It’s rare to come across a character who’s described as positively by literally everyone I’ve heard talk about him. Mentor, legend, badman, boss, hero – a few of the adjectives used to describe the following interviewee.
Regarded as a father figure to many new and upcoming producers thanks to his seven year residency on Sub.FM, BunZer0 is also a bit of a hero of mine. He hit me up randomly a few months back to say he’d be ‘honoured’ to record a mix for the MakeItGood x FatKidOnFire series. After a bit of a doubletake, we got the ball rolling on what he calls his ‘best recorded mix from 2012’ and what’s possibly my most favourite interview…
[BunZer0 at Outlook 2011 by Anna Drozd]
Easy Ben! You good? Am not too bad mate thanks! You?
All good thanks mate! For those that don’t know, who exactly is BunZer0? Well my name is Ben, I live in Brussels, Belgium and I am a DJ and producer who loves sub-bass frequencies…
It’s a question you’re probably sick of being asked, but can you place what first got you dubstep? How did you make the jump from casual listener to mixing and producing? What came first?! Well I was DJing a long time before dubstep came around.
So let’s say I was into breaks at the end of 90’s, when the genre was interesting (if that makes sense)… In the early 2k’s some fusions came out of the UK, mixing breaks elements with UK garage. People used to call that breakstep. Tunes coming out on Zinc’s label Bingo Beats (under his alias Jammin) were really interesting me. It was refreshing and sounding a bit sexier than the breaks area. I started to check more garage stuff and I was immediately caught by the deep and meditative music people like Horsepower Productions, Zed Bias or El B were bringing in the scene.
At that time the word dubstep didn’t exist but with some distance we can definitely say that those sounds were the foundations of what people started to call dubstep a bit later.
I was already playing around with sounds at that time but I wouldn’t say you could call it production! I only started taking that seriously a few years later….
How long have you been DJing? Well in the sense that a DJ is someone who plays music for people, I’d say I started to play underground music to my friends when I was 15 or something. But mostly in my bedroom to be honest. That was 24 years ago!
But the beatmatching ting and the beginning of my real bookings came a bit later, early 90s I would say, during the techno golden age…
Your FOB Show on Sub.FM is the stuff of legend, how did your slot with the station first come about?How long has your show been running? I’m in my 7th year of FOBness on sub.fm now!
The station contacted me because I was posting dubstep studio mixes on the internet – and, well, those mixes used to be quite popular at the time… I think the station was interested by someone making waves outside of London, outside of Croydon. The station suggested that slot to me and I jumped on it. So I’ve been playing, every Thursday at 6pm GMT, for the last 7 years…
How do you go about building your tunes? What’s your production setup like? Oh my set up is really simple: a (recently bought) powerful computer, Ableton, and a tiny midi controller.
I’ve also got a pair of little studio monitors but I’m not massively happy with them. For now, I’m producing on my good old hifi speakers because I know them perfectly. I should definitely buy a pair of Genelec monitors in the future though!
Another standard question you’re probably bored to death of. Do you prefer turntables or CDJs for playing out? Does it matter? Well as I started to DJ a while back, I of course spent most of my career on vinyl.
I sure do have a lot of love to that analog medium, for its warmth and ability to reproduce deep bass frequencies. But in the past 7 years, since the FOB Show started, I’ve been getting sent a lot of unreleased material. So I started to play on CDs ’cause I couldn’t afford to cut everything on wax. Which is still pretty much the case in fact…
On a pragmatic level I also think I would definitely need to buy a warehouse to stock all the dubs I would have cut since the beginning of the FOB Show! And on top of that, around the start of the FOB Show, I had some very bad hernia in my back. All the doctors told me to stop carrying heavy weights so I had to stop playing on vinyl! That was definitely my biggest motivation to play CDs instead. I didn’t really have a choice you know?
But yes, I’m missing the vinyl days – at least for the sound they bring… Then when I see all the DJs having issues with decks in clubs nowadays, I don’t think it was the worst decision I’ve ever made! At least CDJs are war machines and allow you to play music anywhere.
So less charm for sure but definitely the best way to play music in club nowadays in my humble opinion…
You’ve played all over the world with some of the best DJs in dubstep. If you could pick a gig, which would you choose – and why? It’s too hard to pick up one!
Playing at FWD>> in London twice is surely a great addition in my list! But playing and organizing the first ever Dubstep night in Belgium back in January 2006 with Skream and Youngsta is also something I will never forget. Playing at Reconstrvct with my harmonica player Mr Jo is another very important memory. And of course Outlook is also something I am really proud of!
With the steady rise in popularity of ‘roots music’ and the whole system culture (thankfully) coming back, how do you see the dubstep sound progressing over the next few years? Eradication of ‘Brostep’ and ‘Filth’ is my first and most important goal!
I hope that’s going to be the same for the rest of the scene…
You’ve just given a few tunes away for free on your SoundCloud, have you got any tunes forthcoming we should be looking out for? Yep, I’ve got two releases coming up soon in mid November, early December.
The first one is for the American label Airtight Imprint, with my tune Paracetamol + Paracetamol (Innerlign remix). The original plan was to get another remixer on the release but the guy is late so I’m not too sure his version going be on the EP. The label plans to release a compilation later in 2013 and plans to put that mysterious remx on that compilation…
The second release is an EP on Mindstep Music. I can’t really say how many tunes are planned for that one ’cause the label is trying to keep a bit of mystery around the EP. All I can say is most of the tunes there are collabs I did with some skilled live musicians! Two tunes are revealed though ‘Darabuka ft. Kamine‘ and ‘Chapati ft. Mr Jo‘.
Mindstep Music plans to send all the tunes to the mastering studio, so I reckon they’ll communicate a bit more when we got the very final versions of the tunes.
In terms of advice, what are your top points for new producers and DJs looking to get heard or signed? Hmm. I’m a bit negative about the whole musical industry and DJing nowadays to be honest so I’ll be a bit sarcastic and say to beginners to avoid doing tings like I did…
Don’t be honest, spit on your fellow DJs and producers, be arrogant, lie to everyone and say you are the pioneer of one genre even it is clearly someone else, be really pushy to promoters, follow every new hype instead of believing in the genre you really like and make cheesy unimaginative tunes then you’ll be a SUPERSTAR.
LOL! [emboldened to emphasise my reaction when reading the above paragraph – FKOF]
So yes I did the opposite and am still poor as hell!
Tell us about your MIG x FKOF mix… Well I don’t want to throw flowers at my own face but the mix I did for you is probably my best recorded mix in 2012. I’m really happy about the build up and the story the mix tells the listener. Not sticking to one kind of vibe or one kind of beats so it is like you open a little new door on every tune I put there…
Any shoutouts? Yep I’d like to thank all the people supporting my DJ stuff and my radio show.
I’ve been posting mixes online for years and there are still a lot of people loving them so that’s really great!
Big shouts to the whole Sub.FM crew! Big shouts to the labels releasing my own music: L2S, Reggae Roast, Airtight Imprint and Mindstep Music to only name a few!
3 producers we should be following are…? Well I’ll name 3 guys I ‘recently’ discovered and who are really exciting me at the moment.
– Wayfarer for his incredible ability to make the sickest tribal dubstep at the moment
– Promise One because his dark garage stuff is absolutely amazing and he is making the link between the roots of dubstep and the most recent improvements in sound production
– Gantz for his artistic freedom and his ability to build solid and crazy vibes.
About the confirmed producers I won’t be original at all but Mala stays for me the best producer everyone should check!
Best dubstep track ever produced is…?
Mala’s ‘Lean Forward‘.
Best label in dubstep is…?
America has its own dubstep ambassador in the form of the one and only Joe Nice. I’m not sure if the association has been made before (but if not it bloody should have), but Belgium can definitely pin the same title on Ben.
If you’re ambivalent as to why, have a listen to the mix he’s put together for MIG x FKOF. It’s truly, truly sensational…
Click to DOWNLOAD
1. BunZer0 – Bubble [dub]
2. Camu – Mujahedin [forthcoming Mu Djina]
3. BunZer0 – Paracetamol [forthcoming Airtight Imprint]
4. Mala – Curfew [Brownswood]
5. Vivek – Against The Tide [forthcoming Tectonic]
6. Tunnidge – Empty Spaces [forthcoming Chestplate]
7. Anneka – Shut Her Down (Collision remix) [dub]
8. Imaginary Friend and UNCO – Bad Dreams Factory (Apatic remix) [forthcoming Undersky]
9. Gantz and Quantum Soul – Oracle [dub]
10. Wayfarer – Shaman [forthcoming Tribe12]
11. FNC – Prism [dub]
12. Sleeper – Zodiac [dub]
13. BunZer0 ft. Kamine – Darabuka [forthcoming Mindstep Music]
14. Twisted and Rakoon ft. Beezy – Secluded [dub]
15. Proxima – Lie Detection [Tempa]
16. District – Kraken [dub]
17. Pheral – Tribesman [dub]
18. ARtroniks – Depths Of Darkness [dub]
19. Sleeper – Pathogen [dub]
20. DubApes – We Are Monkeys [Bacon Dubs]
21. Vivek – Show Me [dub]
22. Core and Jack Sparrow – Backer [dub]
23. DJG – Rivet VIP [dub]
24. J:Kenzo – Statement of Intent [forthcoming Tempa]
25. Planas – Mr Litvinenko [dub]
26. Broke N – Weighted Notes 6Blocc [forthcoming Phantom Hertz]
27. FNC – Imprinted [dub]
28. Dubface ft. Beezy – Tomorrow [dub]
29. Quantum Soul – Hark Back [forthcoming Tribe 12]
30. Boot – The Rift [dub]