We are very excited and honoured to be celebrating the hundredth instalment of our Truancy Volume series with a very special mix from none other than Ben UFO. The records released by Hessle Audio, the label’s essential Rinse.fm sessions and of course the music Ben DJs have for a long time been consistent sources of enjoyment and musical inspiration for us at Truants and so today is an especially fitting way to mark this milestone event. For the Truants present at this summer’s Dekmantel festival, catching Ben play a set at the intimate Selector’s stage was a fantastic reminder of his qualities. For us, hearing (to pick but one example) Sizzla, Dat Oven and Soundstream played together in such a way that their disparate qualities complemented each other, and seeing the effect it had in the energetic dancing and happy faces of the crowd is sure to be a long-lasting memory. In addition to an outstanding mix, Ben also kindly shared some of his recent experiences and thoughts on music.
Has there been a shift in the sort of music you play in recent times? From personal experience of seeing you DJ several times I got the sense that your sets have shifted somewhat from house more towards techno? Is this accurate, and if so is it due simply to a change in taste or new discoveries, or is it also related to a particular “shift” in the type of music being released now?
“It depends where you’ve seen me play recently, and I guess also on the definitions you’re using. I’d be uncomfortable identifying as either purely a ‘house’ or ‘techno’ DJ, and I don’t think I sit particularly comfortably on line-ups which make a big deal of focusing exclusively on one or the other. One of the continuing reasons for this is that I can’t relate to much of the language used to describe house and techno – particularly the language people use to distinguish one from the other.”
In the past you have spoken about certain places – such as the Golden Pudel in Hamburg or Robert Johnson in Frankfurt, which you are especially fond of. In the past year have you had the experience of playing someplace new where you enjoyed yourself in a similar way?
“Freerotation isn’t somewhere new, but it continues to be one of the few places I feel able to fully immerse myself in the music when I’m not DJing myself, partly because of how much I like the environment, but I think crucially because I’m there for enough time to relax properly!”
Does locality/sense of place play a role in how you connect with certain musics?
“Absolutely – I think the way I see the music I play can’t help but be connected to my experience of playing it for other people in different places. That doesn’t mean my enjoyment of it is totally dependent on people reacting positively, but it does mean that I have a much less complicated relationship with music I only listen to at home.”
Switching from the perspective of a someone playing music to others to one of an audience member, have you recently seen any performances (whether by artists or DJs, new or established) who left a deep impression on you?
“I had a particularly good time dancing to Leif and Objekt at Freerotation this year. TJ posted the recording of his set on Soundcloud recently, and listening to it back at home triggered a big rush of endorphins and happy memories.
On a slightly different tip I loved seeing Bee Mask play on a Monday night earlier this year at Corsica Studios. The system in there has the power and clarity to do justice to his use of extreme dynamic contrast, but I think the most crucial aspect of my experience was the fact that I’d returned from Australia earlier that day, and was feeling totally disoriented and exhausted. My guard was down and the music hit me hard.”
In the past Hessle Audio show on Rinse.FM slot has been host to numerous interesting guest artists such as Bee Mask, Morphosis and Will Bankhead. Very recently you had a number of excellent guests on the show in short succession. Does the show’s regular, weekly nature give you more of an opportunity to have others play, and how do you go about coming up with ideas on who to invite?
“The nice thing from my perspective about the show being weekly is that it removes any pressure I might feel to ‘represent myself’ fully whenever I do the show by myself. This is also something that’s become less of a concern over time, as hopefully by now our listeners have got a pretty good grasp of what we’re about as a label, and who we are as DJs. I see it as a nice platform to do whatever we feel like, whenever we feel like it. Our guests are generally people we have a pre-existing relationship with, and we try and ensure that it’s as relaxed a platform for them as it is for us.”
Moving onto potentially contentious ground…do you agree with the politics of the position that all cats are beautiful? Further, what do you think of the claim that the detachment observed in many cats is in actuality a performance of critique-via-disengagement of life under post-Fordist neoliberalism?
“I like cats.”
From the subtle, atmospheric sounds of the SUED camp; through Jamal Moss’ inimitable take on house, the experimentalism of 2562, Emeralds & Aaron Dilloway, arresting oddities from MGUN and Ruth White to propulsive techno from the likes of Planetary Assault Systems and Karenn, Truancy Volume 100 is full of special moments and its scope includes some of the most interesting music out there. “I wanted to record something cohesive from start to finish whilst still allowing myself to draw from a relatively broad pool of music,” Ben says. “As with my contribution to Radio 1’s Essential Mix last year, I was hoping to do something a bit more interesting structurally than just steadily building up the intensity and the tempo of the mix over the course of two hours – as a result these two mixes don’t exactly reflect what you might expect to hear from me in most club situations or at festivals. There’s an emphasis on tracks which shift the energy and momentum when they’re played during a DJ set and, relatedly, I wanted to try and include more experimental music in a way that didn’t seem tokenistic or throwaway.” In a number of ways this approach exemplifies many of the aspects of Ben UFO’s DJing which we love so much – the wide-ranging, thoughtful selections and the meticulous attention to detail that allow those disparate sonic strands to be tied together in an always-exciting way, but as important is the sense of humour, warmth and an unparalleled sense of curiosity and love for music which shine through and show why Ben UFO is one of the best DJs around.
Hessle Audio will release HES027 by Bruce on October 27th. You can also catch Ben UFO, Pangaea and Pearson Sound on September 19th at Fabric with DJ Bone and Jon Rust, and in Berlin on September 20th at Stattbad with Beneath, Adam X, Ondo Fudd & Marco Shuttle.
1. GRAVATS 001 – Snares
2. Some Truths – Acid and Prozac
3. Michael Ozone – Hetrotopia (Young Marco Remix)
4. ? – ?
5. Dresvn – Little Fever
6. 2562 – Nocturnal Drummers
7. Morgan Buckley – Heavy Traffic
8. Beau Wanzer – Shitty Cough
9. Xhin – Insides (Perc Remix)
>> Sick Llama – Exerpts
10. MGUN – Walk With Me
11. Ruth White – The Cat
12. Emeralds and Dilloway – Under Pressure
13. The Sun God – Further Dialogue and Discussion
14. Low Jack – The Cricket Dance
15. Anton Zap – Modernization
16. Steve O’Sullivan – No Details
17. Dungeon Acid – Late Night Dungeon Jam
18. Even Tuell – Planet Ape (Raw Mix)
19. Actress – Murder Plaza
20. Acre – Physically
21. Planetary Assault Systems – Kray Squid
22. Objekt – First Witness
23. Bruce – Not Stochastic
24. Minor Science – Glamour
25. SW – A2 (Reminder pt. 2)
26. Call Super – Hoax Eye
27. Factory Floor – How You Say (Gunnar Haslam remix)
28. Head Front Panel – 006 A2
29. The Exaltics – They Arrive
30. Karenn – ?
31. Shackleton – Beat This Command