Being partly responsible for one of the UK's biggest dance music movements, Benga is one of the forefathers of dubstep. Creating earth rattling bass lines and heart stopping drops, he leaves a trail of destruction not only with the music he creates, but the crowds he plays to. On the release of his new album ‘Chapter II’ his sound is evolving...
Dubstep has been through it recently. The cool kids always jump ship when underground beats leak into the mainstream and when will.i.am and his pal Britney decide to get involved, you know it’s game over. “I remember doing the whole drum and bass thing a while ago where everyone was like drum and bass is dead.” He explains, “We’ve seen this before. So I know I can sit on my horse and ride it.” His new album is authentic, it feels genuine, more mature than the singles he released of late, and most importantly - it doesn’t conform.
Signed to a major label and having toured with Example recently, Benga is a ringleader when it comes to “having a lovely time.” With a glint in his eye and defiant ability to create mischief, working on his album has taken him in a different direction.
“I used to go out every weekend and every night I played; I’d drink so much vodka and do so many drugs. I’d carry the party on until the morning. It’d be 11 o’clock and I’d still be f**ked out of my mind. I got to the point where I’ve slowed it down because there’s so much I want to achieve.”
Currently working on the new Magnetic Man album with fellow accomplices Skream and Artwork, the troublesome three are breaking new ground with the sounds they are creating. “We’ve done a lot quite house and disco, but it sounds really f**ked up. If we always did the same thing it’d be boring, but now it just sounds fresh and f**ked up.”
With bass music comes drug culture and with drug culture comes the political and social prejudices that our society has created around it. Rightly or wrongly, some of history’s most influential creative pioneers have been high in the process.
“It becomes a part of you because you’re surrounded by people that do it. You don’t have any normal friends,” Benga explains. “You’re surrounded by people who do drugs, so you go out and [think] ‘oh they’re cracking on, so I will’. Like, what do normal people do when they watch TV? We don’t know how to do that. So you never really leave it.”
Having been in the music industry since he was fifteen years old, Benga shines a light for anyone who wants to go after their dream, managing to side step the nine to five matrix that so many of us fall in to. “I f**king love making music. I do it all day everyday and it always comes first, no matter what is going on.” With a weekly radio show on BBC Radio 1 with partner in crime Skream, Benga is still surrounded by the people he started making music with back in the day.
With radical changes in his management, team and direction of his album, Benga remains focused amongst the chaos. “I’m not scared what people think of me.” He explains, “I’m pretty sure I’ve made enough money out of what I’m doing to now do what the f**k I like. So I’m gonna go and do that. If you know what you want, no matter what the f**k that is, your first instinct is going to be right, so just go with it.”
Words: Carly Wilford (@CarlyWilford)