I was totally gonzo over the genre-smashing trend: Party Ben Interview
Most of the interviews in this series have been with people from the UK. But there were Americans involved, one of whom was Party Ben who was not only a quality bootlegger but also had his own radio show. We talk bootlegs, Sixx Mixx on radio LIVE 105 and being a high class call girl.
1. How the devil are you?
2. How did you get involved with music and what led you into mash ups?
Like lots of GYBO types, I was making tape-edit type “remixes” of my favorite tunes back when I was a teen, and pre-teen, and started DJing around that time, if by “DJing” we mean “playing 7-inch singles in the garage for my sister’s birthday party.” My family is pretty musical and I had years of piano lessons and, you know, marching band and stuff, so I know my way around a treble clef, which helps, although I’ve never been much of a songwriter and have mostly considered myself a hyper-involved superfan. It was in that capacity I started work at Bay Area radio juggernaut LIVE 105 back in the early ’90s where I started fiddling with the audio production equipment to make rudimentary remixes and whatnot, some of which started getting some attention in local nightspots and on our actual airwaves. Mashups were wildly exciting to a cross-genre music nerd like myself, and for an alternative rock radio audience they were a great way to bring some uniqueness to our programming while still keeping a link to our usual playlist, so I kind of fell into it, both as a fan and producer.
3. How did your Live 105 mash up slot (Sixx Mixx) come about? Which of your mash ups are you most proud? [Walking with a Ghost in Paris is mine]
I was getting my own and others’ mashups on the air before my Sixx Mixx show even got started back in 2003, and they were some of the most attention-grabbing things on our airwaves, so our forward-thinking program director at the time asked me to do a nightly show at 6pm. I said, “uh, howabout just on Fridays,” and he agreed.
Walking With a Ghost In Paris [Mylo vs Tegan & Sara]
As far as pride in my own work, I’m extremely self-critical and look back on most of my life with embarrassment and shame, although of course I’m pleased and surprised by the popularity (such as it is) some of my tracks have received. My perspective on “pride” would be more about technical difficulty, which of course has little to do with the finished product and its reception, but the Dean Gray track “Novocaine Rhapsody” was an absolutely herculean task to complete, and the Snow Patrol/Police track, while it seems deceptively simple, was actually extremely complicated to make, requiring a teensy nudging of the pitch of each original song and some delicate arrangement due to the lack of acapellas (including the looping of the Snow Patrol guitar line over the entire track to disguise when the Snow Patrol vocal sections came in and out).
So, I guess I’m proud of some of the clever solutions I came up with to technical hurdles. But creatively, with a lot of mashups or remixes I’ve made, I don’t feel like the “author” of them since they’ve sort of sprung up fully formed into my head, as if they’d already existed, and so I don’t feel any sense of pride in that, just a feeling that I happened to “tune in” to a kind of bubbling artistic ether.
Every Car You Chase [Snow Patrol vs The Police]
4. What did you know about what was going on in the UK/Europe and GYBO in the mid-2000s?
I tried to keep on top of it, I was totally gonzo over the genre-smashing trend and was an ardent collector of the proto-bootlegs of the time. GYBO was a great resource for my radio show and I’m not sure the show could have existed without it.
5. You seem to be back on Live 105 after a gap. How did that happen and what is music for you now?
Radio in the US was in a big downsizing trend in the mid 2000s. When supportive management were all tossed out of LIVE 105 in 2007, new management came in to clean things up and didn’t see much value in my position as station creative director. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to put together a month-long DJ tour of Europe and so LIVE 105 and I were happy to part ways. Since then I’ve eked out a living doing freelance audio production work, DJing, working for a few online radio companies, and as a high class call girl. Schadenfreudially enough, the management who didn’t like me so much were themselves fired pretty soon after I left LIVE 105, and the new management were actually big fans of my work, so I started contributing when I had time to two of the local cluster’s stations, both LIVE 105 and the pop station 99.7 NOW. I had moved back towards my first love, electronic dance music and my own remixes, rather soon after leaving LIVE 105 anyway, and so being involved with the stations’ dance shows makes a lot of sense for me now.
And here’s a Sixx Mixx show from Christmas 2004