Interview: Earl P “Covering many bases and styles in my music is one of my goals”
Luke Pearson is an electronic musician from Shiney Row, Sunderland, releasing under the Earl P moniker. He started out making music aged 16 on his computer after messing around with synthesisers in a band, and has since moved to study music at Leeds Beckett. Now 22, Luke expects to release his debut album later this summer. We caught up with him to discuss his influences, his music making process and his new record.
Do you remember when you first started listening to electronic music?
“I got into dance music and electronic music through my brother because of Ils, Evil Nine, Adam Freeland etc, which was like a load of breaks and electronica which was made back in the late 90s early 2000s through to the late 2000s, but that was just the starting point and I got into other stuff, discovering Aphex Twin and people like Drexciya, who are probably my main influences. I know that sounds typical. There’s a guy called Sint who’s a self-releasing artist on bandcamp, and he makes really sick electronic stuff using old drum machines and analogue synths. I take a lot of influence from his production style. Before this I had listened to punk bands and stuff like Joy Division and Gang of Four.
When I was younger we used to have a Super Nintendo and Amiga, and I was probably warped by all that because now I’m making stuff that sounds like it could be classed as game music. David Wise was a really sick producer/ composer who used to do old Snes soundtracks. Games like Donkey Kong Country 1,2,3 on the Snes I think were really influential. On the Amiga there was a game called Super Frog which had this mad soundtrack that really stuck in my head for years. The Elder Scrolls games Oblivion, Skyrim and Morrowind also have had a massive influence on the ambient sounds I like to use, but the battle music always seemed too intense for me.”
Do you think constantly playing on these games made you want to re-create the sounds, subconsciously perhaps, when you started making music?
“Probably man. I mean obviously I was a bit of a warped misguided youth and I was listening to really bad rock music, and I heard synthesisers in them and thought they sounded ridiculous.”
When did the idea of making music come to you?
“It was through some friends. I was probably quite impressionable as a kid and was just looking for somewhere to fit into. A lot of my friends were into electronic music at the time and it just went from there. I got my first synthesiser, it was a Microkorg, and I ended up playing in a band for a while before we started producing as solo artists.”
How old were you when you started making and producing your own music on a computer?
“I’d say about 16. A lot of people start earlier but I wasn’t that good back then. I was still messing about with pre-sets and stuff. I don’t do that anymore. I make my own patches on everything and make my own sounds. I also do some of sampling from old funk vinyl for the more lo fi stuff I like to make. I still tend to use Roland drum samples but that’s because I love the sound and how it nods to the past. The samples I use at the moment aren’t from commercial packs though, they have all been tape worked for a warmer sound.”
What software did you start out using?
“The first software I had was this really bad free music production software which was terrible and worse than stuff like audacity. I ended up getting Ableton Live which is just revolutionary for me and it’s helped a lot. Audacity has its uses, it can be amazing if you want to limit yourself from everything and have a stripped back approach. Take Ital’s EP on workshop records titled Workshop 18, all produced using Audacity.”
Walk me through how you make a tune on an average day?
“I usually start with a drum beat, and then make a few patches on synthesisers, pad sounds, chords and stuff because I like a lot of ambient sounds. Most people probably start out with something more musical, like a melody, but I start off with a drum beat. I think I’m more rhythm orientated with my music. Then I go and fill it out with ambient pads and basslines. You might recognise some of the bass sounds I use from other tracks, and I have been told my production style is quite 90s sounding.
I’d say I’m making electro and acid orientated beats at the moment, and come away from the house and techno stuff because everybody’s been making it right now and it’s all sounding very similar. I still make the odd bit but it seems to sound reminiscent of other artists. I’m still trying to find the right sound that reflects my influences with the techno and house categories. That’s not a great reason to stop making it but it just seems that everybody’s doing similar things, and I’d rather try to stay away from what everybody else is doing. That’s not to say there isn’t any really sick techno producers out there right now.
So you moved from Shiney Row to Leeds a few years ago and now to study music, did that and the new environment effect the music you made at all?
“The city itself might not have effected it because I’m in the house most of the time anyway. I don’t go out and listen to a lot of DJs, I usually find the music I like online. I’ll only really go out when there’s a good DJ, artist, or band on that I like. I’ve just seen James Holden quite recently, but that was a live set and he had a live drummer. He used a modular synth set up, which you probably already know, but it was incredible. I saw a Nathan Fake live set a few months back which was awesome, and Lone and a few others while I have been down here.
I think my sounds come from my own musical influences rather than what I hear live, although sometimes hearing extremely good tunes when you are out on a good system can give you the extra drive to keep making and trying new things. I definitely prefer bedroom electronica to club electronica.”
And studying music hasn’t changed that?
“I wouldn’t say studying music has changed the way I make songs, but it’s helped with the mixing and mastering side. You start to appreciate other types of music through learning music history and how the industry was in the past and is now. I’m still really into bands like Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, but that’s just standard. Everyone likes those bands.”
I know you’re working on an album at the moment, can you tell us a bit about it’s release?
“Yeah I’ve got an album coming out this summer hopefully on a French label called B.YRSLF Division. They’ve got a lot of other electronic artists on their and some really cool releases as well. I like the international aspect of this label in particular; they have a wide reach across Europe. Mainly through online resources but that’s cool with me. They are self-made and don’t mess around with the more annoying sides of the industry, just put out the music and perform their self-made PR.”
How was it getting your music out there, and attracting labels?
“It wasn’t really that hard to get acknowledgement because I’ve always been approached. I’ve never had a reply from a label I’ve sent music to. I’ve always been approached by other artists or labels or whatever about collaborations and releases. Daryl from B.YRSLF got in touch with me when I posted a track they had released on Twitter.”
So it’s always been a case of just letting things happen naturally?
“Yeah, I just feel awkward when I try to write messages and send emails to people to promote myself or whatever. I don’t think I can get a good friendly rapport going and I don’t really get many replies. It’s the same with getting gigs, Djing or performing live sets, you have to pester people, where I’d always rather be lazy and let them approach me. Not going to happen, but one can be hopeful.”
So we got side-tracked, how’s work on the album going?
“Yeah it’s finished basically it’s in the mastering and tweaking stages, but it’s all tracks from the past three or four years, which isn’t long really but it certainly feels it. It’s starting to change quite a lot from what I’m making now, but that’s fair enough I want to get it out there because otherwise it’s just been a bit of a waste of time (laughs). The tracks in there still reflect where I was coming from back then so that means something to me.”
How’s it sounding?
“It’s taken from a wide variety of influences I’d say. It’s got a lot of acid sounds definitely, but there are some house tracks and some techno bits here and there. I’m not trying to make one sort of style I’m always trying to delve off into tangents. Covering many bases and styles in my music is one of my goals.”
Check out Earl P’s social media at the following links: