Richard Russell discusses rave and the future of the planet with Benji B

The XL boss and some of his collaborators from new record Friday Forever got together on Zoom in place of a scheduled session at Maida Vale

Legal raves, live performance, and in-person interviews might be out of the window for the foreseeable future, but the music industry has exploded into new realms during lockdown. Dancefloors have migrated to livestreams, producers are clashing on IG Live, and some of the world’s biggest popstars invited their fans to ask them anything on Zoom. Who knows when things will go back to normal, or what normal will even look like.

Legendary UK DJ Benji B has been extremely visible over quarantine, performing twice for Dazed’s own #AloneTogether campaign and running his own Deviation events online too. “This period hasn’t changed my attitude to DJing at all,” he says. “If anything, I think it’s changed the focus of other people. I’ve spent most of my life DJing in a studio environment, putting together hours of music every week.”

There have been swathes of cancellations across the music industry, complemented by a show-must-go-on attitude. XL Recordings head honcho Richard Russell recently released an album called Friday Forever, his second album under the name Everything is Recorded and a depiction of a weekend beginning, the highs and the lows. Dotted across the record are different collaborators including Flohio, Ghostface Killah, Infinite Coles, Berwyn, and Crass co-founder Penny Rimbaud

“It’s been a bittersweet experience for everyone who’s released something in this period,” says Russell. “It’s better for work to be released than in limbo. It’s healthy to make work, release it, move on. 

“But to release an album without being able to get yourself out there physically and communicate feels like a big loss. I released an album, which is about raving and coming down, and a book, which also covers some similar topics, in April. I’m relieved they’re out there but it’s been a strange experience. We were gonna have a big party on that night. It was all planned. The invite looked sick. We’d booked Jumping Jack Frost! Then of course we postponed it, and I thought once this was over we’d just put it on exactly as we intended to in the first place. But now it feels difficult to say what a party is gonna be in the future. Such a strange concept.”

To celebrate the release of the record, Russell and some of his collaborators were due to perform and record in BBC studios Maida Vale. COVID-19 put a stop to that, but the crew got together on Zoom to discuss Friday Forever, the state of our planet, and where they’re at as people right now. Watch slash listen to the conversation above.