Veteran local DJs Pascal and Pearce met us for nice long chat over coffee
Cape Town – Pascal Ellinas and Dave Pearce have been making music for over a decade. They are veterans of the local music industry and their names on a line-up can fill up a club sooner than a call of free shots at the bar.
I met them in a different setting though, away from all the pounding baselines and heavy synths of a dance floor.
We had coffee (and a red cappuccino) with the duo and the conversation flowed about everything from working in the local music industry for longer than a decade, what they've learnt along the way and where they are now in their lives.
You both met in 2007 and officially formed in 2008. That’s over 10 years in the industry. What’s the thing you wish you could tell yourself ten years ago that you wish you had known?
Pascal Ellinas: Probably be less trusting. And to do things more for ourselves. Like three or four years ago when we were in a transition in between record labels. We kind of felt that we were under the same vision and the same concept – when some pivotal people left and we still thought things were going to happen for us and…it’s unfortunate, you know when a chef leaves the kitchen so does that energy. I think back then if we were just more accomplished to have that sense to just put it down to ourselves and make sure it will happen. Otherwise it’s been amazing, and it’s been a journey and I won’t take anything back.
Dave Pearce: I agree. That’s very well put. Profound.
It must be a tricky thing to be in that flux situation.
D.P: I think we let it go on too long, the limbo. As he said, telling us five years ago, ‘don’t sit on it as long’, if something is not right fix it immediately. Don’t sit around and wait for it to get better you’re the only one who is going to change your fate and your future. The future is in our hands and I think we know that today more than we ever did.
P.E: I think for us, again like we were saying earlier, we have to be consistently building people around us but we can’t rely on them. Like any relationship it’s about two people coming together and making sure it’s good business. When we found that people don’t look out for you then it’s a different situation where we are slowly but surely building a team around us that is about the brand and about us and about the music. If we can get the feeling that they feel what we feel being then it’s amazing. It’s a journey for everyone.
You want everyone together in it?
D.P: Well, that’s what music does, it brings people together.
P.E: Team work makes the dream work.
Team work does make the dream especially when it comes to get into the studio together, what’s the process like and how has it changed over the years?
D.P: The process has definitely changed but I don’t think you can narrow it done to a creative process. I think it’s highly when the inspiration strikes us. We often go about things in different ways just to spice it up for ourselves. I mean if you want to get technical, we can go all day long, but just our approach to writing a track: sometimes we can start with one thing, sometimes the other. It depends also if it’s a remix or if it’s original.
*The coffee comes in the middle of Dave's answer and for a moment everyone settles into the booth that we are in and moves things around to get more comfortable.*
P.E: It’s my third coffee of the day so please excuse me if I start doing backflips off the wall.
D.P: I’m a one cup, once a day, once a week kind of guy. At 25 I started drinking coffee, I was a Horlicks and tea guy. Still am a Horlicks guy. But I didn’t drink coffee at all and then when I was about 25 I found this magic elixir.
For a lot of musicians, it’s either coffee or tequila. Those are your two options when you want to chat to them over a drink.
D.P: Yeah well, if you had asked us this question five years ago ‘what do you want to drink?’ the answer would have been very different. It would have been a double vodka Red Bull. But things have changed.
P.E: Yeah I do think you become more responsible and focused on representing what people want to see. So, before the show and after the show is actually more important to us because on the stage we do something incredible to us and it’s fun and then after the show we are meeting fans or meeting the owner, whatever it is. It’s taking the time to be in the moment with someone and to be 100 percent. It’s so important and that’s what the network is about. Creating our longevity, so in ten or fifteen years’ time we have a great network.
Yeah, a lot of artists, locally and internationally, have had incidents onstage in video lately.
P.E: The thing, it’s a trend. We were talking about how the hip-hop game is kind of at a plateau. It’s so… scribble on your face, make no kind of sense, it’s promoting sex, drugs and people being messed up. I think that’s where the game has gone. It’s all about instinct and they’re not looking at: ‘is this record going to be influential in six years or even six months’ time?’ I mean look at anything that’s really stood the test of time, like Louis Armstrong, people who are great musicians. You can still put on a record now (of theirs) and have a good time. And that’s what we want to do, but to do that you have to focus on everything, you can’t just focus on the music you’ve got to focus on yourself. You’ve got to focus on other people. You know, it’s a natural thing. And I think with longevity on your mind you can’t be wasted. We play football. We do golfing. We’ve got amazing ladies next our sides. And I am becoming a father soon!
That’s awesome, you guys are definitely in a different place in your career.
D.P: A great example of where we want to be is that we want to entertain people and the entertainment business for us is always changing. Especially with sound and music, so we got to be on our game as much as we can. Especially with being versatile with the music, it’s difficult to be current and to be versatile. It’s a huge game changer for us. If you look at the best artist, if you look at someone like Drake as an example – I’m not saying he’s the best – but…He does stay on trend.
Johnny Apple wrote the lyrics to Lose Control with his friend Andrè Scheepers, how did you decide to collaborate with him on your track?
D.P: So, the track we did in 2016 I think, we sat on it for quite a while. We knew it had a lot of potential and we waited for the right moment. We know that we for a collab and that it had commercial appeal. So we submitted it to a couple of vocalists and then our publisher told us about this guy, Johnny Apple, sent us an email got us together. And now’s out. We performed it on Expresso Breakfast Show.
Yeah, I saw that, he seemed like he had so much energy, so happy.
P.E: Yeah, we were all happy, so stoked.
D.P: Five in the morning it was our first time meeting this guy.
WATCH THAT PERFORMANCE HERE:
D.P: Yeah so, our publisher put us in contact and he sent us a rough demo, just recording on the phone and stuff. It was just a little bit of fine tuning and it came together nicely. It was really cool working with him.
P.E: It was awesome to be on projects. The timing was right for the right person. Like Dave was saying earlier we stockpile a lot of instrumental stuff and when the timing is right or the right person then we’ll put it together. Because it (the track) went through 8 or 9 artists before we said this is the right hook, this is the right mood, this is the right song.
D.P: I mean to touch on your earlier question about process – sometimes we’ll make a song and then only two years later will we find the right artist. Sometimes we’ll met someone and they’ll send us the right recording and we’ll put a completely fresh face on that so…
D.P: There’s no process, it’s whatever happens on the day. Whatever happens, happens. I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out. Especially with the lyric video.
Will there be a follow up to the lyric video?
P.E: I think the trend that we’ve seen from major labels is that they want to push towards lyric videos. They’re starting to play them on music video (TV) stations. Yeah, I think that’s where the market has gone. Especially with English being a language that people are still catching up to. So, yeah, it’s awesome.
WATCH THE LYRIC VIDEO HERE:
Who is the one artist you both would love to collaborate with?
D.P: Many, many, many, many.
P.E: I think we could both name a top five. I keep saying Majozi and Black Coffee.
D.P: Black Coffee as Pascy said, you know there’s a very long list, someone like Zahara….Locnville for the 45th time (laughs).
We once did ginger shots with Majozi once and then he played live in our newsroom.
D.E: Please invite us to come over next time we’ve loved to play with him.
Speaking of playing, you recently played in Namibia, what’s the one thing you always take with you on tour?
D.P: Our USBs.
P.E: Our personality?
D.P: A packet of light – we don’t really worry about that - our USBS, passports, headphones, cell phone charger, power banks.
Like Riky Rick for example, he’s quite a fashion guy, but when we asked him this, he said he always has to have comfy shoes to make him at home on stage.
D.P: For us, it’s a bit different because you’ll perform at a giant venue on a huge stage with 200 people and we’ll be at a nightclub with 200 people and don’t you dare take your nicest shoes to a nightclub.
D.P: But I do like those slide in slippers that you can take anywhere. Can’t remember the name right now.
Is there one song on the radio right now that you wish you had written?
D.P: I don’t think there’s ever been a song on the radio that I wish we had written, there are songs we admire, and think are cool, but we make what we make and I love it.
Is there one venue, anywhere in the world, that you would still love to play?
P.E: There are a couple.
D.P: I think Ibiza is a big one (that we have played) and Miami; Las Vegas as well.
P.E: We’ve been to so many amazing places around the world. It’s tough to say one. The Asian market is exploding, I would love to see what is happening that side.