Interview Series: Next To Blue.
Ben Benecke AKA Next To Blue is truly a diamond in the rough, although that’s primed to change very soon. The 19 year old’s production is so crisp and boundary-pushing, one can’t help but chuckle at the fact that he, like so many of SC’s wunderkinds, can’t even legally order a drink yet. To be certain, becoming this adept at music production takes years of effort, trial and tribulations, but man, is the end-result ever sweet.
Next To Blue is among a very select group of talented artists who are re-invigorating what had undeniably become a relatively stale future bass sub-genre – to the point where it would be a disservice to categorize his music as such and attempt to place it neatly in some arbitrary musical box. Instead, let’s call Next To Blue’s music what it is: new, refreshing, and oh-so-good.
The Colorado-based producer’s music has, somewhat akin to PEI native Ramzoid’s, evolved from a grimy and dark neuro-funk-influenced soundscape to a more melodic, future-influenced iteration which retains its hype and exquisite, glitchy ambience, but is nonetheless more nuanced and very much in tune with the times.
Next To Blue is also part of the Night Owl Collective which has been taking SoundCloud by storm as of late, with a rapidly expanding roster of diverse and superbly talented artists, including the likes of Eli Way, Superb Lyres, kuiters, and many more, all helping to take the future game places it’s never been before. Next To Blue’s “Upper Echelon” remix showcases his unbelievable attention to detail, with stunning interplay between immaculate percs and synth work. His flip of Moderat’s “The Fool,” meanwhile, is truly a tour de force: among other things, the track has some masterful automation/effects on the synths/vocals, giving the song all its stuttering goodness.
Be sure to check out more Next To Blue (whose follower count could easily jump from 2k to 20k before you know it), as well as his Night Owl counterparts. Read on for the full interview below!
What first inspired you to produce with a neuro-funk flavour? What about your more recent future-like stuff? In what way do you now attempt to craft a synthesis of those two different sonic directions and where do you see your sound going in the future?
In regards to neuro-funk music, I’ve always been a huge sucker for weird sound design and distorted reese basses. The thing about future bass is that it has a pretty simple formula right now. You know, supersaw chords, twangy drums, lots of fills. This is great because there is room to add stuff like neuro sounds etc. It’s a genre that has a lot of opportunities to evolve and that’s essentially my goal, to evolve one genre into something fresher.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Oh man I gotta say Flume here. I have watched many of his interviews in which he talks about his production tactics and that guy is super inspiring in a sense that his ideas are completely out of the box. Other artists that influence me pretty heavily are Mura Masa, Shindig, and Louis The Child.
The common refrain in the music industry nowadays relates to the so-called “death of the gatekeepers” — i.e., the ability for artists to successfully release their music without the help of big labels and management companies. What are your thoughts on, and experience with, this?
To be honest here, I would be no where without the ability to reach out myself because I am pretty bad at networking and promoting myself. Definitely something I have been working on this year.
What are your thoughts on online labels and collectives? What has been your personal experience with, as an example, Night Owl Collective?
I think collectives are a great place to find a specific music style you like as well as find a “team” of artists all pushing a certain music. Night Owl Collective is great, I have known Jonny since before I even produced under Next To Blue. Working with him is always a pleasure.
How has social media enabled you to connect with likeminded individuals?
Without Facebook I wouldn’t have met tons of great artists I talk to nowadays like Audiobot, Shindig, Twine, and a heap of others.
Where do you go from here?
My next step is to find some good vocalists to work with and maybe start playing out a bit more. Like I said, I’m really trying to get better at promoting myself.
If you could have lunch with any artist of your choice, who would it be and why?
I would love have lunch with Getter because that man is a goofball. I love goofballs.
. . .
Show the guys some love:
Next To Blue
Night Owl Collective
(And check out our full SoundCloud Artist Spotlight playlist for Next To Blue here.)