Benga: “The term ‘dubstep’ does limit my music”
Diary Of An Afro Warrior, the sophomore album to emerge from Croydon’s young dubstep visionary Benga, felt a lot like a manifesto – a declaration of dubstep’s emergence from the underground of dance music into the contemporary consciousness. Yet given that Benga, whose interest in music production began by the startlingly young age of 15, has since become a figurehead for an oft-misunderstood and maligned genre is not surprising.
Championing its creativity and singularity alongside a small collective of close friends and collaborators – the likes of which include other luminaries such as Skream, Artwork, and Katy B amongst others, Benga has come to establish himself as one of the most exciting young creatives to emerge from the scene. Last sighted here at the very beginning of the year, dubstep heads will certainly be pleased with the return of the warrior at this year’s Parklife, armed with a killer live new set-up.
Hasn’t been long since we last saw you in Australia – did you enjoy the Summadayze circuit over the new year?
Yeah, we had a lovely time. So funny!
Awesome. I saw you in Melbourne – such a sweaty day, but you and Skream powered through with an amazing set.
I love coming out here and the best thing is that it’s not normally sunny – in the UK, it’s wet and cold and I remember just thinking, oh my God, I like the sun, but this is too much for me!
“I’d never trust me and Skream to run a radio show. We get drunk, we do all sorts of stuff.”
I guess that tour was a kind of reminder at how much you are involved with other artists you know – Skream and Artwork as Magnetic Man, with Katy B, and more. How important is that collaborative process to you in pushing yourself as an artists?
I’ve always wanted to be a producer for other artists but it’s always equally important to do my solo stuff. When I sit down, I make a song with Katy, I love the fact that her input is the way it is, and it’s completely different to what I’d think of. That’s why I like collaborating, people bring different ideas to what I would normally do. One thing that I don’t like is not being able to see my records do their own thing. Positives and negatives.
You’re one of few dubstep artists still keen on the album format in a day where 12”s and EPs seem to rule. Is there something in particular about the album format that appeals to you?
An album allows you the room to get quite creative, whereas with a single, you just focus on hits and doing bigger things rather than when with, for example, Click and Tap from Diary of an Afro Warrior – there’s no drum-beats, it just flows through weird choppy vocals and table hits. You just wouldn’t be able to do that as a single. That’s why I love albums.
Would you say that shift has also changed the landscape of electronic music, and dubstep in particular?
Yeah, 100-percent. There are a lot of people who, if you asked then to sit and write down an album – they’d be a fish out of water. Lost. Wouldn’t know how to explore and get shit done. It definitely affects dance music.