Benga: Man On A Mission

Image Livescape Asia

The South London DJ’s and producers have become figureheads for the ever growing dubstep scene. Their story goes back from the Big Apple Records store days where the movement began. Their influence in the scene includes the formation of Magnetic Man; a dubstep super group that invaded the mainstream market with positive results.

Skream & Benga has been a guiding force in the rise of dubstep and will continue to do so especially when it was announced that they have taken up residency at BBC’s legendary Radio 1. The dubstepping duo will be making their way to the decks of Vertigo Club at The Gardens on 11 January for Livescape’s monthly NSFW midweek madness. Despite their jam packed schedule, we manage to score a chat with Benga, who talks about the evolution of dubstep and the craziest parties they’ve played in.

When dubstep was in its infancy, what did the folks in the UK scene call it and how did they take to it? Was it embraced or did you get resistance from the grime and garage purists?
It took a while for people to start accepting it; a lot of people thought it was too dark. When ‘Midnight Request Line’ came about people started to embrace it, the grime heads started to take notice and we started to do bookings abroad.

What’s your opinion on how the genre’s grown over the years? What’s the difference between what the kids call dubstep now versus what you were doing back then?
I guess the production has improved a lot and there are a lot more people involved now!

And as much as the genre has evolved, so have you. Anybody ever criticise you for varying your sets and broadening your horizons?
No, not at all, people love that fact we change it up in our sets. We just try to represent what we like and what we think is forward thinking!

Which artists do you listen to/look up to – who makes you go as crazy as your fans do listening to you?
I’d have to say I still go crazy to stuff like Pixel Fist’s ‘Let Yourself Go’ which I like playing. On the other, I listen to SBTRKT tracks like ‘Pharaohs’ which makes me freak out!

Will this be your first trip to Asia and how’d you guys get hooked up with the clubs?
I guess we’ve always wanted to do a run in this part of Asia and then the bookings came in we couldn’t say no! We’ve played in Japan a few times and it’s gone down well. It’s been a long time coming!

What do you think it is about the dubstep sound and feel that’s made it so successful outside of the UK and, now, broaching into the mainstream?
I think there are many reasons; one of them is the rise of the internet and all the social networking sites and the other is because the people in the scene are ambitious and driven.

This is first time dubstep is nominated in the Grammy Awards. Will you keep doing what you’re doing if everyone and their grandmother are listening to it? Or will you start something else?
What I do is not the same, I think there is space for big achievements and I want to be one to always bring something new to the table!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen your fans do during a show?
I’m pretty weird myself so I’m unsure how to answer this question… One time the crowd in Amsterdam just decided to start running around in circles which was crazy!

What’s the weirdest/craziest thing you’ve ever done at a show?
I got really excited at a recent show in New York and jumped on Sgt. Pokes’ (part of the DMZ Crew & official MC for the Magnetic Man Tour) back, it was a bit nuts as he had previously hurt his back.

You both began helming BBC Radio 1’s In New DJs We Trust show last year. Was it a tad intimidating to replace Alex Metric? How’s the ride been so far?
It’s been amazing and we have learnt a lot and we’ve started to get comfortable. We now have a 2-hour weekly slot on Friday at 11pm (UK Time).

There seems to be a lot of haters out there on the internet so it must be especially hard as DJs/producers! How do you differentiate constructive criticism with pure hate mail?
I don’t really get all that hate to be fair so I’m quite lucky. The hate I do receive is automatically blocked out.

Be sure to make your way to NSFW Tracksuit Party feat. Skream & Benga on 11 January 2012 @ Vertigo Club, The Gardens. For more info go to