This is the first in a series of pieces featuring some of the electronic scene’s most recognisable names, inspired by the stumbling experience of Inverted Audio’s own Simon Whight.
One night earlier this year, I gradually edged my head towards my pillow after a gruelling 30 hour stretch of being awake. Rather than the expected curtain of sleep gradually drifting down over my consciousness, my brain decided it would be an opportune moment to simultaneously flash every single Steamboat Willie era Disney cartoon at high speed through my visual cortex. While that sounds like the aftermath of a gruelling psychoactive fuelled session at Berghain, it was actually the results of the first few manic days caring for my brand new son.
People often say becoming a father is life changing, yet those words rarely have any resonance until the very day that it happens. As one of many in this industry who doesn’t have the luxury of going full time on the job, cramming in extensive sessions of sifting through hours of fatiguing template house and soulless techno, followed by mashing fists against a keyboard in the hope of a vaguely readable piece of critical analysis results at the other end, is something that often has to be slotted around the constraints of a 9 to 5 job, commute and other such general daily drudgery. As it stands, that is a challenge in itself, introducing a small pink demand machine into the household notches the difficulty up to expert level. It’s easy to feel as if you’re treading water without land in sight, wondering where this journey is going to end up.
While frantically treading, my thoughts started to drift to the very people I write about. All these DJ’s and producers whose commute extends to worldwide airports and global navigation, where 9 to 5 means PM to AM and the office is the rather solitary confines of a pair of headphones or a monitor dominated studio. How on earth can one of the most variable lifestyles there is deal with a being who craves attention and consistency? As part of becoming a father seems to be having some sort of latent baby radar ability enabled, sorties onto social media often turn up 140 character chronicles from noise making favourites finding their way through the same challenges at various stages of fatherhood. With trepidation (because nobody wants to come across like this), reaching out to see how the various stages of fatherhood had changed their lives.
As someone who had the preparation nous of Seth Rogen’s character from Knocked Up, it was rather heartening to find Dan Pearce, better known as Eats Everything, had the same approach: ” I just carried on as normal” he states, “obviously we got everything ready and made sure everything was sorted. I did a bit of a reading”. Although the punishing hours on the DJ circuit had already helped Pearce acclimatise to sudden impact of looking after a small human with no concept of day or night: “Doing the work that I do, late nights and all that sort of nonsense and not having much sleep, being somebody who performs late at night, I think it puts you in good stead for like coping with a baby within the first few months. I only get four or five hours sleep a night and I feel fine!” Words that will no doubt act as ice cold daggers to the soul of any father desperately slogging through a day at work, having spent most of the previous night pacing their front room like a Walking Dead extra, humming Ewok “praise C3P0” noises in the vague hope it gets the restless bundle off to sleep and offer the mother some respite.
Even the most languid of expecting fathers are acutely aware of the oncoming date and all that is implied, the sharp curtailing of easy going life as you know it and the beginning of dependency. For most, this translates to nursery nesting, purchasing a large and depressingly short lived assortment of tiny clothing and frantically batch cooking meals for a microwave ready future. For an in demand producer such as Ewan Pearson, the forthcoming drop had the same urgency as Raiders Of The Lost Ark’s iconic boulder dash: “Beforehand I was working like crazy trying to finish a couple of large projects an album I was mixing for someone, and something else I’ve been co-producing.” says an enigmatic Pearson, “I’m lucky that my wife just about tolerated me being in the studio so much, with only a few rueful comments once I’d finished.”
Being one of the rare 5%, my little feller arrived on the due date and popped out (surprisingly still in the embryonic sack, like a nightmarish boil in the bag cod in butter sauce) in a rather snappy two hours. Although snappy is a relative term depending on whether or not you are the person having a large collection of meat and bones John Hurt-ing its way out of your body. After the clinical hustle and bustle was finished, we were popped in a taxi and entered a spookily still home, eyeing up our snoozing son with trepidation. The experience was similar, if entirely more fatiguing for Ewan: “My wife was recovering in bed having just been through a 35-hour labour,” he said, recalling his first moments in charge, “I was trying to change my first very full nappy [note: it’s worth pointing out here that what your delightful infant’s first deposits is not unlike some ungodly primeval tar, the results of nine months of compacted feed waste] and getting it everywhere – all over the baby, all over myself and I had a proper panicky ‘shit, what have we done moment’ but it was over in a couple of minutes.” Once in this the role of responsible parent, it is fair to say that simple concepts like days of the week and 24 hours clocks fade away as life becomes either a hazy light blur or a sleepy dark blur, something he agrees with: “The last three weeks have been completely hectic. We’ve had our grandparents here and are just trying to get the lie of the land in terms of looking after a tiny infant, but she’s mellow and mostly happy so far.”
As time slips by and with you assuming the role of a large meat support droid, you suddenly discover what few hours you had to yourself evaporate. Somehow a reserve of resourcefulness kicks in, you start to adapt and find ways of cramming it all in. One stretch of road leading out of Manchester city centre has seen a significant amount of promo analysis as part of the commute march. Downtime on trains, buses, in shops, lunch hours, and just about anywhere where a pair of headphones could be stuffed into my ears while remaining stationery, would become a spot for a piece of impromptu journalism, with blunt fingers stabbing at a touchscreen keyboard. This is something Dan Pearce can identify with: “I’ve driven more miles these last four weeks that I do on a normal weekend,” he says, “Sometimes the only way to get him off to sleep is by sticking him in a car, just go for a cruise around.” Yet this in turn reaps rewards, “It’s been quite healthy running up to gigs, because I’ve been buying a loads of records and I don’t really know how a lot of them sound. I’ve subsequently been able to drive around for hours on end with my son asleep next to me listening to loads of music, so it’s not been too bad.” Although one of the big sacrifices has been production time: “I haven’t really got a studio at the moment so that’s kind of gone by the wayside. I don’t have as much time to do stuff I need to do, definitely not.” However, he does note that the unusual work patterns of the DJ will actually turn out to be a forte here: “As he gets older I will have more time. I’ve now allocated two days a week to work and then three days to spend with the boy. I play on the weekends and stuff, so like normal dads would get weekends with their kids and be away all week, I’m away on the weekend and here all week.”
It has been a similar experience for Ewan Pearson: “My job has been the main thing in my life and I’m definitely a workaholic. Now I’m just not going to have nearly as much time so I’m only just beginning to adjust to that.” he notes. “Right now I’m staying home to help out my wife, be support services and cook and clean and stuff. I took a couple of months off from travelling in the run up and now for a few weeks after. When my wife goes back to work at the end of the year, I will be full-time child career in the week for another half-year at least so I won’t be able to take on any big production projects.” But still the intrepid father can satisfy those creative itches: “I will be trying to work a bit at home too, so I’ve set a small rig up there with a laptop and a couple of mono synths so I don’t just feel like I’m trapped inside a computer,” he says, “I’m actually trying to do my first post-baby remix at the moment, in the evening in headphones after she and my wife have got to sleep. Once it’s arranged I’ll run to the studio and mix it over a couple of afternoons. I don’t get many hours a day and I’m slow enough as it is, so hopefully they’re not in too much of a hurry!”
While this sounds like it is an unrewarding endurance test, it isn’t. Even at 3am, sleep deprived and manic, a pair of wide awake peepers earnestly staring up from your arms stirs the purest of feelings, moreso when an apple wedge of a smile cracks across the face. Dan Pearce agrees: “Everyone says ‘it’s impossible to describe, that there’s no feeling like it,’ and you kind of think to yourself ‘yeah alright, you’re just saying that because that’s type of thing to say’. But when it actually happened, when I actually saw him for the first time, it is an impossible feeling to describe and it’s amazing. It’s been wicked so far, it’s been really good.” A sentiment echoed by Ewan: “Even though my daughter’s abilities at the moment only run to making faces, sleeping and peeing on herself (and me), I am absolutely in love and loving hanging out with her. I want to be at home as much as self-employment and maintaining my job allows.”
Progressing onto life post newborn, the second part of this feature will appear on Tuesday. Thanks to Eats Everything, who you can catch at Global Gathering at the end of July, and Ewan Pearson, who has just released his new Partial Arts ‘Taifa‘ EP on Kompakt alongside Al Usher. May you both have six hours of uninterrupted sleep in the near future.
CONTINUE READING SERIESEats EverythingEwan PearsonHypercolourKompaktHouse