Ben UFO guests at Glasgow dubstep club Kollektiv
Co-founder of second wave dubstep label Hessle Audio
Alongside Ramadanman and Pangaea, Ben UFO is one of the founders of second wave dubstep label Hessle Audio, which was one of the first of the genre’s dedicated labels to originate outside London. Although he’s originally from the capital (with a mother from Dundee, and he ‘has the freckles to prove it’), the radio show the trio began before starting the label was a result of their days together as students in Leeds.
Back when he was just Ben Thomson, the DJ and label boss remembers Kevin McAuley, aka Pangaea, ‘cramming decks into his tiny room at halls, we used to spend hours learning to mix on the floor’ and randomly bumping into David Kennedy, Ramadanman, in the queue for pioneering London dubstep club FWD, where he discovered Kennedy would also be studying in Leeds the following year. United by common taste, their Hessle Audio radio show began in 2006 and ‘people would send us tunes, a lot of which were good enough for us to think about putting out. There wasn’t much of a platform for these producers at that point.’ As dubstep was a relatively new genre, Hessle crucially found a distribution deal easier to come by.
There is no Hessle manifesto, says Thomson, although ‘we play more house than our peers, not exactly bridging the gap but showing what these disparate genres might have in common.’ Although his reputation as a DJ is strong, he does feel a certain envy for artists on his label like Martyn and Untold. ‘I’d love to produce at some point,’ he says, ‘but every successful producer I know didn’t have anything else to think about when they started. I feel a weight of expectation that it’s probably best just to ignore …’
Kollektiv at the Admiral, Glasgow, Fri 12 Aug