feeder insider w/ Ben Rau [en]
Ben Rau is what we usually call an expression of what the electronic music scene is all about in its pure essence: breathing cultural diversity with every cell and encompassing influences from the most remote corners of the world. Taking the best from Berlin and London, 2 cities very close to his electronic heart, on top of his Ghanian and German roots, Ben Rau is a child of the European dance floors. A resident of Fuse London since its inception, Ben Rau took also time to develop his producer alter ego, resulting in a plethora of releases on Inkal (his own label), Fuse, BodyParts or Save You Records.
We had the chance of chatting with Ben Rau about his production flow, his labels and about the London club life.
Whenever I feel the need to relax… I go to the sauna
I could spend hours playing… with my synthesizers and I do
First thing on my groceries list… Almond Milk
I like people who… are smart and interesting and funny
Sometimes, I wonder why… we expect things to be easy
I love Berlin because… It allows me to live my life the way I want
My favourite cake that mom used to bake… was her cheesecake it was incredible
If I will reincarnate as an animal… I will be a Kea Parrot they are very smart spring is for… Lovers
3 artists, I enjoy… Rhymos, Ray Mono, Josh Baker
Vixi: Hello, Ben, thank you for accepting our invitation to talk. After a few years spent in London, your Berliner’s heart decided to move back to Berlin. What had changed that made you take this path?
Ben Rau: I wanted to live a more musical life with more time spent making music and less time spent sitting in traffic, Berlin is the place for that, I love London mainly the people, but I don’t miss the rat race.
Vixi: Fuse London and Body Parts are just 2 of the labels you’ve chosen to release records with. What do they have in common so they fit your production work?
Ben Rau: It was more of a case of knowing the people in charge when you start out it’s hard to get music released Fuse and Body Parts were willing to give me a break and I took the chance both stand for real underground house and techno with credibility and individuality that’s what I liked about them.
Vixi: INKAL Records is your vehicle for self-expression, releasing futuristic house music. Your latest INKAL EP, Ad Astra / Do Your Thing is currently being repressed. How is this increasingly fast, positive, feedback in an interconnected world, influencing you as a producer?
Ben Rau: If your music resonates it fires you up to work harder and do more when people tell me they bought the records and love the music it feels great I feel honoured and humbled to have such support.
And each time you experience a different country and a different scene it goes back into the music.
Vixi: Let’s go more in depth regarding your production flow. Do you have a set of rules and steps you follow or you just let your imagination run wild?
Ben Rau: I usually start by remixing an old project so I already have a beat to work with, that way my ideas start flowing more quickly first comes the bassline and the groove the rest is the icing on the cake.
I make all my own sounds and rarely use samples apart from single hit percussion sounds, no loops either I make all of it myself.
That way you get an individual sound different from others.
Vixi: You started META, a label destined for releasing music created by breakthrough artists. What are your main criteria when selecting the next META artist?
Ben Rau: They gotta make tracks I would want to play in my sets and they have to already have worked on themselves and built up a profile. Otherwise, it’s hard and more of a risk to press vinyl.
Personal relationships are very important as well.
Vixi: First in line for the META label is Rhymos and his Seizure EP, a release placed on the sunnier side of tech house with its contagious groove and emotive pads. What was the dance-floor reaction when you played it for the first times?
Ben Rau: They worked so well that I knew I had to release the EP. Rhymos is a really talented guy and his EP was the perfect start for the label. He will continue to do very well in the future I think.
Vixi: Nowadays more and more artists decide to start their own vinyl-only imprint so there’s a myriad of labels pushing their releases to the underground scene. Where do you think this will drift? How do you see it evolving?
Ben Rau: What I’m seeing at the moment is that a lot of Labels don’t manage to sell even the minimum amount of records to break even. There are already too many labels and I think a lot of them will not survive but still, the best music is being released on vinyl, but I’m not a purist you need both Vinyl and Digital, kids nowadays only stream music so to reach a wider audience you have to have both.
Vixi: How does Ben Rau the DJ give a helping hand to Ben Rau the producer? Also, how does this connection work the other way around?
Ben Rau: Being a DJ gives you an intuitive understanding of what works on the dancefloor, and you get to test your music in the clubs and festivals, so the two DJ and Producer aren’t separate they are two sides of the same coin for me.
Vixi: Even if we talk about dance-floor-oriented tracks, you manage to bring certain emotions to the surface. Is this one of your purposes as a producer?
Ben Rau: Yes I believe that tracks that are just beats work on the floor but nobody remembers them at the end of the night, for that you need emotions and musicality,
I try to marry strong grooves with emotional deepness and hooks that people remember.
Vixi: How does the crowd reaction to your sets reflect in your DJing style? Do you adapt or just play music on your own rhythm?
Ben Rau: You play for the crowd but you don’t change who you are for the crowd if that makes sense, these days I’m lucky to play a lot of parties where people come to see me for my music that way I can show them who I am as an artist.
Vixi: Consuming music has become more social now than ever before: based on our friends’ recommendations, based on user reviews, shares a.s.o. Is there any space for a media outlet like feeder.ro as a curator in today’s electronic underground?
Ben Rau: Absolutely people trust platforms like yours and as artists, we are grateful for the opportunity to communicate with your audience, in this scene we all have to support each other to keep growing this movement for the next generation of ravers, that’s what I am passionate about.
Words by Vixi
Photos by Roberto Brundo