We sit down with Ben Soundscape, 1/2 of The Insiders and label boss of Intrigue Music UK, to talk about the eagerly awaited ‘Intrigue 12 – The Anniversary Collection’ and life as a label boss, promoter and DJ/producer.
For those that might not be familiar, please tell our readers a little about yourself, The Insiders and your label Intrigue Music UK.
My name is Ben Soundscape, I’m from Bristol UK. I have been producing music for over 15 years now. I started out as a producer and got into DJing later on. I linked up with Joe Wills through school, we started making beats together as The Insiders when we were about 18, about 13 years ago. I’ve also recorded music under the aliases First Light and Catch 22 over the years.
Intrigue Music UK is about to release Intrigue 12 – The Anniversary Collection, to mark twelve years of the Intrigue club night. Please tell us a about the night as well as the label? What are the motivations behind both?
We began Intrigue back in 2003 as a platform for deep and soulful drum n bass music, or ‘liquid funk’ as it was then known. There weren’t any nights at the time that put on this sort of music, and we wanted to represent it in our city because it was lacking in that area. So we started a night at a small venue called Bar Latino on a Wednesday night, and built it up over twelve years to where it is today.
The label started life in 2009 as the next chapter from the night. The idea was to showcase the best in deep drum n bass, from new as well as established artists. The sound has evolved over time to include all styles of drum n bass, as long as it’s high calibre. I want the music to be able to stand the test of time – tracks that you’ll be able to listen to in years to come and think they are still great.
12 years is no easy task! Do you have an outlandish story or most memorable moment that you’d can share with us?
That’s a tough one! As far as memorable moments go, it has to be seeing Andy C rock out our 4th Birthday at Dojo Lounge back in 2007. One of the best sets I’ve ever seen! More recently, D-Bridge played our 12th birthday this February and absolutely killed it. He played for 3 hours and the vibe was incredible, he really went in with a diverse selection, lots of different styles of drum n bass got played. Randall came in with a killer history set too. It was a truly great way to celebrate 12 years!
What advice could you give to fellow event producers or label owners?
I would say the main thing is come up with a concept that is original, something that has not been done before in your city [and] that stands out as original. It’s hard at first, as people won’t be familiar and you might have your work cut out. Perseverance is key, and if you stand your ground and what you do is good, you will build up a solid following. It might take time and you will take a lot of knocks, but it will be worth it in the end.
It’s the same for running a label. You want to try and come with something different, otherwise you’re not bringing anything new and doing the same as everyone else. Try and always look for that certain spark that pricks up your ears. Then you want to cement your sound as a benchmark for quality. Take risks!
Let’s rewind a bit. Last year your label was in the Beatport top 100. How did it felt to be ranked in that group with the likes of Innerground, Liquid V, Metalheadz, Hospital and Ram, to name a few?
It was amazing, and totally unexpected. It’s great to see the hard work paying off after all these years. I have mad respect for the other labels up there, so to be alongside them is a real honor.
Last years compilation pushed a variety of sounds from the melodic, jazzy tunes to the more dance floor, rolling sounds. For Intrigue 12, which producers have you chosen and what can we expect?
Again I tried to come with a range of styles on the new album, and it’s something I’ll build on year on year. ‘Intrigue 13’ will have 13 different tunes. ‘Intrigue 14’ will have 14 and so on. For ‘Intrigue 12’ I wanted a range of producers, both established and new. I had worked on material with many of them such as Randall and Superior Selectionz already, so it made sense to put those tracks on the LP. In fact there are five tunes that I have co-produced, including one with Random Movement. This was made when he was on tour in Europe last year. It was also about bringing other names forward, like Break, Zero T, Raw Q, Jaybee and newcomer Lurch. There’s a real range of different styles, which is what I wanted. That’s the best thing about making a compilation. You can really go in with different sounds – as long as it all comes together and flows naturally in the end. That was the hardest part, making sure it all flowed nicely. I sat down for hours to determine the best possible running order of the tunes, no easy task.
How is it different or the same from previous releases?
It’s a bit harder than the last album, which reflects the changing styles of drum n bass. I don’t want to [be] pigeonholed as just being a ‘liquid’ label. I want Intrigue Music to be known for forward thinking, progressive drum n bass, whether it’s deep and musical or harder as long as it is quality music with an edge to it. Not run of the mill tunes…That is the aim!
You have a great relationship with artists from around the globe, USA, all over Europe and of course the UK. Intrigue 12 seems to fit that format as well as bridge the gap between new school and old school producers. Was that intentional?
It was certainly intentional to represent a diverse selection of artists from all around the world. It’s important to have a range of artists, both new and old, as it keeps the music fresh. I am lucky enough to know every artist on the album personally, so I spoke to them all directly and we decided what would be the best tunes. Some of them wanted to do remixes after hearing tunes from the back catalogue. We sat down and made it all happen, and the end result is really satisfying. You can really hear what every artist has brought to the table. You have the lush, deep musical sounds on there, as well as the harder more dancefloor sounds. It was important for the album to work in clubs as well as at home. It makes you want to dance, as well as working on a small hi-fi or laptop setup at home. That was really the aim.
What can we look out for from yourself, The Insiders and your label Intrigue in 2015 and beyond?
I’ve got a new batch of about 20 tunes that need to be finished and mixed down. That’s always the hardest part, actually mixing down the record. I’ve recently finished a track with Collette Warren and Bachelors of Science for their new album, as well as something with a producer from Bristol called Mirapid. I’ve also got another thing with Random Movement, and a new one with Randall in the works.
With The Insiders, we have a few new things coming – one on Mac II called ‘Keep On’ plus a few on Intrigue Music. Joe lives in Leicester these days and I live in Bristol, so it’s harder than it used to be to write tunes, but we’re getting back into the groove. We have just produced a track with Rider Shafique, which we’re really excited about.
I am working out the schedule for Intrigue Music for 2015 at the moment, deciding when all the tunes should all come out, and what format the releases should take. People always say “release vinyl, release vinyl”, but it’s hard as vinyl sales have slumped in recent years. I have new tunes from Lurch, Raw Q, Phase, Sinbin, Superior Selectionz and Stereotype, as well as more of my own material and co-labs with other artists. This year the schedule will be busier than ever as there’s just so much good music to get out. It’s really exciting, but I have to be careful to only put out the best I can, and not release average tunes. I am always on the look out for new material, and I strongly encourage artists to send in their demos to me by email at email@example.com
Any parting words or shouts?
I’d like to say a special thank you to everyone involved with Intrigue, the night and the label, and to anyone who’s ever come to the club or bought a release. Your support means a lot to me! My family and friends of course, everyone reading this and my San Diego peeps and American crew!
For more information on Ben Soundscape