Benoit has taken his precious time out of the studio to answer some delicate questions with some in depth and descriptive responses. So without any further delay…….
What DJ's or producers influence you or have influenced you in the past?
Of course the first Belgian DJ’s (Phi Phi, Johan, Vince…) gave me some ideas and musical inspirations. I remember the period of 1995-1997 in a Belgian club called “At the Villa”. The music and the atmosphere were amazing. We were there every Friday and Saturday in this club and on Sunday I was making music with some friends. I also love “La Rocca”, one of the best clubs in Belgium and the music of Marko the resident DJ since 10 years is always a sound of inspiration.
The music in the club was in a bad period 4 years ago, when I discovered the “Northern Exposure 01” compilation. It was like a revelation and the first time I saw the name of Sasha & John Digweed. It was very exciting for me to see music outside from Belgium, it was an amazing evolution. John, Sasha, Danny Howells, Anthony Pappa, Dave Seaman always influence my work like ‘reference points’.
As a producer I’m a huge fan of Flood. I love his work on Depeche Mode and U2 albums. Through interviews with him I discovered that he is a guy full of respect for the artists. I suppose it’s because he is clearly also one.
How do you think the exposure of Apollo Vibes especially on a Digweed compilation helped you?
Of course to have the DJ support of John is the best thing I could dream of. It was an exciting period to know that John loved the tracks then he wanted to sign them to Bedrock. I remember when I was working with CP and he came to my studio with GU’s like Hong Kong, Ibiza etc, I said, “It will be so cool to be on quality stuff like these CD’s”. CP was always laughing; I was a dreamer he said! Global Underground is such a great reference for Electronic music and the play list of the star DJ’s teaching the crowd. But in the end we made it and “Los Angeles” is a masterpiece of work in progressive house. Of course it helped us a lot to be discovered by the rest of the world.
What are your personal favourite tracks of all time, both from yourself and those by others?
For my tracks, it is a difficult question. I always love working on them but when you listen to them 500 times in the studio it’s hard to keep the same enthusiasm. I love Waxx because it always gives me the chills, even two years after. I love London, one of my latest tracks. Dust, my new collaboration with CP. It’s difficult to make tracks that will stand the test of time. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t!
I always love ‘Violoter’ of Depeche Mode. All the tracks of this album are amazing and innovative. I love when I listen to a track for the first time and it’s like a revelation. I had this also on ‘Hounds of Winter’ by Sting, ‘High Hopes’ of Pink Floyd. There is so much good music it’s hard to choose!
There is talk of a new album from your good self. Can you shed any light on this 'rumour'?
We are still in negotiation. It’s difficult because John is very busy for the moment with his ‘Delta Heavy Tour’. But you can be sure that this album will be released one day. I have all the ideas and I’m ready to start it. I think there is maybe a problem of slowness in the musical business. I have a lot of ambition and energy and I have my own studio. Like I always say, “Failure is not an option”.
Does your musical background (Benoit spent 10 years in Music School!!) help you when producing Electronic Music?
Of course, music is like a language. If you feel you can create something like “Romeo and Juliet” but you can’t write, I think it will be difficult :o) . When I have an idea I can play with it. Of course it’s not enough to make good music, but you need this. I’m bored with all these guys who just sample. I prefer to say my own feelings in my music than steal ideas of another guy. There are a lot of DJ’s who are doing just an artistic producers job in the studio and after put only their name on the record and speak about the tracks without talking about the composer. I don’t like that at all.
But I’m still working very hard in the studio and my musical background doesn’t give me the choice to be lazy. Inspiration and persistence, you need both.
What is the state of Electronic music in your home country of Belgium?
Some organisations like Fuse are interesting. But I regret it’s hard to find quality music. Things are moving now and people like Sander Kleinenberg, Anthony Pappa are playing this sometimes, so I hope it will change.
Music was very interesting and exciting for a long time since the ‘New Beat’ period in 1988. But now most of the owners of the clubs think you have to play commercial stuff to make money. I’m glad because everybody can see they are in the wrong, But what is amazing is the fact that now they think that the people need R&B to go to clubs. Crazy!!?? I’ve been clubbing in Belgium since 1989 and I’m sure the crowd in Europe need a kick and a bass to have a good time. All the Belgian clubs, which are trying R&B parties, have a lot of problems. It’s definitely not the solution. I think we need 2 styles of clubs; ‘commercial’ clubs and clubs where you can discover an exciting musical style.
Many have opinions on the current state of Progressive House, do you have any opinions yourself or do you think that all this analysis is unnecessary?
I’m not a fan of names of styles. If ‘progressive’ means innovation with subtle emotions, I love this style. But it’s true that we all need styles and I like the idea that ‘progressive’ is associated with quality.
What is boring for me is to see magazines in Belgium talk about ‘progressive’ Belgian producers and for me their music is not in Digweed’s style. It’s the same for DJ’s. ‘Progressive’ music is the new strong style and a lot of DJ’s in Belgium suddenly are progressive DJ’s. But CP has a lot of difficulty at playing at big event and he is an excellent DJ who has been playing in clubs for 10 years. It’s time to change this stupid behaviour and I will work on it.
Like many other producer's out there, do you have any intention to go behind the decks?
Of course. I started to mix in clubs a few months ago sometimes with CP, sometimes alone. It’s interesting because the feeling behind the decks is different than in the studio. This gives me a lot of inspiration. And I love to present my music to the crowd; it’s always an amazing experience. I learned a lot of things since I bought my Technics. The most interesting thing is to see the difficulty is not in putting two records together, but it’s finding the good combinations. This made my respect for people such as Digweed, Sasha, Anthony Pappa stronger than before. They are creating a journey when they mix and it is very exciting.
But like all my projects I want to do this as a professional so I’m working very hard for the moment to present interesting sets.
What projects are coming up for you, what new releases can we expect from you in the near future (both original and remix work)?
Bedrock will release ‘Dust’, my new collaboration with CP in July or August. I made a lot of productions these last few months so you can expect at least 2 or 3 releases this year on different labels.
I’m still working as a producer for Sony Belgium, My album is a main project and I will probably start in a few weeks my new release for Bedrock.
And finally, apart from Music, what relaxes you in your spare time?
I always love to read books even if I don’t have a lot of time at the moment. Watch a good movie is always pleasurable. Having a drink and having discussions with friends and driving my car at night with good music is always fun.
When I’m under too much pressure I always try to be alone and just take stock with myself. But I spend most of my time in the studio so my spare time is very limited.
We thank Benoit again for his time and we hope we have given you an insight into this talented man from Belgium.