Matthew Benjamin has held many guises in his journey through electronic music. Launching his career as Matthew B in the midst of the UK acid house explosion, his identity and sound has undertaken many a metamorphosis, through solo work as one of the pioneers of the original Detroit flavoured Tech House sound to The End Soundsystem and his incredible UK chart topping double act with Layo Paskin. These days, he works between two very different project names: Just Be / Bushwacka!. His continual evolution, thirst for new sounds and epic touring schedule has ingrained his many identities across the international club scene.
His roots grew from underground warehouse parties and illegal outdoor raves that shook the foundations of the establishment, quite literally, and gave inspiration to a new generation of ravers. This anarchic environment gave him total creative freedom, an ethos that continues to this day in his music, always pushing the boundaries of underground dance music.
Following an amazing season for Sankey’s Ibiza, Kinki Malinki resident Grant Richards caught up with the House music legend to talk DJing, his thoughts on Ibiza and more.
Hey Matthew last time we spoke was when you were playing for Kinky Malinki at Source Bar under your Just Be guise. You’re now back to primarily playing under your most well-known moniker – Bushwacka! Do you feel that is symbolic of something in some way to you, or did you just feel the time was right to bring that name to the fore once again?
Hey Grant, well I think it was a questionable decision to change name at that point in my career, but not one I regret at all – I needed a new challenge to get my teeth into and I had felt that reinventing would keep things fresh, which it did, but as time has gone on, I feel that losing my identity as Bushwacka! wasn’t going to happen – for most people that is who I am to them as an artist, and with the imminent digital release of my entire back catalogue, I want to focus on that name again.
You’ve been playing for the Dance 88/89 party at Sankeys Ibiza over the Summer, has the crowd been older and reflective of the period of music being played, or has the crowd been younger and loving learning the roots of house music?
It’s been both actually, and for me that has been a joy – seeing a room full of young people getting into the music I grew up on and the sound that forged my career, as well as seeing the older generation getting down to the classic Acid House sound, and seeing people standing on the speaker stacks losing their shit has been magic.
How do you stand on all the changes going on across the island? It’s fair to say that Sankeys is definitely one of the great new additions to the island over the years, right?
David Vincent has had the balls to come here and build that club and go up against the big clubs and program the nights with real versatility, and the club itself really is a fantastic space. Regarding the changes on the island, change is inevitable… I mean look at London! I have very recently changed my attitude to the changes and the VIP / rich crew influx. I was ever so judgemental and shunned the change, but now I have realised that only one thing is relevant – peoples attitude. I will say, however that there does seem to be a disproportionate amount of douche bags all over the island in the peak of the summer, the “August” syndrome…
Is Ibiza just going through a slightly awkward period of evolution? Do you think that the youngsters really care about all the changes that are going on behind the scenes, as they aren’t necessarily seeing them like workers, DJs or Ibiza residents do?
Why should they? They are young, carefree, on holiday and here to have fun. As long as they have the ability to do that, they should be happy. If young people are working and living here, the cost of living is now the major problem, there was also a period in the mid-nineties where Ibiza was pretty lame compared to other times but in a different way. I feel that this year has not been a vintage year, but I imagine for youngsters they will have had a great time!
You came up with some killer quotes in a bit of an FB rant last week, my favourite being “The pie has been eaten – everyone wanted a piece – and I mean everyone” would you care to elaborate on that for us a bit more?
Well that particular comment was really referring to the fact that the overkill of places offering the same night / experience, combined with the imbalance of supply and demand when it comes to property rentals, has meant that there is an underlying feeling of unrest in general, and frustration – for many people. Everyone just plays everywhere now – and what used to be one special night a week musically, is being repeated all week long in a lot of places. Overkill.
I know it was a few weeks ago now, but can I still ask you about Notting Hill Carnival, as you played for the Sancho Panza sound system, which sadly stopped running, due to the school where the sound system was being redeveloped. There was the usual scare mongering stories in the press following this year’s Carnival, but do you think there is any way to improve Carnival?
No. I don’t think there is a way to improve the Notting Hill carnival. They would have worked it out by now if there was. Clearly a huge police presence and CCTV everywhere isn’t going to stop people getting stabbed. It would all be fine if there were less aggressive people coming there, which for the most part there are, but it doesn’t take many people to spoil a party.
Do you think Sancho Panza will ever be back, but at a different space? I sure do miss that and Norman Jay’s Good Times. Middle and Southern Row were great places to hang and soak up the carnival vibes.
Honestly, I’m biased, but the rest of carnival was just a mission for us to wade through to get to Good Times and Sancho, and it really didn’t get much better than that. I am getting Goosebumps thinking about it, if a space came up that would work they would be mad not to take it, but the original Sancho was just the best.
You said in an interview many moons ago “I wouldn’t start a nightclub. I’ve seen my friends do it and it looks like far too much stress” and since then the list of influential clubs that have gone in London has been longer than Ron Jeremy’s you know what. Do we need more people to face those stresses and attempt to open some new venues? Or do you think it’ll just go raw and underground like the illegal rave days?
There are simply too many rules now. Not just for clubs, but for all areas of the city, from parking to drinking, smoking, everything… but in a city like London, there are always new things opening, the illegal raves were amazing, but none of them bar a couple were really in London – not the big ones. Warehouse parties yes – but it’s a lot harder to get away with it now, the police have miles more power.
Can I get a few words from you on the Fabric situation? Total stitch up job in your opinion?
It’s not the first time the club has been in trouble is it? I have no idea how it all works behind the scene, but I imagine that as a nightclub in London you only get a small number of chances before the authorities decide they have had enough, and want you shut down. 6 people dead since 2011 is very serious, no matter what we all want for the club and for our music scene.
You seem to write your thoughts on subjects on social media, do you feel this is a form of catharsis for you and would you ever consider writing for a dance music publication even?
I have friends that have unsubscribed to my posts or deleted me, or switched me off, because sometimes they think it’ s too deep, or intense but I am often interested in what other people think about what I am sharing about. Recently I realised this can backfire very quickly – and I don’t really want to be the annoying guy that pisses everyone off, but for me Facebook should be used for fun, for taking the piss, and for serious stuff too. Its open platform social networking – if you don’t like it – switch it off. If you do like it – share it! I would consider writing for a dance music publication, if they ever wanted my opinionated rants!
Let’s get off the heavy stuff and ask you about a potential Todd Terry collaboration, now that sounds very interesting indeed. How would you both go around working on that?
Well we haven’t got that far yet. It was a quick chat in passing, but I am thinking the best way would be to bounce stems and ideas to each other, and see it develop. I’ve been working alone for the last 4 years in the studio, and he is a legend, so I may be too nervous to work together…lol.
I also see that you are a fellow De La Soul fan and have been enjoying their latest crowdfunded album. Would you enjoy doing something like that, a crowdfunded Bushwacka! album perhaps? What would your ‘rewards’ be for the bigger investors? De La Soul gave away a gold disc, dinner dates, trainers and more.
I have just been made aware of the fact that it was crowdfunded. I had no idea. I think it’s a great idea. I’ m embarking on a new album as we speak, so I should look into this. Will you help me?! p.s. I’ m listening to De La Soul right now!
01// Jeahmon – Muschimagnet (Los Suruba remix)
02// Loco Dice – You Shine (Just Be’s in the keys Remix)
03// The Sound of the Suburbs – I Won’t Stop
04// Chez Damier – Unauthorized
05// Hardhead – Demon Dreams
06// Andre Butano and Miguel Lobo – Sizzurp Overdose
07// Scottie Deep – Brooklyn Beats
08// Kima – Kima
09// Butch – Rawhide
10// Ricardo Villalobos – Hansup
11// Doubting Thomas – Indubitablement
12// Mr Fingers – Gwazars