Feb 9, 2023
6 min read
British DJ and producer Chapter & Verse (né Barry Pearson) may have only released his first record, "Dreams," in 2020, but his relationship with house is well-worn. His music floats between the halcyon days of the late 90s rave and Balearic era while bubbling with a fiercely future-forward aesthetic. Soaring melodics and syrupy vocals swirl amidst grinding drums and rolling funky basslines. And when you consider that the first time he ever touched a set of decks was in 2000, it's easy to see why he can so effortlessly exist in these two eras.
"I remember the first two tracks that I ever mixed together were on a set of my friends 1210s," he tells me from his UK studio. “Tiesto’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ and ‘For An Angel’ Paul van Dyk.”
He explains that while he may not have spent those years following his first turntable encounter pursuing dreams of becoming a globe-trotting DJ, he maintained a healthy relationship with club life in the UK and was a frequent visitor to Ibiza. However, despite being a professional raver, it took him nearly two decades to realize that his connection to dance music was more visceral and tangible than he had ever imagined.
It's not that Pearson's only connection to music was on the dancefloor. Quite the contrary. As a child, his parents exposed him to the impassioned arias of Pavarotti, the psychedelic grunge of 70s rock, and the legendary musicals of London's West End.
"I used to sing in musicals when I was younger," he remembers. "My mom was kind of an amaeteur singer, so she always put on West End musicals."
The love of performance and being a vessel for music laid dormant in him for years until 2018, when Pearson says his inner performer reawakened after a string of back-to-back parties.
"I went to a [Michael] Bibi show and then an elrow show very close to the same time, and it kind of reignited a passion that I've had for all my life," he explains with the smile that's almost always on his face. "It reignited a passion I had for art."
The next stop on his musical reawakening was backstage at a Cloonee show, "All my friends are friends with him and know him from Sheffield, which is where I'm from. I kind of thought, 'this is wicked!' And then a few of my friends were like, 'come to Ibiza, you'll come backstage with us.'"
In Ibiza that summer, as he re-experienced the clubs he'd grown up partying in from the vantage point of the performer, and realized he could see himself there, controlling the dancefloor.
Pearson doesn't mince words when talking about the hurdles of getting into the music industry after having spent half a lifetime clocking in and out of a day job. "I think it is a lot more difficult when you are older to try and break through the barriers and the gatekeepers," he explains candidly. However, he's not terribly concerned with cliques, how others make their moves, or how they perceive his. "From the very beginning, I always knew what I wanted to do, and I always believed that I could do it in myself."
That feeling of self-belief and dogged perseverance were paramount to his success. There have been times in the past few years when Pearson just made shit happen, come what may. His aforementioned encounter on the turntables was quite literally some of his only experience as a DJ. And for most fledging DJs, that lack of experience would only get you a 9 pm timeslot at the local bar. For Pearson, it was a challenge to open for one of dance music's hottest acts, Meduza.
"My friend was running a night in Sheffield about three and a half years ago, and I made up that I was a DJ. I'd never touched a controller before. I touched 1210s a few times, but I never touched a controller." He says he went out three weeks before the show and bought a Pioneer controller. "I learned to DJ—some would disagree—but I learned to mix two songs together in about an hour, and then did that every single day for twenty-one days until I played with Meduza."
He took a similarly unconventional approach to sign his first record. Instead of sending a set of demos to 3-5 record labels. He sent them to 20,000 labels whose emails he pulled from the online directory Labelbase. It's a massive undertaking, and he says it took him months, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't shoot. And it's this level of steadfast determination that has turned so many heads in such a short period of time.
Commitment and dedication are necessary for any music job, Especially when you are up against so much noise. Chapter & Verse hasn't just been successful at breaking through it. He's excelled. In the three years since his first release, he's dropped a staggering 80 releases, including remixes for dance legend Dave Aude, Russian bass house titans VOLAC, releases on Repopulate Mars, Insomniac, Night Service Only, REALM, Atlantic Records, Solotoko, and a publishing deal with Ultra Music.
"I think it's about the commitment and the desire to want to do it. I work every day from seven in the morning till twelve at night [on] something to do with music. I've done it all myself till now." And while his recent signing to Red Light Management will make the load lighter, he's comfortable knowing that he will remain dedicated to his craft and the community of fans he's coalesced around the world. "I've watched every single follower of those sixty-odd thousand. Every single one, and it's a question of commitment and a question of being, you know, I am so committed and so focused on achieving."