Interview: Ben Rau

A man who needs no introduction. We have the pleasure of speaking with German groove maestro Ben Rau. His timeless productions set him as a FUSE London mainstay from the start, and his forthcoming EP on his own INKAL imprint demonstrates this. We find out more about what inspires his sound, his musical roots and his label….

Hi Ben, how are you?

Great thanks just a bit jet-lagged but otherwise great.

Really digging the new EP! Tell us abit about INKAL. What inspired it and how did you come to form the imprint?

I had been thinking about doing a Label for a while primarily as a self release platform. I had been messed around a few times with labels and release schedules and came to the conclusion that I don’t want to rely on others when and what to release. I was confident enough about my music to believe that the label could be a success and realized there comes a time where you have to empower yourself and that was it really.

You’re widely known or being part of the FUSE crew! How did you come to be part of the ever-growing collective?

Enzo (Siragusa) was handed a mix CD of mine around 2004 I believe and he invited me down to his first party Profondo to play. This was a long time before Fuse. He’s a close friend and long time supporter and he’s supported me ever since. The Label came later and releasing on it is very prestigious for any artist. Enzo and Tony who run Fuse together like to keep things in the family and it really feels like being part of a family.

What’s it like to have seen FUSE evolve from how it was at the beginning to where it is now?

Seeing it grow from strength to strength is testament to all the hard work of the people involved and we as artists and residents have been given a platform to build our own careers. It really shows what is possible when you persist and work hard.

Were you always musical growing up? What inspired you to make electronic music?

I believe I have a good sense for groove and harmony but unfortunately my parents did not give me a musical education when I was young. I developed my own interest and decided to make music my life and then I just learned. I still learn new things all the time.

You currently reside in Berlin! Were you born there?

Yes I’m a born and bred Berliner.

What impact did that have on your sound and essentially your career?

Berlin is a hub and centre of electronic music for well over two decades now. I started clubbing in the city in the 90’s and although much has changed you still get that vibe that Berlin is a place where we as creators are allowed the freedom to live and create with much less of the pressures that one would experience in other capitals across Europe. It is a really special place. I spent 13 years living in London and when I returned in 2012 I fell back in love with Berlin as far as my sound is concerned. I owe much more to London than to Berlin. The sort of dubby stripped back house sound that I play is really the Tech House sound of London and Croydon of the late 90’s and early 2000’s and the West Coast US sound of the same period. The template was invented in these places not Berlin.

Do you incorporate any of your Ghanian roots into your music?

We grew up listening to all kinds of music at home including Ghanaian music and I guess these influences permeate into my music now but not consciously. I just make music and it comes out the way it does without me thinking I want to incorporate african influences here.

How would you describe your sound?

To me it’s all House. Unfortunately some digital platforms have distorted the terminology of what house is, what people describe as deep and tech house today really isn’t either and that’s because it has been mislabeled. So using these labels has become difficult. I shy away from using them. Those people that know don’t need me to to tell them, the diggers know what they are looking for.

What artists would you say are your main influences?

As I said earlier in electronic music early UK tech house and West Coast house, like Gideon Jackson, Halo Varga etc there are too many to mention…

What do you do to gain inspiration for the studio?

I meditate and journal. I listen to a lot of music at home but I believe inspiration comes through working creatively every day, just show up and start working inspiration will come.

What’s your preferred studio set up?

It’s constantly changing, I work with Ableton and a bunch of machines I like groove boxes electribes, Elektron stuff, Roland stuff, I try lots of things and if I don’t use them I sell and get something else.

What would you say has been your favourite place to travel to?

I had a 4 year love affair with Cape Town which is a really wonderful place but now I feel it’s time to check out other places again as I spent pretty much every winter there. It ticks so many boxes and most people that go once return many times.

Favourite place you’ve played in the world?

I had some great tours this year stand out gigs where Complot Nights with my brother Felipe Venegas in Valparaiso Chile , Canvas in Sydney Australia last week two great Gigs in Argentina in Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata and of course Ibiza is always great. And of course playing Fuse London together with Enzo and Guti was a highlight Fuse never dissapoints.

What does the future hold for Ben Rau? Any further goals or ambitions to achieve?

I want to take things as far as I can , I’m very ambitious. I’m starting a second label this November and I’ll be featuring some up and coming talent on the label. People who I believe will make their mark in this industry in the years to come like Rhymos , Josh Baker and Paul Raymond. Watch out for the first vinyl release on META in November a killer EP by Rhymos with a remix by myself.

Ben’s ‘Ad Astra’ is out on 10th October on INKAL
Pre-order it here.