Dubstep star Benga talks about his forthcoming live show
In recent times, live shows have become more commonplace within the world of electronic music – as things continue to evolve and move forward, artists have been seeking out new ways to perform their music. Typically a ‘live’ show is comprised an artist with their laptop, performing their music via Ableton Live – a program which allows the performer to use the various parts of their tracks to create an entirely unscripted, ad-libbed show for their audience. However, some artists have taken things a step further to perform their music with live vocalists. Dubstep superstar Benga has already had experience of performing live with his group Magnetic Man, but he’s also developed his own solo show, which features the vocal talents of Marlene Strand and Youngman. This Sunday sees the debut of the new show at Koko in Camden, north London. Here’s a brief chat we had recently about Deadly People & Red Bull Studios present Benga…
When and why did you conceive the idea of working on a live show? Why not just remain playing your tunes as a DJ?
I’ve been DJing for 10 years and I felt I’d reached all I could reach as a DJ and I wanted to take it to the next step, it was a case of ambition kicking in and I needed something fresh.
How long has it taken to get everything to the point where you feel confident enough to put the show out there?
I reckon it’s been 10 years of my musical production and then around six months on working on the idea for the actual show.
What problems, if any, have you encountered while planning/rehearsing everything?
There weren’t too many problems to be honest, there’s been a big team working together to make sure it all goes smoothly. The only problem would be me forgetting different bits of equipment at important times!
What have you learned from putting the live show together? Do you think it’s helped you improve as an artist?
Yeah production-wise most definitely. I’ve learned a lot timing wise and I’ve started to find it easier to let go of the music I’m making, it always takes me forever to let go of a track, it took me a long time to let go of my album.
Now you’re almost ready to roll with it, how do you feel about the prospect of performing your debut live show?
I’m ready for it! It’s a new chapter, a fresh challenge and I find that exciting.
As we already know Prince Harry likes a bit of dubstep – but what do you think the Queen would make of your show?
Haha, I know she’d be a fan of my show. I’m not sure if she’d like dubstep but she’d love my show, it’s universal.
How did you hook up with the other musicians and what role does each of them play?
Having live singers for the show brings a totally different dimension to the performance. Marlene who sings on quite a few of the album tracks makes me think about song structure a lot more. It’s been nice to see where someone else can take my record and bring a different vibe to it.
Have you taken any advice from more experienced live performers or have you managed the whole project yourself?
I’ve taken a lot from the Magnetic Man side of things. Artwork has been a big inspiration on what I’m doing. My tour manager as well has been a big influence.
How long is the show going to be and what does it consist of? …i.e. are there specific visuals, is it going to be quite rigid in terms of the set list or will you be ad-libbing/jamming at certain points?
The performance will be around one-hour long, it’ll be a mix of the old and new material. We have Marlene and Youngman on the road with us full-time as vocalists. The stage set up will vary from show to show but it’s looking very nice. There will be big lighting columns programmed to match the beats of the music. I don’t want to say too much, come down to a show and find out!
There are a lot of musicians who are implementing their own ‘live show’ – why do you think this is?
It’s different to DJing and a new challenge for everyone. You have to up your game and keep changing.
You’ve achieved a lot in quite a short space of time, what does the future hold for yourself in terms of your musical aspirations?
I want to take the live show to the main stages of festivals and arenas. I want to make an album every year. Three albums in three years, that’s the plan.
Catch Benga live along with Joker, Dismantle, AlunaGeorge, Youngman plus a special guest on Sunday, 3 June at Koko. For more information visit www.koko.uk.comTagged in: Benga, Camden, Dubstep, Koko, Live Show, magnetic man
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