You’ve probably heard of Ben Westbeech, You may of heard of Breach. And you’ve almost certainly heard his productions in some form or another.
House and Techno DJ Breach (who also performs under the alias of Ben Westbeech) embodies duality. Treading the line between underground and mainstream exposure, whilst flitting from lo-fi techno to sparkly pop vocals. With his record label Naked Naked, he’s charted releases from spearheads in the house spectrum such as Midland, Dark Sky, Dusky, Lorca and Viers.
But besides running a label, he’s also appeared on Dirtybird, Ramp/PTN, Pets Recordings and most recently Aus recordings with the release of his Dim Sum EP earlier this year. Now with some further work to appear on his Naked Naked label, alongside a release on Hypercolour, we catch up with Ben to talk pirate radio, sex and Amsterdam.
Pete: I’ll start by asking, which do you prefer performing as, a DJ or singer?
Ben: I like both as much as each other. Singing in front of an audience is a lot more pressure and harder as you can kind of hide behind the decks a little when your djing, so it can be more rewarding as an experience. Although I do sometimes sing when I’m djing. But yeah I like both equally.
Pete: Do you visit your hometown of Bristol much? And can you explain the essence of Bristol?
Ben: I only visit when Im playing there these day’s as I now live in Amsterdam, but I still speak to most of the people I used to hang with. When I lived there it was all about Full Cycle and the drum and bass scene was at it’s height. It is such a wonderful city with an amazing musical culture and heritage. I think it’s a city that will always play a big part in the history and progression of music.
Pete: A few years back you signed to Dirtybird Records alongside Bristolian spearheads Julio Bashmore and Eats Everything. What impact did Dirtybird have on you? And do you still speak with your Bristolian comrades?
Ben: I’d always loved Dirtybird as a label and at the time I was making music which fitted right in with their ideals. I remember Barclay being really into what I was doing with Fatherless and then we met in London and spoke about me making some music for the label. After that I had a few releases with them. I still see both Dan and Matt about on the road, and also stay in touch with people like DJ Die, Redlight, Gus Pirelli and Krust when I get time. There are so many great producers to have come out of Bristol.
Pete: You now live in Amsterdam. Are you enjoying Amsterdam? And is there any other cities you’d be interested in moving too?
Ben: I love Amsterdam so much and am super lucky to live on the canals in the centre, and also have a studio about 50 doors down from my house. So it is super gezzelig! As the dutch would say. I could live in San Francisco I think as it has a similar vibe to both Bristol and Amsterdam. I’ve always like chilled city’s with good minded people.
Pete: ADE kicks off this month. How does the festival circuit in Amsterdam compare to that of the UK?
Ben: It is relentless. The Dutch love a party that’s for sure. My good friend Cinnaman is a local DJ and is definitely tired by the end of the season. There are so many great festivals every weekend. It is almost too many.
Pete: You’ve performed on Red Light Radio. It seems like there’s a big trend on internet radio with the likes of Berlin Community and NTS. Were you ever involved in a pirate radio setup? And what are your favourite stations?
Ben: Yes there is. I’ve always loved pirate radio, and now I guess internet radio has taken over from the pirates and taken away the illegality of the whole thing, so your not gonna have to deal with shut down’s, stolen rigs or the old bill nicking you etc etc. I was a right little Junglist back in the day and grew up listening to Kool and Rude and Rinse FM. It was a great platform for all the dj’s and mc’s and an instant connect with the people that loved the music. And everyone who was a DJ wanted to be involved, to get heard, to get a show. It’s great to see what’s happened with Rinse and Kiss over the years as business models.
Pete: Besides the radio station, do you spend much time in the district?
Ben: Haha. Not a huge amount no, although I go to eat Chinese there as China town is super close. There is a lot of cleaning up in the area going on and lot’s of small business is opening there like coffee shops (actual coffee) and photographers studio’s and nice little eateries but it is still, obviously, a massively touristy area and full of people I don’t really want to be close to.
“This horrible “deep house” genre came out of it which I really didn’t like”
Pete: There’s quite a lot of sexual references in your work, from the name of your record label, to the content in your music videos. Is your work inspired by carnal desires?And does this stem from a sexual disposition?
Ben: I think it has to do more with the release of dopamine in the brain and it’s link to sex, food and drugs. I’m probably driven by it to an extent so it may stem from that. I also love having sex, making music, eating super nice food and wine, smoking weed. So maybe that’s why I include some of that in my music. I think any aspect of your life is gonna come into your music at some point.
Pete: The success of ‘Jack’ catapulted your profile. But you’ve also stated to the media repeatedly your intentions to remain underground. After a success hit how do you manage that? And what does underground mean to you?
Ben: Yeah, my top ten records were both made before they got licensed by a major so I didn’t intend for these things to happen. I don’t regret them happening in any way but I’ve always been interested in pushing music forward and not resting on my laurels and certainly not just doing it for the money or changing what I do to please anyone apart from myself. As soon as house started to go slightly commercial in the UK everyone just jumped on the bandwagon and this horrible “Deep House” genre came out of it which I really didn’t like and was a million miles away from what Deep House actually is. I’d moved to Amsterdam before any of this had happened and just surrounded myself with interesting forward thinking producers and DJ’s and record shops like Rush Hour and Red Light Radio that get my musical libido going. I guess underground to me is just music that’s free, sincere and not made for anyone other than yourself. That’s what I try to do with my music. As soon as you start changing what you do to “fit in” commercially or to be played on radio it becomes something else.
Pete: Do you still like your hit record Jack?
Ben: Yep. I still do. I don’t play it every set these day’s as I like to push my sets forward musically but I still play it occasionally. It’s still fun to see people enjoying it.
Pete: You’ve been involved in many visual projects. Do you get involved in the directing of video shoots, or do you prefer to step away from it?
Pete: I haven’t yet no but it’s something i am interested in. I’ve just produced my first band this year called “The Everyone” and I’m getting involved with their first video. Maybe it will be the start of me working more closely for my next videos.
Pete: Three records you’re really enjoying at the moment?
Pete: Is there any projects you haven’t tried yet but would like too?
Ben: Yeah I would love to make an Ambient album one day. Mainly using my verbos modular set up. That’ll be in 2018 probably…
Pete: Favourite sound-system you’ve played on?
Ben: Easy one. Trouw Amsterdam. It was just the best place to play on earth.
Pete: And finally, whats next for you?