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EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Benjha

..If you read this blog, you’re probably aware of Benjha, the project of Nikos Vezanis, a very talented up-and-coming Greek producer. After taking his first musical steps as a drummer for various Athenian bands, Nikos started producing electronic music (with a strong element of rythmic experimentation) as Benjha. His latest official release is "Gravity", a single that appears on "Trust" compilation, the debut release of Nicolas Jaar‘s subscription label Other People. In anticipation to his next releases, we asked him to talk about himself, his musical influences, and his future plans. Read our interview and listen to his brand new track, Frames, below. He’s definitely a producer worth keeping an eye on..

Zac: What is your background? Tell us how you first got into electronic music.

Benjha: I grew up in Athens, a city with a vibrant youth music scene. Loads of bands would do shows in universities, cultural spaces, or small clubs. In high school, my friends and I got into organizing small shows in the city’s center. I started off as a drummer because I liked rhythm and didn’t have any formal music training. We’d mostly play punk, which I think has influenced my own music’s obsession with energy and rhythm. When I left Athens to study abroad, I no longer had access to a band, and was all out of musical outlets – so when a friend introduced me to FL Studio, I immediately got hooked. It was a very new thing for me: with software, I had no practical limitations; and without bandmates, I had 100% creative control. And so began the steady and fruitful love affair between my PC and I, now responsible for the birth of hundreds of weird soundchildren.

Zac: What’s the story behind your name?

Benjha: I am very bad at picking names and sticking to them, which is why it seemed right for me to pick a name that was picked by others instead. A long time ago, when I was in 8th grade, I was nicknamed by my classmates after the Belgian footballer Émile Mpenza, because his last name sounded like the first two syllables of my own last name (I like to tell myself it is also because I had some pretty serious soccer skills, so lets say so too). Mpenza became “Benja” due to greek accentuation, but that name was taken by a few other artists. A couple of years ago, after seeing the band Wooden Shjips perform live, I decided that an arbitrary silent letter would be the perfect solution to my problem. It would distinguish me from other “Benjas” and simultaneously connote a sense of exoticism and profoundness I could have never achieved otherwise. Joking aside though, I like the way it looks.

Zac: Can you tell us a few things about your latest releases? How did you come into working with Nicolas Jaar and Other People?

Benjha: My latest (and debut physical) release is a track called Gravity. It is part of a compilation release called Trust, which is also the debut release of the label Other People. I met Nico before one of his shows in San Francisco, and proceeded to send him some of my tracks via email. He listened to them and liked them, so he asked me to be part of his label, then called Clown and Sunset.

Zac: Which is the ideal place to listen to your music?

Benjha: Outside in any city with your headphones on. Most preferably during a heat wave, or in sub-zero winter.

Zac: What is your source of inspiration?

Benjha: I’d say we all have external and internal sources of inspiration. Externally, I am inspired by movies with good soundtracks and music concerts– because both invite you to interact with music in a very engaging way. Internally, I think nostalgia is a strong source. I’ve moved around a good amount and left people and places behind, often not voluntarily. This has made me develop a relationship with nostalgia. Not to say I am a sad person, quite the contrary. I just think I have taught myself to appreciate nostalgia, and to leverage its power for productive purposes.

Zac: Which city inspires you most?

Benjha: I’d say the Greek countryside or islands are the most inspiring, but paradoxically the hardest to make music once there. Who wants to stay in and veg when there’s so much beauty outside? When you do, however, it comes out well.

Zac: Which are your favorite tracks/artists at the moment?

Benjha: Tough one! I like listening to albums instead of single tracks, so I’ll answer by listing the albums stored in my phone right now: "DJ Koze – Amygdala", "Miles Davis – Bitches Brew", "Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues", "Young Montana? – Limerence", "Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap", and this amazing afrobeat/funk collection called "Ghana Soundz". In the general electronic sphere, I’m especially enjoying Lapalux, fLako and Jai Paul.

Zac: What is your favorite sound?

Benjha: Probably some crisp percussion drums over the crackling sound of vinyl. Personally, I love the dialogues that develop between two sounds, rather than the monologue of each sound alone. For instance, a lushly textured atmosphere will make a percussion or melody feel different than without it, just like a carpet underneath a piece of furniture, or a frame around a picture. I don’t think you can rationalize the effects of such a relationship as clearly as you would the relationship between melody and mood. They are a bit more obscure and maybe that’s their intrigue.

Zac: How do you chill out?

Benjha: Routinely, my chill session involves having drinks and making a fool out of myself on the dance floor. But my special, annual Chill session – with a capital C – involves camping on an isolated beach with a good group of friends.

Zac: Which is the latest book you read?

Benjha: ‘Galápagos’ by Kurt Vonnegut. I recommend it, along with most of his other books. The man is brilliant.

Zac: What are you most excited about right now?

Benjha: I just moved back to Athens. So I’m excited about 2 things. Eating more Greek food and seeing the seasons change. Basically, I’m an old man.

Zac: What are your plans for the future?

Benjha: Hopefully I’ll be releasing new music sometime soon in the form of an LP. But it’s still a project in the making for now, so this is a very loose announcement. I will also be releasing an EP of recent works through a Canadian label called Blenheim and Celtic, as well as my first EP Atáxia, which will be pre-released on my Bandcamp page, hopefully by the end of the month. (

Zac: How do you see today’s Greek electronic scene?

Benjha: I am still discovering, but so far I’ve met people in Greece who are doing really great things. And there are more and more events and festivals that showcase new, original music. I am also grateful to have found it pretty welcoming so far, as I have already been invited to do a few Dj/live set appearances in the near future.

Thank you!

Benjha’s Gravity is out now on Other-People. Check out a live set for a Silent Disco event in Bordeaux (7th June 2013), performed by Benjha on synths and pads + David Sampethai on the mic and guitar. Visit his soundcloud page for more.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Starwalker

You may already be familiar with Starwalker, the electro-pop supergroup comprised of Frenchman Jean-Benoit Dunckel (of AIR) and Icelandic composer Bardi Johannsson (of Bang Gang). The duo has just released its debut single, Bad Weather. Reminiscent of both of their past projects, it is as immediate as anything AIR has put out since Talkie Walkie, with panoramic atmospherics courtesy of Johannsson. Its darkly evocative new video, directed by Saevar Gudmundsson and Jeaneen Lund was filmed in Iceland. It follows Dunckel and Johannsson walking through a majestic, deserted landscape, as mysterious hooded figures and black balloons come in and out of the frame, suggesting a kind of fragile, uncertain peace. By the end of the video, the black balloons fade into the ether, like the “Bad Weather” of the past has faded into the recesses of our mind.

We caught up with the pair to discuss about their debut, their musical influences, and their future plans. Read our mini-interview and make sure to get "Bad Weather" here, backed with an amazing remix by Bloodgroup.

Zac: What’s the story behind your name?

Starwalker: We needed a good name for our project.

Zac: How did you guys meet and end up making music together?

Starwalker: We have a common friend that hooked us up, after we tried working on a track and then another and then another and then another and then another and then another and then another and then another and then another and now they are 8…

Zac: Can you tell us a few things about your debut single? What has influenced you the most?

Starwalker: Bad Weather was the first song we worked on together. It combines the universe of ours and is a good Icelandic / French mix. In the lyrics you can find the contrasts of our lives.

Zac: What sort of music were you listening to when you made the song?

Starwalker: We don’t listen to music together. We make it. This collaboration is a good field to try new things and look find a new common sound.

Zac: The "Bad Weather" video clip was screened 24 hours a day throughout the Berlin subway. Why did you choose Berlin? Which is your favorite destination?

Starwalker: Yes it’s cool to have given to Berliners a quick view of the north of Island. Why Berlin? Bbecause we think that this track could work over here. Because of the soundtracky melancholic aspect of the song. Favorite destination? Not berlin sorry. Even if we love it. The south of Europe or south America is very attracting.

Zac: If your first release was a movie which was would it be?

Starwalker: H2G2, hitchickers of the galaxies. I love the charactor who plays the architect of earth at the end of the movie.

Zac: Which is the ideal place to listen to your music?

Starwalker: Taking a bath with a glass of red wine and some girls making dinners in the living room.

Zac: What are you most excited about right now?

Starwalker: About the following. We made the next video and very exited to release it. Also we’ll do a show in Island in March and we’e gonna finish some funky tracks that we love.

Zac: What’s next for Starwalker? Should we expect a new single soon or more remixes?

Starwalker: EP in February with a video. And probably another video in June?

Zac: Music sales and media have changed so much since you first started. How it feels about selling music online and how it feels about illegal music downloads?

Starwalker: People have been trained to download illegaly music. Music became a new economy. Not vertical anymore. No more from up (the factory) to down (the consumers). But from the artist to directly the listeners who consume if they want to. An Horizontal new business. Power back to the people. But creativity rules as ever.

Thank you!

Starwalker’s debut EP is coming soon.

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with David Vangel

David Vangel, a.k.a. "Vangel", is a Toronto based producer & live performer. Since embarking on his own musical journey in 2005, Vangel has released a string of instrumental EPs that have confused and amazed music lovers and muddled the boundaries between such genres as electronic, hip hop, jazz, rock, and folk.

All his talents were unleashed with his debut LP, Breadth Control, on the (recently closed) Berlin’s Equinox Records. A mind altering affair loaded with emotive melodies, explosive dynamics, and savage gauntlets of fierce drum programming, Breadth Control moves listeners with orchestral string arrangements and an overall cinematic quality that creates abstract visions ranging from optimism to melancholy.

We caught up with Vangel to talk about his new 4-track EP, BNAPTH, his musical influences, and his future plans. Read our interview below and make sure to buy his latest release here (or digitally here). The EP is also available from 5&1/4 Records in 50 limited edition Coloured Floppies (!) with custom stickers as encasing for CDs, available exclusively from

A story contains but few words… Born. Walked. Kept walking…

Zac: What is your background? Tell us how you first got into electronic music.

David: I’m assuming you mean musical background? I first started playing music in Junior school: band, strings quartet, symphony orchestra. I thought I was a rapper in high school and even through the first few years in university. My first serious independent musical venture was djing. I think after that, I was hooked. After a while I got into production and songwriting. I’ve kept same that focus up until now…..

Zac: Can you tell us a few things about your latest release? 

David: BNAPTH is the newest release. People seemed to be confused by the title. It’s Bath + Nap. B-NAP-eTH. It’s a Jazz/HipHop affair, instrumental, with some vocal chops. It’s on iTunes and available as a Limited CD encased in a vintage 5&1/4 floppy courtesy of 5&1/4 Records. It was mixed more as a hiphop release than any of earlier releases, less moody, and I believe slightly more giving to the average "hiphop head".

Zac: How many floppies do you own?

David: Too many! For a while, when I was more involved with 5&1/4, we had a recycling program with a local school board that was sending us boxes of thousands on a weekly basis. The weekly deliveries eventually slowed down, but obviously that had to stop. After a bit, the issue became storage. We have enough in storage to support the label’s releases for the next ten years and beyond.

Zac: How did you come into working with film team Primitive Replica? How do you see today’s consumerism?

David: I met Henry through work; we are both work in Education in Toronto; then I met Sean through Henry. They are the main brain of Primitive Replica. They were really supportive during the Breadth Control release with Equinox, and ended making a stellar Video for "Split Visionary" about a year after the official release. They just did the newest Video for "DumDum" off BNAPTH. These guys are dope; I know nothing bout film, colour, framing; but they’re teaching me.

I see today’s consumerism as a reflection of what we believe life to be, or be about. We live to buy; we buy to live. This is a obviously a uniquely North American and "1st world" phenomenon; as the rest of the world is simply trying figure out how to survive off the marginalization we are feeding them. Sadly, consumerism seems to be one of the strongest intersections for cultures to interact within in modern times. It’s ok though, cheer up; Christmas is around the corner.

Zac: Any thoughts about the closure of Equinox Records?

David: A million, but I think I shared most of thoughts concisely here: Huge shout out to DJ Scientist and the EQX family.

Zac: Which is the ideal place to listen to your music?

David: Depends. I guess it would be on a song-to-song basis. I would consider most of what I have released thus far as "listening" music; so as to say, "it’s not for the club". I think most of it is appropriate for hanging around your apartment cooking, painting, reading, doodling, stretching. The apartment is not necessary though. Works just as well with an mp3 player in the streets.

Zac: HipHop, Jazz, or a mixture? What is your source of inspiration?

David: I’s have to say a mixture, although, admittedly, I’ve been listening to nothing but older Jazz for the last 6 months. HipHop is the lil sister of Jazz anyway, so it’s all Jazz really. Some things I revisited recently were put in this guest Mix I did for Laid Back:

Zac: Which are your favorite tracks/artists at the moment?

David: Good ones.

Zac: What is your favorite sound?

David: True silence. A thousand times over; the single best sound.

Zac: How do you chill out?

David: Chilling for me usually involves getting away from the studio and moving. Skating, swimming, family, walking, sleeps, baths, naps, food, friends, laundry, cook, clean, eat, & stretch. Never in that order, though.

Zac: What are you most excited about right now?

David: ….im most excited about turning everything I’ve done upside down, shaking it violently, and re-envisioning how the mess falls out. And by that I mean: I’m excited to try new things, ignore any rule or maxim I’ve discovered, and re-enter the musical artist realm with a fresh hat on. The brim will be stiff, and the tag, still attached.

Zac: What are your plans for the future?

David: Lots of music, eat, sleep, & work. Simple.

David Vangel’s new BNAPTH EP is out now. Stream and order below.

EXCLUSIVE: Mini-Interview with Morcheeba

Some 18 years ago, the Godfrey brothers (DJ Paul Godfrey and multi-instrumentalist Ross Godfrey) recruited Skye Edwards as vocalist, during a chance meeting at a party in which both brothers were introduced to Edwards. This led to the formation of Morcheeba. Now, the multi-million-selling electronic music pioneers are back with their 8th album, ‘Head Up High,’ which releases worldwide through [PIAS] on the 14th October. ‘Gimme Your Love’ is the first single to be released from the band’s new album, an infectious synth-driven track which is lifted Skye-wards by a melting vocal and hooky chorus. Below, you can watch the Prano Bailey-Bond directed accompanying video, which portrays Skye in a dizzying kaleidoscope of technicolor, her ethereal beauty exemplified by the sensational floral backdrop and billowing silk gowns.

With anticipation for the official release of ‘Head Up High’, we caught up with Paul Godfrey to talk about the new album, their musical influences, and their future plans. Read our mini-interview and make sure to pre-order ‘Head Up High’ here:
Zac: "Head Up High" is your 8th album! What makes this record different from your older material? Have these new bass sounds and the so-called ‘post-dubstep’ productions influenced you?

Paul: Yes I’d say although this album has all the markings of a Morcheeba classic, it is different. We’ve used new grooves from other areas of electronic music where normally we stuck to Hip Hop rhythms. This album was created with the beats first which allowed us to write songs in new ways.

Zac: Your new album is more uptempo that your previous ones. Which is the ideal place to listen to it?

Paul: The record sounds great in the car on a sunny journey somewhere foreign.

Zac: The album plays hosts to a truly stellar mix of guest features. Do you write down a list of people you want to work with before you set out to do the album or do things just sort of ‘happen’? What about Ana Tijoux and Breaking Bad tv show.

Paul: Things just fell into place with the guests on this record. We were very happy to receive contributions from such talented people. I discovered "White Denim" on a blog and loved them so Ross made contact with James Petralli in L.A. I was already aware of most of the rappers we worked with but I was watching Breaking Bad and heard Ana Tijoux’s "1977". I flipped and realised we needed to work with her too.

Zac: The analogue elements and live instrumentation are evident on your new album. Did your methods of making music changed? 

Paul: We have always tried to find the perfect balance of organic and electronic sound which can be very challenging. With this record I had a pretty clear idea of how it would work and it came together nicely. Ross and Skye make my job as a producer very easy.

Zac: Do you like other producers remixing your songs? Will you release a remix album?

Paul: Sometimes remixes can be incredible but most of the time they are below average. If we get enough good ones maybe we could release a remix album…

Zac: What sort of music were you listening to when you made the album? 

Paul: Many different styles but mostly electronic, contemporary, bass heavy jams.

Zac: Music sales and media have changed so much since you first started. Do you read online press about yourself? How it feels about selling music online and how it feels about illegal music downloads?

I love the digital age as a consumer, we are very lucky to have been born at such a time. I miss the old record industry but I prefer living in the present.

Zac: Future plans and tours? Which is your favorite destination?

Paul: We always have a great time playing in Greece. Ross and I have spent many holidays there so it feels like home.

Zac: On December 14 you will play live in Athens. What should we expect?

Paul: We will be playing some new songs and some old ones with our favourite live musicians. The new tracks have really shaken things up so it will be exciting for all of us.

Thank you Paul Godfrey..

Morcheeba have confirmed the following shows in Europe this Autumn/Winter, with more worldwide dates to be announced in 2014.

Full European Live Dates:
24th Oct Roxy, Prague
26th Oct Den Atelier, Luxembourg
28th Oct Theaterfabrik, Munich
29th Oct Gibson, Frankfurt
30th Oct C-Club, Berlin
1st Nov Gruenspan, Hamburg
2nd Nov Kantine, Cologne
4th Nov Paradiso, Amsterdam
5th Nov Het Depot, Leuven
7th Nov Olympia, Paris
8th Nov Krakatoa, Bordeaux
9th Nov Bikini, Toulouse
10th Nov Theatre Du Moulin, Marseille
12th Nov La Rodia, Besancon
13th Nov Laiterie Club, Strasbourg
14th Nov Komplex 457, Zurich
15th Nov Thonex Live, Geneva
17th Nov Gorilla, Manchester
18th Nov ABC, Glasgow
19th Nov Forum, London
1st Dec Meo Arena, Lisbon
2nd Dec Porto Coliseum, Porto
3rd Dec But, Madrid
5th Dec Culture Factory, Girona
7th Dec WUK, Vienna
8th Dec Culture factory, Zagreb
10th Dec Durer Kert, Budapest
11th Dec Arenele Romane, Bucherest
13th Dec NDK Hall 3, Sofia
14th Dec Gargarin, Athens.