This Friday night Fhloston Paradise celebrate their first birthday with a very special guest DJ set from Voyeurrhythm's Ben Sun! The Australian-born, London resident brings his house sounds to the Superstore basement with Kasra V and Fhloston resident Greg Spencer. Ahead of the party Greg S and Greg Lowe caught up with Ben to ask him a few of their burning questions...
Ben! We're looking forward to having you for our one year birthday bash! While originally from Australia, you've been in London for a while. What do you think makes our city such a special place to DJ?
Thank you! Me too.
Well when I first arrived in 2005 a guy I met in Sounds of the Universe took me to Plastic People for the first time. It was the Co-op night with people like IG Culture, Phil Asher and Dego playing. What I found there was an almost pitch black room, lit only by the lights of the booth, some guys with lasers and a joint or two (people were still getting away with discreetly smoking inside then). The sound system was perfect, and these guys were playing sort of Afrobeat sounds mixed with electronic dance stuff that was the roots of the broken beat sound they had going on then. Everyone was sweating and dancing their ass off, it was so unpretentious. This was one of those experiences that kept me in London. It wasn’t the music so much as that I saw that these guys had a voice that came through the music they made and the way they deejayed… and people were listening! So that’s why I think London is a special place to DJ. There’s so much love for independent music here, and the city breeds it.
Do you think different areas of London have a different vibe party-wise, or is music truly the great uniter?
Hehe, well I don’t think things are mutually exclusive… Yes to both? Maybe because I’m an immigrant I don’t get into the whole “my side of town” pride thing. I’ll go anywhere.
To me it seems more like there a just different style of parties, depending on the spaces available in different neighbourhoods. On the docks, in a warehouse or studio space, various clubs and turned-out pubs… The diversity of spaces is another great thing about London parties.
Vinyl - you're a big advocate. Do you take a position in the debate between vinyl and digital or do you think both have merits and it's up to the individual person?
I like to think I’m not a purist in any sense, it’s inhibitive. But here’s why I love vinyl: all my good shit is on vinyl. That mix I gave you is made entirely of grubby 12 inches and secondhand finds, most of which I would never have come across if I wasn’t at the store shuffling through the crates. You can’t find that stuff through digital distributors. So it’s about how you find music, whether it’s for research, sampling, deejaying, or listening pleasure. Vinyl has the history and the beautiful element of chance too.
On the flip side, I recently started using CDJs (so I could travel with ease like everyone else), and they’re a lot of fun to mix with. Cue points, loops, things you can’t do easily with vinyl. So both have a reason to live. What I don’t like is DJs playing low quality files in clubs… party people deserve better than that.
Your label is called Voyeurhythm, an amalgamation of two of our favourite things. Where did that name come from?
Haha… us too! One of the tracks on the mix talks about the “sweet secret sins of rhythm”… and it’s perfectly dark and sexy. My partners in the label, Tyson and Mostyn (aka dark and sexy), they used to work in the same building doing kinda boring jobs, and would spend their time emailing ridiculous DJ names and band names. Voyeurhythm was one of them. I think maybe Mostyn came up with it, but it was Tyson that put it on the table for the label name. It’s possibly the most difficult name to spell we could have used. No one gets it right. But people like it too I think. It’s pretty much a joke, which suits us.
Any upcoming releases you're excited about sharing with the House of Fhloston?
At VR we’re currently preparing two releases before summer. First one I’m super excited about which is from our friend Elliott Thomas in Portland. Like us, he’s all about the hardware and synths… and he’s made some beautiful raw, dreamy tracks for his EP, some of which is almost Aphex Twin-ish I think. The second one is by a mysterious character called Man Power (who I had the pleasure of meeting at ADE), and his is a strong kind of acid-injected record. More on all that soon!
As for me I just got the masters back for a new 3-track EP I did for my friends at Delusions of Grandeur. Jimpster gives me great input on the music, and they’ve always been so good to work with. That will be out in about a month hopefully.
We detect a certain love of pop music working its way into your music. It can be hard to do that tastefully. How do you do that so well? Any favourite pop-artists that are particularly influential for you?
Ah it’s funny that you say that. I didn’t think it was obvious but it’s entirely true. I don’t know how well I do that yet but I’m working on it. Seriously. Always thinking, what makes a great timeless pop record? Usually more musical talent and training that I have… Obviously a nice hook, clever production but also something surprising… treading the balance between being fresh and imaginative but also accessible. This interest just stems from my childhood, hearing trippy things like Genesis or Pink Floyd.
As far as pop artists I love… Prince, Fleetwood Mac, any '80s soul stuff, Mantronix, Quincy Jones, Talking Heads, there’s so many. Good contemporary ones too, but I can’t really enjoy listening to stuff that is too ubiquitous… commercial radio is terribly repetitive. And there’s no excuse for that because there’s an infinite amount of good music out there. Exploration is the fun bit!
You've cited Arthur Russell as a favourite DJ and big influence. Russell brought together gay and straight culture in a really unique way. What's your current take on the state of the gay scene?
Well I wouldn’t presume to comment on the state of London's entire gay scene, other than it’s made up of some of the most fun, creative, uninhibited people around, and you really can’t have a party without that. I have to say, this mix is inspired by (and an homage to) the kind of eternal gay scene that gave birth to the dance music and DJ style I love so much. And as you say it’s a lot about togetherness. I think it’s also about dropping inhibitions and not being judgemental. The themes that recur in this music (other than sex / lust / heartbreak), are all about love, togetherness, acceptance.
If you go back to the roots of house and underground disco, you’re looking at a scene of people that for various reasons (sexual, racial, economic) were not accepted into mainstream culture like they should have been. So they do their own thing, completely unfettered by all the baggage that everyone else has. Wear what you want, dance like a freak. But it has to be creative an innovative. Super skilful DJs. And once this exciting new scene emerges, what happens? The doors are opened to anyone and everyone who wants to participate. Gay, trans, straight, poor, rich, all nations… How amazing is that? So i just think that it’s important to remember that, and to not act like a cunt if you want to come to a dance party. Or put one on for that matter!
We have a fabulous drag host, Orangina, impersonating Leeloo from the The Fifth Element, the camp sci-fi inspiration for our party. If you had to perform in drag, what would your look be?
Amazing. Oh Gregs, I thought you knew this about me. It’s been a while but I love to dress in drag. So much fun. I’ve been that dude at the big girl store looking for size 11 pumps. I try to look as feminine as possible, I think that’s they key for me. Nothing too extravagant, and I don’t suit the vampy butch thing. I don’t wanna over-egg it, but maybe I should make a little effort in this direction on Friday…
Almost at the end, just two more questions. First, if you had to DJ a scene in any sci-fi film, what would it be?
Damn. It’s a good question… I’m sure there’s better if I could think longer on it, but I’ll go with the space-time-travel scene at the climax of 2001. It’s a real mind-fuck, surely that would be interesting.
Finally, a legendary Dalston Superstore question. If we had a time machine ready to take you to any dance floor, past present or future, where would you like to go and why?
I’d wanna go into the future, all the way to this Friday night in the basement at Superstore. I’ve banged on about the past and it’s important, but we have to create our own thing now. To quote Rimbaud way out of context “It is essential to be absolutely modern”. So see you on Friday.
Join Ben this Friday 13th March for Fhloston Paradise at Dalston Superstore from 9pm - 3am.