Despite not being a producer, Ben UFO is still quite the renaissance man. Not only does the 27-year-old British DJ run the highly acclaimed Hessle Audio label (with his friends Pangaea and Pearson Sound) and host a regular slot on London underground-radio powerhouse Rinse FM, but he also does his fair share of gigging… like at Seattle’s Decibel Festival, where we caught up with him a couple weekends ago for the event’s 10th anniversary. Prior to his two appearances there, he told us all about developing his sound and the perfect tracks to play for a boat party.
A lot of top DJs stick to a singular genre these days, yet you’re known for not sticking to one sound for very long. Tell us a bit about how your sound developed.
I’ve been DJing a lot longer than I’ve been playing in public, and my reputation as a DJ grew fairly slowly. I think a lot of bigger producers and DJs get thrust into highly pressurized situations very quickly these days—the dynamics of electronic music production and promotion are such that you can write a couple of successful records, develop a following quickly, and be expected to perform to big crowds immediately. I feel quite lucky that I’ve had a bit more time to get used to playing in front of other people, and figure out what it is that I want to achieve. I suppose there are pressures on most producers to represent their own records in their DJ sets as well, and that’s immediately fairly limiting.
Is this your first time in Seattle and if so, what are your expectations of both gigs at Decibel?
It’s my second time in the city actually, but my first time at Decibel. I’m looking forward to it.
One track you know you’ll play at the boat party?
One track you know will be effective at the after-hours?
How vital has it been to maintain the Rinse FM residency in order to break new music and artists you are feeling? How far outside of the UK is the reach of the show?
Radio has been absolutely crucial. I’ve been playing on the radio regularly for nearly eight years now, and I can’t imagine life without it. It’s amazing to have a place to familiarize people with new music I’m enjoying outside of a club environment, and it’s great to be doing it on Rinse FM, who have never once tried to dictate the music I should be playing. It’s a good discipline I think, to be pushed to find and play music that’s new to me every single week, and it’s great to have the opportunity to try and demonstrate to people how the all the music I enjoy fits together, whether it’s electronic dance music or not. RinseFM still broadcasts on the FM dial in London which is great, but the reach of the station is global now and the majority of its listeners are listening online.
Aside from your friends and label roster, what artists and labels are you feeling at the moment?
I’m really glad that Objekt has new music to release; his new record is fantastic. The Call Super and Special Request records on Houndstooth are awesome. PAN and L.I.E.S. are somehow continuing their seemingly endless streak of sick records. Ron Morelli’s debut album for Hospital is killer.
Do you even believe in UFOs?
Photo by The Gentleman Amateur