076 – Ben Sun

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Ben Sun, the Australian all-round gentleman turned London based producer and label boss is responsible for the latest instalment. With a name that is slowly but surely becoming a household one in the house and techno circles that matter, Ben Sun left Adelaide some 8 years ago for a new start, where London would become his home and creative landscape for a foray into the world of music making. As a respected jock and long time music enthusiast, his love for vinyl and machines has forged him a warmly familiar yet unique sound, which has come to life through his own label – and one of our favourites – Voyeurhythm, and more recently the ever impressive Delusions Of Grandeur.

With each release seeming to out-do the last in the Ben Sun discography, and a musical palette as rich as one of Panorama Bar’s most respected selectors, we know it won’t be long before this debonair Aussie is turning the world on it’s head. In the meantime, let’s enjoy an hour of amazing music and an insight into the world of the talented Ben Sun.

What have you been up to of late? What’s currently taking up the majority of your days?

I’m trying to create some more space to make music! I’m a graphic designer and have recently broken out on my own so I can pursue a happy mix of the two – music and image. Music is definitely what’s inspiring me most, but sure enough I gotta eat…

We know you grew up in Adelaide where there was and still is a pretty strong little house and techno scene, what was it that made you move to London initially and how was that transition for you? Do you see yourself staying there for the long haul? And how is the scene over there right now in your opinion?

Haha big question. I moved to London in search of new horizons I guess. I can’t say it was an easy transition (permanent visas are not easy to come by!), although it was a really positive one. Through the record / DJ scene in Adelaide I had found lots of great American music: soul, jazz, disco, house, techno… But then London had a whole lot of different takes on dance music. Dub influenced bass music, UK garage, their own unique take on soul, jazz-funk, house, etc…. For example it was pretty great landing in Plastic People for the first time in 05 and seeing people like IG Culture and Kaidi Tatham playing at the Co-op night. To me it sounded sort of like deep house / garage stuff set to an afrobeat rhythm. All these kind of break / jazz dancers flipping out. Something totally unique to London.

As far as the ‘scene’ right now… I’m probably not the best person to ask! I’ve just had my head down for the last year or so. I guess it depends what you’re into. There’s a lot going and it’s not exactly unified… it’s a big city. It’s easy to have a good time here (there’s some great parties going on – shouts to my friends at Tief and Love Fever who always put on a good show)… but then I’d draw a distinction between the party scene and the creative end of things, because it’s always hard to be really active in both. Do you wanna be Larry Levan or Larry Heard?

It feels as though this year has been a bit of a break out year for you with the Delusions Of Grandeur release doing so well, which I’m sure is on the back of some straight up hard work. You’ve still only had a handful of releases to date, all of which have been of only the highest quality.. Would you say it’s a matter of less is more for you?

I’m still getting my head around the creative process really – up until recently it’s just taken me a long time to craft something that I’m actually happy with! It can be tough dealing with these big slabs of time dedicated to making music, but I’m starting to feel more free with it now. Being completely self-taught, I’ve spent plenty of time banging my head up against the wall trying to work it all out and sharpen those skills. All worth it in the end, nothing is more satisfying than when a piece of music comes together.

Let’s talk shop for a moment, we’ve been to your label mate Tyson Ballard’s studio also in London, which he would probably call modest, but it’s far from it! We know you’re also a bit of an analogue gear nut, has your current set up got anything on that? Take us through your favourite and most used pieces of kit..

Haha… yeah Tyson’s is something of an analogue playground. My setup is a very very minimal, it basically consists of an Akai MPC60 (into which I’ve sampled loads of great old drum machines) and a Roland Juno 60. Plus a couple of effects units (a cheap Lexicon reverb and an Eventide Harmonizer), and an Allen and Heath mixer. I have a mac to record and arrange with.

The MPC is my workhorse. I love that thing, although it’s probably the reason I sink more time into the studio than I should… State of the art 1986 technology there!! 26 seconds sample time. But fuck it’s charming. The Eventide was a great find too – you can hear it on the second track of this mix – I ran the vocals through it to produce that dual high / low voice thing. I love it, I think it sounds like Parliament/Funkadelic pitching the vocals around! Apparently it was the first ever digital effects unit (the H910)… I bought it because it was cheap.

What do you guys have coming up with Voyeurhythm that you’re able to tell us about?

What I’m most excited about! Track 8 on this mix, our man Elliot Thomas, hailing from Portland, USA… check it out for yourself. He has a stomping 12” coming out on VR very soon. I’m really stoked to have him on, his music really moves me.

What can you tell us about this mix? How and where did you record it and who are some of the artists you want to shout out to?

On Friday night I finished a rough cut of a tune that I thought I might include on the mix, which is track 2. It’s in dire need of some mastering (got that unruly Juno baseline throbbing through it!) but it pretty much summed up my mood and (I realized after) kind of set the tone for the mix. Literally no-one has heard this yet, so I’m hoping it’s not an awful mistake to include it without vetting. Who knows, bit of fun anyway.

Following that, I guess I’ve mostly explored the slightly eerie / dark / synthetic side of my predominantly soulful, uplifting record collection. Sorry, I realize it’s warming up in Aus but it’s getting dark at like 3pm here now! Seeking refuge in melodic synth lines….

This mix was recorded with my two 1200s, running into Ableton. Apart from the two demos, it’s all vinyl. Which is why I haven’t done like I should and put some of the great digital demos on it that people have given me. Honestly I’m too tired to think straight right now, but I’d like to just randomly shout out Scott Ferguson / Ferrispark cos I’m lucky enough to have all his great stuff on wax. Big ups. Also Recloose for always making me grin on Hit It and Quit It (with Frank Booker). That guy plays deadly jazz riffs and is FUNNY, so what else you want?! Both those guys have great new records out which I’m playing a lot.

What else is on the horizon for you gig and release wise in the near future, and when can we see you back in Aus?

The next major gig will actually be on NYE at Corsica Studios in London, I’m playing at the Tief party alongside Move D and John Talabot, which I’m really looking forward too.

As you might know I’m appearing alongside your man Andy Hart on an upcoming Quintessentials record… and I’m hard at work trying to complete the follow up record for Delusions. Of course the VR project keeps bubbling away, more on that soon….

I’ll be back in Aus as soon as I make some goddamn money for a flight! This city is A-OK, but fuck I miss the coast….

Tracklist:

Gino Soccio – Lonley
Ben Sun - Affirmation
The Godson – City Bar Reopen
Theo Parrish – Ugly Edit 07
Lil Louis – Clap Your Hands
Yennek – Serena X (Innerzone Mix)
Marvin Gaye – After The Dance (Eros Edit)
Elliot Thomas - Sirius 6b
Model 500 – Ocean To Ocean
J Dilla – Big Booty Express
Shafiq Hussein – PSA
Drexciya – Neon Falls
Patrice Rushen – To Each His Own

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