Area Recordings x Niteshadeinc.com - Guest mix and interview @ www.niteshade.com by Be-1ne
Hi Be-1ne and welcome to Niteshade Inc Can you let us know who you are and where you're from?
Hello there my name is Benjamin Ewins. I only recall a hand full of people ever calling me Benjamin, none of them my actual family, LOL. I come from Birmingham, which is slap bang in the middle of the UK. Imagine an over sized village with a big brass bull and a huge glass domed shopping centre and you probably get a pretty good picture of the place.
What do you do? And why do you do it?
I do many things ranging from sleeping (although it often feels not quiet enough) through to producing and running a label, along with a plethora of other bits and bobs in between. Much of what I do is based in some way around connecting with, and helping others hoping to have in some way shape or form a positive impact on their lives. Whether this be teaching someone how to program a beat or helping someone understand a situation they are going through in their life at that point in time. I have no idea why I do these things, it just all seems like some kind of natural progression to my life.
Where did the names Be-1ne and Area recordings come from and what do they mean?
The name Be-1ne originally came from wanting to find a DJ name. I used to be into dj battles and scratching so wanted something to represent me. I originally wrote it Be-1n, but later added the ‘E’ as I felt it was more legible. Ironically its not, especially for many of the DJ’s on Rinse.FM who don’t actually know me. haha. Aside from this I wanted a name that had a zen like quality to it, like being at one with music, plus I’ve used the name for nearly 15 years so seems daft to change it. I guess in a similar way the name for Area Recordings came about through trying to find something that would represent the music I liked, and look to release through the label. If you listen to the music on the mix it has a very airy atmospheric quality to it. So I try to find music, which I feel is rather unique for the label but also fits in with the ideals of space within the sounds. I feel the name matches the music and hopefully it will come to represent this to others and create a seal of quality with the music I release.
Where do you draw influences from when making music?
The music making process for me rarely starts with a predefined idea or direction until a shape is beginning to form itself. Once I’ve put together a few sounds and have a basic rhythm track going I get a sense of where I feel that piece would / should / could fit into a DJ set. I then develop a vision of a point in a night where the track could fit and then try and develop it into its own little version of an 8 hour rave. I guess if I look back through my own experience of going out, I always enjoyed just sitting round and listening to the music being played. This I found was often part of the magical journey as you could just relax and get, quiet literally, lost in music. I mean I used to go to ambient nights, house nights, d&b nights, hip hop, funk, soul, techno… so my exposure and appreciation is really quiet wide and I think whether consciously or sub-consciously this plays a big part in my music.
Downloads or vinyl?
My first love is always vinyl. It was what I was exposed to at a young age in terms of music, and I’ve always had a big fascination with records. Even today with a relatively good understanding of how music is made and the processes you go through to have that finished piece of vinyl. I still find that sound coming off that plastic disc through the speakers magical. Yet saying this I do see the advantages and disadvantages of each format. MP3 downloads are easily accessible, and allow you to access a vast array of music for a relatively cheap price. However I find them way to disposable. I mean I could go online buy a sets worth of tunes for roughly £10. I could finish the set and delete the tunes and it wouldn’t matter as I would usually forget about them or forget what they are called. With a piece of vinyl, your not going to buy loads of pieces that don’t have some kind of value to you, and because of this you will have more choice pieces of music. I can honestly say out of all of the records I’ve bought in the last “cough” years ;) LOL. I have very few I look at and think, why the hell have I got this. Because virtually all the records have some kind of story behind them, either the journey to the store or the banter with the assistant or being at a specific point in your life. I work with a lot of younger guys through my job, and many of them are saying what Ive said above, and are selling their digital equipment, which is what they grew up with, to buy technics and start buying vinyl. So I think there is a definite cultural shift on the way.
At what point did you decided to start releasing your music on vinyl and why?
From when I was little and interested in music I always dreamt of what it would be like to perform, once I had achieved that I almost stumbled across featuring on a few records. I guess at this point the bug for wanting to have my own name on a record bit me. I knew when the time was right that it would come together in quiet a natural way. It was around a year ago that I had built up a collection of material and began thinking what I could do with it. I never really had the motivation to send out my music and it felt much more natural to pursue this path on my own. The definite tipping point was hearing a few tunes Lysergene had made and realising no one would probably put them out so he was a catalyst in me sorting the label out. The main reasons behind starting a vinyl label was what I felt was a lack of music in the style I wanted to buy in the format I wanted to buy it, i.e. (I hate to say it) Deep Dubstep. So it was a case of get bored and move onto something new or try and add to that specific part of the scene. The label was always going to be one which had physical product as to me it would feel wrong trying to pass Area off as a label and the only releases were digital. I did experiment by releasing ARE002 as a download only single, but it never really sat right with me, so I would rather wait a little longer if need be, between releases to make sure they are on a physical format.
What is your opinion of the current state of dance music in the uk and the rest of the world?
I think dance music is in a very strange place. It has evolved from being a really underground culture to very commercialised across a wide range of genres. But amongst all of this you still have your underground aspects. I feel this year has been strong for releases across the board, but maybe not so great for a specific style or genre. House has come back in a big way, and I guess this reflects either a dissatisfaction with one genre so people move to another or people are just sheep and because one magazine / blog says house is new and now, so everyone follows the trend.. I think for dubstep it is reaching a sort of plateau. It feels like it is almost returning back to its origins but in a more advanced form. Obviously technology and understanding of production has progressed, so the music has evolved along with this. But I think it will go the way of drum and bass whereby there is an active underground scene that will bubble away under the radar gaining new followers as people discover it, but having a firm idea of what it is about, beats, bass, soul and a 140 tempo.
Doctor P or Kryptic Minds?
I think it’s quiet easy to hear which camp I fall into, however, there is a place for both. As much as I may not like the more noisy styles of the dubstep scene, what I actually don’t like is poorly produced music. I feel one of the main downfalls of the scene as we know it, is people making music and having the access to just put it out into the world with no quality control. I think they have both done good things for the scene. Kryptic Minds really raised the bar production wise, and this pushed a lot of people to up the quality of their music. It’s like the sound went from bedroom producer to audiophile over night (I know that is over simplification). I guess similar to the impact, in my opinion that Ed Rush and Optical had on the Drum and Bass scene back in the late 90’s. But if you look at Doctor P, he has opened the scene up to a new audience, and has now started to change his sound to be more as they say “deep”, to a point where In a thread on dubstep forum someone asked if a new producer was using the same name.
Who is supporting your music at the moment?
Haha good question. For anyone reading this who has not heard of me or Area Recordings there is a simple reason and answer. I give hardly anyone any music to play. The reason for this is because I don’t want the releases to be presented firstly in an unfinished state, and secondly I want the music released to be as fresh as possible to everyone hearing it. So to add some context, the music gets played by people who I have developed a close trusting relationship with over a long period of time. These are: DJ Crises (Rinse FM), Fused Forces (Force FM) 3rdeye, who is represented by ‘this way up” DJ agency down in Australia and a few of the artists I have dealings with. No more than 10 people get a pre-release. In the case of the latest release, the B-side “illusion” was completed 2 days before mastering. Once mastered, finished digital masters go out to the gang, then 6 - 8 weeks later the vinyl is in the shop. So instead of waiting 1 year plus for a dub to come out, the release comes out and is virtually brand new for everyone. I have found that people who have discovered what I am doing through either seeing me DJ or buying the releases are very supportive and passionate about what I’m doing, and what the label is about. So to those who know and have shown support. Thanks.
What are we to expect from you in the future?
Providing all goes ok I have a few releases Scheduled throughout next year. I have an Area Recordings compilation album 80% ready to roll. Along with a few 12” singles. Most of the music will be pretty fresh upon its release. Aside from that I personally have my “Substep Infrabass – Monotonium” remix, that is featured on the mix, coming out early next year on Apparition recordings. I have a track on Forensics ‘Lost’ compilation called “Lurking in the undergrowth” which is coming out in January on his Methodology recordings. I have a track called “Caplet” scheduled for inclusion on DJ Crises' Mindstep compilation which is also due early next year. I also have plans to do a project with Fused Forces, which I think is long over due and try to raise the profile of the label and the artists I work with. I would also really like to play out more. Having not been that bothered for the last few years I have gotten the bug again, plus a bag full of dubplates!
Respect out to Niteshadeinc. Fantastic blog and some great artwork on there.
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For the latest info on the label check out: www.arearecordings.com