Written by Zack Kostarars
Photos by Abi White (For the Record PR)
Ben Rau is a techno producer and record owner that grew up in Germany and is now touring all over the world. Ben originally fell in love with house and techno in his late teens losing himself in the music and exploring his deep-seated passion for electronic music through self-expression – namely, raving. A Berliner born and bred, Ben moved to the UK originally to study. He immersed himself in the highly influential east London party scene, having made the decision to dedicate his life to pursuing a career in music. While Ben was living in the UK, Berlin had become the global epicentre of house and techno and he felt a strong calling to return home. He decided to move back home to build a studio and returned to Berlin with a fresh outlook, a renewed desire to succeed to truly pursue his dreams. Now Ben has two record labels, Inkal and Meta, and plays festivals all over the world. Check our our exclusive interview with Ben after his set at The BPM Festival Costa Rica below.
How long have you been DJing and how did you get your start?
I have been DJing about 20 years now like most people I started playing on mates decks, and then eventually got my own Technics 1210’s from then it became an addiction.
Favorite venue to play? Where would you like to play that you haven’t played at already?
Man there are too many good ones – one of the highlights last year was the Amnesia Terrace. I also love La Feria in Chile and Lost Beach Club in Ecuador. I love playing the big raves in Tobacco Docks London for LWE.
What made BPM Costa Rica so special for you, and what differentiated BPM Costa Rica about other festivals you’ve played at?
Tamarindo is the perfect new location for the festival. It’s a really beautiful place with great food and amazing accommodation. For starters I have never played a festival in a jungle before, so that type of setting is unique. I think it will grow to be just as popular as the Mexican version.
What’s it like running two vinyl-only labels? What made you want to start a second label, rather than growing your first label? Would you consider starting any other non-vinyl exclusive labels?
Well they aren’t vinyl only any more – both labels have gone digital. I started the 2nd label because Inkal my first label was just for me and Meta, my 2nd label, is also open to other artists. I think for now 2 labels is enough – Meta will release 12 EP’s this year and I’m really excited about the new music I signed.
How do you handle the stress/demands of a label head, DJ, and producer? What do enjoy doing outside the studio and playing gigs?
Stress is real! I try to live a healthy life with lots of sports, meditation and yoga, I enjoy riding my bike and cooking for my friends, and I just try to stay connected to people I care about and make sure that I have a life outside of music.
We were told that you were an impressive downhill skater but had a few bad/career-ending injuries. Could you tell us a little bit about what happened? If these injuries never happened, do you think you’d still be downhill skating and be the accomplished DJ/producer as you are today?
Downhill was a big part of my life. I used to skate all the time – it’s very addictive. The danger but also the zen feeling of being one with your board drifting through corners in perfect control. In 2011 I broke my ankle skating – I made a full recovery and had probably my best season skating after the injury but then I broke my left leg and that was it, I never wanted to have a fracture again so I stopped.
It was perfect timing really because I had to fill the huge void that skating left and music production helped me through that , breaking my leg sucked but I wouldn’t change anything because it made me the man I am today.
What are your hacks for touring/traveling on the road?
I love to optimize my traveling so that means carry as little stuff with you as possible. My advice is this: you can tour the world with just carry on luggage so don’t waste time waiting for luggage to be offloaded from the plane, get some nice noise cancelling headphones but make sure they can connect to an audio output in your plane seat, get a dedicated travel rucksack with separate compartments for tablets and laptop so you can get through security quickly. And finally, collect air miles – those upgrades can be lifesavers after a tiring tour.
What would you be doing had you not gotten into DJing?
I’d probably be working in a different creative job, but I would definitely be working for myself. Once you’ve stopped working for others and live a self directed life there’s no going back to the 9 to 5.
If you could eternally be stuck in one year’s music scene, what would it be?
That is my idea of hell and I cannot answer this question but I’d be happy with a decade though. The 90’s had great hip hop, house and techno so if I had to choose it would be the 90’s.
What single day/night has been the most memorable for you as a DJ and an attendee?
At Rex Club in Paris closing after Kerri Chandler, I felt like I had finally arrived. Also supporting Hot Since 82 in Mint Club Leeds was a special one, I can’t wait to see what 2020 holds.
Take a listen to his new track The Player, out on Knee Deep in Sound now.