The days of ambushing the airwaves of Essex have barely drifted off into the periphery as his life in electronica has progressed. The systematic approach to reconstructing cosines that he’s employed is perhaps more so aligned with sonic engineering, than at times the exploits of a shade of London reserved for Orwell’s 1984. Certainly, having your early works endorsed by heavyweights in Derrick May and Jeff Mills steadied what’s become a confronting legacy alongside his peers in Detroit and even though you could be forgiven for noticing an negligible interlude in presence, a fresh assault of recent years has re-inspired the very foundations of what originally motivated him as far as we’re concerned. Axis. CLR. Drumcode. KMS. His releases sit amongst some of the most influential imprints in techno and so it’s hardly surprising that he’s clocked 50 releases.
This weekend see’s his return to Australian dance floors. We’re kicking things off with ‘The Likes Of You’ in Perth, Chinese Laundry the Saturday and Melbourne plays host for Melbourne Music Week on the Sunday. A busy weekend and we’re all over it with one of the worlds instigators of ocular surveillance. Front and centre with Ben Sims.
Kn: Lets wind the clock back to your mid teens, first pair of turntables set against the excitement and explosion of electro and hip hop. Do you still feel connected to that time and culture as a DJ nowadays? Has it defined the way you approach certain aspects of your musical career?
BS: Yeah I’m still an 80’s hip hop kid at heart, I learnt a lot during those years and it’s definitely influenced what I do now. dj-ing with energy, fast mixing, identity, exclusive tracks and edits etc..these are all things that came from that era and still define what I do now nearly 30 years later.
Kn: For someone who’s had a colourful career, there must have been defining moments along the journey. Out of the many experiences you’ve had in the past which of those, would you say, have played an integral part in defining you as the artist you’ve become today?
BS: Having the support of a lot of the detroit guys has really helped me and given me confidence in what I do, as they inspired me so much when I was starting to discover techno. Dj’s like derrick may and jeff mills were among the first to ever spin any of my tracks and that really fast tracked me to building a reputation. So I’d say remixing jeff mills on axis was certainly one of my proudest achievements, also spinning kevin saunderson’s 25th KMS anniversary party in detroit earlier this year (I was the only non detroit guy on the bill apparently) and KMS recently releasing the edits i made especially for that night was pretty sweet.
Kn: Towards the end of the previous decade we saw a decline in your creative output. Among other things during that decade, we witnessed the surge of minimal techno, and the flood of mp3’s onto the market. What were the attributing factors that led to the decrease in production output, and conversely, what was the motivating factor that led you back to the forefront today?
BS: I was just a bit bored and frustrated, definitely felt like i was repeating myself in the studio and had creatively hit a wall, so it was better to slow down my output. I continued doing edits etc but just not much original material. It was a bit of an odd time really, lots of people jumping on the minimal thing and also a bit of backlash with a rise in the really hard end of techno, so I was kinda stuck in the middle and not feeling very inspired. Starting work on the album was really the challenge that I needed, a kick up the arse that changed how I approached making music and one that gave me a lot of confidence.
Kn: An artist album was in the making for the better part of a decade. Looking back now, what would you say were the determining factors in the success of your debut long player, Smoke N Mirrors?
BS: Well, it was in discussion on and off since 1999 with various labels but I never seriously attempted to make it before 2011. I didn’t have the confidence to experiment or come out of my comfort zone and i didn’t want to release just an album of peak time techno tracks, so it needed time and a big change in how I made it. Obviously I’m very happy how it was received and I’m really pleased that I was able to push myself and deliver a musically balanced project that’s more reflective of what I’m into, with more house influences and dub tinged tracks, also the cuts with blake and tyree really seemed to crossover and attract attention from people who probably wouldn’t checked my stuff before.
Kn: …and what effect has that process had on you as an artist?
BS: It’s really inspired me, given me a confidence in the studio that I never had before and helped with my productions in general, I’m really looking forward to working on the next one soon.
Kn: It’s been quite a few years since you last toured Australia. What can we expect from a man who is returning with a renewed verve and vigour?
BS: I’m definitely feeling fired up at the moment, there’s loads of great music out there and the various fusions, merging of genres etc has influenced my sets a lot, so there’ll be lots of fresh material mixed in with bits from my favourite artists/labels and of course, the odd exclusive edit. My dj-ing style hasn’t changed a lot, although I’ve slowed down a bit (I’m not 25 anymore) but it’s been a while so i’m really looking forward to returning.
Kn: Having successfully run countless labels, masterminded an ever expanding back catalogue of original 12’s and remixes, early forays into pirate radio, touring your own club nights around the globe and releasing a stellar debut album, what lies in the immediate future for Ben Sims?…not only for music but life in general?
BS: Well, as I mentioned, I’ll be working on a new album soon, also there’s a new project I’ve started with paul mac (the uk one obviously) called ‘fokus group’ which I’m excited about. Aside from that, I’m looking forward to taking a bit of time out from traveling at the start of 2013, this year has been a bit relentless and spending more time with my wife.
Tour dates –
Friday 16th November. Perth. The Likes of You
Saturday 17th November. Sydney. Chinese Laundry Sunday
Sunday 18th November. Melbourne, Melbourne Music Week.