Artist To Artist: Ben Sims Talks To Rod


Though some of us may claim to know the odd thing or two about this thing called the electronic, nothing compares to having that first-hand experience. Bearing that in mind, we passed over the editorial baton to Ben Sims so that he could interview Dutch DJ ROD with all the know-how of someone who spends a substantial portion of his life stood behind a pair of ones and twos (technical speak that). ROD, who some of you may also know as Benny Rodrigues, is in London to play B2B with Mr Sims at London's Dance Tunnel on Friday 12th June for an extended five hour set.

Here's what happened when Ben had a go at being on the other side of an interview;

Ben Sims: It’s fair to say you’re one of the hardest working DJs I know, sometimes doing over 6 gigs a weekend, particularly in your native Holland – what’s the secret to keeping the energy up?

Rod: Just getting genuinely excited by the music I play out loud helps a lot, add that to a good crowd and party and I’m good to go. Generally, I just try to save most of my energy for the weekend gigs. You won’t find me doing much activities during the week, other than making some music, replying to emails and relaxing on the couch watching tv while enjoying food. The fact that I don’t drink or do drugs might also help. Lots of my international colleauges (such as yourself) are always surprised when they see my Dutch DJ schedule but to be honest I tend to get more tired from 2 flights in 1 weekend than from 10 dutch gigs (by car), so in that sense I’m quite lucky I must say.

We’ve got this b2b set lined up at Dance Tunnel which should be interesting as it’s 5hrs long whereas a lot of b2bs are regular, short sets. How do you approach that in terms of packing records and are we likely to see some Benny Rodrigues as well as ROD?

Yeah, I’m really looking forward to this special occasion! It doesn’t happen much that I play all night long, let aside. Together with you, someone I've respected so much on a musical and personal basis for so many years now!

Personally I prefer long sets only when I get to do my own warm-up as it allows you to totally create the energy and build the way you prefer the most, so in that sense I’m really looking forward bringing some more atmospheric deeper tracks with me to start the night nice and slow and just go with our flow from there on.

It will definitely be a ROD set, but I consider ROD to be much more than strictly loopy minimal techno, as I draw lots of inspiration from the old school Detroit and Chicago House sound which in a way connects many dots to my Benny Rodrigues side. So even if I might play some music that I could also play in a Benny Rodrigues set, I still consider it as a bit more of a versatille ROD selection.

I’ve noticed you mention on twitter a few times lately that you’re digging back through your old wax and ripping it for club use now – how is that affecting how you play at the moment?

Even though there’s shitloads of amazing new music coming out, I’m getting a bit bored with the so called ‘modern techno sound’ and felt the strong urge to dive deeper into my own personality and reach out deeper into the music that made me want to this play out this music in the first place. So in that sense I’m really happy to add some more personal, inspirational and more colourful selections into my sets, next to my favourite new music out there.

Even though I’m still trying to find the right balance soundwise (since lots of those older records sound way less powerful than the new ones), I’m enjoying my recent sets more than ever, mostly thanks to re-discovering my record collection on daily basis which is evident if you want to keep things as fresh and fun as possible I guess. I’m not interested in playing the newest promos or the oldest rare gems, I just want to play ‘fresh’ music and stay inspired for each and every gig, which sometimes is closer than you think, by just browsing trough your history, while still keeping 1 foott in the future.

Speaking of records – are you planning on doing any record shopping in London and where? Where do you usually pick up most of your music?

Usually I go online and use (and Decks) as my main navigation since they stock pretty much all new releases in my fields, so if I actually visit a record shop these days, it’s mostly 2nd hand record shops where I look for '90s house & techno stuff. 

But otherwise I have Clone Records Rotterdam in my backyard which I pay a visit once in a while, or the good ol’ visit to Hardwax / Rush Hour or Space Hall, but honestly most of my record shopping goes online these days.

I mentioned in a recent interview that I don’t trust Djs who can’t dance – how are your moves, firstly, and secondly – do you agree?

I totally agree with you on that! If I enjoy the gig, you’ll find me head-bopping, dancing and sweating my ass off! Even so much that I always bring a 2nd shirt with me. After all, I'm playing my favourite records out loud – how can I not dance to that! 

Other than me, of course, who’s your dream b2b ;)?

First of all I’m really happy to play b2b with you, as we both are cut from the same tooth technically-wise (both preferring direct, powerful hip hop style mixing over the clean sterile Allen & Heath style) & musically (moving between house/techno and beyond but always with a funky side to it). Next to that I always enjoy playing as Benny Rodrigues with my brother Darko Esser which sometimes ends up sounding more like Tripeo & ROD. Other than that I just go with the flow and try not to think about b2b sets too much. It should be a fun spontaneous thing and the more I think of it, the less fun it becomes.

I think last time we played together in London was Corsica Studios – how do you find London when you’re over?

I must say I’m becoming a big fan of London as a whole. The city is so vibrating, energetic and open with so many cultures and colours living and dancing together, I’m always happy and inspired when leaving your beautiful city. It’s almost like leaving New York but now just 50 minutes away!

Also the energy in the London clubs I find very inspiring as people really celebrate their weekends to the max, which sometimes makes for a hilarious watch… But I really appreciate what I see and notice on the London dancefloors.

Dance Tunnel is pretty intimate so i’m looking forward to it as a change to the usual big summer festival shows – what wins for you, big or small venue?

Big shows are nice for my ego but small shows are good for my soul. I couldn’t live without one or the other. The cool thing about playing a big venue is that I limit my track selection options (where I might leave the more subtile/deeper stuff out) and take things from there with a clearer idea of how I want to approach my set, whereas a smaller venue might need more focus and guidance, which on the other hand just sorts itself out when the vibe is really good… Although that could be said for a bigger venue as well… So I guess in the end it’s really all about the vibe you get, no matter the space.

See Ben Sims B2B ROD at Dance Tunnel on Friday 12th June, tickets and info here.