*Please note this interview was originally conducted for the fabricfirst newsletter and is being used here thanks to the kind co-operation of fabric.
The rise of the Hessle Audio label has been well documented with in depth feature pieces appearing, along side guest mixes, on Resident Advisor and to a lesser extent FACT magazine. But reading ‘words’ about the minimal strains of percussion fused dubstep the collective have released serves little justice for the wealth and seemingly extensive catalogue they’ve accumulated over 7 releases, to get a real feel for their output you have to listen to the music super loud, in a dark room, surrounded by bodies swaying rhythmically with the occasional enthusiastic whoop screaming out of somewhere in the void of bodies behind you.
Guided by Ramadanman, Pangaea and Ben UFO the collective formed up in Leeds (although none of them still reside there) and have so far released 7 records - including their own productions alongside works from Joe, TRG, Untold and remixes by Martyn - with the 8th set, Untold’s return to the label, to drop May 18th.
We spoke to Ben UFO ahead of the labels’ fabric Room 3 takeover on the 15th May where he will grace the booth alongside TRG, Untold and his fellow Hessle brethren core.
Sonic Router: Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
Ben UFO: My name is Ben UFO, I’m a DJ and I run Hessle Audio with Ramadanman and Pangaea. We founded the label in Leeds, but none of us currently live there. So far we’ve released seven dubstep records and we’re about to release our eighth.
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
Outside of music I’m just Ben... I finished my degree at Leeds University and am now floating around trying to pick a direction. Hessle Audio and music is my real focal point at the moment.
How did you get into DJing/dubstep/etc?
I got into DJing through listening to music and buying vinyl. I was buying vinyl for about a year before I got turntables, just because it was the only format around for the music I was listening to. I’d listen to the tunes on my Dad’s gramophone. As I was building up this collection it seemed like a logical step to learn to mix so I got some cheap turntables and tried to teach myself.
I was into old jungle and left of centre drum and bass primarily, but got into dubstep through hearing people like Toasty. The breaks driven side of dubstep was my access point.
Your sets are so scattered across genres, what do you think it is that unites the music in your sets? Do you look for tracks that weave well together or is it more of a challenge to MAKE them work?
It’s a bit of both. I think generally speaking UK dance music is a lot more flexible than people assume, and the way music has become so accessible recently makes it easier to establish sonic connections between scenes that are socially removed from each other.
I think dubstep progressed so quickly partially because so many of the DJs who’ve been in it from the beginning were really focused and single minded in their vision for music, and after hearing those kind of sets for so long it’s natural for people to think of the music as this totally separate, single entity. That’s a cool approach but I’m glad there are newer DJs pushing through linking different sounds and experimenting with different kinds of blends, it feels like the right time.
You got any aspirations to produce yourself?
I would like to one day. I’m not in a massive rush though.
What’s next for the label?
We try not to plan too far ahead. We have ideas but we take it one release at a time. Our next 12” is due out on May 18th; it’s Untold’s second release for us. The tunes are called ‘I Can’t Stop This Feeling’ and ‘Anaconda.’
You’re taking over Room 3 at fabric on the 15th, what can people expect from the evening?
Yeah it’s going to be great; we’re really looking forward to it! It’s the first time we’ve had the opportunity to take over that kind of space for a whole night, so it’ll be interesting to see how things shape up. We’ll be approaching it differently to how we would approach our sets at a normal club night, just because we have so much more time at our disposal. It’ll give us a chance to play a lot of new material, and also to break outside of dubstep for a bit.
Untold and TRG have been writing a lot recently, so expect to hear a lot of exclusive material from them.
Got any tips for upcoming producers we should be keeping an eye on?
Watch out for James Blake. He’s done the next Hemlock 12”, it’s amazing. One of the tunes is in this mix. I’m looking forward to Greena’s first release on Applepips as well, I’ve been playing it out for a while now.
Any wisdom you’d like to inflict on the interweb?
I’ve inflicted enough for a lifetime on forums already.
Mr. UFO has also put together a mix for fabric to commemorate their impending takeover.
DOWNLOAD: Ben UFO - Hessle Audio fabric Room 3 Takeover Mix
Tracklist available upon request.