’ve actually been making house and techno stuff for a lot longer than any dubstep kind of music, so it’s not really a new experimentation. It’s more just over the past three or four years, the way the music has shifted and the emergence of things like U.K. funky mean that the tempos have changed, and especially U.K. funky, it opened up a lot of possibilities for people and slowed down the music a lot. Not for myself, but for quite a few people, they didn’t really know about house music, and it’s maybe a dirty word and they didn’t really explore it. Since U.K. funky came along, it made people realize that it’s not all Head Kandy commercial, that there’s some good stuff as well. 

Obviously over here, we’re not completely up to speed with what’s going on in the U.K. 
I think there’s always going to be a time lag, but it seems to be a lot shorter in America than in other places. There seems to be a good dialogue between the U.S. and the U.K. 

What has the audience response been deejaying in the States over the past year or so? 
 It’s been really good, actually. The way I’m presented and the kind of nights I play, I don’t really get into situations where people turn up and expect me to be playing new Skrillex tunes. That doesn’t really happen in America, which is a good thing obviously. The way the music’s changed and the kinds of parties that I’ve been playing, I can get booked by, like, I did a party in San Francisco recently with some of the Dirty Bird guys and I played Deep Space with François K the other week, but then I can go play a really dubsteppy party in somewhere like Denver or whatever and still have it go well. That’s something that I’m thankful for. I don’t get dubstep kids coming and being disappointed at what I’m playing.

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Pearson Sound joins Chicago DJs Sparkletone, Whoa-B, Bizzies and Jake Guidry for Signal at Smart Bar tonight. 10pm.>



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