We speak to one half of the duo about obscure analogue synths and dream vocalists for his debut collaborative album set for release on Modeselektor's 50 Weapons imprint
UK-based producers Benjamin Damage and Doc Daneeka have joined forces once again to create an exhilarating debut album, ‘They! Live’, on Modeselektor’s 50 Weapons label. Continuing to craft deep, heavy sounds brimming with warmth, the duo first collaborated on tracks like ‘Creeper’ for the Berliners - a huge success supported by the likes of Jackmaster, Sinden, and Rinse FM.
I have an extremely obscure analogue synth that I've been trying to fix since my early teens. It sounds amazing, with four oscillators, a reverb chamber and this crazy deep sound, but has all these huge design flaws.
With a background in mixing Bassline and UK Funky influences, Benjamin Damage initially landed on Doc Daneeka's Ten Thousand Yen imprint (with early releases from the likes of XXXY and Julio Bashmore), honing a signature sound of pairing sombre melodies with full-on bass. Now working on their first album together in Berlin, the LP features lush layered melodies and dramatic soundscapes interspersed with vocals by singer Abigail Wyles. Here we speak to Damage about their ongoing collaborative relationship and what's new for the Swansea producer...
Dazed Digital: What were your greatest memories from working together for a whole LP?
Benjamin Damage: There were so many, it’s almost too soon to think it over. It was such an intense experience. Getting into the studio for the first time was so exciting, plugging in all these strange machines I'd only heard rumours about. Also Berlin is an incredible city, and a lot of very talented creative people live there and pass through - it was very inspiring.
Some of the best moments were in the studio. I had a great time coming up with new stuff with Abigail while Mial tapped away on the 808. Some days it would really feel like something special was happening, like coming up with a tune and playing it the same night at the Modeselektor's album launch and having everyone clapping and really letting go. There was a lot of pressure to get the whole album done on time, so the releases felt that bit more special when they came.
DD: What do you think it is that allows you to work together so well?
Benjamin Damage: We have a really different way of working and a very separate musical background. Even though we've known each other for ages I don't think we've actually ever been into the same kind of music at the same time, so it took about 10 years to properly collaborate, but it works because we are both bringing very different things to the music.
DD: It's been quite vocal-centric on the new LP, who would be your dream vocalists, alive or dead?
Benjamin Damage: Candi Staton. She has a haunting voice, such beauty and sadness at the same time. She captures something which can't be taught, it's got nothing to do with technique or music school.
DD: The album seems quite dark generally, was this intentional or more a reflection of your sounds overall? Why do you think this works well for dance music, if you would call it that at all?
Benjamin Damage: It's just what came out very naturally right from the start. It is dark, but always with bits of light there, at least that's how I hear it. There was very little planning or concept for the album, so it came out very naturally as capturing our time in Berlin. We'd both had a lot of upheaval and moved away from the people we cared about, but then at the same time we had this amazingly exciting city to explore, great people to hang around with, a huge studio with massive speakers and all these great synths and drum machines so it has these emotional contrasts in it.
DD: What are you most excited about next?
Benjamin Damage: I have an extremely obscure analogue synth that I've been trying to fix since my early teens. It sounds amazing, with four oscillators, a reverb chamber and this crazy deep sound, but has all these huge design flaws. I've finally found this brilliant obsessive genius who is determined to fix it. Oh and I really want a boxer puppy.