In a year replete with fantastic mixes, a few have stood out. In the last few weeks alone we’ve had excellent efforts from John Heckle, Dave Clarke, Patten….the list goes on.
But amongst the most talked about, and most celebrated, is the sixteenth instalment in the Rinse series – a spectacular cross-section of dance music from London and beyond, mixed by one of the DJs of the moment.
Ben UFO, one third of the Hessle triumverate, has been responsible for expanding the musical vocabularies of neophyte clubbers across the country. His continuing rise to prominence has coincided pretty perfectly with the latest wave of new interest in what we all now refer to as bass music. As a result, whether through his label, his Rinse show, or his club sets, his influence is deceptively significant.
In fact, it is Rinse that has given Ben UFO the first commercial release to bear his name. Having released so many other people’s records, has the DJ enjoyed the experience?
“It’s been really interesting, and extremely different to anything I’ve done previously,” he says. “This is the first time there’s been anything of mine in the shops, and anything for reviewers to sink their teeth into. It’s nervewracking.”
Before that, though, there are the practicalities of recording. Is there a difference in approach when putting together a mix for release?
“In terms of the actual recording, I established myself as a DJ through podcasts and radio, where I’d be able to play anything in my collection on the spur of the moment. This was the first time I’d had to think hard in advance about what I’d like to include.
“The licensing process meant there was around a four month gap between submitting a list of tracks and actually recording the mix. In the end I was lucky – I submitted around 80 or 90 tunes to Rinse for clearing, and very few people said no.
“I’m now really happy with the mix, but it took a long time for me to regain a sense of perspective on it, having scrutinised every detail for so long. Buying a mix CD feels like quite a lot to ask of people these days given the overwhelming quantities of free music online, and that pressure to justify its price tag and put together something which people would really value was something I hadn’t felt before.”
Hessle, meanwhile, goes from strength to strength. The recent 116 & Rising demonstrates the breadth of talent that the label has welcomed during its three short years, while the scale of the tour on which the trio recently embarked illustrates their increasingly impressive reach. So life as the head of one of the country’s most exciting new labels consisted primarily of Cuban cigars and endless vats of cocaine on the top floor of a skyscraper, yes? Well, disappointingly, no. It’s more “eating biscuits, listening to records, and writing emails,” apparently.
Skyscraper or no skyscraper, both Hessle and Ben UFO look set to cement their respective positions as one of the most exciting labels and DJs in the country – and Rinse:16 is a major landmark on that journey.