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Benja Molina [Interview]

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Hailing from Spain, Benja Molina first emerged in 2009 with releases via 2Real and Sunset Rec. where his club friendly sound flourished. Evolving as an artist over the next decade, the Madrid resident would adopt a deeper more contemporary sound, eventually leading to projects for Massive Harmony Records and Monkey League. Deepwibe's Digital imprint would also become a landing spot for the Spaniard, with his 'Terranova' and 'Al Nair Down' EPs released in April and July of this year respectively. Having made his Deepwibe Underground debut with a contribution to the label's Chapter II collection, Benja now returns for his first artist EP 'The Godness Zoe'. We had a chance to catch up with Benja for an interview leading up to the release. Enjoy!

Hi Benja, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Thank you for having me , I feel great. summer in Spain has been incredibly hot but, I have been enjoying it.

To be honest, the last piece of music I was listening to was IZAL, a Spanish Indie Pop group.

How’s your year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

Musically speaking, a lot of work and constant learning. Personally, of many changes, there has been everything. My plans are going to be to rest and go out to one of the music festivals around!

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

I consider myself both, I started as a DJ in 1997, and a producer in 2008. I feel more comfortable producing, because I can express myself better.

Talk to us about growing up and living in Spain, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

The truth is that I have been listening to electronic music since I was 12 years old, when I sneaked into the clubs of the moment. Therefore, I have a lot of influence from the dance and techno of those 90s, I have listened to everything, but above all what I identified with in those years was with the Hard Trance, that made that above all, everything I do always carries melodies and atmospheres, I feel comfortable, and I really enjoy creating my "musical movies" as I call them, each production is very different and counts something

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

I remember the day clearly, I was 12 years old, it was the month of September, and with some friends we went to play pranks near the train, music was playing at a high volume, and we went to see a street, there we found ourselves to hundreds of people, coming from all over Spain at the doors of a Club that belonged to a route of different clubs from nearby cities, all dancing in the street on top of their cars (a mini love parade) with their aesthetics and music ( I remember one of the songs that was playing, it was my first vinyl bought after DJ Cerla Rotterdam 93) I connected there for the first time and that atmosphere, that energy caught me

Spain has produced some of electronic music’s finest producers over the last decade. How did your country become such a mecca for electronic music? What would you attribute that to?

We have great artists and international references, I think, and it is my theory, that we are curious people, that the cradle of the 90s was key for producers and DJs to fall in love with this world, that it was a phenomenon all over the world. In Valencia they were pioneers in Spain, as the avant-garde of those years, that contaminated us in the best of senses, and we have grown with it.

You Have a new EP ‘The Godness Zoe’ out this week via Deepwibe Underground, tell us about the release and how it showcases your current sound.

That's how it is, the EP consists of three tracks plus a remix by Matias Burna. There are three tracks, each one of them I wanted them to be as different as possible from each other. I move into melancholic sounds a lot, but I think they have strength and message in them. The title of the EP is a legacy that I want to leave to my nephews, in this case Zoe, she is the little one, the newcomer, for when I no longer exist, she has a memory of me towards her. For me it is one of the most important releases of this year. Deepwibe Underground is one of the representative labels of Progressive House and I am delighted.

Let’s talk about production for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play? And was there anything that inspired the tracks which make up your ‘The Godness Zoe’ EP?

There are times when I am driving the car and I have to stop to pick up the mobile phone and immediately record that initial melody that has suddenly come to my mind and whistle it so that I can start something later. On this EP, he went very progressively, that is, I usually start with what the bass and base lines are, and I improvise on that. There is a track ( Up all night ) where the melody was very clear, introducing some vocal fragment seems interesting to me because it allows to give detail to the track and give it a different touch. In this EP I have paid special attention to small details for my essential.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of this EP?

I have a very simple and basic equipment. I learned with Cubase without much idea and XP system, until a year ago, it has been my tool together with a keyboard, all the synthesizers are virtual, Now with Ableton, it has been a step forward I am one of those who think that tools should be used they have, and then if they fall short, invest in others with more potential.

I use several synthesizers for myself, an essential one is, Massive and Nexus, with them I do a lot of the work

For you to get started on a track do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called ‘visualizations’ of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?

I think that carrying out a process helps to save time, in my case, I always start from what I visualize what I am looking for in terms of the essence of the final track, but a lot of my work is to try on the go, rest for a few days and return to listen and make the necessary arrangements. I think that each track is very different if I did not have a roadmap, that is, it is a lot about how I feel, and on the other hand, what I would like to hear in a club as a user

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?

Always the night for me is the magic hour, maybe it's the best time for me. I prefer to be in low light, it is a way to focus and pay attention to what I do, I turn off my mobile phone and anything else that can distract me.At some point I stop, and listen to other music from any other producer, as different as possible, to later notice the change when I return to the project. I try to be as relaxed as possible, it's my time of day, whether or not I finish a job, I try things almost every day, it helps me disconnect from everything.

 Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite, I think. What marks the end of the process for you? How do you know when a track is done?

I agree, there are works that once published, I mean... well, you could have put one more track on this with other sounds, I think you shouldn't get carried away by that trend of the more the better, but be aware that if you are very perfectionist, a track can be that you stop liking it for investing too much in it.

And to add to that, how much does road testing or friend feedback play a part in finalizing a track? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

Normally it is shared with a group of friends (all the producers) each of them from different styles, to know their feedback, and if they didn't like it, then it's good! It's a joke, it's usually coincidental, but it doesn't imply that I make changes beyond some detail

What’s the task you enjoy the most when producing and what is something you’d rather have taken care of by somebody else?

What I love the most, doing the melodic parts, is where I can be myself the most.The premaster part, or master, usually gives me a headache

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

always always, I need reverb or delay, essential for me

Who is an artist or producer you’d want to sit in the studio and collaborate with, and why?

There are several, an extensive list, but for my essentials there are several highlights, Kmilo Sanclemente (for his exquisiteness)Analog Jungs these guys make powerful bases and epic melodies and of course Dmitri Molosh, he is super complete producing

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Good question, I think Hernan Cattaneo is essential, he makes a great session development from calmer to more forceful, it would be from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. then it will be Kamilo, of course he has to be there, from 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. I think the guys from Analog Jungs, are powerful to be from 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. K-Loveski, it would be my fourth bet, very much in line, from 4:00 a.m to 6:00 and the closure would be granted to Guy J, to the claim of many, it would be a good closure from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

a microphone as expensive as possible to hire a vocalist, since I sing alone in the shower

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I'm more of a series, I'm in love with DARK, I love photography and this series brings together a unique atmosphere, a very successful casting and incredible music.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

I like this question, I always wanted to be invisible, that gives you a lot of powers derived from it.

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

Chernobyl, it would fascinate me, to take photos, because of the history behind it, and because I love abandoned places

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

On one occasion I had to fly with two planes alone without many references to play music in Frankfurt. Where I was going to stay, it was not a nightclub, as they told me, it was a giant macro sex club, to return home was quite difficult, my language was bad, I missed the plane back among other things that are difficult to tell because they are rough

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

I am fascinated by photography, I studied and did some work, which for time I have forgotten something, but I like it a lot

What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I think 2022 will be a good year in terms of music, we are already preparing new works that I think will be very well received. I have a project to create a brand for electronic music events that now takes a lot of work and we are working on the brand image design part, I don't know how this will end, but we have already done part of it.

'The Godness Zoe' is available for pre-order now via Deepwibe Underground: https://bit.ly/3Td3kHI

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