Just Be aka Bushwacka aka Matthew Benjamin’s story arose from deep within the UK’s underground warehouse and illegal rave scene. Beginning in the 80s and 90s, he found it a space where he had unparalleled creative freedom to explore and develop as an artist. Just Be’s past has now seeped into the present, and as the years have gone by, we’ve seen him push boundaries of house, breakbeat, techno, downtempo and ambience alike. A collection of styles that have since lead him down a path to become the highly sort-after DJ/producer that he is today.
Officially, Just Be’s career kicked off with a 14-year residency in London’s legendary The End, the abandoned train tunnel turned nightclub was a leg up in the dance world and propelled him into the international circuit. Since then, his time as a touring artist has seen him headline some of the worlds leading clubs such as Cocoon, DC10 and the now defunct Space in Ibiza. Clubs aside, Just Be is also no stranger to festival life. He’s featured on the dusty plains of the Black Rock Dessert for a sunrise set at Burning Man’s Robot Heart stage, The BPM Festival and many more. Fast forward to the present and Just Be now has 6 artist albums with another one on its way, 120 remixes and 160 tracks. To top it off he also has another EP soon to be released on Get Physical Music.
In compiling this house mix for Balance Selections, Just Be waited until the last minute so he could pick his favourite and most recent tracks from his collection, a mix where he’s managed to squeeze 18 tracks into his one-hour set. When asked about his podcast he told Balance ‘I haven’t actually put my own music on this mix. I meant to, but there is so much good music I had to pass on, and I just went with what felt right’ – and as usual, his feeling was spot on.
Words by Stefanos Mak
Balance Selections Q+A
Bushwacka! / Just Be
Labels affiliated with:
Get Physical / Crosstown Rebels
What music did you listen too as a child?
When I was a child – the first song I can actually remember is “Tell Me Why I don’t like Mondays” and that wasn’t because my parents were playing it, but it was on the radio a lot and wasn’t it about something terrible that happened in a school? It’s all a bit vague. My mother played piano, my father guitar. They actually met when my mother was doing her art degree at university and she left to be with my dad. He was in a little band at the time, when they met. I was making up tunes on the piano at the age of 3 apparently. They did play a lot of music at home. It was The Beatles, Supertramp, 10CC, Elton John, Janis Joplin, a lot of Jazz, Paul Simon, and a bit classical too. Oh yes, and ELO, and Pink Floyd. These are the ones I can remember.
When was the first time you saw a DJ in a club?
I was 14. I went to a non alcoholic nightclub for under 16s in the basement of a church in West Ealing, the club was called The Parrot and Palm. The DJ playing was Jimmy Mcleanan – my best mate from middle school from age 8-11. We got split up at school for causing trouble and I hadn’t seen him since I went to high school. He was mixing dance tracks and hip hop / r and b / disco kind of stuff. The next day I went round to his house and had a go on his decks. Citronic belt drives. (I bought the same ones and learned to mix on them by squeezing the middle bit, – learned the HARD way)…. and I was hooked from this first time at his house.
Which producers/artists/acts inspire you?
Carl Craig has always inspired me. I think he is the best electronic producer of my generation regarding dance music. Trentemoller is also amazing. I had forgotten about him until I watched the movie 11.6 on the plane today. He has so many amazing productions. Regarding Carl Craig, the stuff on Fragile from early Detroit Techno days, to Chicken Noodle Soup, some of his wonkier stuff, and Bug in the Bassbin to name but a few…. and then At Les… I mean come on! I have just discovered Sampha properly – the new album – mind blowing songs and production!
What was the last album that you downloaded/bought?
Sampha is on repeat on Spotify. The new album. It’s ridiculous. Bought – was De La Soul. Also amazing – my son bought it for me on vinyl. I’m looking at buying the Tribe called Quest Album too!
What is your current production and DJ set up like?
I am writing on tour / holidays on my iPad pro using GarageBand or Korg Gadget. Garageband integrates with all the other soft synths on my iPad so it ‘ s dope. The Moog stuff on there is sick. Then I can upload from GB straight into Logic Format or from Gadget into Ableton or as audio files. My home studio is Hardware and software. I ‘ m using Logic 10.3 and running all from the big Mac Pro – I use all the usual soft synths, and my audio interface is UAD apollo which I love, and their plug -ins are perfect. I use a lot of Waves plug -ins too for processing. Analog wise, I ‘ m using the Dave Smith Poly Evolver, The Moog Sub 37 and Minitaur. The Analog Solutions Leipzig – which is playing up a bit, the mini brute, 303 (real one) tt303 (fake one) TR8, NI Complete control 88, and more… I DJ on CD J s and a lot of the music is bought on vinyl and digitised. I don’t want to carry the records round with me and the decks are fucked in a lot of clubs …. the usual reasons. I have given up on computers in clubs. I use computers for far too many hours already… The last thing I want to do is have to plug one in and look at a screen when I am dropping fat tunes.
What releases do you have on the horizon?
I have a new EP on Get Physical soon, and I am planning a series of releases with them over the next 18 months. I love working with those guys. I love their personalities. Some other people I have recorded for in recent years, are not really interested in what I am doing that much, as they have their own agendas, which I understand, but Patrick and Philip are super cool. I am also working on an album with my great friend the singer Jesse Monroe – who has such a great voice – half Brazilian half Notting Hill. This is a long term project as she recently had a baby, so we are letting it flow when it flows. On top of that I am delving into the world of writing ambient and stripped down soundscapes and tribal rhythms for sync library and soundtrack. It’s a hard nut to crack though, I need to devote more time to this.
Where can we hear you perform?
Well , right now I am about to do two weekends in Brazil. I have tonight at D’Edge in Sao Paulo, Friday at Vibe in Curitiba and Saturday at Warung Beach club, then on Sunday I fly up to Trancoso in Bahia to make a special intimate party with some friends, then back to Sao Paulo for another gig next weekend. I will be doing a residency in May every week at Pikes in Ibiza – one of my favourite places. I’m waiting to hear news about Sankeys, where I played every week last summer…. and I am doing the odd gigs in the UK and Europe until I go to Australia again in June I believe. I don’t do too much these days – a few gigs, then a few weeks at home being an artist!
Tell us more about the podcast you made for Balance?
I made this on Ableton. I did it in 3 different locations. Work on the move! I left it until the last minute as I wanted to include any new music that was super fresh to me. I bought some new vinyl and recorded it all in just before leaving for Brazil, so some of that has made it onto the mix. There are a lot more tracks than usual in the 1 hour time limitation – I think about 18 – I was chopping and changing a lot. All in all it took about 3 days to put together, but not full days – the first two days were sourcing music and digitising it. I haven’t actually put my own music on this mix. I meant to, but there is so much good music I had to pass on, and I just went with what felt right.
The top track in my DJ wallet currently is:
If I could recommend only one of my tracks for you to listen to it would be:
My remix of Shape Your Dreams by Mr. C on Superfreq – (not out yet) – just finished!
If I could recommend only one track for you to listen to it would be:
The first thing that came to my head was Marrionette – Matthew Johnson. Probably because when I first heard it I listened to it 12 times from start to finish…. it hypnotised me.
The last movie I watched that I really liked:
My favourite TV show:
At the moment – Hmm… I enjoyed The Missing. It’s dark but gripping .
If I could choose anyone to compile a Balance comp it would be:
Frankie Valentine – the most underrated DJ ever and has the musical knowledge of all of us put together I reckon!
1. Natural Rhythm – Smoldering Island [Earthtones]
2. Joss Moog – Triple Loop [Robsoul]
3. Streetback – Confess
4. Artist Unknown – Dub Chronicles // 04 01 – Untitled [Dub Chronicles 04] 5. Sai – Black 10 Sampler 01 – Al La Carte [Freerange Colour Series FR181] 6. KiNK – Chorus [Midnight Shift] 7. Braque – Maracujah [DKO] 8. Decision Making Theory 1
9. Prunk and Chris Stussy – Material [E-Wax] 10. Catz ‘n Dogz – It’s Happening [Pets] 11. Adam Port & Stereo MCs – Changes (Jimpster Remix) [Freerange] 12. Jerome Isma-Ae, Ilan Bluestone – Under My Skin [Anjunabeats] 13. Synkrone – Crystalised
14. Something for Real
15. Paul Cut – Walk [DKO] 16. Function – Gradient I [Ostgut Ton 63] 17. Afrique – Harken [Zelzate City] 18. Pepe Bradock – Deep Burnt [Kif]