Interview: Benjamin Damage
19 May 2014
We’ve made it quite clear that we’re excited about Benjamin Damage’s debut trip to the Motherland.
Damage signed with Modeselektor's record label 50WEAPONS back in 2010 and through collaborations with fellow Welshman Doc Daneeka (toured by Wild City in 2013), produced the highly acclaimed - ‘They!Live.’ LP and very popular ‘Creeper’ single.
With ‘Heliosphere’, his first solo album, Damage won us over with his technically impeccable production and a new, more supple and minimalist approach to his peculiar sound.
In 2013, he was selected to be a part of the New York edition of Red Bull Music Academy, renowned for nurturing the most forward thinking musicians and honing their talents into something internationally recognised. With a resume like that, it goes without saying that we really can’t wait much longer for him to get here. We thought we’d get in touch with Damage and ask him to tell us a little bit about himself, the music he makes and what he wants to achieve from his visit to India...
How’s it going?
I’m good, very excited about going to India and checking out the music scene there.
We’re going to get straight to the point. What comes to mind when you think of India?
Beautiful landscapes, dancing, great food, fun people.
What are you most excited about doing/seeing?
I’m hoping there is time to see some mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing elephants on the street. You don’t get that in Wales. I’m actually looking forward to playing the shows the most, seeing how the crowd reacts to different things. And importantly - seeing what people like.
What is it like where you come from (originally) in Wales? Was there a decent music scene?
There was a nice but small scene for a while. Doc Daneeka ran a good night with a couple of other friends there but he’s left now. There are a few people into good music, but it's too student based for anything to really grow there over a long period of time.
What do you think of the current electronic music landscape?
It's quite exciting at the moment. The obsession with micro-genres has gone away and it feels more free and fun now.
How would you describe your music?
I call it UK techno because I’m from the UK and it has techno elements to it. There is more to it than that but I like people to make up their own minds about it.
How did you hook up with Modeseleketor/50WEAPONS?
I passed on a tune I made to Jackmaster sometime in 2009 and he gave it to Modeselektor, who put it on their RA mix. I went down to see them in Fabric and went to see them after the show. I told them I made the track and they were really cool, gave me their email and I started sending tunes over to them. The first one “Zeppelin” came out on a split 12” in 2010.
I was doing a song called ‘Creeper’ with Doc Daneeka online, swapping parts back and for. At Christmas time I went back to Wales and finished it with him in his studio just before New Years Eve. We sent it to Modeselektor and they loved it so much they signed it straight away and played it out in San Francisco the next day on New Years Eve.
From then on they kept asking for more tunes all the time but me and Doc Daneeka lived in different cities so progress was a bit slow. Eventually Modeselektor got fed up of waiting and got us on a plane to Berlin to make an album in their studio.
You’ve stayed in Berlin, after being invited to produce the album. What do you love and hate about it?
It feels very free in Berlin. There are loads of amazing clubs and people are relaxed and fun. The only thing I hate about it is the winter. Of course I also miss friends. And GEMA is really annoying. They stop you from watching videos on YouTube.
Has the sound of the city changed much over the years?
Music with more sub energy is a bit more popular here now, but it's still techno at heart. I haven’t been here for long enough to say any more than that!
The RBMA experience – a few questions about that. First off, how was the experience as a whole?
It was a great experience, really intense and fun. It was like being at school, if school was designed by musicians with an unlimited budget to create the best environment within which to learn about music.
Has it made a noticeable difference to your game?
It confirmed I was doing the right thing. Going there and meeting so many really talented people all doing things in their own way, was very inspiring.
What was the most memorable part of your time in New York?
Playing Output with Giorgio Moroder was pretty special. Just hanging out in New York is really good anyway. It’s a magical place where you feel like you can do anything.
Finally, you can’t leave us hanging. We loved the LP. Are you working on anything new?
Thanks. I’m working on a follow up to Heliopshere and also doing a hardware live set. I will probably release a single or EP from the hardware show too.
THE SAME 3 QUESTIONS:
3 most inspirational artists
3 favourite albums of all time
Aphex Twin – Richard D. James Album
Global Communication - 76:14
Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow’s Harvest
3 favourite artists of the moment
Oneohtrix Point Never