Five Minutes With Benny L & Shimon
Everyone has a favourite shark. It’s the law. Some people have a penchant for the weirdo hammerheads. A few folk like to mellow out with a basking shark, their mates might love a big fat whale shark while others, inexplicably, are fond of carpet sharks. Each to their own.
Right now, though, in drum & bass, there’s a unanimous favourite…
It’s Shimon & Benny L. Do not try to shoot or knife them, chances are you’ll only slightly injure and infuriate them. Just listen to them and understand what they’ve been working on for the last three years. With Shimon’s support, Benny has risen to become one of the most distinctive and respected new-gen artists to emerge in recent times with his signature foghorn bass drones tearing up releases from Headz to Mac 2 via his spiritual stomping ground Audioporn, situating him at the forefront of the classic rolling sound alongside the likes of Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner. And all this started at a D&TV Audioporn takeover in 2012…
Which is exactly where they return next week: April 13 sees Drum&BassArena return to London’s Trapeze (the new name for our own spiritual stomping ground East Village) for a new series of D&BTV events. We’ll be launching our new album Drum&BassArena 2018 and Shimon & Benny L are rolling alongside A.M.C & Phantom, Insideinfo b2b The Upbeats plus Kove, Kyrist and Philth.
A new chapter for D&BTV, business as usual for Benny L & Shimon. You can dodge them, it has been done by others, but we wouldn’t recommend it. We chose to call them up. Here’s how it went down…
I hear you two met at a D&BTV show, 2012. Where were you at with production back then Benny?
Benny: I was living in Bristol doing music and starting out back then.
The Bristol connection. You collaborated with Mediks around that time, right?
Benny: Yeah that was a little while later. I knew them through this music academy place I was studying at. Ross & Dan used the studios there. We became good friends and I was going to a lot of their gigs and came down to the Audioporn D&BTV takeover.
Shimon: That’s when we met. But it wasn’t until a little while later when they did the tune with him that the penny even dropped. Speakers Vibrate really stood out from everything else they’d given me. I was like ‘wow I love this!’
You could hear potential from that moment?
Shimon: Straight away. I didn’t know it was a collab at first and got back to the guys saying the mixdown was spot on because I’d been moaning at them to change the mixdowns on their other tunes but this was perfect straight away. You could tell it was put together really well. Not to dis the Mediks, they were sending me some great tunes, but they’ve explored a lot of other sounds like dubstep and electro under their different guises so weren’t 100 percent drum & bass, whereas Benny definitely is!
What happened next?
Benny: After studying for two years in Bristol I came back home, knuckled down and made tunes. I didn’t try and rush things. I wanted the tunes to be right and not forced. I knew that if things were going to happen then they would naturally at some point.
These things take time!
Shimon: Definitely. But even from that first EP Granulate EP in 2015 you could hear he was on to something. Listen to that again now and it’s still well put together. It pricked up ears straight away. He’d done his homework.
Benny: I was finding my style as well. All four of those tracks are very different.
Shimon: But each one was done well. Even though you were finding your style you still had them locked down technically.
Thunder was a pivotal moment in terms of hearing what has become a signature ‘Benny L sound’
Benny: Yeah that sticks out for me as a turning point, too. I was happy with how the reese came out and really grabbed your attention.
Shimon: Scorchio was another one for me that hinted at that direction. But yeah Thunder really started to show people what a Benny L tune was all about. But what was really important is that he never just shot out 20 different versions of that afterwards, he’s always mixed it up.
What have you taught each other?
Shimon: I’ve picked up a couple of techniques off Benny for sure! Whenever you work with someone you immediately look at what they do differently to you or what they know that you don’t, you never really stop learning.
Benny: I’ve learnt loads off Shim, too. I remember in the early days he gave me some great advice on hooks and riffs.
Shimon: They were there, but they were really raw and bare boned drum & bass. You could hear what he was doing but it was the details.
Benny: Like little switch ups and things like that.
So last year was a big one for both of you. How are you doing to top it, what’s next?
Shimon: This is what we’ve been building up to for the last few years. Things keep picking up more and more. We’re heading to the US for EDC and really happy about that. The rolling drum & bass sound has come back more, it’s a bit more prevalent. I think there’s a really exciting gap in America for that sound because they’ve had the big stadium drum & bass sound for so long. I think they’re gravitating towards the rolling sound.
Do you think the return of the rollers will have a positive effect at what we hear at festivals? Like less pressure to draw for the big anthems maybe?
Benny: I always try and stick to what I think is good or what I believe in.
Shimon: We’ve been booked because of the tunes we’ve made and tunes we play. So we intend to push our sound. They’re going to get beats whether they like or not!
What’s coming up release wise?
Shimon: We’ve got Audioporn’s 10th anniversary project rolling out later on this year, which is a big focus for us. A bunch of singles, something from Jayline at the end of April and a single from me and Trimer called Giant Locust.
Benny: And I’m just finishing off my next Metalheadz EP and I’m just making a new load of tunes. Old Days with Pastry Maker is coming out really soon on the Drum&BassArena 2018 album, too.
A lot of people have been jumping on that foghorn bass sound you’ve made your own, so I’m guessing you’ve been on a quest to develop that.
Shimon: It always happens when any sound becomes popular.
Benny: I got to give it up to Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner. They proper championed that sound. I’ve just put my own twist on it.
Shimon: As long as people are developing or celebrating that sound and not bear ripping it off. Not that you can really rip off a fog horn anyway. People can hear if something is authentic or not.
Benny: I just find different techniques from time to time and start exploring
Shimon: It’s all about that next foghorn vibe!
It keeps you on your toes. The main aim is to evolve and keep yourself excited, right?
Shimon: Definitely with the evolution thing, too. And with that comes the cycles; the rolling sound that everyone is loving right now is the sound I’ve been in love with since day one. It’s the sound of drum & bass full stop. You go back over loads of those old records, give them beefier beats and speed them up a bit, and they’re not too far away from what’s happening now. Take Benny’s remix of Recharge. It’s like Recharge but sounding 2018 and it fits right in! That’s a great example where things are heading and where they’ve been. We’ve gone full circle and I couldn’t be happier.