No Pleasure Beyond This Point _ Interview with Videohead.
Videoheads ethos and aesthetic is that the next production has to be completely different from the last. Combining sound recordings, synthesis and extreme manipulation, he is difficult to fit into any one genre. Ben and long-term collaboration partner, Dead Sound – are synonymous with raw and pummelling, broken beat Techno. They have releases and remixes on Perc Trax, Gynoid and Acroplane to name but a few.
He’ll be providing us with the first mix for our new subsekt show on Fnoob – which goes out every 4 weeks @ 2200GMT / 4th May 2012. In advance of this, we caught up with him to find out what we’ve let ourselves in for..
Hi Ben, how are things? So.. what did you want to be when you grew up?
Taller – Haha! No I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I started making music. I messed about with it for a few years never really made anything with the intention of releasing it to the public. Theres still hundreds of tunes, just sitting on various hard-drives of all different styles that i’ve produced. They’ve just sat there since. I’ve never really been big on sending much stuff out, cos I’ve always had that ethos in the back of my mind that I make music that i enjoy listening to. Most of it will probably never see the light of day, but every now and again i go into there for inspiration and sometimes come across one and think, no way, how the fuck did i do that haha..
But answering your question, I probably still don’t really know if I’ll ever grow up so its a bit of a question that I cant truly answer. I’ve had the same job to keep me in equipment and party treats for the past 11 years… I wont bore you with that…
What is the split in your life with music vs. life commitments?
Music has always been first. Its a tonic.. not just listening – but producing, mixing, anything where I play an active part comes first. Work is a means to an end.. thats all. Family is cool but I don’t have any kids or a wife or anything so I pretty much get most of my time to myself. I spend a lot of time experimenting with different things that I want to know how to do. I have always been able to come up with ideas and then spend hours trying to realise them. Recently I got into audiovisual stuff and have a few ideas that i am working on with interactive AV installation stuff, but when you have so many ideas it also becomes hard to share time between hobbies and interests equally. I usually spend a month or two tampering with one project then something else will come up so I drop that for whatever feels most relevant at the time and then go back to it later. Except producing. That is always boxed off first time.
What was the very 1st single / album that you remember buying?
Probably from what I can remember Prodigy Out of Space cassette single. Memory is hazy though haha. I honestly cant remember being fanatical about anything music wise at school, I was just having fun and getting into trouble.
And where did the love of visuals and video come from? Does it fight with the music? Or do they both get the chance to breathe?
I probably love them both equally. I wouldn’t have one without the other and they go hand in hand. I’ve always just loved films. As I got older, friends got me into world cinema and I became a bit of a film geek, its good to be able to appreciate the scores to films and the films to scores if that makes sense. Having them together is just a bonus. I love making videos which are experimental and music videos, but it is very time consuming. Producing music is a far quicker and rewarding hobby in the short term. Video and audio visual stuff takes time, rendering is the bain of my life!
Great fucking mix Ben. You said it was a journey through techno, and that’s exactly what it is. Run us through the set-up you used for it?
Its in Ableton. A live mix using an Akai Apc40 to jam in what I wanted with a Korg ESX alongside for samples from my own tracks fucked up and thrown in. I do mixes like I produce music. I do everything pretty much with Ableton and my ESX’s now. I’m not a traditional music programmer. I cant sit and micro manage everything until it is all pristine. I am a “jammer” and spend a very short time after tidying things up if they need it. I have to do stuff basically live or it doesn’t work for me.
Your productions are tough and relentless. I know it’s you the second I hear a track. How do you describe your sound?
I don’t really know how to if im honest. Its always evolving but always sort of has the same sound. When I listen back to a track, or no.. A better example would be when I upload a track to soundcloud and its asking for genre I find it comical sometimes, cos I have no idea. Most things fit somewhere into the techno category but thats only because I’m lazy I suppose… I don’t know, who makes genres up anyway.
How did you start producing? Were you musical to begin with?
I started producing really at the same time my love for what I call “decent electronica” began; early 20’s. We were at a house party and my mate had an old drum machine. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. Been on a journey since then and have tried out loads of different hardware and equipment, but I am not musically trained. Well.. I have a certificate but only cuz we blagged it at University. I just use my ear for everything really. I didn’t start using a computers in my music until about 2 years after I’d been using machines. Its funny, cos one of the first pieces of kit I bought was a Roland V-synth years back, and when it turned up, it was this massive fucking keyboard and it didn’t even have a usable sequencer. I couldn’t play it and I didn’t have anything to record it into… Its a story I suppose haha! Luckily I swapped that for a whole pack of Korg Electribes. I’ve tried loads of stuff MPCs, Rolands, Samplers, Drum machines, synths, but always come back to the Electribe. The ESX to be specific. I have two of those that i use in our (Dead Sound & Videohead) Live sets.. but I’m also a assize Ableton geek. I’ve probably spend more hours on Ableton in the past 5 years than I have slept..
What was the toughest production nut you’ve had to crack & how did you do it?
I don’t know really.. I think athestetic. Used to listen to tracks and think, how did they get that sound, then once you figure it out… It makes life so much easier and opens a whole new platform for production. I’ll let people figure that out for themselves though haha.
IF you made £5000 from record sales – what would you spend it on?
Would probably go towards moving to Berlin.. I just love the place.
So, you played at Ghetto Blaster in Stoke recently, how was that? Whats the scene around there like & are there any other producers to keep an eye on?
Ah.. The night was amazing. Its run by one of my very good friends Dean Shelley and he has put a lot of time and effort into it. Its not the biggest of nights going.. cos Stoke has become a massive haven of musically challenged moronic scenesters, who wouldn’t know good electronica if it came up and smashed them in the face with a brick.
Luckily, those that do know, know. Thats what keeps small nights like that afloat. And as for Stoke producers theres a few really talented producers. Dead Sound obviously. A massively talented DJ and Producer, who has taught me a lot along the way. Mazzula makes Electro and I really love his stuff. Well recommended. Kev Willis too. There are a few.
Wheres the furthest place techno has brought you.. Any exotic gigs coming up?
Berlin. Few gigs lined up with Dead Sound. We get quite a few enquiries for gigs abroad but we are constantly busy, doing one thing or another, so its hard to pin us down. We have a few gigs lined up in England over the next few months, Manchester in May and AUM in Birmingham in July. That should be fun. Never played in Birmingham before but going to nights like Atomic Jam at the Que Club is where for me techno will always be best heard.. so will be a good vibe for me that one.
Will you tell us about the venue for Fuck TV. It’s an unreal track, but the vibe of that place looked quality.
Haha, yeah was a pretty mad party that. I was er, satisfyingly nailed before the gig.. so the gig itself was for me off the scale. It was set in a small basement in a big house in Manchester. We did it for one of our friends birthdays and it turned into a bit of a scene from skins.. except the adult crack den version haha. Very messy fun! Just how we like it.
End of the set – One more tune – whats your favourite track to finish on?
Whatever feels right at the time really.. don’t like planning that far ahead as playing out is always a live set.
Things are starting to wind down at the party – what track do you have to play?
Again it depends on how I’m feeling. Probably something horrible. Something obnoxious and noisy, that makes people wanna crawl up their own arses. Serves them right for winding down. Not on my watch.
So, whats next in terms of releases for you? Anything coming up with Dead Sound?
Yeah we are trying to get a special vinyl done and release it ourselves; its all in the vein of and will contain fuck tv. That track is just a warm up though really. We have a few special plans for the vinyl release and other stuff in the pipeline always. We are busy anyway.
Where / how did you guys meet up? Who’s the bad cop in the relationship? ; )
We met at a few parties, I was the one sitting in the corner on the drum machine and he was a really talented computer producer and DJ. We just hooked up one day and got talking, then got jamming and its been the same ever since. Bad Cop… Fuck the police.. We are renegades, and I’d say we are both as bad as each other. I reckon he would agree. We are both “outspoken” Haha.
When you need to chill out away from music – how do you like to relax? Any other passions apart from Music & Visuals?
Well I love a good party, but that involves music and if I’m not producing, playing or at a party, I would probably be watching a film or making a video. I like to do stencil work too, so I suppose that isn’t music or film.
Most Techno people seem to have Cats. Do you have any pets? : )
I’m not answering this on principle. Pets? And do they? Did you survey it?
Who’s a cunt?
If I’m honest, probably me. I have.. a way with words. Lets put it that way. But I know a few to be fair. Oh and most people too. Idiots.
Who’s a hero?
Batman? Thom Yorke I’d say is my hero because he is a musical genius. John Peel was a bit of a legend for the underdog.
And finally – What was the best piece of advice that you ever got?
Don’t answer any questions relating to pets.. ever.. haha, no its probably to do with doing what you want.
Don’t let society or people tell you what to do.. or make you do what they want you to do.
I think thats why we do what we do. The worlds getting bogged down in bullshit, commercial fucking nonsense and bullshit corrupt politics. I don’t own a tv or a radio except in my car and I rarely use that. I had the unfortunate displeasure of switching to Radio 1 recently and nearly vomited.
Avoid all those would be my advice.
Videohead’s mix is available from the Archive.
Dead Sound & Videohead on Juno: http://www.junodownload.com/artists/Dead+Sound+%2526+Videohead/releases/
Videohead Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/videohead666
Dead Sound & Videohead Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeadSound.Videohead