#78 - Ben Sims presents Ron Bacardi
Following The Advent’s no-nonsense techno mix this time another UK techno legend steps up to the EPM Podcast plate…with a twist! Ben Sims, has for decades flown the flag for techno the world over, cutting and dropping tracks with the dexterity of a true turntablist who grew up on a diet of electro, funk, disco and house. Now we see those disco and house inspirations come to the fore as the Essex Rascal presents his house nom de plume, Ron Bacardi. Following output for Bass Culture and Karlovak in 2015, Ben Sims’ housier, disco infused Ron Bacardi alias continues to gather pace as he prepares to unleash ’Need Somebody’ on his own Hardgroove imprint but before that he drops this fluid and frenetic mix to give us a double shot of the Ron Bacardi house experience. Featuring Doc Daneeka feat Seven Davis Jr, The Black Madonna, Mr. Tophat + Art Alfie, Loletta Holloway, War, Africans With Mainframes, EMG, Donna Summer, DJ Qu, Nightmoves, Mr. G and of course a few splashes of Bacardi (shaken and stirred) it’s house music, Jim but not as we know it.
Ben Sims is perhaps one of the most pre-eminent figures techno has to offer. A main attraction for underground cognoscenti since storming out onto the scene over 20 years ago, he has honed his reputation as a tight, energetic mixer who skillfully weaves together his own distinctive blend of tough funk and hardgrooves, often using three-deck wizardry and plenty of dexterity. Through an always-in-the-bag output, spearheading his in-demand ‘Run It Red’ radio show and heading up labels such as the now-defunct Theory, the long running Hardgroove and recently launching Machine, the Londoner has been hanging tough like it’s nobody’s business. He first performed at Claydrum in 2014 but this time he will be headlining the house room with his pseudonym Ron Bacardi delivering a set of blistering, raw house and disco edits.
Sims has put his name to more than 50 releases in the last two decades. During those years, there has also been a steady stream of high profile remixes of scene heavyweights, including Jeff Mills, Adam Beyer, Kevin Saunderson and Chris Liebing, on labels du jour like AXIS, KMS, CLR and Drumcode, all of which have won as much critical praise as they have crossover success.
Despite his veteran status in the scene, Sims has always been keen to evolve. Alongside Kirk Degiorgio, he is co-founder & curator of Machine - a clubnight which focuses on new, unreleased, & upfront music; it's primary home in London but with editions all across Europe each year. His Run it Red radio show, broadcast via NTSlive also serves to solely highlight new music.
Ben Sims pres Ron Bacardi plays Claydrum Indoor on 27 February alongside Dave Clarke and EPM’s Oliver Way.
Q&A with Ron Bacardi (aka Ben Sims)
1. One hour doesn’t give you the full range of DJ expression but would you say this mix is a good example of a Ron Bacardi set?
Yeah it's a pretty accurate feel of what the project is about, the tougher or rawer end of house music, with plenty of disco flavour and fun edits. There's a common ground with my techno sets by featuring artists like DJ Qu and Mr. G in the mix but the RB sets are largely made up of tracks and labels I love but don't often get a chance to play.
2. How do you approach a Ron Bacardi DJ set as opposed to a techno set? Is there a different mind set or is it simply two sides of the same coin?
In general I’d say the RB sets are a bit more lighthearted or more party orientated. I'm freer to dig into my collection and drop disco or italo or freestyle and just have fun mixing various genres up, which is not always workable in a techno set. It's not strictly 100% house music but the house sets I love never are.
3. As soon as I see the name Ron Bacardi I picture gold medallions, cigars, silk shirts and a wink to the ladies. Do you have a mental image of how the real Ron Bacardi should look?
Ha ha, yeah that's pretty close actually. The reason for using the name came from a scene in 'Only Fools and Horses' so the image of Del Boy DJing is the one that pops in my head. It was actually only meant to be a one off thing as I wanted to do a house set at a Machine party in London but couldn't really use my name as I was playing fabric around the same time, so just put Ron Bacardi on the flyer, for a laugh. No one guessed it was me or thought it was a joke name and I had a great time playing so decided to make it a regular thing.
4. Would disco be the key element that links your techno and house productions?
These days the disco influence is probably less obvious in my techno tracks. The funk is still there obviously but I'm less likely to use disco samples like I used to. It just got to a point where it wasn't fitting naturally and forcing it wasn't working. The RB productions openly embrace it and I’m back to digging thru my collection for riffs and basslines to chop up over dirty drums. It's a lot of fun and right now I'm finding it a great way of getting me back in the studio regularly after an enforced hiatus.
5. We’re just beginning to see Ron Bacardi step from the shadows. Do you have big plans for your house alter-ego?
It's early days but the feedback on the releases and hand full of sets has been great so I'm feeling really positive about it. The diary for the next 6 months has a bunch of RB sessions in there, from extended sets at intimate sweat boxes like Concrete in Paris to playing stages at festivals, plus there's more new music coming out including my first ever RB remix for Cassy and a couple of disco/soul re-edit releases on the Essex Rascal affiliated 'Way Back Wednesday' label. So there's lots to be excited about, I'm just gonna go with the flow and see where it takes me.
6. You have established the Machine night alongside Kirk Degiorgio for several years now. How did you first get to know each other?
We met thru friends of friends in the early 90s I think but it wasn't until 15 or so years later we started discussing projects together after me booking him a couple of times to play parties. Admittedly Kirk’s idea initially didn't grab me as I'd just wrapped up the 'Split' nights and 'Balance' (which I co promoted) had come to a close. So I was kinda looking forward to not promoting for a while but Kirk found someone to help run it and even fund it, so generally made it pretty easy for me ;-). I'm happy he did as the idea came at a time when we where both feeling frustrated with the safe soundtrack at many techno parties in London, with too many DJs sounding like they were sharing the same box of obvious techno classics, so the concept of playing only new or unreleased music really made sense. We were both surprised and inspired by just how well the crowd responded at the first one and over the past 5 years we've taken the party all over the world and continued to host regular nights in London.
7. You have over 50 releases to your name over the last two decades, predominantly as singles or EPs. After 2011’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ LP on Drumcode is the album format something you want to explore further?
Once it was released I quickly started work on a follow up but it didn't go so smoothly, some difficult second album vibes in there plus after 3 months of studio preparation work for a mini live show tour I was kinda fed up with my own music. After that I moved studio, then got burgled, that took out about a year, so I generally lost interest in doing anything too ambitious for a while but I'm now back to regular sessions and have progressed from the occasional edit and remix to full EPs. So maybe the desire to commit to another album will return one day but right now I'm just enjoying doing music without the pressure of a specific result and that's suits me fine.
8. In my opinion many DJs can forget that they are there to play a party. How do you balance when and where to drop a classic crowd pleaser or perhaps a forgotten gem amongst the hundreds of new releases every week?
As there is so much new and exciting music out there right now it's even more difficult to justify dropping classics these days but digging out lesser-known gems is very important, especially in the digital age when everything is so available to everyone so quickly. So many DJs get sent the same promos by the same labels and some up n coming guys often just buy established DJs charts in full off Beatport etc. So keeping your own identity with as many surprises and unique elements as possible to your set is essential to standing out from the pack. The more forgotten gems, exclusives or fresh out the studio jams the better!
9. If you could put on the ultimate ‘Essex Rascals’ rave who would be on the line up – and where would it be?
It would have to be either at Jenkins Lane, Barking, the original site of 'Raindance' my old Essex stomping (and raving) ground or at the 'Rocket' on Holloway Road, previous home to Jah Shaka’s all nighters, various acid house and rave events plus 2 of the first 'retro-vert' parties.
On the line up we'd need a selection of rascal heroes, so off the bat we're talking:
Les Adams (80's Mastermix set)
Coldcut (Kiss 94fm set)
Jah Shaka (75-82 dub plate set)
Ron Hardy (Music Box Classics set)
Mark Archer (Nexus 21 set)
LTJ Bukem (90-91 set)
The Wizard (mid 80s set)
David Mancuso (Loft Classics set)
Tyree Cooper (Acid House set)
Theo Parrish (Deep Space NYC 2007 set)
Derrick May (The Barn 89 set)
DJ Cheese (UK Fresh 86 set)
Cash Money (DMC 88 set)
The Specials live
D train live
Beastie Boys live
Big Daddy Kane live
Egyptian Lover live
Break the Limits live
2 Kilos? live
Blapps Posse live
Hosted by Doug Stanhope, MC Hardcore General, David Rodigan and Mike Allen
10. What is Ron Bacardi’s current DJ top ten?
1. Martin Hayes - Edits. Razor N Tape
2. Arttu - Rave Dogs. Clone Jack For Daze
3. Vin Sol - Wts. Club Lonely
4. Borrowed Identity - Amplified House. Hardgroove
5. Mike Huckaby - Phuture. Synth
6. Dan Shake - Shake Edits 2. Shake
7. Zorge Zamacona + Ron Bacardi. Vol 3. Way Back Wednesday
8. Ron Bacardi - Need Somebody. Hardgroove
9. David Garrett/Adam Rowe - Now That We Are Here Where Are We? Stripped & Chewed
10. Lil Louis - Ahhh!/Ron Bacardi Edit. Unreleased
EPM Podcast 78 – Ben Sims pres Ron Bacardi - Tracklist
1. Intro (I Dream Of Wires)
2. Mad Rey - Hard Ferailleurs. D.KO
3. Tophat + Art Alfie - Bengan. Karlovak
4. CJ Scott - Assholes 'n' Elbows. Karlovak
5. EMG - On. Livejam
6. DJ Soch - A Friend From Detroit. Black Angus
7. DJ Qu - Untitled (Verbal). Social Experiment
8. Francis Inferno Orchestra - Kamakama. Superconscious
9. Doc Daneeka feat Seven Davis Jr - What's it Gonna Be (Earl Jeffers Mix). Ten Thousand Yen
10. The Black Madonna - Alright This Morning. Home Taping Is Killing Music
11. Vinalog - Shout Out. Relative
12. Ben Sims pres Ron Bacardi - First Effort. Bass Culture
13. Cassy - All I Do (Ron Bacardi Remix). Aus
14. Walt J - Reborn 1 (DJ Qu's Journey Towards Birth Remix). Curle
15. Mr G. - Mannish Water/Extra Pepper Sauce Version. Phoenix G
16. Ben Sims pres Ron Bacardi - Rock Your Body. Bass Culture
17. House Mannequin - 005/B2. House Mannequin
18. Cratebug - Get Up Move Your Body. Grimy Edits (Loop)
19. War - Galaxy (Edit). Bath House Etiquette
20. Loletta Holloway - My Loletta (Acapella). Minimal
21. Dan Shake - Glitter Disco. Shake
22, MCMXC - 12 Dec_13 Jun. ROW
23. Nature Boy - Tobago. Black Label
24. The Black Madonna - Exodus. Stripped & Chewed (Ron Bacardi Edit)
25. Africans With Mainframes - RB1. Bio Rhythm (Edit)
26. Donna Summer - Our Love. Casablanca (Edit)
27. Connie Case - Get Down (Doc Jam Edit). Giant Cuts
28. Nightmoves - Transdance (UK Mix). GC Recordings1. Intro (I Dream Of Wires)