Ben Lost, a name that some of you may remember from the Young Parisians anthem ‘Jump The Next Train’, has been busy working on and off within the trance scene since 1998 – and returning after a lengthy break, he’s fuelled by a new desire to make a fresh mark on the landscape.
Not content with just one project, he has three new guises; as a DJ, fronting a live EDM band and returning as head of A&R at his old record label Lost Language.
Chatting to Ben you get a good dose of humour, but you can sense that he’s wanting to create ripples within trance music again and I hope he does, because people could do with reminding what trance stands for.
Many artists such as John 00 Fleming and Solarstone (Ben’s Federation partner in crime) have been very vocal recently about what trance is. Fans from all corners of the world have complained that trance is dead, but it is in fact alive and kicking – you just need to look for it.
Instead of following the same old faces, those that swiftly moved into producing and DJing that ‘popular’ sound, try finding someone you’ve never heard of before. There’s always talent out there.
Needless to say, Ben Lost will be doing his best to bring you a fresh experience in whatever he does.
Thanks for spending time with iLove Trance Music Ben, it’s a pleasure to have you featured on the site.
As an intro to anyone who hasn’t happened to come across you before, could you in a nut shell explain your background and history for new faces?
It’s 20 years since I started my first band – at the age of 12. I toured with the UK Subs at 13, signed a band to London Records at 15, got into trance at 17, moved to london at 18. From there I went to work for Pinnacle Records, joined Hooj Choons/Lost Language at 20 years old. That subsequently led to DJing, which was my main thing for a few years. I also sang and wrote on various projects – ‘Jump the Next Train’ was a big one in 2003, which I wrote with my current Federation band partner, Rich, of Solarstone fame.
So you had been there and seen it all in essence, working with some of the most respected labels and artists in the scene. When Jump The Next Train took off as it did, what feeling did you get from that? Was there a “What next?” kind of question you were left asking yourself?
Not really. I don’t think I’ve ever been that ambitious or career driven, which in hindsight has been a double edged sword. It’s allowed me to enjoy things as they happen, while they’re happening, but at the same time that laissez faire approach has probably had its down sides. I never really had any management and I never really stuck at one thing. I’d always end up getting bored and start something else, but it’s all been fun. I’ve mostly enjoyed the chaos and uncertainty of my musical ‘career’.
I know so many people who float like that, but at least they aren’t controlled by the machine so to speak. As I understand it, you had a break from the scene. Did the combination of the above make that happen, or was it something you decided was needed?
I got to a point in 2004-5 where I wasn’t really listening to much trance anymore. I’d been living in a friend’s record shop and they sold mostly techno, electro, minimal, italo, etc. and I’d stay up all night, smoking weed and listening to the vinyl after hours. So, I cancelled my remaining trance gigs and started playing all this new music I was into, which was actually still really ‘trancey’ – 4/4 kick, big riffs, rolling basslines, etc. – but the production was very different. I was loving the music on Viewlexx, System, Boxersport, along with artists like Alden Tyrell, Blackstrobe, Tiga – all quite ‘trance’ in their own way.
At my gigs in Japan, Canada, and Russia, the crowd totally embraced the new stuff I was playing. I played with Orbital in Russia, and they were down at the front having it for my entire set, which was a massive thrill. But in typical fashion, I started playing in a band with some friends and kind of just stopped DJing. I think I convinced myself that we were going to be ‘the biggest band in the world’ – ha!
Every band starts out with the ambition of being ‘the biggest band in the world’! Why else start hey?
Well as it happens… Federation are now on course to be ‘the biggest band in the world’…. obviously. Haha!
Of course! So fast forwarding, you teamed up again with Rich. How did Federation come to form?
I went to visit Rich a couple of years ago just to hang out and experiment. On the first night we sat down in front of a log fire, with some brandy and played each other loads of music we were into. We both share a love of bands like the Cure, Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, and thought it would be great to marry that sound with trance – big emotive songs, riffs… There are lots of parallels anyway, but we thought it would translate and work well live. This is something we’re further developing since our live debut earlier this year. It came together really quickly. We work really well together. We had three songs written and recorded in a matter of hours.
Wow! Great synergy that just meant you sat down and went “Yeah, let’s do this!”
Totally! Funnily enough, the first gig I ever went to when I was 12 years old was Neds Atomic Dustbin at the Cresset in Peterborough and unbeknownst to me, Rich was in the support band Emission. So it was written in the stars long, long ago…
Fate has its way.
So you have three heads on right now being Ben Lost the DJ, working with Rich as Federation and A&R with Lost Language. Let’s touch upon the DJ work, you are pushing a very techy psy sound there as I hear it listening to your show – tell us more…
My trance sabbatical was definitely healthy, as when I started revisiting the old stuff again, a few years back, I remembered exactly what it was that originally excited me – mid 90s Goa, late 90s progressive trance, the dark germanic/tech trance from early 2000.
Going through demos, Beatport, Audiojelly, etc….it’s easy for me to pick out new electronic music that has the qualities I look for in trance. I rarely find it in modern ‘trance’ though, the best stuff is usually in the techno, psy trance, minimal genres. Funnily enough, anywhere but the ‘trance’ genre. If you listen to recent sets on my DI.FM show, Beyond the Black Radio, the music has all the hallmarks of what I would consider good trance, albeit not what any of the trouse/trance 2.0 DJs are playing. Most of that sounds like electro pop to me… actually, scrap ‘electro pop’…just crap pop music.
I have to agree, there have been many podcasts that I have unsubscribed from, or I’m not listening to as much in the past 12 months because they have moved into that realm of trouse and uninteresting melodies.
Do you think that such artists have reached the point of no return?
I guess it depends on the artist. There are calls for an older sound and I don’t think many of the big guns were that close to begin with. Its not that there’s any right or wrong style, it’s just that people seem to have forgotten what the word ‘trance’ means.
You watch videos of Laurent DJing in Goa using cassettes, building an atmosphere that is hypnotic, druggy, trancey, playing everything from industrial to italo, early psy trance, and it’s just a million miles away from what trance DJs play these days. Then again, most people who were into the early stuff would’ve sneered at the Dutch stuff I listened to in the late 90s, so this isn’t a snobby thing, because I love some of the pop stuff, but I do crave the variety and the mood from those early days, or even when it blew up in 98-99.
Oakenfold, Thomas Datt and Solarstone are playing/making trance that harks back to the big room sound of 99. John 00 Fleming has always stuck to what he would consider a proper ‘trance’ sound. Most of the DJs I like these days play techno or psy trance. Personally I like a mixture of genres and I like a DJs sound to be reflected within those genres, that’s what excites me. I want to keep developing that and build sets that are full of surprises, that ‘take you on a journey’ to use that trite, overused phrase – ha!
Well you have been on some journey with trance music. How does it feel to have come practically full circle and back at Lost Language in charge of A&R?
Yeah, funny how things turn out. I’ll always have varied tastes and want to be involved in loads of different things. Right now it’s fun and I’m buzzing off the music, enjoying speaking to old friends on the scene again and my main drive is to push the label further into the musical territories I talked about; old school goa, balearic, progressive, psy, but with talented producers, using modern techniques – as long as they understand the direction. We’re inching that way, slowly but surely….and DJing of course. I forgot just how much I missed building sets and I want to do that in some capacity…..forever…..and I want Lost Language to be a reflection of the stuff I play in my sets.
And on that note – what is in the pipeline with Lost Language, any news you can share with us?
Bernie Allen has nearly completed an artist album, which is sounding great. I’m currently sorting something with two of my current favourite psy/goa producers, Filteria and Sonic Entity, which I’m really, really excited about.
We also have a couple of remixed classics on the way – Thomas Datt’s awesome remix of Natious ‘Amber’, backed by a beautiful ambient/balearic rework from Charm & Strange. Miika Kuisma has just finished a remix of Origin’s ‘Wide Eyed Angel’ which is cool. I’m constrained by boring release schedules but they should all be appearing over the next few months. A new Lost Language sound should be well defined by spring 2013.
Exciting times ahead! And of course, going back to the start of the interview where we talked about Federation, you are busy with Rich. What releases do you both have scheduled?
We have a track called Quiero, due out on Perfecto Fluoro in the next couple of months, backed with a live video, shot at Slinky’s 15th birthday at The Opera House in Bournemouth supporting Oakenfold. So yeah, the most important thing we’re working on now is the live show. We just got an amazing new guitarist, so we’re working with him on some intense new material and then we aim to take the whole thing on the road next year.
I love the fact that you use The Opera House for the venue name. That was my old stomping ground when Slinky had a regular weekly event. A great venue that is now the O2 Academy Bournemouth.
That all sounds cool. I’m sure your fans are looking forward to the new venture. Having known Rich for a long time, are there any funny moments that would make him cringe if you were to share them?
OK, not spilling any beans then?
Ha! In all honesty, I haven’t got anything on Rich. He’s an all round top bloke, one of the good ones. He’s kept his integrity over the years and you cant say that about many people in the industry… ask me again at the end of the tour!
Fair play. Rich if you’re reading this, we’re after funny escapades from Federation ‘the biggest band in the world’ Haha!
As always, I ask this question to all who grace the pages here. Complete the following sentence Ben:
“I love trance music because…”
…it’s a sound that can be found in all genres, if properly understood. And it’s definitely not for posers!
Thanks Ben, it has been enlightening speaking to you. Best wishes for the future in all that you are doing, it’s very apparent that you are in it for the love of it.
If you would like to catch up with Ben and follow his work, hit the links below the following video of Federation ‘Black Tide’ to give you an idea of the sound that Ben and Rich are producing – enjoy!