Bonjour Ben delivers a moody, impromptu set as our eighteenth oleeva podcast. A subtle, reflective excursion from the accomplished German DJ.
1. Morning Ben, we've wanted you to do a podcast for quite some time, and then quite out of the blue, it was done. How did the podcast come about and what does the title mean? It definitely felt quite spontaneous.
Hey guys, I recorded the set in the beginning of June. It was one of the first warm days and I could finally meet some of my friends and be outside again. But at the same time all the festivals and gigs of this summer-season got cancelled. So maybe the set is my way of expressing the feeling of this emotion and that’s why I found the name so fitting. ("Solum In Lumine" means "Alone in the Light")
2. As someone who makes your living playing gigs and working for music festivals, how have these past few months been for you? I'm sure it must be challenging, but have you found any positives that have come from it?
To be honest- in the beginning I was actually really frustrated. Travels and gigs that I was really looking forward to, for example Pakistan and South Africa, were cancelled and at that point I started to realize that COVID-19 would actually affect the whole culture for the long term. But I also spend my spare time searching for music and finally had the time and serenity to consciously listen to whole albums. I also re-organized my music collection and gave a lot of thoughts to my "sound”, and how it might be transformed in the near future.What really helped me to stay positive was the support from the community, especially for my digital streams. I was involved in 5 streams now, and the feedback really pushed my motivation, which I’m really thankful for.
3. How do you think the festival and events industry will bounce back from it? Have you been involved in any discussions or heard news about the plans for events and clubs in Germany? People are so desperate to be together, dancing again. The world has been feeling like a dark place recently, with the rise of nationalism and far right politics, brexit, Trump, Covid-19 and the ever-growing list of murders comitted by US police. We really need that joyful escape and connection of dancing in a crowd to the music you love more than ever.
True words! For example in Berlin many clubs use their outdoor areas to host people again. You have to sign up at the entrance with your name and your phone number and are able to sit/eat while there is music playing in the background but you are not allowed to dance. That is mostly a new way to generate some money for the owners but definitely not a solution regarding the actual the problem. Many promoters use this to gain awareness of their financial crisis. There was a recent protest in Mannheim last week to preserve the club culture and every scene tries to actively raise awareness of the unfair situation locally. It is not easy for all of us and politicians have to understand that culture cannot be taken for granted, to be able to recover from this crisis.
4. Do you still have that lovely VW camper van? What's the story behind that?
Not a deep story at all, the attempt of deceleration and freedom. I bought it 5 years ago and it has been a loyal companion at many festivals since then. I gave it the nickname "Wanderdüne" which translates to traveling dune. :)
5. You had a lot of gigs last year, playing all over europe and even in the USA. It seems like you regularly play on the some of the most unique, creative and wonderful soundsystems we've ever seen. Do you have any in particular that were particularly special?
I had one of the most impressive experiences last year at the Fusion festival, where the Function One sound system was hanging down from two big cranes, and the row of subwoofers was like double my size. That was breathtaking and the energy of the sound itself was even present during more quiet breaks. It even made me aware of frequencies in my tracks that I’ve never even heard before. The sound systems in clubs that really stuck to my mind, are at Institute für Zukunft (Leipzig), as well the Heinz Hopper Floor (Katerblau) in Berlin which is also a Function One sound system but it definitely bangs.
6. You seem a little too good at taking photos of these booths, is that just having a good camera phone or is photography another passion of yours??
You stalked me on Instagram! Haha but thanks a lot for the heads up, I’m more than happy if people like my photos. I don’t really have any skills, just a smartphone and I just enjoy taking pictures! Especially while travelling it's great to freeze the memories and share them with friends!
7. You're being shipped off to a tiny desert island where you have to fend for yourself for the next few years. You're allowed to take 3 records with you, which do you take? They don't have to be records you own, it can be anything. And you're also allowed to 3 items that will improve your time, which 3 do you want!? A beautiful bamboo record player is already there so no need to lug a heavy 1210.
A Volleyball for the “Robinson Crusoe feeling“, a notepad + pencil and probably a tool box. I think that would be, at least in the beginning, the most useful tools that would keep me busy. The question regarding the records proves to be a little more difficult. 'Bitty Mclean – On Bond Street' and 'Frank Ocean – Channel Orange' would definitely travel with me. I could go on listening to both albums for a loooong time, when I’m on my own. I love both artists for their way to express their feelings in the songs, even though the music itself is really different. The third one would be something that reminds me of my teenage-years, maybe 'Damian Marley - Welcome To Jamrock', 'Gentleman - Journey To Jah' or 'Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication’. Either way, three records are definitely not enough.
8. And finally, what are you plans, hopes, dreams and fears over the year ahead?
I’m gonna start working full time in August again, which will hopefully take some of the financial pressure off me, due to the pandemic. Otherwise I’m just hoping that we can start dancing again soon, without feeling guilty and taking risks - in front of and behind the decks.
Dreams and fears? My dream would be that racism, discrimination and wars finally come to an end. My biggest fear, however, is that this may never happen. But I will use my voice in order not to lose faith in this utopia.
Ben, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.
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