Apart from producing, djing, and running record labels, Ben Sims surprised us this year with a series of Free parties in London, under the name 'Retro_Vert'. The events were organized by him and his girlfriend Sunny. A perfect marketing strategy to introduce new people in the techno scene (you don't come across a series of Free parties every day), flawlessly organized and carried out! This sequence of parties was marked by its high quality music and its great turnout, every single time. The last party of this series offered a massive 'line up' and 'line-down', as the flyer suggested (Oscar Mulero, Blake Baxter, Mark Broom & Baby Ford, to name a few) and was a huge success.
- Atome: I would like to start with a clichéd question. Who is Ben Sims and what does he represent?
- Ben Sims: I'm a 29 year old East London based DJ / producer. I've been collecting music and DJ-ing since a very early age and started out as a Hip Hop DJ, progressing onto House in the Acid House boom then to Techno. I started experimenting with production in the early 90's. My first release was Retrovert on my 'Theory' label in 1997. I am still a record collector at heart and buy everything from Hip Hop to Electro to Soul to Disco to Funk to House to Boogie. I'm inspired by heroes of Detroit, Chicago and London, also by all the DJ's I grew up listening to. Froggy, Jah Shaka, DJ Cheese, Derrick May, Masters at Work, Cashmoney plus many others. I represents the new generation of London DJ's, the people-who like me wanted to be involved and bring their knowledge and experience to the music. The people who aren't content just being followers, who start their own labels, travel the world DJ-ing, have their records played by all the big names yet still don't get the respect they deserve in the home town or country (sorry, do I sound bitter?...)
- A.: With over 60 remixes and 130 appearances, apart from your own releases, what do you think is a greater challenge for you; a remix or building up a new track from scratch?
- B.S.: It definitely just depends on what it is, I like doing remixes as a way of getting back into the production. I rarely produce consistently so remixes are always the thing that gets me back into the groove, after that I can produce my own music easier.
- A.: What is the greatest "buzz" for you, DJing in a club or working on a track in your studio?
- B.S.: Now, probably a combination of both. I used to always say DJ-ing but hearing your music played in a club or seeing a dancefloor reaction to your record is always a buzz and at the moment I'm working on an LP (for Peacefrog) so I'm testing out new tracks all the time and continuously working on new material.
- A.: Where is your studio based, and which are your favourite pieces of kit that you use for your production?
- B.S.: My studio is based in Greenwich, South London. It's a good community over there as Mark Broom / Dave Hill, 65D Mavericks and many others have studios there too (my unit was previously used by Steve Bicknell). I've just had it re-jigged and I am hoping to be there more often. My favourite piece of kit was once my Roland SH-09 keyboard; it is pretty shite but has great bass and is great for filtering external sounds thru it. Now I'm working a lot more with audio, it's a very recent thing and I'm learning slowly but because I am away so often it just makes sense.
- A.: Which of the collaborations you had in the past do you believe is / are the most significant for Ben Sims and who else would you like to work with?
- B.S.: I think the remix of Rue East ' Birmingham' is my most significant so far... it represents what I believe should be the essence of current club techno, a hardgroove feel but with melody and structure. It wasn't really made like a usual remix as I did it in the studio it was originally made in with Mark and Dave there so it was more a collaboration; Mark even laid down the final mix as I was running late for a flight! However I've just spent time in the studio with Blake Baxter recording vocals and this is a new thing for me, so I'm excited about the outcome. It will be the start of a new chapter in my productions.
- A.: Who are the DJ's / producers that you respect the most?
- B.S.: Jeff Mills, Derrick May, Rolando, Oli Ho, James Ruskin, Paul Mac, Vince Watson, Mark Williams, Mark Broom, Gary Martin, Mr G, Deetron, SLS, John Arnold, Octave One, Nick Holder, Carl Craig, Claude Young, Aubrey, Shufflemaster, John Beltran, Joe Claussel, DJ Rush, UR, Christian Wulch, Tobias Von Hofsten, Kid Btchelor, Oscar Mulero, Harvey, Baby Ford, Guy called Gerald, Larry Heard, Arthur Russel, King Tubby, Marley Marl, Todd Terry, Masters at Work, Q, Bert, Kevin Saunderson, Coldcut, Photek, Virgo, Phuture, Premier, Froggy, etc... etc... etc... There are hundreds!
- A.: The first half of 2003 ended successfully for Ben Sims as a producer, with six releases on Theory, Bio, Real Vinyl, Ingoma, Primate and Hardgroove; what does the new Ben Sims style suggest for the future?
- B.S.: The LP will be out the next big project that comes out, I have a few remixes and odd releases too but the LP will show more of what I'm about and be more of a personal statement than just a club single. I'm experimenting a lot more than before and so far very happy with the results.
- A.: Some of the producers and DJ's believe that techno, house, trance and electro are 'fused' and the difference in styles is becoming blurred. What do you think about that and which is going to be the new "trend" in techno music on the next season?
- B.S.: Can't really speak about trance but yes I think it applies to the others, this can only be a good thing. Too much genre splitting just fucks things up, it was never that way in the ol'days (sounding like an old again). It would give us more room for movement, bigger choice of music to play and a wider audience. I don't really care about trends, things are either good or bad... lets hope 'good' is the next thing!
- A.: The last Free_Retro_Vert party marked the end of this season. What are the plans of Ben Sims for the summer and what should we expect from Retro_Vert in the future?
- B.S.: I'll be really busy DJ-ing, preparing parties, working on tours (this month with Mark Williams on Ingoma Tour) and working on music.
- A.: Is there something that we should know about Ben Sims that we don't know already?
- B.S.: I hate football, don't drink tea or coffee and have given up smoking.
- A.: Is God a DJ?
- B.S.: No, he's a Chinese whisper.