We continue our Mixtapes series with an exciting young artist that is taking the deep house world by storm.
Next up we welcome Swiss DJ and producer King Ben who is probably the pure opposite of a late bloomer - more of an early starter. Ben grew up near Zurich in a home with a wide variety of influences: His mother is Turkish, his father, who is a gifted jazz musician is Swiss, plus both have Spanish and Polish roots. No wonder Ben started playing the piano at the age of nine and after watching a DJ play for the first time at the age of twelve, Ben was hooked. Instead of buying an electric bass guitar, he invested all the money he had saved into his DJ set up. The investment paid off and he started to DJ at the age of 13, developing a unique groove sound and landing his first gig at the legendary Sputnik Radio.
King Ben was now arguably one of Switzerland's youngest DJs and was already bringing the big dance floors to the boil by injecting his trademark deep house sound into venues. Ben also landed residencies at hip clubs such as Zoo Club and Silo. Not only that, together with his brother, who organised parties and ran a club, Ben spent many late and early shifts behind the turntables. A self-confessed Deep House addict, the parties alone were no longer enough for Ben, resulting in him spending long hours in his studio creating new tracks.
His organic, melodic and yet downtempo sound probably reflects his personality and his diverse cultural, creative musical influences which are drawn in from jazz, hip hop and pop. In the studio, Ben forgets time and experiments for days and weeks on a new track, getting lost in a bubble of sound tinkering. It didn't take long for Ben to get noticed with his first release on a small label in Germany, followed by further releases on Berlin labels such as Kindisch, Bar 25 and others. Today his tracks are played by international stars appearing in DJ sets, radio shows and guest mixes with a release portfolio that now spans across Berlin, Switzerland and the US. We caught up with Ben to find out more.
Hi Ben, how are you and what have you been up to this week?
Thanks, I'm doing great. This week the release 'Miracle', which is out on now on Berlin label Ouïe Circle, has certainly been the main topic musically. The EP also features a great track with Acid Pauli.
Apart from that, I am already back in the studio. I'm a Dad, have a young dog who doesn't listen much, I'm a graphic designer and a husband... Therefore I'm certainly not bored!
I read recently that you started to play the piano at the age of nine, have you always been surrounded by music?
Yes, always. My father is a jazz addict, my grandmother was a concert pianist and my parents always had parties at home.
There was always music playing and that's when I wanted to make it myself. After playing the piano, my brother's best friend taught me to mix at the age of 12 plus my brother had an underground club in Zurich.
Who has inspired you the most musically?
Music inspires me to make music.
What's the music scene like in Switzerland right now? We welcomed Kellerkind a few years ago and we got the impression that Switzerland is a hotbed of great electronic music.
We have a lot of great electronic producers in Switzerland such as Pablo Nouvelle, Kellerkind, Milo Häfliger, Andrea Oliva, Animal Trainer and many more! We also have great singers and producers in the pop world. I think sometimes, we the Swiss, need to prove ourselves a little bit more, that we can do it too. Because of this it can take us a little longer to get where we want to be.
Where are some of your top recommendations to party in Switzerland?
I love the summer in Zurich, where life takes place outside in bars, at parties, day parties & restaurants. Otherwise I like Klaus, Zukunft & Hive.
You have released tracks on some of our favourite labels. Are there any releases that are your stand-out favourites or that have special memories or resonance with you?
I am grateful for each of my releases on different labels but I think having been part of Berlin's electronic music label scene has stayed with me, especially when I started out and I was featured on the Bar 25 compilation.
What else can you tell us about future releases, anything exciting in the pipeline? There is an EP coming out on Akbal Music and a lot of new stuff in the making, which I can't reveal just yet.
When producing music, do you have any favourite tools, programmes or instruments that you just love to use?
What is certainly in each of my productions are various tools from Native Instruments, Arturia filters and synths and my Korg MS-20. The rest is dependent on the track.
Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?
There are a lot of great artists but the ones I've always liked are still my favourites.
As producers, Nico Stojan, Martin Buttrich, Acid Pauli, Viken Arman, Armen Miran & Stimming. For DJ-Sets it's Mira & Leni. However, there are so many to choose from.
What are your go-to labels?
I can proudly say that I am signed to some great labels. Thanks at this point to them for believing in me! Kindisch, Ouïe Circle, Bar 25, Wayu, Hoomidaas & Akbal Music.
You have compiled our latest Berlin Mixtapes Series Episode 044 - Tell us more about your mix.
For me it was important to not create a static mix but to be varied and not just play current tracks.
What else can we expect from you soon? What's next on the horizon for DJ gigs wise or productions? Where can people see you next?
I will be playing on a float at Pride in Zurich!
Thanks for spending some time with us, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Thanks for having me :)
Exciting stuff! It's been an absolute pleasure talking with you Ben. Next up here's the Quickfire Round:
Genre: Organic House
Favourite Colour: Black & Green
Where are you based: Zurich
What do you put on your chips? Sweet Chili Sauce
Apple or Android: Apple
Ableton or Logic: Ableton/Maschine
Can you juggle?: Probably when I am drunk :-)
Weirdest/Coolest item of clothing: Fish sandals
Do you collect anything? Cook books
Best club: It was the Silo, an underground club, which unfortunately no longer exists
Favourite Bar/Pub: Kronenhalle Bar
Best Beer: Peroni
Favourite thing to eat: Ding tai fung dumplings
View on Sauerkraut: You love it or you have it... I hate it.
Favourite Wurst: St. Galler Bratwurst
Weirdest food you have eaten? I tried a skewer in Thailand where I still don't know what it was....
How do you like your eggs? Scrambled
Coffee or Tea: Coffee for sure
Spring, summer, autumn or winter? Summer
Favourite Sports Team: Chicago Bulls
Favourite Track right now: Mend It - Lazarusman
Favourite word: Yallah
3 words to describe your mix: Variety, Melodic, Daydreaming
Agenda (Original Mix) - Flieder - Moodfamily
Miracle (Original Mix) - King Ben - Ouïe Circle
White Spring (Original Mix)- Normen Hood - Casomat
Witcher (Original Mix)- Jean Vayat - Go Deeva Records
Amazonica (Powel Remix) - Esteble - When We Dip XYZ
Sinergia (Original Mix)- Peve, Nehli - Hoomidaas
Nalani (Original Mix) - Luc Angenehm - MBF ltd
Just Friends feat. D'aria (Original Mix) - Latteo, D'aria - Kindisch
Higher Than Me (Mira & Christopher Schwarzwalder Remix) - Ed Ed & JJ Dawson - Frau Blau
Asira (Original Mix) - Deividas Bagdanov - Lump Records
Lumingo (Original Mix) - Alex Galvan - WAYU Records
Tucumán (Original Mix)- Fabian Krooss, Kon Faber - Saisons
Na Kryle feat. Hodila Izba (Volen Sentir & Izhevski Retouch) - Izhevski & Volen Sentir - RADI MIRA I LUBVI
Mundos Diferentes (Kon Faber Remix) - Elias Dore & Raya Amello - Serafin Audio Imprint
Hawa (Original Mix) - Nhii, Elif (TR) - The Gardens of Babylon