We caught up with one of the air waves' true greats and a trance legend, Dave Pearce, to discuss his career, those euphoric moments and his label.
Date published: 29th Dec 2015
Since the late nineties, Dave Pearce has been widely recognised as one of biggest names within the UK trance scene. Millions of listeners each week would tune into his Dance Anthems show on Radio 1, which he created and devised himself and hosted for an impressive ten years whilst presenting some of the stations dance parties.
Over the years Pearce has also released countless cherised mix CDs alongside gigging at major events and festivals including Godskitchen, Creamfields and Global Gathering.
He now hosts his own Dave Pearce Anthems weekly show every Saturday night, which is broadcasted on numerous stations including UTV Radio and Gaydio (check out the recent episode above).
We caught up with him prior to his appearance at Trance Sanctuary to talk about his extensive career, his label Delirium and his love for the genre's crowds.
Hi Dave, you have been DJing for many years and have seen the circuit develop and have played at an abundance of different events along the way. Do you still enjoy it as much as you always have?
I really do still enjoy doing what I’m doing, the DJing side of things and actually making the music now as well.
I think a few years back when I was just working 24/7 holding down a day job on the radio, running a record company and doing four or five gigs a week and travelling around the world – it was fantastic, but it was totally exhausting and it really took a toll on my health. Now though I’m able to space things out and I think that’s made me enjoy and appreciate it even more.
What do you like about playing for a trance crowd?
What I love about playing for a trance crowd is usually the warmth that you get. Also I like my breakdowns. In other dance music it went so out of fashion, a few years ago suddenly you had to shorten all your records. I like the builds and the whole journey thing and the trance crowd get that.
You have the euphoric moment where it all makes sense, it builds and builds and then pops off. For me the fact that the trance crowd understand the whole process and the rhythm of the music and what it’s trying to do makes it a great crowd to play to.
A lot of people that you meet who are into trance say that you are one of the reasons that they first started listening to it. How does it feel to know you've had such an impact on music lovers?
One of the things I’m really glad about is the way that I helped switch people on to trance music through my radio shows. We helped break a lot of artists as well, so it’s actually quite sweet when you meet people who are DJs and producers now.
I saw Armin van Buuren in Holland last year and he was like, "I remember trying to get into the DJ booth to meet you at Eden" and Sander Van Doorn used to come to my gigs at BCM.
So it’s nice not just from the crowd that come along, but also the DJs and producers that were first given the opportunity to hear this music through the radio shows.
Can you remember the very first ever trance gig that you played and what was it like?
Well I’m trying to think what the first trance gig I ever played was and that I’m afraid after so many years is a hard one to recall, but it might have been Slinky, I’m not entirely sure. I think you know that when you actually get to a pure trance event as opposed to sort of sneaking them in your set, obviously it’s a different experience.
I remember doing those big festivals like the Gatecrasher Summer Sound System and Global Gathering which were just from a DJ point of view amazing as everyone there had the same ideas and music passion. You could play what you want and just go for it.
You’ve released many trance compilations over the years, is there a particular favourite that you have which sticks out in your mind?
I like doing all the trance compilations. I was very lucky in that I was approached by Euphoria when they were doing their albums and they asked if I wanted to come on board so I did a few albums. Transcendental Euphoria was one of my favourites.
I also liked doing the Trance Anthems CDs that I did with Ministry of Sound. What was great with that was they did give me a free reign there, which is quite unusual actually with these record companies to be allowed to do your own thing. So I tried to produce a side that would be new skool with new people coming through for future anthems as well as the classics in those as well.
Also the Delirium albums that I did with Ministry were promoting new up and coming trance producers. With those unlike the other albums that we mixed on computers, I actually mixed those live on the CDJs so that was quite fun and scary at the same time hoping you don’t screw it up, but they came out alright.
Can you tell us some more about your label Delirium?
Well I decided to set up a new record label called Delirium because I felt that the time was right to put my own records out and also encourage new artists that I like as well.
I used to run a label called NuLife a few years back in the good old days of vinyl and CDs. Now everything’s digitized. So we’ve set up a label. The first record was ‘So Damn Beautiful’ which I did with Ben Hennessy. We’re stacking up a bunch of tunes that we’ve been recording over the summer, spending a lot of time in the studio working on different ideas.
It’s really exciting, obviously we’ll go to Beatport first and then we’ll go for iTunes. I’m just hoping it spreads as word of mouth, there is no big budget behind it, we’re just doing it purely from passion.
What’s lovely is we will get played on a show and you then get these tweets from someone in Mexico or someone’s found your record. That’s just as much of a buzz as walking in HMV as I did in the old days and seeing your record lined up in the store.
You mentioned ‘So Damn Beautiful’, is there any particular reason why you picked that specific song to remake and re-release?
The reason I picked 'So Damn Beautiful' as a record to re-release is it’s a record that was always dear to my heart. I was listening to it and playing it to some guys from America and although they like trance they were less familiar with it but thought it was amazing. So I thought I should do something with this. That’s really how it happened.
I thought it wasn’t a record that had been overplayed. It had been sitting there and didn’t come up too often as a classic so I thought it would be a nice one to do. I loved the vocal and the sentiment behind the record so it was just a great record to try and do.
I approached Poloroid and sadly one of the members had passed away, so then went to their family and asked if they were ok with everything. So we went through the process of clearing it and eventually we went to No.2 in the Beatport trance chart which was amazing for us as our first record so that was really nice.
So you’re playing at Trance Sanctuary on NYD, what have you heard about the events so far?
Well I hear that Trance Sanctuary has a really nice friendly crowd which is great as that epitomises what a trance event should be. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s weird that I haven’t played in London for so long.
In fact the last London gigs that I was doing were the Ministry of Sound - probably the Delirium parties that I put on. So it will be really nice to play in London again. I have been playing in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North a lot and I don’t get to play so much in the South so I’m really looking forward to playing it and myself and everyone having a great time.
What are you most looking forward to about playing on NYD?
It’s quite weird the thought of actually playing on New Year’s Day because normally I have no idea what time I’ll be getting in on New Year’s Eve, or even what I’m doing this year as of yet because there are few things we are still sorting out.
I think it’s nice that it’s during the day actually, so if you’re coming, have a quiet night on New Year’s Eve so that you’ve got plenty of energy for when we’re playing the tunes. I think it will be a really good vibe, it’s great for people who don’t necessarily want to go out and cane it until 5am in the morning. Come and have a civilised trance session, sounds like a great plan.
You’re playing two sets, one new future trance and one classics. What can people expect from your sets at Trance Sanctuary?
I think we’ll have to wait until the day because I’m not one of those people that can plan these things too far in advance. I have to say that I have been digging through some trance classics already to get me in the mood. I would imagine that probably something like Delerium 'Silence' will be in there as it’s one of my all-time favourite records so it would be rude not to have in the classics set.
I think probably 'Orkidea' might make his way in there, but for the rest of it I'd go with the vibe and the flow so there will be plenty of options. In the new trance set that I’m doing, I suppose in regards to a DJ style that I like, I’m really liking Markus Schulz sound at the moment.
Also sounds like Mark Sixma and Dave Neven’s 'Drifter', just records like that I’m really feeling at the moment. Plus some exclusives from Delirium. I think you might be hearing a few new tunes that we’re going to be working on as well.
Have you got any other music plans or any other projects that you could tell us about for the future?
Well my next music plans include pushing the label. The latest release that we have on Delirium is called 'Liberte’. I have also just released a 90s Dance Anthems CD which is available in the shops now as well as on iTunes. So those are the two main things plus obviously DJing around the country.