#91 - Ben Long
As one half of the Space DJz, alongside Bandulu’s Jamie Bissmire, he collaborated on many releases including albums for Soma (On Patrol) and more recently for Advanced (Hidden Systems). As the Space DJz the duo toured the planet, causing dancefloor havoc with a multitude of single and EP releases such as ‘Zero Crossing’ (Perc Trax)’, ‘Rate of Change’ (NovaMute), Return To Earth’ (Infonet) and the classic ‘AK-47’ on their own Potential Recordingz. In fact there isn’t a techno DJ today worth their salt who hasn’t dropped a Space DJz touched production. Quite simply, Ben’s earned his chops.
As a fully paid up member of the 1980s breakdancing and graffiti fraternity, Ben’s DJing has always carried that hip-hop raw edge onto the techno floor. Since his debut at London’s Brixton Academy alongside The Orb and fellow North London cohorts, Bandulu in 1990 his club CV has ticked off the globe and got the t-shirt. You name it, he’s played there.
So we are delighted that Mr. Long has dropped a techno dance bomb for our new podcast, just a few weeks a head of his debut solo album release with the superb, ‘Standing Alone’. Showing a keen knack of blending the old and new with a sprinkling of classics and lost gems we unearth tracks from DJ Pierre, Luke Slater, Gary Beck, Phortune, 808 State, Slam, Jamie Bissmire, Ben himself and a cheeky re-rub of X-101’s classic ‘Sonic Destroyer’. Yes please!
‘Standing Alone’ is released 07 April on EPM.
In the first in a series of remix EPs released this year, two tracks from Ben Long’s album ‘Standing Alone’ are reworked by Blueprint’s James Ruskin and Victor Santana from Madrid’s Chaval Records. ‘Calling Broadsword / Standing Alone’ Remixes are released on 12 May.
Q&A with Ben Long
1. How did you approach the mix? You appear to have achieved a nice balance between the old and new.
Just my usual approach of playing tracks that I like mixed up with some sense of energy and character that put my stamp onto the mix, so when you hear the track selection and way it's put together you can hopefully hear it's me and it will be distinguishable from a lot of the boring seamless podcasts and mix's that I seem to hear these days. This has always been and will be my approach to DJing.
2. So before house and techno what sounds were capturing your ears in 80s London?
As a kid I heard a lot of Jazz and classical music as that's what my parents listened to along side the usual dose of pop music off the radio. In the 80s I was into funk, soul, then early electro and hip hop swiftly followed by house and techno.
3. Was music always part of your family life? Did your parents or any siblings have a musical influence?
My parents made me learn the piano for some years and I hated it. I was always late with my home work and never enjoyed the music I was taught to play. After the piano I pleaded with them to change to learning the drums, which I did for 2 years or so. I am grateful now they made me do it as it provided me with some musical knowledge that I can now put to good use.
4. What were your first clubbing experiences like? And what clubs / nights did you go to?
I was going to the Electric Ballroom and Spats in London on a Saturday afternoon listening to Hip Hop and such. So I suppose it was more of a day club. This was at the age of 13/14, one my best experiences from those days was seeing Run DMC's debut show in the UK. I was very small at the time for my age and I got squashed by the scrum at the front of the stage when the band came on and was pulled up on stage to safety by security where I spent the entire concert sitting next to Tim Westwood, he gave me free tickets for the HipHop event UK Fresh. Things could not have been better!
5. Going back to the early 90s, can you recall how you and Jamie (Bissmire)’s first studio efforts began to evolve into the first Space DJz EP, ‘Loose Change’?
Loose Change was actually pre Space DJz - it was our first outing as Bissmire and Long. I believe we made the A side (Loose Change) at the Bandulu studio in Hornsey and the B side (The Ruffie) at my first studio which was at my parents house. I'm calling Bissmire to confirm this as I'm writing but he is not picking up the phone…Typical lol
6. What are your recollections of London’s techno scene in the early 90s? Did you feel a communal unity that not only brought you and like-minded people together but also set you apart from everyone else? Much like the tribalism of punks, mods, casuals etc that doesn’t seem to exist today.
Most definitely! Techno was still very underground at this time and was almost a dirty word to a lot of dance music fans they just didn't get it at all. I think it was the advent of Steve Bicknell’s Lost club, Club UK and Knowledge and the likes that Techno had a proper home in London where you could go and hear all the Techno heroes from around the world play. The tribal spirit you mention was also very present in the Acid House movement, maybe more so I think.
7. From your debut EP 23 years ago we now find you releasing your debut solo album, ‘Standing Alone’. Why did the time finally feel right?
I just felt it was time to focus on Ben Long solo I had neglected my own productions for some years as I was totally focused on Space DJz with Jamie. I felt I had a something genuine and interesting to offer the Techno community.
8. Having made so many EPs how different was it to approach your studio with an album project in mind?
I make a lot of different styles of Techno. Sometimes it's tricky to find an outlet for these tracks. I had built up a rather large stock pile over the last 3 years and decided to compile the pick of the bunch into a coherent musical journey that takes you for a trip threw a variety of styles flavours textures and emotions.
9. Being a North London boy to the core, how have the last five years living in Belgium changed your outlook?
It's been good for me here in Belgium. A breath of fresh air in many respects. I have been here so many times over the years and it really feels like my second home now. I like the people, the culture and the country as a whole. I needed a break from the hectic life in London and I am more relaxed here! I think it's been great for my creative mind.
10. What are your plans for 2017?
Nothing major just keep doing my passion DJing and production and try and live a happy life.
EPM Podcast 91 Tracklist – Ben Long
01 Ben Long - Intro
02 808 State - In Your Face
03 Ben Long - Control
04 Dennis Caressa - Leo (Matt Heize Remix)
05 Jamie Bissmire - Bass Ground
06 Andre Crom - Circuit (Original Mix)
07 Ben Long - Boing (Deh-Noizer Dope Mix)
08 DJ Pierre - Jack a Groove
09 Ben Long & Tom Hades - The Knight Riders
10 Ben Long - Fire in the Hole
11 Jay Lumen - Horizon
12 Marco Bailey - Tunnel Express
12 Phortune - Can U Feel The Bass
13 X101 - Sonic Destroyer (Ben Long ReRub)
14 Slam - Take You There
15 Luke Slater - Filter
16 Gary Beck / Slam - Pressure Lights (Original Mix)
17 Leftfield - Phat Planet (Dave Clarke Remix)