For the Fourteenth installment of our interview series, we introduce Ben Champell.
Ben Champell is a German artist based in Hamburg. His productions have been released on labels like OFF Recordings, Unity, Complexed, Blufin, Stick and Natura Viva to name a few. He also built a reputation for playing powerful and dynamic sets in clubs and open air festivals alongside stars like Marco Bailey, Green Velvet and many other big names of the industry.
Hamburg-based Ben Champell is back at OFF Recordings offering us two pieces of functional and catchy Techno. His upcoming EP has been entitled ‘Close…more
We chatted with him around this release and a few more aspects of his career.
Read the full interview below.
Hello Ben, for us it’s a pleasure having you in our interview series, thank you. First, how are you and where in the world are you taking this interview?
Hello guys, thanks for your invite. I am doing good, and I hope you are as well of course. I am doing this interview from my house in Hamburg, Germany.
What led you to start your career in the electronic music scene, how did you get involved and in what year?
I got into electronic music when I was about 13 years old, that was in 1994. A friend of mine got himself DJ equipment and used to play at our friends birthdays. That made me curious and so I started to DJ with him. After a while he had a bad accident and could no longer continue and I was faced with the decision of whether to stop or not, because I could not afford the expensive equipment at the time and my parents did not think much of the idea of becoming a DJ. I decided to continue and so I had to work out the equipment with small jobs to learn how to DJ with records. I was able to buy my first 1210 when I was 14 and the second one 1 year later. So over the years my record collection grew to over 10k vinyls. My first job as a club DJ I had then was 18 years in the neighboring city. I would claim that the road I have traveled to get here was rocky, but worth every single step.
Do you remember what was your first release ever, in what label, and how do you achieve it?
Of course, I do! My first ever release was “lose pressure” on Bazooka Records back in 2012. It was created with my studio partner Andrew in Cologne, and we had contact with the guys from the label. They asked us to drop some demo´s and they picked my solo track to release it. Now it sounds very easy to achieve a release on a label, but it definitely wasn’t. I sended many mails to all labels I knew at this time, but unfortunately if nobody knows you and you do not know anybody in the industry, it is very difficult to get heard.
How do you know and decide which label is right for you to release on and has this decision process changed over the years?
As I mentioned before it was in the past more an “send everywhere and see what happens”. This strategy was not the best I know today, and one guy is still in my head because of helping me without knowing me at all. It was Oliver Huntemann from Hamburg (a really nice guy, because today I know him personally), he wrote my back on an email I was sending to all labels I know at the same time, where all others were able to see where I sended them to… Oliver took his time wrote me, that this is not the way I will succeed in the industry and that helped a lot. I am still thankful for his advice. When I met him personally for the first time, I told him the story and we were laughing together.
How did 2022 begin for you and what do you expect for the year?
Well, the year started good so far. I have some nice collabs in the pipeline and gigs starting slowly as again. I am looking forward what the year will bring.
Congratulations on your new release ‘Close To You’ on OFF Recordings. Can you tell us about the production processes and inspiration behind each track of the EP?
I usually start a new track with a completely white page. The idea of what it should be in the end is there beforehand, but whether that’s exactly what comes out in the end is usually a different piece of paper. I like to let myself drift in the production process and try out new things. I also don’t care about trends, my music and therefore the two new tracks “Close to you” & “Poison Ally” stand for themselves. I think that’s also a reason why my tracks are different and don’t all sound the same. That is very important to me.
In a few words, describe the sound of your new EP ‘Close To You’?
Warm forward pushing techno sound with analog influences and a fancy vocal.
How does it feel to land once again on OFF Recordings, and how did your relationship with the label started?
It feels super good, almost like finally arrived. I’ve been working on my career for a very long time and I’m happy about this kind of confirmation of my work. Because for me it was always in the foreground not to bend and to make the music I would like to make. The prouder I am to be part of this great label. The relationship with the label came about rather by chance, the A&R and I worked together on other levels. I didn’t know for a long time that he is the A&R of OFF….
Are there any other releases planned to come out this year that you can tell us a little about?
Now I’m working with great colleagues like Drumcomplex, Sole Lorrente or Tom Wax on new collabs. But also new EP’s of my own are in production.
Where do you find inspiration for the creative process of creating a track from scratch?
I think most of my inspiration comes from listening to other artists music and visiting clubs where i listen to artists i like.
What do you like/enjoy the most, Producing music or DJing?
Being on my own, only me and the music. Being creative and trying new things out.
How do you prepare your DJ sets for gigs?
It starts with listening to promos. Checking the new release in the online portals. Thereby I make a rough pre-selection what could fit for me. Then I sit down before the gigs again and try to adjust the sound to the location and the playtime. I set fixed usually only the first 2-3 songs and the last 3. The other tracks are divided into four categories from which I choose during the gig freely what fits best to the situation on the dance floor. Usually this always fits well, there are of course exceptions, but for these I’ve been DJing for over 20 years and then adapt the sound during the gig and work for example with more classics than usual to heat up the crowd.
What do you like to do when you’re not in the studio or at a gig?
Easy: Studio: Drink Coffee / Club: play music and have a good time!
Thanks for your time, to close the interview and for curiosity, what music do you listen to besides electronic music?
Actually, i like almost all kinds of music, if the music is well made. I would say, however, besides electronic music I am more in the rock / pop area on the road. My favorite band is “Bosse” from Hamburg.
Can you recommend some artists to follow?
You definitely have to check out NANA K, ALBIRD, DER ALINEA all 3 are good friends and really good producers.