Coming up strong in the past year with a series of releases on imprints such as Rush Records, Soulvent, and most recently Viper, things continue to look up for the man they call BMotion as he knocks it out of the ballpark with Feelings / Something, Something, his first single after announcing that he’s signed to Viper exclusively.
After chatting it up about everything from winning Kmag’s Unsigned Track competition on through to Viper’s secret initiation rituals, Pontypool’s finest hits us with a heavy guest mix with a number of exclusives that are sure to have the heads drooling!
First off, introduce yourself, where you’re from, where you grew up and especially the meaning behind your production name!
Hi I’m Ben aka BMotion, I’m from a little town called Pontypool in South Wales and I make drum & bass! I would like to give some epic meaning to BMotion, but there isn’t one! It was a random thought one day, and has stuck ever since!
Take us back to the days before d&b entered your world – what kind of music did you grow up listening to? What kind of music was your family into? Was there anyone musical in the house? Did you play any instruments or have any formal training of any kind?
Coming from Pontypool, literally nothing goes on, except the occasional cat going missing, someone moving seat in their local pub or a new deal on veg in Tesco. But I was lucky enough to grow up in a musical household. My dad is a pianist and used to run a pub which held live music several times a week, so I was exposed to this from day one.
His thing was Jazz, so naturally that’s what I started with, developed and studied playing drums. I had lessons from around 7 years old, and completed my grades by around 14. I had also begun guitar lessons by this point, which is when I first got into song writing, and recording using 4 track tape recorders or any desk that was lying around! I had no idea what I was doing, but it was good fun!
At what point does electronic music and dnb in particular enter your world? Do you remember your first exposure to d&b? Tell us that story and in doing so give us a sense of your early influences.
I first found dnb through a friend, who showed me a YouTube clip of a Pendulum track. I was really into Metal at the time with bands like Metallica, Opeth, Dream Theatre and all the usual lot, so I didn’t tell anyone, for fear of being rejected from the metal club, but I would sit up at night searching the internet for this awesome music I’d heard. I had no idea drum & bass existed at this point! Eventually I found mixes on Youtube, and DJ Hype’s show on KISS FM, which I would listen to at night, and then I’d try and recreate these sounds on the guitar and wonder why I wasn’t getting anywhere.
When I went to College to study music further, we had a class on music technology using Logic Pro. This was the start of producing for me, I instantly fell in love with being able to have unlimited instruments at my finger tips and create whatever I thought of. As I’d started with Logic, this is what I convinced my Mum to buy me for a birthday present one year and is what I still use now.
As I’d only listened to mixes, I thought drum & bass was made like this all the time, so my first tracks were all about 15 minutes long! Eventually however, I learnt some names of artists, like Netsky, Cyantific and Noisia. From there I got myself some vinyl decks and would buy random vinyl, or whatever I liked from a quick preview. I think Noisia and Cyantific were my strongest early influences; I loved Noisia as it was just mad, and Cyantific because he was just different!
When does producing or DJing enter the picture? Did you start off trying to make d&b straight away or were there other genres you were flirting with? What kind of setup/software were you using to learn the ropes?
When I first started out, I had a Macbook running Logic 8, connected to my hifi speakers on a tiny table about 2 feet high (not good for posture). That’s what I used until I bought a little audio interface and some cheap monitors. It’s not until fairly recently I upgraded, but even now it’s all pretty budget gear! I did make house music for quite a while, but I don’t find it has the energy, diversity, and feel-good factor of dnb! Drum & bass has endless possibilities!
About how long did it take you to get to the point where you started sending out music and getting feedback? We should mention at this point that you were the winner of Kmag’s Unsigned Track competition in 2012 – is it okay if we take credit for all of the success that’s come your way since?
It took me quite a while til I sent things out; I didn’t really take it too seriously for a long time. I made “Get Up” one day and just decided to enter in Kmag’s Unsigned competition. I completely forgot about it until someone messaged me saying “Congratulations!” I was ecstatic when I found out I’d won, and did do a little dance to celebrate.
Around the same time, I’d sent “Get Up” to Hospital (probably the same day), and they played it on their demo cast, so it was a double whammy! But as a result of this, it gave me the confidence to take the production path a bit more seriously and that people might actually like some of it! So in a way, yes Kmag can be held responsible for me continuing with making tunes!
You’ve had a string of well-received releases but if feels as if you’ve suddenly broke out – first with “Summer Glow” on Viper’s Summer Slammers compilation LP and now with the news that you’ve signed exclusively with Viper. How did you first link up with the imprint and did you have to get the Viper tattoo on your bum like the rest of the crew?
My track “Circles” got onto UKF, which led to Shakira at S.A Management getting in touch. At first I was a bit unsure about signing with anyone so early, but I was soon convinced. Shakira then sent my tracks out to a few people, one of them being Brendan (Futurebound). He liked what he heard and wanted to know more! I gave him a call and I think he was in Canada at the time, and it was 5am for him, but he still answered and chatted for a few minutes!
So it all went from there, I sent him a folder of tunes and “Summer Glow” was one of them, along with early ideas of “Feelings”. As for the tattoo, that’s a secret that you only find out with the special handshake after you’ve done the initiation, which may or may not involve dressing in women’s clothes and doing your best Scouse accent.
This first single you’ve got lined up on the imprint is already causing quite a stir with the A-side featuring vocalist Jon Lilygreen on “Feelings.” You’ve worked with Jon in the past so give us a sense of your relationship and how the writing process usually goes.
I’ve known Jon since college so working together is always fun and just like old times. We don’t really have a process as such, I’ve normally got a track pretty much complete in terms of ideas before I approach Jon, then he’ll come over and we just start running ideas and recording. Jon is a very good top line writer and works very quickly, so he normally has a few lyric ideas floating around and we work together to sculpt it to the track.
“Something, Something” has a bit of a different feel in that it’s still summertime vibes but a bit more techno-influenced. Like your past releases you seem to be able to move back and forth between liquid to the techier side of things with ease. Talk a bit about that diversity and if you’re worried about being pigeonholed into one style or the other.
I love writing musical tracks full of harmony but sometimes I just want to write something stinky. So “Something, Something” was an attempt of mixing the two! I wouldn’t like to be pigeonholed as a certain type of producer as I feel people would get bored pretty quickly and I like the aspect of keeping people guessing.
However, I do realise making things too different can be risky! I suppose it comes down to finding your own sound, something I find very difficult, as I expect many others do. But as I have a very short attention span, I suppose getting bored spurs me on to write different styles.
Now we imagine you’re already hard at work in the studio to keep the momentum going – fill us in as to what you’ve got coming up next and any other projects, gigs, etc. we should be looking out for. I hear you’ve just finished off a gig with S.P.Y. on a boat? How did that go? More importantly, how does it feel to suddenly be sharing the spotlight with the heavy-hitters?
I’m just working hard on getting future releases done at the moment. I’ve got two collaborations on the go with two producers I admire greatly, I won’t say who, but I’m very excited about both tracks! As for gigs, they are few and far between at the moment, but hopefully things will pick up soon.
It does indeed feel strange to be on the same bill as people I’ve looked up to all this time! It’s also good to meet these people and realise they do the same things in the studio as me (just better) and to get some tips and tricks along the way.
Last but not least, you’ve got a guest mix for us – what kind of vibe should we be expecting and let us know if there’s any exclusive on here we should be keeping our eyes and ears out for.
The mix is probably heavier than people would expect, but it’s the type of set I’d play out. There are a few exclusives, one of the collabs and a super exclusive towards the end, I’ll let you play where’s wally with it. That one’s super secret!