Times change, flavours fuse and favourites fade: When Benny L completed his debut album Reactions in early 2020, having worked on it for over two years, he had no idea he’d have to delay the release of it for over 18 months… Or if it would even be relevant by the time it finally dropped.
Sure, he could have released it during lockdown, but with a full-strength signature and sound that’s tailored specific for dancefloors, and a consistent track record of massive ubiquitously supported club bangers dating back to his first big crossover tune Low Blow in 2017, it made no sense to release it until we were able to rave again.
Luckily his patience paid off as Reactions spent the first week at number one in the Beatport overall album charts (and is currently number two having been knocked off the top spot by Virtual Riot) In fact the album has had even more of an impact than it might have done when he originally planned to release it in early 2020.
Back then there was a general sense of fatigue with the style of drum & bass Benny has been one of the few key pioneers of as more and more copycat artists jumped on the sound that’s lazily coined as ‘foghorn’. Back to the future and, as many countries are able to finally rave again, the appetite for big greasy, stinky groaning bass textures like Benny’s has reached a fresh high.
Announced on UKF way back in August 2019, and featuring collabs with the likes of jungle OG Mr Time, Shimon, PAV4N, MC Coppa, DJ Limited, Inja, Pastry Maker and Amy Swift, Reactions has always been a statement release and a major personal milestone for Benny. Now with added 18 month lockdown pressure, it’s become even more of a poignant release for the Audioporn artist. We called him up to have a chat about it and find out what his reaction skills are like as we throw him into all manner of ridiculous hypothetical scenarios.
You sat on the album for the whole of lockdown. There’s no point in releasing it any other time, right?
Yeah it’s my debut album. I wanted to make sure it goes down well and it’s heard in the right way, which is through big systems. Luckily it’s been received nicely and done well.
Did you leave it or go back on it during lockdown?
During the time I learnt a lot of new techniques so yeah I updated the mixdowns a bit then updated it again when I went to New Zealand.
Was New Zealand the first time you played some of these tunes?
Nah I’d played most of the tunes before and tested them because they were all finished before the lockdown. Maybe some of the newer ones were getting played for the first time. New Zealand definitely got a hammering though.
Shut The Front Door gets a hammering from me. I know that’s been around for a bit.
I almost never put that on the album. That’s the oldest tune I’ve made that’s on the album. But the reaction I always get when I play it is always mad so I put it on there. That’s been one of the most popular tracks on the album.
And of course a camo from Delboy and co from Only Fools & Horses…
The foghorn to end all foghorns!
Yeah haha. When I was making it I was like, ‘Okay let’s make a final one, put all the energy into the bass sound.’ But then I seem to still gravitate to that vibe in tunes so it continues I guess!
I think maybe people got bored of foghorns when we weren’t in clubs. They don’t sound very good when you’re listening to them through shitty little laptop speakers or headphones, right? There’s no impact. But now we can hear them on big systems again everyone’s back on it, innit!
I think people fell out of love with them because of the copycats
Maybe. Except for when I made Portside, when I make a bass sound I’m never like ‘oh I’m going to make a foghorn today’. All I’m trying to do is make something that’s interesting, sounds different and is powerful and that’s how it translates. People like to pigeonhole things though, don’t they?
They do. And I think the fact the album is almost 18 months old before you even released it is testament to how you’re in a league of your own!
I was a bit worried that times might have moved on, you know? I’m really glad it’s still had the same impact back then. It’s wicked.
You must have loads of new stuff you’ve made since then, too?
I’m always doing things! If I’m not feeling creative, then I don’t bother because there’s no point forcing things and I need to build up inspiration. But the output has been there. I’ve been focusing on making my own breaks and Amens and stuff. I’ve been making more jungle than anything.
Bit like Resonate! That, for me, is a love letter to Dillinja…
Yeah. Just an Amen banger with big basslines. You can’t beat that combination.
You can’t! So… You’ve called your album Reactions, let’s find out your reaction skills. I’m gonna put you in various stupid scenarios and I want to see your reaction.
Okay let’s do it…
A major label wants to pay you a lot of money to licence Reactions but it’s got to be remade with the Vengaboys. How you gonna react to that!?
The Vengaboys. You’re not too young to know about the Vengaboys!
I do know the name. What tunes did they do again?
The one that springs to mind right now is We’re Going To Ibiza
You’ve got to sing it for me now…
🎵 🎶 “We’re going to Ibiza… Back to the island” 🎵 🎶
Yeah cool. They can keep their money.
Okay so another major label wants to sign it but turn the tracks in love ballads with spoken word from you.
Errr. Hmmm. Haha.
They’re just noises. That’s not spoken word.
The best you’ll get is an acapella of the album haha. Otherwise, no deal.
You turn on your DAW and everything’s gone – literally everything. Samples. Plug-ins. WIPs. EVERYTHING. How you going to react to that?
I’d probably cry and sit there in an empty house on my own and stay there forever.
Only Fools & Horses want to sue you for that sample on Portside as it turns out Delboy isn’t a junglist. How’s about that?
I’m heart sunk!
Haha. How about this… You’re DJing and some joker nicks your USBs while you’re playing. What’s your reaction to this?
Where is he? Let’s find him. He’s not leaving the club without the biggest thunderslap you’ve ever seen.
Justice! Here’s another one…. You wake one morning in the bath with Shimon. You both have clown make up on. There’s custard pies and massive shoes all over the gaff. What’s your reaction?
Hahaha. What did we take last night?
You wake up another morning and you have a finger for a penis and penises for fingers. What’s your reaction now mate?
Bloody ‘ell what’s happened here?
You wake up another morning and you’re a dog. What’s your reaction?
I’m loving it! I’m a dog. Let’s go and find some other dogs! This is sick!
Brilliant. So Nigel Farage launches some type of nasty xenophobic campaign and uses Low Blow VIP for the soundtrack. How does a Benny L react to that type of behaviour?
Sue him. Find him. Bury him.
Yes! Boris Johnson’s going to win the next two elections. How do you react to news like that?
Oh bloody ‘ell. What’s going on? Really? How did that happen again?
We have to go on lockdown for another a year…
Nah. Not having it. Back to the fields!
Haha. So final one. A nice one now. You’ve won the Euro Millions. You never have to earn a penny again. How do you react and please tell us you’ll still make music…
Of course I will! I’ll buy a massive mansion in a field somewhere and use that for the studio and have mad weekends there.
Can I come?
Only if you sing the Vengaboys.