Gethin Pearson is a talented songwriter, producer and mixer from Wales whose enthusiasm for creating music and helping artists find their unique sound is boundless. His credits include Badly Drawn Boy, Kele Okereke, whenyoung, Orla Gartland, Jaws and Crystal Fighters.
Photos by Aled LLywelyn
To pick out a favourite is pretty difficult. I’ve been very fortunate to have collaborated with an eclectic range of artists, all at different stages of their musical journeys. When you’re in the throes of a project there can be ups and downs, no matter how great it’s going, but when the music is finished and you listen back a little while later as a whole you can really appreciate it.
I grew up listening to a lot of bluegrass as my Dad was an obsessive Tony Rice fan. Every car journey was sound-tracked by his music and any time my Dad was sat down he would be playing a guitar. I moved onto my own thing when I was a teenager, getting into heavier music and finding something I loved in so many genres. That is still the case now, I’m drawn to the energy and emotion of a song or artist.
I played in bands as a teenager and was drawn to the writing of the songs. We would save up our money to get a day in a studio but always feel let down. I always recall that feeling now, especially when working with new artists, to show them that I am there to try and help them push a vision.
I started making my own song writing demos which developed into recording for others. This snowballed over the course of a few years to me being asked to work with artists to help develop their songs and sound.
Early on I wanted to try and handle everything: song writing, production, engineering and mixing. I would try to take on all the roles and, although I do get to work on each of those aspects on projects, I have definitely learned the lesson that ‘team work makes the dream work’.
I love nothing more than working on great music with great people who are all pushing in the same direction.
We are in an exciting time where so many sounds are being combined, so much less single-genre focused. Technology is helping fuel that excitement. Of course, I have lots of fun ‘sonic’ toys and ‘go to’ pieces but I’m not too stuck without them - they add to the fun and sound rather than define it. Necessity is the mother of invention. With some imagination, a laptop and a decent pair of headphones you can pretty much do anything!
I think it’s important to try and not always feel worried about the next step and to stay engaged with the moment and present. This never started as a ‘career’ per se...
Headphones are such an integral part of my workflow. When producing I usually like to track vocals in the control room rather than in a separate booth. It's important for the artist to have great headphones to get into it and also for myself to hear both the technical details and emotion of the performance.
I also have to work in lots of different places or rooms that don’t always sound great so having a reliable pair of headphones, which can take the room out of the equation, really helps me know where I am sonically.
I was lucky enough to try a pair of LCD-Xs at the start of the year whilst my new studio was being built. I was working from a spare bedroom and these headphones helped me deliver mixes for three records. The mastering engineer commented that my mixes had made a 'sonic jump'. The new room is now ready but these headphones are used as much as my speakers when tracking and mixing. Absolute game changers!