At Home With: Ben SimsMon 12th Apr
Techno titan, Ben Sims, joins us for today’s installment of At Home With.
Renowned as one of techno’s most skilled exponents, on account of his unyielding energy and fierce yet intricately weaved sets, Ben Sims’ contributions to music have earned him a legendary status . Emerging as a highly in demand DJ in the 90s, his career has now spanned three decades and despite his now veteran status, the UK-born producer continues to push the confines of expectation through his labels such as Theory and Symbolism, the Machine club-nights which shine a spotlight on underappreciated talent and his NTS residency ‘Run it Red’. His passion for all things music has never wavered, showcased perfectly by the inspiringly insightful selections he has chosen for us.
Ben’s selections include Coldcut, James Ruskin, Fix and James Redfield.
A Recent Mix:
PoleGroup Radio - Ben Sims
This is my recent mix up for the ever-reliable Pole Group Radio series from Oscar Mulero. We've been friends since the late 90s, so it was a pleasure to drop a mix for his series finally. It's a typically frenetic session, with a healthy balance of styles, new and old, classic and unreleased. I just about got away with putting Aphex Twin over DJ Godfather, too - I always enjoy throwing a curveball in the mix. I've made it a point to do as many guest podcasts and streams over the past year as possible, partly for selfish reasons as I genuinely miss doing sets 5 to 10 times a month but also because I think it's important to give back. Everyone's affected by what's going on in the world, and if I can help someone forget, or offer some escapism, just for an hour or two, then that's a positive thing.
An All Time Favourite Mix:
Coldcut - Journeys By DJ
Simply the best commercial mix CD/Cassette ever released full stop. I don't think any others even come close to it, to be honest (well, aside from related mixes like DJ Food & DK's 'Now Listen' or 'Raiding The 20th Century'). The skill and patience involved in piecing it together, plus the years of musical knowledge necessary to pull out such a killer selection is insane, but on top of that, the fact that it flows so well and maintains a cohesiveness despite it’s expedition through so many genres is both magical and enviable. I've been a fan of Coldcut since the 80s, was an avid listener of their radio show on Kiss FM, and it's fair to say they're up there with my biggest influences. Being purely into Hip Hop at the time, it was mind-blowing to hear all the different styles they mixed up, and I'm eternally grateful for all the amazing music they introduced me to.
A Recent Release:
James Ruskin - Hang Up
Something forthcoming from my old mate James and it's a killer. I'd confidently go as far as saying it's one of my favourites from him, and there's a lot of gems in his back catalogue. Fusing a UK Broken Beat style with a dramatic UR-esque synth line and an unmistakable tribal feel, I can only imagine this tearing up the place on a wide variety of different dancefloors and can't wait to hear it boneshakingly loud!We actually started working on some music together before the world turned to shit, so hopefully, we can get back in the studio soon and finish the project off. If it's only fractionally as good as this monster, I'll be very happy indeed.
An All Time Favourite Release:
Fix - Flash
Without a doubt, one of my favourite ever Techno tracks. For me, this has every essential element; the funk, the groove, the rawness, and 29 years since its release, I still think it's a masterpiece. Over the years, I've introduced many different people to the original sample it's based on, which for some breaks the spell, but for me, it's why it's so good. It's a lesson in the art of sampling, a masterclass in hearing an element in someone else's music and transforming it into something totally new. Through my early love of Hip Hop, i became fascinated with sampling, and many of my favourite Techno cuts utilise loops and stabs of other records ('E Dancer - Pump The Move', 'BFC/Carl Craig - The Climax', 'Jeff Mills - Reverting', etc). I've always seen it as a positive thing, a way a producer can infuse more of their influences into the music and, to this day, I still regularly use my record collection as source material.
A Good Read:
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
I'm currently reading this fictional story of one man's journey towards self-discovery and really enjoying it. Admittedly it wouldn't be my usual book of choice as I tend to read mostly non-fiction and biographies of people I find interesting, but as this book is concerned with a transitional period in the narrator's life, searching for truth and spirituality, it's very apt right now for what's happening in the world. As well as continuing to put out podcasts, streams and releases on my labels during the pandemic, I've also been doing some soul searching of my own and actively challenging myself by enrolling on a course at a local adult learning centre, so the storyline of the book, even though fiction, definitely feels relatable to my personal journey at the moment, too.
Something To Watch:
Vinyl Documentary by Alan Zweig
I've lost count of the number of times I've watched this excellent doc about obsessive record collectors but it's definitely more than 50 (a fact I'm well aware is also a touch obsessive). As well as being funny, well made and a regular source of quotes, it also highlights the fact many of the collectors are struggling with the rest of their lives and being vinyl junkies is one of the few things they can control. Many other docs about collecting purely frame it as something ultra-cool, which can be true but often it's rooted in something deeper or more personal. I love docs like this ('American Movie', King Of Kong', Story Of Anvil' etc), real-life stories of passion and obsession that are both hilarious and heartfelt at the same time.