We’ve only received one of his tunes to date, but the story of Bensley is already the stuff of drum & bass legend.
Here’s a quick timeline:
December 2013: 19 year old Peter Bennett sends a demo to Ram Records. It’s picked up by Ray Rampage. Instantly hooked, he listens to it 10 times over and sends it to Andy C who listens to it 20 times on the bounce.
January 2014: Bensley signs exclusively to Ram and is asked to keep all of his music offline.
April 2014: Ram announces Bensley as a new Ramily member (alongside Audio and Stealth) and tells us to stay locked.
November 2014: Andy C says this in an exclusive UKF fan-based interview…
“When his debut drops it’s going to blow peoples’ minds! It’s great that people are interested and want to know about him because he’s never released anything. I still remember the day the guys in the office first put on his demos. Everyone was like ‘WTF is that?!?’ He is such a talented kid! So we’re formulating a plan and you’ll soon see why we’ve gone nuts for him.”
February 2015: The world hears Bensley for the very first time on February 19… Via Zane Lowe to an audience of millions on BBC Radio 1. Then, moments later, via UKF:
Today: Bensley gets his first ever interview. Right here.
Let’s be clear here… This type of artist development has never happened before.
Most young producers cut their teeth and make their mark on platforms such as Soundcloud. And most demos will be checked by a label in tandem with the profile that the new artist has already developed.
To be signed to one of the world’s largest and most famous drum & bass labels off the basis of one demo, and then launched via one of the most famous peaktime radio shows in Europe, is incredible (and very inspiring for all aspiring producers). It gets better: we can exclusively reveal that there’s a whole album – entitled Next Generation – ready to drop in a matter of weeks!
I listen to a lot of artists like Haywyre, ZES, Phaeleh and many others from the more abstract side of things. Not necessarily all bass-heavy stuff but more focused on interesting melodies and sound design.
Here’s what Bensley has to say…
“It’s been quite a crazy time,” admits the 20 year old who’s still juggling his production with his daytime job and education. “There’s been a lot going on. Most of it has been self-imposed; I’ve been sending Ram so many tunes! I’m constantly developing my sound and my production. My skills were a little less refined when I first got in touch with Ram so it’s good that I’ve held off. Any sooner and it would have been compromising…”
It seems Fandango is the start of a wealth of strong material from the Canadian artist. Having cut his musical teeth as a jazz-trained saxophonist, Bensley’s approach to drum & bass is less of a heavyweight, hardhitting nature and much more of a rich, star-gazing, complex musical one.
“I do tend to go for dreamy pad sounds and that type of feel,” he agrees. “I listen to a lot of artists like Haywyre, ZES, Phaeleh and many others from the more abstract side of things. Not necessarily all bass-heavy stuff but more focused on interesting melodies and sound design.”
With a sound that could submit you deep into another headphone zone just as well as it could electrify stadiums in the same way deadmau5 can, Bensley’s beats instantly lend themselves to an album format – allowing you an extended experience that you’ll find hard to shake from your brain for hours afterwards.
“Early on Andy decided the tracks work better as a whole,” he explains. “So he asked for a seven or eight track EP. I ended up sending in around a dozen tunes so the idea of an album quickly replaced the EP. We narrowed that down to 10 tracks.”
We’ve heard it and can verify each of these 10 tracks’ quality; both individually and as a full body of work. The closest comparison within drum & bass – kinda – would be Camo & Krooked’s Zeitgeist but it stands much more naturally against left-thinking widescreen material by the likes of Trentemoller or Max Cooper. References aside, D&B has never experienced an instrumental album like this, adding weight to the title Next Generation.
“That’s only because there’s a tune with that name on it,” he grins. “It’s the song I sent them in my demo that they really liked and we’ve built everything from it. Essentially it’s the song that gave me the break. Ram also liked the title because I am part of the new generation of drum & bass artists. But, to be honest, it feels little narcissistic to say that myself!”
Narcissistic to him, sure. But it’s true. And with his distinctive approach to music, obvious studio skills and Ram’s careful guidance, he could very well find himself at the forefront of the next generation.
Keep April 6 locked: that’s when the whole album drops…. And Bensley’s legendary tale develops a whole new chapter.
In Toronto on March 28? Catch Bensley at The Phoenix Concert Theatre alongside Delta Heavy, Loadstar and Calyx & TeeBee.