Since Ben Micklewright aka BLM came of legal drinking age, the Secret Agency Associate has been coming down to our Farringdon dance nirvana to experience the refined DJ sets of his hero and our resident, Craig Richards. The historical legacy of Craig's wildly eclectic closing sets have been profoundly influential on Ben who soon started his own journey into music making.
Learning the principles of sound engineering and earning himself a degree in that field back in Nottingham, the rising talent started to make a name for himself in the bubbling house, techno and garage scene wedged in the city's music landscape, playing intimate rave spots whenever he possibly could and it wasn't long before he took a leap of faith in moving to London to broaden his musical conception and carve his own niche sound.
Fast forward to today and BLM's music sits comfortably between futuristic sound designs, perpetually fresh and destined for a club setting. You can instantly feel his strain of beats on tracks cut on his established label, Fear Of Flying who also support house veterans of the 90's like Nail to the fresh young talent of Shenoda, or Underground Quality and most recently for the secretsundaze party arm and label who will be bringing BLM back to Room Three on 13th April for his second outing with us. Read on in our first ever interview with BLM and listen up to this deep pool of twisted house jams carefully tailored into a promo mix ready to sooth your mind after the bank holiday weekend.
Hey Ben. Where in the world are you today?
Hey fabric. Today I am at home In Shepherds Bush.
We first saw you in club territory last year for the Underground Quality takeover in Room Three. How was the experience for you with long time hero Jus Ed at the helm?
Yeah it was fantastic. I had been going to fabric for a few years before so it was like a dream come true after going to the club hundreds of times to be on the other side playing some records. Everyone played really nice sets and it was busy in room three all night so I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience.
What is your favourite kind of venue to play and why?
Anywhere really with a good vibe and good sound.
Seven years on did you ever anticipate Fear of Flying to be so successful with 50 releases in the bag?
I’m not sure I ever anticipated anything when the label first started out. The mission statement if you like was just to put out music we wish to play and that still stands to this day. We have just been sent quality music all these years, so I suppose it was only ever going to continue and hopefully will do for many years to come.
What are three of your favourite Fear of Flying releases and why?
Shenoda - Mines Of Minolta EP
I think this one marks a point for me where things really started to move forward with the label. Shenoda had been sending us music for quite some time, but this particular demo really struck a chord with us. I’m not really sure of Laurie’s influences for this EP but what I like about it is that it reminds me of stuff that came out on Steve O’Sullivan’s classic Mosaic label, but with his own twist. I have a real passion for sound design and I think this particular EP shows some great skills relating to that.
Black Dynamite - Busted Loop
For regular and one of my favourite producers to release on Fear of Flying, Ivano Tetelepta aka Black Dynamite. This man has got some serious skills. All four tracks are stripped down, low slung pieces of house music.
Various – Get It Right Fofvin1
Our first various artist EP on FOF, which remains my favourite EP on the label. 3 great tracks from Schatrax, Egal 3 and Nyra and then a tribute track of my own to my daughter and my dog. I think most people buy for the Schatrax, but the other tracks are not to be missed. Sheffield’s Nyra and Romania’s Egal 3 both lay down some serious peak time groovers on this 12”. Repress coming soon!
You clearly have a knack at supporting fresh young talent on the label like Shenoda and artists from the 90’s like Schatrax and Nail just this year. What drives you to keep representing the old and the new school this way?
It’s really quite simple in that we just kept getting sent good music so we will continue to support it. We’re not fussed if it’s new or old, as long as it’s decent we’re happy. Representing the old came about because we had these records in our collections already and thought it would be nice for them to get reissued as the first time around they were not pressing that many copies. The likes of Nail has done really well off of the reissue so that’s really nice to see. He had no idea his records were sought after, so it was a welcome surprise to him to find out there were still loads of fans.
Your sound feels wholly unique, powerful yet subtle. Can you tell us about it and some of your inspirations?
My sound, hmmm. Good question. I think I’m looking to produce something that nods to the past, but sounds somewhat futuristic. I’m not really interested in doing something that’s been done before. I sent a demo many years ago to a well-respected label and they said my music was derivative, it strongly hit home so I went away and made a real effort to change what I was doing. Around this time I started buying bits of hardware and I believe that’s really changed my sound into something that reflects me as a person.
A lot of my inspirations come from producers that were making music in the 90’s. I really love what Andrew Weatherall was doing with his Two Lone Swordsmen guise. There were a few LPs they put out that were mind blowing. His Bloodsugar mixes are also a great inspiration to me, I listen to them regularly and they still sound fresh today. A real good DJ set can also be very inspiring. When I used to go to fabric on a weekly basis Craig Richards closing sets were and still are a massive inspiration to me.
What path do you see yourself on at the moment? What’s on the horizon for you next?
I still have a day job so I’m hoping to get rid of that this year as it really sucks the creative side out of me. Once that’s gone I’m going to continue to work on writing music that I like and that pushes things forward in my own little way. I feel like I’m actually getting somewhere with my music at the moment - I’m starting to make music that I really like and play so I hope that continues.
I have been making loads of music the last few years so 2013 I’m going to work on releasing them. Other than my release on secretsundaze I have 5 or 6 releases coming out over the course of this year, so I’m looking forward to getting those out.
What’s your anticipation for return to Room Three under The Secret Agency banner with Nicholas, live and James Priestley. Is there a friendship between you guys that you can talk about?
I haven’t actually met Nicholas yet or heard him play so I’m looking forward to that. Regarding James, we have only met a few times so far so I guess we are in the early stages of a friendship.
You just dropped a new EP for the secretsundaze crew. So will we be hearing it on the system and what else can we look forward to hearing from you?
Yeah the b2 cut titled ‘brick’ will almost certainly get a spin. The rest are full on peak time bangers so I’ll keep them for another time.
For fun what’s your favourite artist or album to do these to? Wake up? The Scientist ‘Rids The World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires’ Listen on the road? I have literally been listening to nothing except the Autonomic podcasts on the road for the last few years. Be romantic? Erykah Badu – ‘Baduizm’ Dance? Schatrax – ‘Stamp Collecting’ Be nostalgic? The Fugees – ‘The Score’
Catch The Secret Agency in Room Three on 13th April with BLM, Nicholas (LIVE) and James Priestley. For more info and tickets go :here.