For this week’s edition of the MNMT Podcast Series we are glad to welcome one of the most talented artists hailing from The Netherlands; Ben Buitendijk. Ben has been pushing the boundaries of contemporary techno music, with his approach to producing, where organic and deep sounds tend to be the focal points of his music. Along with his mesmerising 2-hour-mix for us we also have the pleasure to have interviewed the Rotterdam-based artist. Enjoy.
1. Hi Ben, thank you for your mix and agreeing to this brief chat. How are you?
Had a great weekend (playing at Radion, seeing Dozzy live at the Minimal Music Festival and partying in Het Magazijn with Tasha and Van Anh), so I’m very good!
2. You have been producing music for quite some time now, could you point to a certain moment in your life that a profound impact on the way you experienced music? Perhaps some artist you were able to experience that inspired you to pursue a passion within music as producer and DJ?
I could write a book about artists/tracks that had a big influence, but hearing “Basic Channel – Phylyps Trak II/II” for the first time is probably one of the biggest eye openers I’ve had in my life. I listened to many different styles of electronic music, but upon hearing it the first time, I found what I was missing in so many other tracks. They didn’t use any of the attention grabbing ‘tricks’ I heard in other tracks, but kept me locked in and totally mesmerised from beginning to end in a way I had never experienced before. I guess that was the first moment I experienced the power of the loop. Shout out to Benny Rodrigues for mentioning it when he charted ‘Radio Slave – RJ’ back in 2008!
3. Your label Oblique has been quite acclaimed within the deep techno scene, how do you look back at the development of the label since it was founded back in 2016? What do you hope to achieve in the coming years with the label? Can we perhaps expect a label showcase at some point in the future?
It’s been very nice and I’m very happy how the label and it’s releases have been received. Initially I didn’t have any plans to do a label, but when I started working at Triple Vision (record distributor in Rotterdam), the owner (Marco Grijsen) literally said: “you’re here now, so why don’t you start a label?”. I had a bunch of unreleased tracks, so I thought why not?Even though I do try to plan the releases ahead now, there is no business plan. It’s a bit of a “let’s see what happens” project. If something crosses my path and it feels right, then I do it (such as the Private Press release), but label showcases for example are not a goal I’m actively chasing. If I do it, I want to do it properly and I’m not sure the label’s current position is where it has to be to realise a night exactly in the way I would want it. My goals for the coming years are to keep having fun and release music that I like and feel an urge to share . These might be my life goals actually haha, enjoying what I do and trying to share that.
4. You have been producing music for about 6 years now, could you reflect on your developments as a producer during this time?
Actually I started 12 or 13 years ago, but I spent at least a year trying to figure out how to create a fart sound using a synthesizer in Fruity Loops. I just enjoyed discovering how things worked and didn’t even think about releasing stuff. At some point I felt my tracks weren’t super bad and I was curious to see what other people would think, so I put them on Soundcloud and from there on it just grew. Back then I was dreaming about doing a net label release (free download), but quickly I got asked for digital labels and pretty soon after for vinyl labels, so naturally my dreams shifted along. I just had a really big insight that reflects on much more than the producer level (on a DJ and personal level too). It’s not really about what you learn in the studio, but learning who you truly are on the inside. That is the story you are trying to tell. Production techniques or even beat matching is just a way to be better at communicating that story to other people. The whole goal is putting that story in my music (putting your heart in art ) and I believe in the end this is what other people will connect to.
5. Could you please take us through your usual routine when producing music? What kind of hardware do you use and what do you usually do to get inspired? Also, has this producing routine changed over the years?
I don’t really have a usual routine, sometimes I wonder if I should, because other producers have a much higher and steadier output, but then I remember I like how my style is quite eclectic. Even within stylistically similar tracks, there can be a lot of diversity on how they actually sound. Every genre has its charm and the same goes for different production techniques, so I don’t stick to them as a rule, but try to feel whatever happens and then just go with the flow. Sometimes a track needs something clean and precise, then Ableton is perfect for this. Other times I use the cheapest mixer I could find to add some dirt. Or modular for sharp and weird sounds. I think this is what shapes my style, because my instinct of what is the right method at a certain moment will be different from someone else’s, so we will make different choices with different results.
6. There have been emerging quite a few talented artists in the Netherlands lately (emerging producers NL article), how do you view the developments within the Dutch techno scene, are these artists granted with sufficient opportunity to develop themselves as artists, or is there more room for development in this?
It’s always great to discover new talented artists, or old underrated talented artists for that sake, because it’s great to discover new music that you connect to. To comment on their development opportunities, I find it quite hard, because the whole scene is moving into a direction that worries me. It’s a very sensitive subject to talk about, because it’s easy to be called out as a sour complaining artist, so I’m very happy to see DVS1 speaking up on the subject and I hope more discussions will follow. To give some context to new artists, maybe things are not very easy, but that also means you have to work harder and it will push you to be better. Remember this when you’re having some hard times and don’t give up. If you truly do this from your heart, you don’t really need the approval from external factors, so try to find this from within. Are you proud of what you do? I could hate it, but you shouldn’t be touched in any way by this, just continue and you will find likeminded people. (and feel free to remind me of my own words if it ever seems like I lost this)
7. You have been DJing for several years now, can you name one, or a couple special gigs that really stuck with you ever since? And why were they so special compared to the average gigs you play?
Without any doubt the first time I played Rhythm Büro Natura. This is one of the best experiences of my life. I think what made it so special, was that everything came together at the right time; location, sound system, crowd etc. I’ve played at some great parties, but during this specific one, I can’t even described what happened to me behind the decks. It almost felt like my brain shut down and what was left was me in the purest form. There are some transitions with tracks I had never played before and they just worked together perfectly. Listening back now, I don’t even understand how I connected them then, but I did… I really feel I put my heart in that set and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. Even after having that experience, I don’t always manage to do it… Sometimes it’s external factors (i.e. bad sound), but sometimes it’s internal (not being emotionally balanced at that moment), but the Rhythm Büro experience helped me become much more aware of them and knowing what is possible if I grow in understanding and dealing with those factors better.
7. You will be performing at the MNMT Festival in a June, which surely will be something amazing to witness. Without spoiling too much, can you tell us a bit about the kind of set are you planning to play?
Yes, I’m really looking forward to that! I’ve been wanting to hear Jane Fitz in an environment like that for some time, so it’s great to be invited to play at an event where I would probably go to anyway. For my set, I’m not sure yet. It will depend on my mood at the time, but also what records I will find in the meantime. But obviously it’s outdoors and the whole line up is focussed on hypnotic and trippy sounds, so there won’t be any gabber…
8. What can people expect from you in the near future, in terms of other gigs and releases?
There are quite a few remixes and various artist releases coming up in the next few months on Semantica, AEX, Mord, Kvadrant and Rhythm Büro. I’m very excited about the remix for Rhythm Büro, I wanted to channel my experience of the party into my remix and I really feel I managed to do that. I think it might even be one of the best tracks I ever did, but that could be influenced by the connection my brain is making, so let’s see what other people will say when it gets released haha
9. Lastly, what kind of mix have you prepared for this week’s edition of the MNMT Podcast?
Recently I’ve felt a bit limited because I’m usually being labelled as a deep techno artist, whilst I buy a lot of house/minimal/old techno records. Thus a few of my recent podcasts and mixes were focussed on other sounds, but for MNMT I wanted to go deep and trippy again. I spent about an hour or two selecting records that matched the mood I wanted to play and then I just started mixing. There was an ambient record skipping, which I had to redo, but from 20 min onwards, it’s a one-take one-try recording. I wanted to convey the pure energy and inspiration I had at the moment, instead of planning and worrying about doing a perfect mix. I learned that when I use my brain too much, I’m not using my heart.