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Feature: Benjamin Dawn [Interview]

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Hi Benjamin, thanks for joining us, how are you today, where in the world are you and what are you up to?

I’m good, I’m excited my first solo album is coming out.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a producer?

Hey I’m Dirk Kanters, born in 1978 and raised in a town near Eindhoven, the Netherlands. My parents would always be listening to music when I was younger so, growing up I was influenced by a lot of different artist. When I started to develop my own taste of music I mainly listened to rock, grunge, blues and alternative. That changed when I went to a drum and bass party somewhere around the mid 90’s. My love for electronic music was born. I love to feel the atmosphere of the crowd, the pounding bassline, the dense air. So, I borrowed a Roland 303 drum computer from a friend and started producing, soon after that I bought my own equipment and I have not stopped producing ever since.

What music from your youth had the biggest effect on where you are today? Are there certain tracks or albums which profoundly influenced you? Could you name five tracks that were most important in your musical development and why are these pieces so significant for you.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines

I just love Massive Attack, it’s very diverse, I like complete ambience, the tempo and the darkness. What can I say, I’m a fan.

Underworld – Pearl’s girl

There is just so much energy in this song, Underworld has made tons of good stuff. And they totally rock live on stage.

Leftfield – Phat Planet

This song always had an huge impact on me on the dancefloor, just makes me go nuts.

Moderat – A New Error

I love how they combine vocals and electronic music, it has so much groove and very well produced. Only seen them live once at Lowlands festival. Loved it!

NIN – Mr, Self Destruct

More of a rockband nowaday’s (which I like very much) but in the 90’s had a great influence on me due to all electronics Trent Reznor uses in his music. I played this album a million times.

Your first album ‘With Very Side Effects’ was recently released on Lessismore, you must be quite excited. Tell us how it began to take shape? Was there an initial goal of writing an album from the beginning or did this happen organically in a way?

No there was not really a goal, I’ve been working on a lot of tracks the last few years. I didn’t really make the time to complete these until I dropped a few tracks at Gideon of Lessismore. He got me really enthusiastic and I finished al my tracks in a few months.

How did you end up with the final track selection and how did you go about cutting stuff out? There must be a point where it becomes quite difficult letting go of certain pieces?

That is correct, I did cut some pieces. Listening to the album I could have this gut feeling a few tracks where just not there yet. Then it’s time to send my tracks to some fiends and other producers and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes you just spend too much hours working on a track you actually turn something good into rubbish.

From a compositional perspective there’s a borderless appeal to the album, it’s timeless sensibility is undeniable. Tell us about the inspiration behind this album and why it was important for you to express your thoughts, ideas and feelings in this way.

Most of the tracks are not that up-tempo. Which is uncommon for me because I used to produce techno that was a bit faster and harder. I wanted to create a bit of a dark album. I had quite a bit material to choose from so I picked the tracks that I found most appealing for this album. I did cut some tracks which also had a lot of potential, these might end up on future releases, who knows. I’m recently working on some totally different material, a few break tracks, some harder techno and at the same time a cheese house tune which was also a lot of fun to work as well.

Design wise it’s quite rich and full of character. What are your go to tools in the studio and what featured heavily on this album?

When I started producing, I only used hardware, we would go to gigs with a car full of equipment. Now I just work with my laptop, Ableton and a controller. I love it, always works, always in sink and I can just put everything in a bag a go jam with a friend. My favourite VST’s would be: Sylenth, Alchemy, Absinth, Battery and some D16 plugins. I also like to dub loops, voices and totally transform these into something new. I don’t really use loops from loop packages, but I do use a lot of single shot percussion samples and make drum racks in Ableton.

I would guess the writing of the album was a long process. Now that it’s done and out, what are your thoughts reflecting back on the process?

Working on the album I realized that in the future I might release some EP’s as well. To be able to get my stuff out there a bit quicker, making an album is very time consuming. Making music for me is like therapy, just do what you feel like, I try not to stick to much to on style. Just be creative and see where it leads me.

Do you think the digital era changed the way we perceive artist albums? Do they still carry the weight they once did or should?

I always wanted to release a full album one day and that finally happened…  But I don’t think an album has the impact/weight that it had 20 years ago. If people like a track they swipe into a playlist they like. That don’t mean that they will listen to the album. That’s okay, it’s just different than a few years ago.

How would you feel about these tracks being remixed? And are there plans for this?

That would be great, I’d love to see what someone else does with my track. But no plans yet.

Is there a movie you would have loved to have produced the soundtrack for? And if so why?

I did once make all the music for a play which was all very cold and industrial. I’d love to make something dark and disturbing, like Rectum from Thomas Bangalter in the film Irreversible.

What are the biggest challenges you face as an artist in the industry right now?

I suppose standing out and getting your name out, there is so much going on. What will work for me? I’m figuring that out at the moment.

Outside of all things music, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love doing stuff with my daughter and my girlfriend, hang out with friends. I love to go for a run, go to a club and dance all night, jamming with friends, I work as an engineer, 3D modeling furniture and specials for events.

Tell us what we can expect from you in 2020, anything you can share with us?

There is definitely coming more, working on some new track which might be totally different from this album. Making music for me is like therapy, just do what you feel like, try not to stick too much to on style. Sometimes I have inspiration and sometimes I’m just jamming and see where it leads me. So, keep your eyes and ears open.

‘With Very Few Side Effects’ is out now on Lessismore, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/2CUx0nb

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