Since bursting onto the scene in 2008, Mickey Pearce has become a stalwart of UK club music, producing combustive concoctions of leftfield electronic music. Merging characteristics of dubstep, grime, house and techno, Pearce’s output is a dependable source of dancefloor ignition, kicking bodies into action with swirling synths, weighty percussion and emotive melodies. Multiple releases on Loefah‘s Swamp 81 imprint and Doc Daneeka‘s Ten Thousand Yen demonstrate the scene-wide acknowledgement of Mickey’s talent as a producer, whilst his ability as a DJ has been recognised through his Box of Toys radio series on Radar Radio. His first album Michael exposed another side to the normally combative, energetic production of Pearce, seeing the artist explore more melancholic melodies and glossy textures with tracks such as ‘Less’ and the album’s three interludes. Earlier this year, the producer established his own label Box of Toys with Club Tools 001, a four-track EP of ballroom bangers with a twist; punchy snare drums and wobbly bass lines run rampant on the release making this an essential EP for selectors.
November 2 will see the release of the label’s first and Pearce’s second album One Hundred Smiles. The difference between Pearce’s two albums is best summed up by the man himself: “The last record was a reflection of my situation around that time. This one is like stepping out from under a cloud. It’s about the joy of collaboration; meeting and working with new people. It’s also about the ambiguity of smiles, and the complicated relationships we form.” Collaborations with rising UK talent Poté, Taiwanese vocalist Meuko Meuko and Greek pioneer Lena Platonos embody the synergetic nature of the album, and demonstrate the positive vibes achieved from working with new artists. The end product is a must-listen ten-tracker, surging through multiple emotions and identities. No two tunes are the same as the project goes further into detailing the fluid styles and broad capability of Pearce’s production.
We spoke to the talented artist about the inspirations behind the album and how other music helped shaped the release’s output.
These tracks are a mix of what I was listening to around the time I made this record, and stuff that I think inspired it on some level.
Clipse – Intro
I definitely wasn’t listening to this record when it came out, but around the time I was writing One Hundred Smiles it was the only CD I had in my car. So this beat served as a daily reminder, as I drove to studio, of where the bar was set.
Equiknoxx – Sent for Ducklings, Got Ducks
Occasionally I hear a record that is just me, and this was one of those. If my mind was a lift, this would be playing in it.
Darkstar – Black Ghost (Ft. Gaika)
This is my favourite Darkstar track. It makes me think of Talking Heads, with that Hyperdub-era Darkstar synthesis and a mad vocal from Gaika who’s one of my fave artists of recent times.
Tirzah – Make It Up
One Hundred Smiles stemmed from DJing on Rinse or wherever and increasingly finding myself in the space that the record now sits. This track by Tirzah was one of those tunes and it still jumps out at me when I scroll through that section of my USB. It’s rare to hear something as singular as this, and I think the fact that her album sounds completely different again is brilliant.
STL – Loop 011
There aren’t many people on their own wave as fully as STL. Hearing his loops for the first time was definitely a key moment on the road to writing this record.
Having been released at the end of last month, you can grab a copy of One Hundred Smiles from Box of Toys’ Bandcamp.