Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka Interview

Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka Interview Doc Daneeka and Benjamin Damage are two British producers who have linked up with Berlin based Modeselektor to release their album THEY! Live on the duo’s 50Weapons label. Daneeka is also the man behind the cult-club label 50 Yen but we were first introduced to both producers at our Electronic Beats Modeselektor editorial take-over party. We were so impressed with the duo’s twitchy ghetto-funk and deep space-rave that we were compelled to invite them for an Electronic Beats on Air Live Radio Session which you can listen to this Thursday. In the meantime enjoy a frank and honest interview with the the pair talking about making music, finding inspiration and working in Berlin.

What is it like where you come from in Wales? What music did you listen to when you were growing up?
Doc Daneeka The scene we came through wasn’t like a real regimented scene. Stuff like punk was really strong round our way and so we were kind of always involved in going out to DIY punk shows in old spaces or in some weird clubs and warehouse sort of things. It’s a really vibrant scene for that but it was very open minded as well. It’s not like we’ve come from a very regimented scene.

What do you think of the current state of the Electronic Music scene?
DD Electronic music now I think, is at it’s best and most creative point for as long as I can remember. And I think it seems to have got more global. It’s these pockets of people so I think “the scene” is kind of a strange idea I suppose, but there seems to be a collective of artists that you kind of associate with and you’ve grown to know and stuff like that.

How would you describe your music?
DD
We sort of instantly felt a need to try and distance ourselves from being like a UK funky artist. It just feels like you can approach it in a more broad sense these days and just be a house producer. Even though it’s quite different, you can take influences from everywhere like dubstep or whatever. But you know it’s just got… at the end of the day its all house, you know? It’s like kind of all house, all techno or something like that!

Are you trying to capture a certain period of time in your music?
DD In a sense we’re not really thinking of it in terms of times. Speaking for myself I never grew up listening to house. So it’s not like I’m making it retrospectively. I think you could see it like that. That it could be like a bunch of people listening to old classic house and being like “oh we can make it like that”. But I think it’s just a generation of people making house for the first time. I think like a lot of people are discovering house and techno. I mean I certainly am. I’ve never really listened to techno at all and I think now we’re sort of, roughly speaking, making a techno album.

Benjamin Damage It comes from a different angle because we weren’t growing up with techno, so its not ingrained in the same way. We have a different take on it. So hopefully it comes across as quiet different from what has been around.

Did recording in Berlin influence your album THEY! Live?
DD
When we’ve been here doing the album it felt very natural. We haven’t felt like “this is what the scene is maybe we should make a track similar or different from that” it’s just what’s felt right at the time. I think that’s what you have to do. If you try to copy anything it just comes out less than the original. What is the point in making something which is like something else but not as good? It just has no reason to exist. So we’ve just gone into the studio and done what’s felt right, well for me anyway. That’s how I approached it.

How do you stay inspired?
DD
There has been so much electronic music and people today are still using 808s and 909s from so long ago. Sometimes you think “well maybe everything has been done” but I think if you’ve got an enthusiasm and you actually just enjoy it you will come up with something fresh. I think being happy with it is the main thing. If you can feel natural when you create something.

Where do you get your samples for your productions from?
DD
We kind of make our own samples by making the stabs. Actually a lot of the stabs are played in because we try to recreate the old sound of the sample’s chord but make it different, so it’s new. It’s not just sampling some old record, it’s trying to get new sounds which has always been one of my things. I’m trying to make new sounds which I haven’t heard before.

How did you hook up with Modeselektor?
BD
It’s been really interesting how 50Weapons / Monkey Town approached us. They encouraged the idea of us being out here for a concentrated period of time. So that’s been really interesting. Instead of having an open ended thing it was like “you give me the demos whenever you finish and when it’s finished it’s finished.” It was like, “You two, you come out here you live here for two or three months and you write and album for that time.” I think that’s really cool because you end up with a representation of a concentrated period of time… you just have to do it. And whatever the variants, sounds and styles that you use, it ends up sounding very much like from that era. And thats the one thing we are really happy with. It just feels like incredibly representative of this time even if you just look back in a couple of years it would be like “yeah during that time…” It just feels so intense and that’s been really cool.