Rebecca Ferguson is not the same shy person who first graced our screens on X-Factor in 2010. The sell out tours around the world and the million plus sales of her first album Heaven have seen the Liverpudlian grow up quickly. A whirl wind three years have taken her from one of the UK’s hidden talents to one of the most recognisable voices in pop music today. With her new album Freedom around the corner, and current single ‘I Hope’ gracing the airwaves, we went to see Rebecca, to discuss what fan’s can expect from her sophomore effort.
It’s been almost two years since your debut album, how have you evolved as an artist in the last two years?
I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin, I’m not as scared to be imperfect now. That’s what I wrote Freedom about. It’s about strength and not being a victim of what people want you to be.
Was this a record you felt like you had to make?
Yeah, I feel like I was going through a pretty crazy time in my life, and I felt like I needed to express it and put it into the music. I feel like I had to get it out. It does sound quite cheesy when you’re explaining your music but I did feel like I needed to be creative with it and rather than being negative with it, turn it into a positive.
Is this a record that you feel will help people in the same situation?
It is, I feel like it’s one of those albums that if you’re going through the mill you can play and it will uplift you and make you feel like you can carry on.
And the first single ‘I Hope’ is the personification of that?
Yes. It’s about forgiveness, happiness, positivity, not being bitter, not holding onto grudges and just getting on with your life.
What else can we expect from the new album?
I think this album is feistier than the last album. I feel like it’s a lot more modern and honest.
What was working with John Legend like?
You know what I didn’t actually get to be in the room with him! But to get to sing with him on the track was amazing and I put my heart and soul into it. Because it was a personal song to him I wanted to make sure my vocal came across as emotional as it could be.
Has the success of the first album put any pressure on you for this album?
No, well, I suppose a little bit, but I just think, fresh start. The first album did do really well and I feel really lucky in that sense, but I feel like it’s a fresh start and I feel more confident than before.
And you’ve written the songs on this album?
I write all my songs, from the minute I get into the studio; I give them the lyrics, the top line and help them produce as well. So I’m involved in all of it. For me it’s important. If you can’t write, you can’t write. If you can just sing, that’s your talent and that’s fine but I think if you can write you should write ‘cause you’ll give away more of yourself.
What’s the plan for 2014?
I’m going to be on tour. I’m in China in January. I’m in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and hopefully America. Nice and busy!
What was the last thing you Shazamed?
To be honest I don’t know what it was because I was too slow with the phone. We were doing it to a van next to us and he drove off. It was quite funny ‘cause an angry ex had obviously written something in the dirt on the back of his van but I won’t repeat what it said!
Shazam would like to thank Rebecca and her team for their time. You can watch the video for her current single ‘I Hope’ above. Her new album Freedom is released on 2nd December.
After crashing into the UK Top Ten earlier this year with his track ‘Jack’ Ben Westbeech aka Breach has opened himself up to a whole new audience. We caught up with him to ask him about his musical influences, his decision to move to Amsterdam & to find out what was the last track he Shazamed.
For those who might not know you can you give us a brief description of yourself and your music?
My name is Ben Westbeech and I’m a producer & singer who also goes under the name Breach. I make underground House music and also DJ whilst running my own record label called ‘Naked Naked’. I have released music via labels such as Aus Music, Dirtybird, Pets Recordings, Brownswood and Strictly Rhythm. I’ve been doing this for around 10-12 years now, something like that.
Which artists influenced you growing up?
Who’s influenced me? I’d say Chuck Berry, Kurt Cobain, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone & Stevie Wonder people like that.
You’ve had quite a long, varied career in music. How did you first start out making music?
When I was a kid I got turntables when I was 12. I got into playing Rave & Hardcore and then when I was a bit older started going out to Raves myself. I then moved to Bristol when I was 20 and I released my first record on Gilles Peterson’s label Brownswood Recordings called ‘Welcome To The Best Years Of Your Life’. I stayed in Bristol making tunes with various people but after around 3 years I moved to London where I made a record with Strictly Rhythm called ‘There’s More -To- Life Than This’ and currently I’m making music under the name Breach.
Do you have any plans to do more music as Ben Westbeech?
Yeah sure, when the time is right you know? I’m just enjoying making music as Breach at the moment.
What made you want to put down the mic & start producing & DJing under the moniker Breach?
I never actually wanted to be a singer, I know that sounds weird but I just never wanted to do it that much and it just kind of happened. I’ve always made beats and I’ve always wanted to be a DJ and a producer. That was my goal in life so I made the decision to make that move. I still sing on people’s records, I’ve just featured on Deetron’s new album which came out recently and I still do bits & bobs such as song writing for other artists but I think you’re going to have to wait a couple of years until another Ben Westbeech album. Breach is going really well so I just want to concentrate on that for a bit.
Were you surprised by the chart success of your track ‘Jack’?
Yeah it came completely out of the blue; I didn’t see it coming at all. It’s been quite a strange experience but it has been really cool. I just make music that I like; it wasn’t like I thought ‘I’m going to make a top ten record” it was an underground track that then crossed over. When that happens some of the stuff that occurs is cool but there’s another side of it that I’m kind of trying to shy away from because I’m not that sort of artist.
There seems to be a lot of underground Dance music crossing over into the charts these days. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s a generation thing. All these kids that have grown up around Drum & Bass, Garage & House music are now listening to stuff at the moment which is an amalgamation of all these different styles. UK producers and House producers seem to be merging a lot of these sounds together at the moment, younger people are tapping into this and even older people who were raving 10-15 years ago can hear certain elements of the stuff they used to listen to.
You recently moved from London to Amsterdam. What was the decision behind that move and do you think it has changed your approach to music in any way?
Moving to Amsterdam was a creative move for me, I wanted to go somewhere different. I wanted to go somewhere where I was relatively unknown and it has been a humbling experience. There’s a lot more Techno & Deep House music over here and I’m immersing myself in that, going record shopping because there are some great record shops to go digging in. I’ve also just got a studio space which I’m really excited about. Even just hanging around and getting snippets of people’s musical knowledge and learning from it. In London I’d been in the studio for years and I knew a lot of people there and it became a little bit tiring so I wanted to find a new approach to music and moving here has definitely done that which is great.
What is the music scene like in Amsterdam?
It’s amazing, there is a lot of great clubs such as Trouw, Studio 80 & Chicago Social Club who all put on amazing artists, DJs and obviously a lot of live music. You’ve got venues like the Paradiso which are really important places for people to play. Prince came over and did an unannounced gig around 2 or 3 weeks ago and it was insane, most artists will pass through Amsterdam. Amsterdam also has a great Hip-Hop scene and obviously the House & Techno scene is massive and that’s the kind of music I love.
Your new DJ Kicks compilation is out on the 11th of November. What does it mean to you to be selected to provide this mix & what was the selection process for the tracks you included?
It was an honour to be asked to do a DJ Kicks, it’s a compilation series I’ve grown up with so it’s very important to me personally. I had a really short timeline to get it together because they needed it done really quickly. I found it a bit rushed because I’ve been touring so much recently which I found quite hard if I’m honest because you have to go through a licensing process and a lot of vinyl only tracks are quite hard to license because people don’t want to give that kind of stuff away where it can be downloaded digitally. It’s a hard process because you have to clear all the songs before you can even start the mix and you’re sat around waiting to hear about the tracks that you really want to include in the mix. I did a lot of record shopping in the weeks before putting it together to find old tracks from my past that have been important to me. It’s a representation of myself musically from that period in time, everyone’s style changes and develops over time and it’s like a snippet into your life if that makes sense?
You have collaborated quite a lot with other artists during your career. Are there any producers or artists that you are currently working with or hoping to work with in the future?
I’m just about to work with DJ Sneak when he comes over for ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event 2013) and I’ve been wanting to make a tune with him for a while. You know what I’m enjoying doing my own thing, I’ve got plans to release some music for Aus Music so I’m going to start working on that next week when I move into my studio. I just want to make Breach tracks for a while as I’ve not been able to make an original Breach record for a while so I just want to get back into that process.
You’ve also got a track featuring Andreya Triana coming out called ‘Everything You Never Had (We Had It All). What is it like producing and working with other vocalists?
I find it quite easy after being a singer myself because I think it gives you more of an insight into how to record vocalists in a studio environment and how to write songs. It was pretty easy working with Andreya because she is very talented, she came over to Amsterdam and we recorded the vocals. It was nice to just hang out, we went for a little BBQ in the park and I made her ride a bike which she was terrible at but she is a dope singer and it was a pleasure to work with her.
You have released tracks from producers such as Midland, Dusky and Dark Sky via your label ‘Naked Naked’. How do you choose which tracks to release and are there any forthcoming releases which we should be looking out for on your label?
The kind of music I look for has to have a dance floor & an emotional element to it. I like music that can move people and it’s the juxtaposition of happy and sad moods that I want to get.
We’ve released an EP by Mak & Pasteman called ‘Brown Bread’ which is about to drop and I’ve also just signed a really interesting artist from Brighton called Lorca who I’m in the process of finalising a deal with at the moment. He’s got two really amazing tunes which I’m hoping to release around December or January.
What has been your track of 2013?
Christ, there has been so many of them… There was a remix of ‘Jack’ done by Route 94 which never came out but is always big in my sets, that’s been a massive tune for me this year. Trevino’s ‘Tracer’ has also been another one and also a track called ‘I’m Not Into It’ by Shift K3Y which isn’t out yet but you should definitely look out for that one.
Which current artists or producers are you feeling at the moment and who your tips for success in 2013/2014?
There’s these guys from Wales called ‘Organ Grinder’ who I’m pushing a lot because the music they are sending me is just really, really good. I think Lorca is going to big next year as well as Lil Silva. Lil Silva did a really interesting remix of ‘Storm Queen’ which I like.
How do you discover & listen to new music?
I get the main bulk of my music sent to me but I also do a lot of vinyl shopping in places like Rush Hour and Waxwell Records in Amsterdam. ‘What People Play’ is also a great website which I tend to use. I listen to a little bit of radio but I don’t have a great deal of time to sit down to listen to a whole radio show. LeFtO does a really good show, he’s a Belgian DJ & Radio presenter. I also listen to Gilles Peterson’s show on Saturday’s when I have time and check out Annie Mac’s show to see what’s going on there too.
Do you use Shazam?
I use Shazam all the time, I love it. I find so many good tunes using Shazam.
What was the last track you Shazamed?
The last track I Shazamed was the Carl Craig remix of System 7 & A Guy Called Gerald – Positive Noise
What are your plans for the rest of 2013 & 2014?
I’m going to concentrate on this EP for Aus Music over the next month or two and then hopefully work with some more artists next year. There is talk of me maybe producing a band from the north of England next year because I want to move a little bit more into that area. I’m at the time in my life where I feel like I could produce a band and this opportunity sounds really interesting to me. I’d like to make a record like ‘Screamadelica’ by Primal Scream I think what Andrew Weatherall did with that record was insane so I’d like to tap into that kind of vibe.
Breach’s latest single – ‘Everything You Never Had (We Had It All) is out via Ninja Tune/Atlantic Records on November 10th, pre-order here - https://itunes.apple.com/gb/
Watch the video below
Well of course firstly we have to say well done on the UK number 1! What did you do to celebrate the announcement?
Aino: Well first of all thank you very much! We are very happy about it, it is such a dream come true.
Caroline: It was a little bit too good to be true to be honest. We were screaming out loud when we first heard that we were number one!
A: We haven’t actually had the chance to celebrate yet – we are trying to arrange something with Charli but it’s hard because we are travelling all around the world at the moment so it’s hard to sync with each other but we are going to celebrate very soon. I don’t know how yet but definitely with a lot of champagne!
You reunited with co-writer Charli XCX to perform the song together at SXSW, do you have any further plans to write together?
C: We think she is such a cool girl and she’s amazing and we would love to do something in the future, so if we both have time and we feel like the time is right it might happen again. She’s really really talented.
A lot of people discovered the track after it featured on Girls. Are you both fans of the show?
C: Yes! We used to stream it online when we were living in London and we were like “A new episode is out!” We actually tweeted them when we were in London and said “We love your show please listen to our music!” so it’s kind of funny that one year later they used our song.
A: Yeah we love Girls, it’s one of my favourite series definitely, so we are proud. I love that Lena Dunham is a woman doing what she’s doing, just kicking ass. I think it’s a girl power thing.
Your new single Girlfriend borrows lyrics from 2Pac’s ‘Me And My Girlfriend’. How has the feedback been so far? Any strong reactions from his fans?
C: He’s referring to his guns but we are singing about our friendship and what we are going through. We actually sent a letter to his mum asking for her permission to use the line, and she answered and liked it and said yes so that was kind of cool.
A: No negative reactions, it’s been very good so far. I think it’s a fun thing because we grew up in the 90’s and I grew up hip hop music and Tupac was one of our heroes.
Who would win in an ‘8 Mile’ style rap battle between the two of you?
C: Ooh it would depend on which situation and which topic I guess. But I think we need to try that actually!
A: I think we would do it in different ways. I would have the better flow but Caroline would have more to say.
We saw you’ve recently finished the video for the song, could you tell us about it?
A: We went out into LA and just had a fun time with some amazing people. We want to show people how beautiful a friendship can be and how important it is.
C: When we were shooting it we were doing stunts, jumping around on a train and train hopping. It’s just us two on the road, kind of symbolising that all we need to do what we do and to survive is each other, and that’s sort of how it’s been since we met. We have been out in the world without a home or anything, so we call each other home.
You’re on tour solidly for the next few months, what’s your favourite city to play in?
A: We love New York, London has been amazing and LA, all of the big cities. Milwaukee is a small city in America but that was awesome. It’s always different but I would say New York because we have a big fan base there.
C: We are just so excited to go to all the places that we haven’t visited yet. Because when we started going to the US we of course went to New York and LA, but it’s been so much fun to realise that there is so much more, so I think we will have to see about that one, we are just so excited about the whole tour to be honest.
Are you writing on tour? When can we expect some more new music?
C: We are constantly writing – you get inspired by where you are on tour, who you meet, what you are going through in your life… you get inspired by so much stuff so of course you keep developing and so does the sound.
A: I think it’s very relaxing. Travelling gives you a lot of ideas so you have a lot to tell, and there’s a lot of waiting between trains and flights so you need to fill the time! As for new music we are releasing our album in the UK in October.
C: On the new album you’ll still hear the bittersweet melodies but I think you’ll get to know more sides to Icona Pop as well. There will of course be the punkiness and the funky feeling inside the songs and the party mode but also something a little bit slower, more emotional.
What upcoming Swedish artists should be on our radar?
C: I can recommend two friends of ours. The first girl is called Tove Lo, she has been working with us on our album. She’s an amazing writer and artist and she’s super cool. We believe in her strongly. Then our other friend is Rosanna and she is with a band called Kids. She got the band together with Charles from White Lies and it has a bit of a crowd-rocking feeling to it. It’s very very good, we saw them at their first show at SXSW and I was proud like a stage mom, like “This is so good!”
Finally, what are the last songs you both Shazamed?
C: I think it was when we were in Berlin and it was Quakers with ‘Fitta Happier.’
A: The last thing I Shazamed was ‘Working Woman’ by Valerie June.
This Is… Icona Pop is out on October 7th preceded by their new single ‘Girlfriend’ on September 23rd. Pre-order the album now!
2006 UK Xfactor winner Leona Lewis returns with her brand new album titled ‘Glassheart’. The album comes after some 20 Million sales generated from her first two albums, Spirit and Echo. The lead single, titled ‘Trouble’, was produced by Fraser T Smith & Naughty Boy. ‘Trouble’ tells the story of a relationship going bad – which becomes destructive to someone’s life. A stylish cameo rap from up and coming US rapper Childish Gambino adds fuel to the fire.
The video for ‘Trouble’ has a feature from Teen Wolf star, Colin Haynes.
Going back to where it all started, Leona recently performed ‘Trouble’ on the stage of Xfactor UK. With ‘Lovebird’ set to follow ‘Trouble’ as the next single and a UK tour set for Spring 2013, it’s safe to say Leona’s ‘Glassheart’ won’t be getting shattered and halted anytime soon.
We caught up with her recently in London. See the exclusive Shazam interview below:
Last week we caught up with Of Monsters & Men, who have been one of the year’s biggest success stories. After forming just two years ago, the Icelandic sextet won their local battle of the bands contest and have had a steady rise to global fame since. Their debut single ‘Little Talks’ has sold a million copies in the US alone, as well as hitting the top 5 in over five countries.
The band have also announced a string of – now sold out – shows across the US later this year, as well as selling out three nights in London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Not bad for a band still only touring their first album. We spoke to bassist Kiddi about their forthcoming shows, being compared to Arcade Fire and when they plan to fit in recording their next album.
With the meteoric rise of the Dubstep sound in recent years we thought it was only right to catch up with one of the pioneers of the genre who were there during it’s initial beginnings. Caspa is a DJ, producer and record label manager known for his innovation and involvement within the UK’s thriving underground music scene. We caught up with Caspa to talk about his latest single War which features none other than The Prodigy’s Keith Flint . We got to find out what it was like working with the Prodigy front man, his forthcoming second album and how he finds time to DJ, produce, manage two record labels and also have a life.
Can you give us a brief description of yourself and your music?
I’m a white guy who lives in Fulham; I’m five foot nine and….. Dubstep (Laughs)
You first got into music after your sporting career was cut short. What was it that made you turn to music?
Well music has always been a passion of mine, it’s in my family. My dad’s a record collector so I’ve always had music in the household. I think that music is a passion for everyone deep down so it was logical when I couldn’t play sport anymore, I had to think “what do I love most after sport”… and it was music. The stuff I loved was the underground kind of music and then I came across Dubstep when it wasn’t even known as Dubstep. I latched on to that sound and just rolled with it.
Which artists have influenced you to make the music you make today?
I listened to a lot of Hip-Hop because my brother was a scratch DJ and record collector, so I listened to stuff like early Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep and Gangstarr. All of that was killer for me, I loved it. I loved the west coast Hip-Hop sound as well such as all the Death Row records stuff like Snoop and Dre. When I was at school all I used to listen to were Jungle tape packs that I got from the older guys at school, stuff like DJ Brockie. So I grew up around a lot of Jungle and Hip-Hop and my dad was really into Punk so it was a mash up of everything really.
Your latest single ‘War’ features Keith Flint from the Prodigy on vocals. What was he like to work with and how did that collaboration come about?
He is amazing to work with and really forward thinking, he liked my ideas and was really supportive with everything. If I wasn’t sure about something and I asked him if he thought it was alright he’d say “Yeah that’s cool let’s run with it” and that was really refreshing to get that response from someone of that calibre. I hooked up with him through my manager Nick who does A&R and a bit of management for The Prodigy. Keith is into his Dubstep so I sent him over a few of my tunes and he liked them so he wrote a vocal to some of the tracks and then I asked if he could write something new for one of the tracks. It took a while to get together but when it did it really took off and he loved it, so the rest is history as they say.
Are there any plans for another full length album from you in the near future?
The next thing for me is obviously the single then I’ve got a mix compilation that I’m doing for New State which is going to be a more underground bass compilation rather than the mainstream Dubstep you hear, so it’s going to reflect the kind of style that I play. I didn’t want to do a typical compilation where it’s just filled with all the hits you hear on the radio, so I’m really excited for that to get released. That should be coming out around the end of August. Hopefully then my second single should be coming out around October and then the album will be coming shortly after that. It’s definitely in the pipeline as it is pretty much finished but I think there is always room for improvement.
Are there any other producers or artists that you are currently working with or hoping to work with in the future?
Off the back of ‘War’ I’ve had a lot of people asking to collaborate. I’d like to do something with Mr. Hudson again but maybe do something a bit darker with him. I’d like to work with some people in America, like some Hip-Hop artists and I’ve always wanted to work with Adele. I think she’s just got an unbelievable talent and she reminds me of a good London girl, someone that I could just vibe with because I think we’d be on the same type of level. I’m working with a couple of producers like Subscape and Trolley Snatcha. Trolley Snatcha actually helped me out on ‘War’ and he’s a really talented producer. I want to try and keep it close to home I don’t want to really work with any Pop artists, I want to make music that I’m happy with. Banging, underground music.
As well as producing your own music you also run two record labels. Do you find it hard to find time to create music, have a life and manage two record labels?
It’s pretty tough but it’s such a passion for me I just love the job. When you’re DJing on weekends, playing new tunes from artists such as Subscape and testing them out can be great. In the week I’m usually writing music or heading down the office to sort through stuff like what we’re going to release next. To be honest with you it is a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. It does take up hours and hours of your time but because I love it so much it’s not really a job to me. I’m getting paid to do something I love so I never look at it as a bad thing.
Which artists or releases should we be looking out for that will be coming out on your labels?
Subscape is doing an elements EP focusing on wind, fire, water and earth and from July he’s going to be putting out a tune every month. For me Subscape is going to be the next big thing that comes out of Dubstep. I really think he’s going to be massive because he’s got some great music. Trolley Snatcha has got a new EP that will be coming out on my label Dub Police and a couple of remixes he’s been doing as well. We’ve also got a load of new guys that will be coming out that people would never have heard of before. There’s a guy called Filth Collins and another guy called Dirty Dog who’s on Dub Police who is another really talented producer. So we are trying to put out brand new stuff as well as the main guys. We also have a new album from one of our main artists ‘The Others’, their first single ‘The Way You Make Me Out’ is out at the end of July and then the album should be coming before the end of the year, so we’ve got lots going on.
What advice would you give to a young producer or someone who is looking to start their own label?
For a producer my advice would be to find something that you love in music, don’t just go out and try to copy other producers that’s the worst thing that you can do because you’re always going to sound like a watered down version of someone else. Try to find something in music you love and make that into your sound, bring your own style and that will make you stand out. For someone looking to start a record label I’d say don’t do it, it’s a pain in the arse, but if you really want to do it though putting out quality and not quantity is the main thing for me.
As one of the pioneers of Dubstep are you surprised by the cross over that the genre has had from the underground dance scene to the main stream?
I saw it happening a good three years ago it was just a case of who’s going to do it, with what tune and when. It was building up so much steam that it was eventually going to cross over. The Nero guys have done especially well over there, they’ve kept their sound but managed to cross over. It’s the same with people like Chase & Status. I’m not surprised at all and I think you’re going to see a lot more tunes cross over. I think soon half of the top twenty is going to be Dubstep if I’m honest, it’s a big movement at the moment especially in the USA. I’ve been playing in the US for around the past five years now and every time I go back it just gets crazier and crazier.
Which current artists or producers are you tipping for success in 2012?
My favourite producer would have to be Subscape because he’s young and he’s got so much good music around him, I think he’s just so talented and over the next six months he’s just going to blow up big time.
What are your plans for the rest of 2012
Obviously as I said before I’ve got the single ‘War’ then the Dubstep compilation and my own album coming out before the end of the year. I’m probably going to release another underground EP on Dub Police after the Summer, that would be cool to put another three track-er out of club tunes. Apart from that I’m going to be getting my head down DJing as much as I can and push the new music and artists on my labels. I’m getting so much good music from them all it would be nice to help push them through to a similar path that I’m on at the moment.
Caspa Feat. Keith Flint – War
Out 30th July 2012
Available on iTunes
After the release of his debut album – Diary Of An Afro Warrior. The man known as Benga has become the poster boy for the Dubstep scene. He is back with his latest single Icon and a forthcoming sophomore album. We managed to grab some time with the much sought-after producer to talk about the influence of Dubstep, his future plans with Magnetic Man , losing his laptop and of course his new album Chapter 2
How would you describe yourself to someone who might not have heard of you before?
I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet. I would say that I’m a black male who makes underground music and whether you like it or not it’s very popular (laughs). I dress very smartly a bit like an American rap star, I guess I’m going to have to leave it at that.
What past or current artists do you feel have influenced your sound?
The biggest things that have influenced me would be stuff like Prodigy and Nirvana, even things that go back to Michael Jackson’s Bad album. When I was between the age of ten and thirteen I also listened to a lot of Jungle because my brothers were MC’s. The key thing was the energy of the music that drove me to do what I do today.
A lot of pop music in the charts right now is heavily influenced by Dubstep. Do you think this goes against the whole ethos of Dubstep and how it started out in underground club nights such as FWD for example?
No because if you think about Dubstep no matter what people say it was all about innovating and moving things forward. I think if there’s one thing that does go against Dubstep, it’s the people who are making music that all sounds the same. Not the people who produce Pop records and make it sound different to what it used to sound like because that’s what Dubstep was all about in the first place, pushing things forward.
Are you surprised by the impact that Dubstep has had over in America?
I never expected Skrillex to win three Grammys. The shows we’ve been doing over there have had a steady kind of vibe. We’ve been playing out in America for around five years and I remember the first time we went out there I did a tour with Hatcha over in San Francisco and it was packed. It was probably a club filled with about five hundred people. Now five years on it’s all over the internet and everyone is talking about it. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Americans are late to the party but they’re at the point that we were at around maybe two or three years ago when everyone went out to find out what Dubstep was all about, and we were kind of like preachers. Whereas now we recently did a show in L.A to a crowd of ten thousand people and we played the biggest Dance stage at Coachella. So it’s been a steady growth.
There are a lot of British electronic artists who have been very successful in the states recently. Why do you think that is?
I believe it’s because electronic music is really pushing things forward. No matter where you’re from, you want something new in your life don’t you? From the people who have listened to Rap music all their life to the older generation who grew up when Rap and Hip-Hop began. The youth now want something to attach their generation to and it kind of seems to be Dubstep or some element of Electronic Dance music. They just don’t want the same old stuff anymore.
You had your first live solo show recently at Koko in London. How did that go?
It was amazing. Everyone who played and supported were just ridiculous, everybody was on top form. It’s really nice to have my team around me because it seems like everyone really knows what they’re doing and helping to push my project forward. To play at Koko was the pinnacle show that we’ve all been working towards and for it to go so well and the feeling that we all pulled it off, there was just feelings of relief and it was quite emotional. I wouldn’t normally bring my mum to my shows either but I brought her along and she had a nice time, and I had a good time too. I remember walking out on stage and just feeling so emotional I could have cried. Imagine if I cried on stage?
Looking at your Facebook page recently we noticed that you lost your laptop after your show at Koko. Have you managed to get it back?
You heard about that? Well actually I’m going to be getting it back later today. I was reading through my Facebook and my Twitter and I was reading some messages from some absolute idiots who were saying stuff like “I can’t wait to find your laptop so I can leak all of your tunes” and stuff like that. There were other messages from people being really genuine and saying that “We hope that you get it back; if you think positively you’ll get it back” so I’ve been thinking like that the whole time. So my manager rang me up and said “Guess what we’ve got” and I wasn’t sure what to expect him to say but he said “We’ve got your laptop”. I think I must have left it somewhere in Koko and luckily someone handed it in.
You tend to collaborate with other people such as your work with Skream as well as being a member of Magnetic Man. Was it a strange feeling to head out on tour by yourself?
I would say that if there’s one thing I’ve done over the past six months I’ve been really concentrating and put a lot of time and effort into everything I’ve done. Up until we did the sound check for the gig I was a little bit nervous and I was feeling paranoid about certain little things. Every time we rehearsed for this first show I would constantly be changing things, adding new music and elements to the show. It just meant that when we came to the actual show I didn’t feel as nervous but instead I just felt really focussed and really sure about what I was doing.
As we’re on the subject of your work with Skream and Magnetic Man, are there any plans in the pipeline to be working with them again in the near future?
One hundred percent; I do my radio show on Radio One with Skream every week on a Friday night, so even if I wanted to I couldn’t get away from him. I’m not trying to get away from him though if you know what I mean (laughs). We have got plans to do another Magnetic Man record and have planned to get a single out pretty soon, which means that by early next year hopefully we’ll have a new album. I don’t see why there’s no room for me, Skream or Artwork to do solo projects as well as the Magnetic Man project.
How is your radio show with Skream going? Does it take you back to your Pirate radio days?
There are some times when we wish it was a bit more like our Pirate Radio show but we’re always learning how to be professional and be proper presenters so it’s a new chapter in our lives. I remember the first time when we started doing legal radio at Radio One and we were just stuttering like mad, all we did was stutter we just couldn’t even get a word out. We used to sound like we were speaking in tongues but now we’re getting better at it.
So back to your solo stuff, you have just released your latest single Icon which features Bebe Black on vocals. How did that collaboration come about?
Bebe got signed by Mike Pickering and I’d already made the beat for Icon a while before she did the vocal for it. Basically Bebe got the beat from Mike Pickering and Mike is someone that I really respect. He sent me over the vocal version that Bebe had done and normally I find a problem with every track that I get sent back to me because I’m quite particular about all the vocals that I use on my tracks. There were only a few little changes that I wanted to make so we went in to the studio to do some recording and that was it, done. Now we have this single and we’re having a lovely time with it.
You’ve also got your second solo album coming out on the 27th of August. Can you tell us a little bit about this album and what we can expect from it?
The big theme about my album is that this album is about me evolving and taking it to the next level so that’s why I’ve called it Chapter 2. My first album was called Diary of an Afro Warrior and now that I’ve done this record there seems to be so many moments where it feels so different and so futuristic, it just makes me so proud to have done it. The key thing is that now I’m doing this record with a major label, twenty five million more people are going to hear it.
So do you feel the pressure then?
No I don’t really feel pressure anymore. It’s just that so many more people are going to be hearing some of my best work; it’s more exciting than anything else.
Are there any other producers or artists that you are currently working with or hoping to work with in the future?
I want to get back in the studio with Katy B so we can see what we can come up with, but then I’d also like to do some work with A$AP Rocky. You know who I’d really like to work with? I’d really like to do something with Kanye because I feel like we’d get some good s**t out. So if anyone from Kanye’s label or team reads this they know that I’m the guy to work with.
If there’s one person you could work with who you haven’t already who would it be?
If there’s someone who I’d like to work with who isn’t around or doesn’t do music anymore it would have to be Michael Jackson. I know you’ve probably had that answer about a million times but Michael Jackson was a legend. Imagine Michael Jackson over my music?
What current artists are you tipping for success in 2012?
I would say for me it would have to be Disclosure. I think Disclosure are going to smash it because their sound is very different. The thing I like about them is that it’s not all production, scientist based music. It’s more musical and creatively based and that’s what I absolutely love.
What does the rest of 2012 have in store for Benga?
Well my album’s going to be coming out so I’m going to have to hide for a week while people try and stone me (laughs) or go mental or love it, whatever they want to do. After that I want to perform my live show as much as possible because I want people to see what it consists of. People have seen me DJ before but this live show just brings a whole new dimension to my musical history.
Still buzzing from her no.1 smash collaboration with DJ Fresh, Rita Ora came by the Shazam office to let us know what she’s been up to. Discovered by none other than Jay Z, who signed her to his label Roc Nation, Rita Ora is now preparing to release her debut album. Her single ‘R.I.P’, featuring Tinie Tempah, is sitting pretty at the top of the Shazam New Release Chart UK – meaning big things are now in her sights! Watch the exclusive Shazam interview below
Fresh from his first performance at SXSW, In demand Rapper A$AP Rocky took time out from his busy London schedule to briefly chat with shazam. Given a ten minute slot at the end of a day which the rapper probably spent doing a bulk of Q & A’s, We managed to talk to A$AP about his label deal with Sony, Upcoming “Sure to be a hit” titled Big Spender with Theophilus London plus more. Watch the exclusive Shazam video below. (Please be aware that there’s some bad language, viewer discretion is advised)
We recently spoke with one of the hottest emerging producers in UK dance music right now. After catching our ear with some nifty remix work for the likes of Lana Del Rey, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding, 2012 is already shaping up to be another busy year for Jakwob.
His recent single ‘Electrify’ picked up wide plaudits, including Zane Lowe and now all eyes are on the producer’s next move. Curious to find out more about his debut album, future collaborations and that sample at the start of the ‘Electrify’, we caught up with the man himself; who also revealed how he uses Shazam to discover new tracks.
Your latest single Electrify is out now, it’s undoubtedly a positive and uplifting track. What influenced it?
A lot of things really, there was a lot of vibing in the studio. It’s quite traditionally dance really, but to be honest we just wanted to put down what we were feeling in the studio, so some pretty energetic sounds, beats and samples. My only fear was that I didn’t want to start off too deep, so yeah; it’s a pretty uplifting dance track.
Zane Lowe announced it as a ‘Hottest Record In The World’ at the tail end of last year, which is a great achievement. How was it having that support on the release?
Yeah, it’s pretty nuts! I get a lot of support from Zane and it was really nice to have that. He’s been there every step of the way so far with support and I really hope it carries on. A great start, yeah.
While the track has an undeniable nod to bass music, it also reference’s other genres of dance. Would it be fair to say you’re a fan of dance music as a whole?
It’s hard not to be influenced by stuff I’m listening to, when you’re out at parties and hearing new things. It’s definitely a mish mash of sounds in a lot of ways, for sure dance has been influencing me for years.
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