The fifth edition of our podcast series is mixed by Benny Rodrigues (Ovum, Be As One, Klockworks) from Rotterdam, Netherlands. Arriving in the scene around the change of the century he settled himself at the center of things in a very short period of time and went on to become one of the most in demand disc jockeys of the country. Listen as he lays down a very deep and personal selection of beautiful tracks giving you a peek into the private parts of his soul. Benny proves again that he is one of the most versatile and talented artists around and above all he is still on top of the game. We are very thankful Benny found time to make this podcast for us to share with you all. He recently lost his father to cancer and has been going through some rough times, so all strength and good things to you Benny!
Please tell us a bit about your background and how you came in contact with electronic music?
Benny: I first encountered ‘house music’ while living with my dad, at the age of 13. My dad used to go out to the finest house parties and festivals on a regular basis. It was my dad who introduced me to ‘Planet E’, which was a local radio show presented by Michel de Hey (and others). For me ‘Planet E’ turned out to be the greatest inspiration I could ever hope for. Heavily inspired (and maybe even a bit obsessed) by the music played at Planet E, I started buying those records myself. In the end it got me a job at Basic Beat records, which at the time was one of the best record shops in Holland.
benny handing out stickers at the fast forward dance parade 1996
I also started playing for Michel de Hey’s ‘Future’ nights in Nighttown (a club in Rotterdam, which was my other weekly hang-out next to Planet E) and from my residency there I evolved into one of the main resident dj’s in ‘Now&Wow’, which was the hot new club at the time. That basically put me on the map. The rest (productions and gigs around the world) followed from there.
Your spectacular rise as a disc jockey has been a class example of how a profound love for music and hard working can get you anywhere. What have you learned the past decade and what word of advice would you give to the kids out there who have a passion for electronic music and want to pursue a professional career in deejaying?
Benny: Thank you! Well, to be honest I never really wanted to become a dj. First and foremost all I wanted was to be surrounded by artists that inspired me, which at that time was at Planet E. I would hang out at the radio station for hours until the last beat kicked in, same goes for the Future, where I would be the first person coming in and the last person leaving.
I guess I’ve always had some sort of ‘Zen’ over me, and basically followed my passion for the music and not necessarily for the ‘becoming a dj’ part or for the kick of the party for that matter. So for me things flowed naturally from one thing into another and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Believe in your own music, or even better, BE your own music! Work hard (which nowadays means lots of producing as well) and, as long as you find inspiration in music (or in life for that matter), things should flow from there on. Do it for the right reasons and ‘Zen’ will follow you shortly. I guess.. 😉
Could you please tell us about the tracks you selected for this podcast?
Benny: Since I’m right in the middle of an one year sabbatical, I wanted to make this mix a personal and intimate one and not necessarily for the dance floor. Even though I would go crazy on the dance floor myself to this mix. I love to play LOTS of different kinds of electronic dance music, but for this mix I really felt like taking it a bit deeper and showing the peepz a bit of the inside of my soul, rather than having to ‘boom’ it out for the sake of it.. Which can be fun as well 🙂 For this mix I selected the tracks that represented the deep and honest mood I was looking for…
The funny thing is that when I finished the mix I realized that 90% of the music played in this mix is produced by Detroit artists/labels (Drexciya, Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin, Ectomorph etc), or is heavily inspired by the legacy of Detroit techno/electro (Convextion, Conforce, Kassem Mosse etc). When aiming for honest electronic dance music from the soul, somehow I always end up in Detroit haha..
benny gets himself educated on the ways of the old school
You saw your hometown Rotterdam declining from the nations #1 clubbing hotspot to the absolute opposite of what it used to be. Many of the cities foremost dj’s and producers left to live elsewhere, but you always kept Rotterdam as your home base. Nowadays things are slowly moving in the right direction again. What made you stick to the city and how do you see current trends in the Rotterdam nightlife develop in the coming years?
Benny: To be honest, I would LOVE to live in Amsterdam (for various reasons), but one of the very few reasons I’m still based here is because I have a huge phobia for rats haha.. Since the centre of Amsterdam is basically a dump, it kinda means the city is filled with rats EVERYWHERE, so therefore I prefer staying and living in the high towers of Rotterdam. But when it comes to a vibrant party scene and life dynamics on the streets, for the last years Amsterdam is really the place to be.
Rotterdam nightlife is going through a very hard time lately, but I think that slowly but surely things are changing to the positive side again. I notice that some kids from the ‘new’ generation (such as yourself and the Triphouse Rotterdam collective) are doing parties for the right reasons again. Because of the urban-hype around since 2004, lots of local promoters threw parties without any vision other than making big money as quick as possible. Booking the big-name dj’s, who play shorter and shorter sets in order to get more big-name dj’s on the line-up. The promoter will be assured of good ticket-sales like this, but it is a very shallow and short-term way of doing things.
The club owners are also guilty of this ‘short term policy’. For me it kinda destroyed the whole original idea of ‘the spirit of house’, I grew up with in my beloved city of Rotterdam. This whole urban-thing kinda killed my love for Rotterdam nightlife, and therefore I became a very pessimistic person when it comes to the local party-scene, being the idealist and romantic hippie that I am.. 😉
Anyway, as I said before I feel like there’s a new generation standing up and creating the right buzz when it comes to throwing parties for the love of the music they believe in, which is basically all that a healthy party-scene needs. There will always be the clubs and promoters going for the big bucks and focusing on the mass, which is a good thing by the way, as long as there is a healthy ‘underground’ scene beneath it, which was really missing at a certain point.
Now with clubs like Catwalk and promoters such as Triphouse Rotterdam and 300 MPH etc, things are looking much brighter again. People are being influenced again and I notice the younger kids are getting ‘educated’ with other music then the usual mainstream stuff. Let’s see what the future brings, hopefully I’ll be able to chip in as well with throwing parties myself, at various locations, but first things first. 😉
when is your new website coming online? ‘uhhhhh….’
The past months you have been very busy in the studio working on your own material and several remixes. A personal highlight must be the remix of Orlando Voorn’s all-time techno classic ‘Solid Session’ you recently finished. How was it to get asked to remix such a monumental track which was played regularly at Planet E, the radio program that got you into it all back in the days? Can you tell us something on your method of producing music and the things we can expect from you in the near future?
Benny: Yeah, I’ve been putting 80% of all my time into producing lately and it’s paying off. My remix for ‘Solid Session’ is most definitely the icing on the cake. I’m especially happy it’s Orlando Voorn himself that asked me to remix his huge classic, and not some random label. Having Orlando personally approving my remix and playing it to death makes me a happy man. He could’ve asked everyone in the scene, but he asked me. 🙂
The way I work in the studio right now is very very limited and improvised. I only have a computer, the sequencer and one plug-in (Korg collection) and I try to work my magic with that. No midi keyboard, no controller, very few samples. Not even proper speakers, I have to work with my headphones due to neighbor issues haha..
I’m in the middle of changing houses and therefore I really have to improvise before moving over to my new studio, but things are working out quite ok really. I really like the idea of having my own mini studio set up nearby, so I can jam whenever I feel like it. It really worked out in my benefit since I’ve done a shitload of tracks lately.
Under ‘Benny Rodrigues’ I will have releases for Be As One (with remixes from Sterac & Mike Dehnert), Dig Deeper (with remixes from Russ Gabriel), Boys Noize, Saved, EC (which I’m very proud of, since Michel de Hey is the person that started it all for me with his radio show Planet E and club night Future and label EC records) plus lots of other cool labels I’m working with.. Hopefully also an EP on Rush Hour for Tom Trago’s label Voyage Direct. I’m also working on a long-distance collab with Djinxx (Delsin/Cocoon/Ovum) and some remixes here and there which also includes ‘Solid Session’. 🙂
Next to ‘Benny Rodrigues’ I’m also starting some new alter-ego’s. Some will be known and others will be (very) secret. One of these aliases is ROD, which is the purist (deep) techno side of me. ROD’s first release will be on Ben Klock’s label Klockworks around February. I’m also setting up some low-profile labels to launch my secret alter-ego’s. I also finished my debut-album ‘If One Day This Seems To Be The End’ which is my very special tribute to my father who died last summer.
As you can see I have lots of things coming. Except for my releases on other labels, I’m still figuring out how to proceed with getting my (alter ego’s) music out there to the right people, but it’s going to happen anytime soon now. 🙂
Anything else you would like to share?
Benny: I just want to let you and the Triphouse Rottterdam collective know that I appreciate your efforts to make the Rotterdam nightlife a better place! With a few more like-minded peepz, Rotterdam should be on its feet in no time! 🙂
‘do it for the right reasons and zen will follow you shortly’