Benjamin Bates interview: Out of the Spotlight
Author: Clare Dickins
Monday, 5 December 2005
Even to the most casual observer, there's something undeniably gratifying about the success Benjamin Bates enjoys. An artist so un-preoccupied with fame that, until recently, has happily been the unsung hero behind Marco V's famed productions. A person, dare we say so 'normal', who'll just as happily discuss Quentin Tarantino films, video games and indie bands, as he would dance music.
In years prior, Benjamin Kuijten (aka Bates) had faded into obscurity, a virtual enigma in a dance music world obsessed with labels and obvious superstars. Now the industry is awash in electro-tinged hysteria and Bates is one of the house scenes's most wanted stars.
But of course, as the saying goes, things weren't always this easy. Go back a few years and Benjamin was close to quitting DJing. "At the time I was thinking about quitting, it was mostly because all the parties I played at in Holland were so trance-minded, for me it was really hard to play the stuff I really liked," he explains.
"At that time most people only knew me because of the productions I had done with Marco, so these people were expecting me to play the techy kind of stuff. So it was disappointing for both me and the promoters when I played somewhere and I started playing my normal stuff. People were like 'Ja ok, but can't you play a little bit more like Marco-' and I was like 'Man, c'mon!'
"At that time I also told Marco that I wasn't sure that this was something I wanted to do for years on end. I really just wanted to improve our production work. But now I have both, so this is perfect!"
Indeed it is. These days Bates has the freedom to play wherever he likes. "The fact that the trance scene in Europe keeps going down, whilst the house and electro scene has risen in popularity, for me, it's been perfect. Because a few years back nobody wanted to listen to the stuff I played, but for some reason general tastes started shifting my way. These days I can play anywhere from the underground clubs to the big clubs also," he explains happily.
Completed with production partner Marco, Bates' latest EP release Manimal/16 is the Dutchmen at their trademark quirky crowd-pleasing best, with the tracks being canned by everyone from Erick Morillo to Steve Angello. Perhaps surprisingly, Benjamin highlights the duo's frequent creative disputes to be responsible for their individual sound. "We really like the fact that we don't always agree on everything, so the end result is always something that is in between everything; it's not really house, or techno, or trance - it's really hard to categorise because there is always a creative tug of war going on," he says.
"I think if you produce with someone who agrees on everything with you, the end result will be too easy to categorise and won't be anything too different. As you know, we both really like being in between different sounds - we want everyone to like us!" [laughs]
Having played in bands throughout his teens, a non-dance music related question is a must. So what has Benjamin been getting into of late- "At the moment I'm really getting into a young band from England called Hard-Fi. They are these young dogs who are crazy! They're full of energy and remind me of the rock I was into when I was about 16-17 years old. They remind me of that whole movement from England like The Stone Roses and The Soup Dragons who used to come to Holland all the time and play," he says.
"There are a lot of Dutch bands making this kind of music, but it's very hard for them to be popular outside of our borders, because there are so many dominating English and American bands. For us, dance music is much easier because there aren't that many big dance producers from outside Holland that do the same thing as the Dutch guys are doing."