Benny Page burst on to the scene in 2006 with the Ragga infused ‘Turn Down the Lights’. Quickly picked up by Digital Soundboy, his career skyrocketed and now a decade later, Benny Page is seen as one of the most influential UK artists around. Ahead of his appearance at Brixton Jamm we caught up with him for a chat about his life, the music and finding his way as a new dad.
Hi Benny, really glad you have the time for a chat with us at Decoded Magazine. So, how’s your day been so far?
All jiggy, enjoying the tropical weather!
Tell us about growing up in Reading. Is Berkshire a hotbed of musical talent?
Its a funny old place, plenty of different cultures, there’s was plenty of nights on as I recall, the late 90’s was a classic time for UKG and the darker side to DnB, we had a club night called ‘Bass heads’ which was run by a friend called Prash aka Engine Earz, and brought in the like’s of Andy C, Hype, Blackmarket ect. on a regular basis. This was very inspiring for me at the time 16 years young..
You started out in the business following a Music Technology course. With such an eclectic taste in music, did Drum n Bass feel like the most natural fit for you, or was there a period of experimentation?
As soon as I heard DnB I wanted to do it. Having been in to other stuff before was just part of the journey in to it. The music tech course was a big help and learning curve.
I was heavily in to guitars while I was at school, so I was in to a lot of different stuff. Yeah, mostly things with guitars but also a lot of hip hop. Gangster rap was at it peek in the mid 90s.. so from Led Zep Nirvana to Snoop, Dr Dre & Cypress Hill.
Having DJed professionally for over a decade now, what have been some of the high points for you personally?
There has been a lot.. one I remember was playing at a huge festival in LA along side Chase N Status & Jenna G in 2008 it was overwhelming to play on such a big stage in the U.S.
And conversely, low points. What have been some of your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
As a musician, you get stuck in the mud all the time.. you lack inspiration every so often and it can get you.. one thing I have always had in me is the passion to move forward, if things are not going so well then you have to make them go well through hard work and determination. I believe this attitude can work in any line of work.
How do you structure your sets? What percentage is practiced transitions vs spur of the moment?
I use record box now which is all done on your laptop, so you kind of plan most of the set. I think you always know what tunes your going to play, but you change the order and add tunes in to the set every week so its ever evolving.
Drum N Bass had a real hard time catching up with technology like techno and house did. I know a lot of DnB DJs resisted change, but a few have led the way with Traktor and Serato set ups. Whats your set up now, and why d’you think there was the backlash there appeared to be in the scene?
I use Record Box and USBs because I like this technology. I think its quick and easy to use, and great for the travelling DJ. I don’t really think it matters too much what you choose as long as you can deliver a great set, something that people remember.
Where are some of your favourite clubbing spots in the UK?
Leeds, Bristol & London would be my top 3.. clubs like Fabric, Fire in Vauxhall, Motion in Bristol and the Mint Club in Leeds.
With regular airplay of some of the countries biggest radio networks, you’re never that far from a Benny Page track. Do you remember the feeling you had the first time you got a track played on commercial radio? Bet you were buzzing!
Yes, this is the ultimate feeling for a any music maker, getting your music heard by millions is the reason you put the time in, you want to share it. Pretty sure the late John Peel was the first DJ to play some Benny Page on National radio.
‘Turn Down the Lights’ was an instant classic. Fun, upbeat and forward thinking, it was snapped up by Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy label. The production values are incredible given its your first release, tell us about the process of making the track and where the ideas came from.
I was messing around with samples a lot at the time so it was a case of three or four samples working together.. After I found out Shy FX was interested in what I was doing I did around 10 tunes and gave them to him, one of them was ‘Turn Down The Lights.’
Over the years, you’ve worked with a number of stars. Any favourites?
Recording parts of my Album was probably the highlight so far. Also working with the UKs finest – Congo Natty, Mr Williamz to name a few..
Hows the album going?
The album is going well, I have a two single deal with a label called Hot Source which has major label backing and is run by the famous Circus Records, The Next single is called ‘ Break it Down ‘ and features a Jamaican singer called Kin Nain.. when the album is done we will make a decision on what label..
Tell us about High Culture recordings. Whats the vision of the label, and what made you choose start it?
I started as I felt I had a lot of music to put out. It was always going to have a Jungle/DnB back bone, but always have the option for other genre’s
We just heard you’ve recently become a dad. Congrats! Hows that new change impacting on your working life?
Its great! it definitely gives someone like myself the right balance in life, and its cool having a little mini me walking around, Love that guy..
How do you think you’ll feel if your offspring decide to get in to music? Will you be helpful dad, or let them find their own way?
He’s already in to it! haha, he comes to the studio and plays piano most days, and has a little boogie when he hears my tunes playing. I would love to show him the ropes when he’s ready..
The Drum n Bass scene has had its ups and downs over the years. How do you think the scene is doing right now, and who should we be looking out for?
There’s always new cats coming thru I find it hard to keep up, I would say look out for Serum, Dub Phizix, Mefjus to name a few
Well, its been good to talk to you Benny, thanks a lot. Other than Brixton, where can we see you this year?
The next few months ill be in Bristol, Leeds and at festivals Boomtown, Faar festival & Outlook, as well as gigs in Europe.
For more info check my artist page