High-octane sounds from a UK techno mainstay.
Ben Sims is part of UK techno's elite. Along with fellow veterans such as Surgeon, Regis, James Ruskin and Mark Broom, he helped define the sound of British dance music throughout the late '90s and early '00s. Like many working in that era, Sims' early sound was percussive, propulsive and, above all, powerful. Much of it landed on his own labels—Hardgroove, Ingoma and Theory—and it was aimed directly at the dance floor. Sims remains a popular and extremely active producer today, releasing several 12-inches per year while keeping up a vigorous cross-continental gig schedule.
One of techno's most accomplished and technically skilled selectors, his talent is very much on display in this week's podcast. Recorded live in one take, it sees Sims mix with three decks quickly and flawlessly, maintaining a flow while finding space for a variety of house and techno sounds.
How and where was the mix recorded?
It was recorded in September at my studio in Hackney on three CDJs and a Pioneer mixer.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I just wanted it to be an accurate reflection of what I'm playing these days. There's lots of new material, plus tracks from up-and-coming artists and couple of older favourites too. It's been a while since a DJ set of mine went public as the radio show has been my main focus, so I wanted to try and capture the feel and energy of my sets rather than the more polished feel of Run It Red. I'm pretty happy with it. Recreating a DJ set in a room on your own doesn't always work out, but this one feels quite close.
You've done a fair few tracks in the looped disco vein this year. What's the enduring appeal of this style for you?
I took a break from the more sample-based material for a while as I'd definitely released too much of it previously, so some time focusing on more straight-up techno tracks and machine funk has been good for me. But disco is still a big influence, as is most '70s and '80s black dance music. It's always going sneak into my productions, but I'm glad I've finally got around to creating another artist name for that style: Ron Bacardi. The alias allows me to keep the projects separate and not confuse people. It's also definitely helped to work with other labels that are more house-orientated, like Karlovak and Bass Culture. I'm also now doing the occasional Ron Bacardi DJ set where I drop house and disco, so it's worked out really well. It used to feel like I was forcing disco influences into my techno sets and it didn't always work, so now it's another project and getting a whole new audience, which is great.
Machine, your party with Kirk Degiorgio, is billed as a "night of fresh techno." Which artists have sounded fresh to you in 2015?
ASOK, Nummer, Die Roh, Binny, Mike Gervais, Sigha, Borrowed Identity, DJ Spider, MCMXC, J Albert, Alphadrum, Clip, Deniro, Arnaldo and Antigone. Loads, really.
What are you up to next?
Focusing on studio work as a priority. It was nice to have some time away from it after I closed Theory, but it's time to get serious again. I'm keen to release music on more labels, rather than start another imprint for my own productions (for the time being, anyway). There's a bunch of great stuff coming out on my recently relaunched Symbolism label—that will continue to focus on music from artists I'm feeling, rather than my own. Plus there's a few low-key, fun, labour-of-love projects like the Essex Rascals, which will see a handful of limited releases coming out early 2016.
On the DJ side of things, I'm looking forward to continuing to increase my techno circuit, playing new spots and doing my thing to fresh audiences. Next year will see at least three Kabuki nights at the great Dance Tunnel in Dalston with all night back-to-back sessions with some of my favourite DJs. Machine turns five next year, so there'll be some nice parties to celebrate that. But first we have Oscar Mulero and Truncate at Corsica Studios on December 18th.