Benga is a busy man. As well as being one third of Croydon Dubstep outfit Magnetic Man and releasing track ‘Rockstar’ in April, the 25-year old musician is embarking on an European tour which will include his first ever live show in June at KOKO, Camden with Dismantle, Joker and Youngman.
However before taking off for the start of his Euro trek, Skiddle managed to sideline the Londoner for a chat about his new album, working with Katy B and Dubstep going pop…
So you’re jetting off to Amsterdam as we speak, tell us what you are up to at the moment?
I’m finishing off my album, fine-tuning it I guess. It’s been finished for a while but it’s really hard to just give it up and not work on it so I was doing that. But I guess today is the last day of that and now I am on tour.
Tell us a bit about the tour, where will you be hitting?
Right, so over the next coming weeks until March 15th I have sixteen dates. Amsterdam wasn’t originally part of the tour but it kind of had to be fitted in. After this I am going to Brighton, Plymouth on Saturday and Swansea on Sunday. Then eventually I’ll move on to Loughborough, Fabric in London and Bristol. I can’t wait to play Fabric and Bristol. Then I’m off doing shoots for my album, because I haven’t got any press shots or anything…
What can we expect from Magnetic Man this year?
We may put out a single or two, but it really all kicks off next year. So an album will be out early next year.
At this point, is your relationship with dubstep similar to the bond between mother and child? Do you feel responsible for it in any way?
(Laughs) Na, come on man! I feel like we had a lot to do with it but we are not responsible for it. I don’t feel like I have to make anything happen. I’m going to make things happen but I don’t feel like I have to. I don’t feel like I should take it in any direction – but it’s what I want to do and I’m going to carry on doing it. That’s it.
Consider someone who has never listened to dustup before and they want to be baptised, they want to be introduced - what tracks should they listen to?
I would say – and I always give the same kind of answer to this question - Digital Mystikz ‘Anti-War Dub.’ Then I’d have to say, being biased Katy B ‘On A Mission.’
Speaking of Katy B, I was watching a news clip in which music producer Mark Ronson said that this year’s Brit Awards wrongly snubbed Katy B, do you agree?
Well I wouldn’t say that she was overlooked but… out of the categories where would you put her?
Maybe Best British Female or Newcomer… Best Album?
Who won Best Newcomer?
See that’s not a bad look, I feel like she should have been nominated definitely – I think the fact that she was not is foul. But in my honest opinion Ed Sheeran is a good example because he exploded. Katy B had an album then she did a lot of touring, whilst always having things coming records wise and music wise.
What do you think about the much-lauded dustup producer Skrillex and his recent explosion? Do you rate him?
Yeah I do 100% percent, I feel like his vision and ambition was unmatchable. He achieved everything that he wanted to achieve. He just reminded us that it’s time to start dreaming again and make big things happen. I really like that guy I really do.
Have you guys met?
Yeah, we do shows together a lot.
Is the dubstep community like that? Is it friendly and open or it is somewhat competitive like any other industry?
Well without the competition there isn’t anything do you know what I mean? I think people confuse competition and they think that it is an angry thing like a sport. But it isn’t, we are all friends – while I was in LA Skrillex took me out to a couple of places and he was just telling me all these stories and secrets, and no one else does that. Never.
So with Rihanna and Britney Spears messing around with dubstep, are you happy to see the genre go pop?
Well I am happy to see the genre go popular. I am not worried.
You’re not concerned about the possibility of dustup being dismissed as a “fad” in a few years time?
No because I feel that’s alright. If we want to keep things moving then we will, we really will. It’s like people always say a genre is going to die if this happens or if that happens, but it’s not really the big names that push things forward, it’s the artists inside of it because this is what we do. It won’t become a fad.
Obviously you engaged in many collaborations over the years, who have been your favourite artists to work with?
I am gonna have to say four people, and I am going to be hated for this because I know I am going to forget someone. I’m gonna say Autumn Rowe, who is a songwriter, Marlene Strand, Youngman and I’m gonna say… my last one is Katy B.
What is she like? Is she as humble as she comes across?
Yeah she really is cool, she came to LA to play a show with me and she absolutely smashed it and was cool to everyone that she met. There were people there who had dressing rooms that were locked off because they didn’t want to speak to anyone – trying to be a bit diva-ish - but she was just cool the whole time and she smashed it, so she does deserve the right to be a diva.
Are they any acts that we don’t know about that you are planning to work with? I know you were talking about working with Ed Sheeran on your Twitter page, is that gonna happen?
I don’t want to say too much as of yet but yeah, we… we’ve got some results.
Come on, any juicy tid-bits… for our readers… anything
(Laughs) Unless you can bribe me, it isn’t gonna happen.
Well, it’s promising right?
Yeah definitely, it’s looking really good, the sound of it and what the artists have actually recorded for the album – I’m really happy with it. Really happy with it. I am generally very critical of my music. I will get a song it might be 80% wicked, but unless that 20% is delivered in the next recording then I will just drop it – I don’t care how much of a hit people think it is.
What do you think the future is for dubstep?
I feel like with the people that are pushing the scene and their ambition, I feel like it is going to be as big as house if not bigger. It’s the music of this generation and people from all over the scene are loving it – it’s game over.
Find out more about Benga at his Skiddle artist page
Interview by: Samson Pharaoh
Benga headlines Sankeys in Manchester on March 9th as part of his European tour. Tickets are available through Skiddle below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event