Occupation: DJ, producer
Current Release: BEC's Turning Point EP is out on her own BEC imprint.
If you enjoyed this interview with BEC, her website is a portal taking you to all her social media and music channels.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What is it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I started DJing only five years ago actually. It was after being heavily influenced in my late teens when I used to go to illegal raves in Brighton along the sea front during gay pride time where artists like Fatboy Slim would DJ on the beach in front of 10,000 people.
I then moved to London and got heavily into dubstep in the beginning and drum n bass. I used to attend the nights at Fabric and Matter, and it just went from there really. I was always into techno as well very heavily then, so I decided to pursue a career in it.
I used to be a graphic designer and I just felt something was missing for me because it was a creative job but it wasn't creativity for myself, it wasn't a true artistic outlet. It was corporate and commercial work for other clients so music really allowed me to express myself, my emotions and reflect things that were going on in my life in a more artistic way that wasn't produced for someone else.
It's also linked to my spiritual practice as frequencies are moving us in a different way, whether we are conscious of it or not. I found that when I started to work in music, the spiritual practices in my life increased, they got better and my meditations were more intense. I just felt essentially more connected.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Yes that was definitely the case for me as well. I started by just being a DJ and wasn't doing production in the beginning, so it was something that I learned from scratch.
I studied at SAE for six months. But of course after that, there was just still so much more to learn. So I definitely learned and improved my skills by looking at other artists and what they were making. Ttrying to design sounds that I'd already heard before was how I learned the most. It wasn't until a few years later that I had enough skills to free flow in the studio and jam instead of sitting there and trying to figure things out and not really having the knowledge to sound design. So I'm really happy to finally come out the other end and have the skills and to be able to create my sound exactly how I want. I think there's some good advice for anyone else doing the same: just keep going because you will get there in the end.
What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?
In the beginning, I think my challenges were mainly just about getting more gigs as a DJ and now it's about getting my music signed to labels that I want to get assigned to. DJing is super fun, it allows you to share your music with other people on the dance floor around the world.
The studio situation is different, of course. I love making music, but it's more for me. I'm not seeing the reactions of ravers to my music. It's also a very introverted time, it's my time to be alone and just create. When I'm DJing I'm surrounded by different people different cultures, and I'm able to really fully experience the music I've created in the studio.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
The job of a DJ is to take people on the dance floor through a journey where they forget their outside world and really just enjoy that moment and stay present which is also why it's connected to my spiritual practice. Even DJs, whether they're conscious of it or not, are performing a spiritual task or spiritual practice themselves.
So essentially a DJ wants to sculpt or enable people who are on the dance floor to escape reality in a way – or, in simple words, have the best night ever.
What was your first set-up as DJ like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
My first setup was a pair of 1210 Techniques turntables. They were very old and a friend of mine loaned them to me in exchange for doing some graphic design work for him in London.
I found it pretty tough to start with vinyl but I'm I'm glad I did. But then that quickly changed when I started getting gigs abroad it was a nightmare to think about playing vinyl so I actually then switched to just Tractor which allowed me to really learn more about how to work the crowd rather than the technicalities of mixing which I think was really important for my career at that stage.
But then I switched to CDJs. I also always use a live drumming machine, whether that is plugging my TR8S into the the decks or into the mixer or whether that is using a Pioneer RMX station. I really love layering drums and effects over the music.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
I definitely make good use of technology. I really appreciate it and think that it adds a lot to the way that I innovate and create music. I'm a huge fan of both software and hardware. I think hardware allows me to kind of jam or add musical elements spontaneously whereas software is easier to control well for the algorithms.
As an example, I have a randomizer in a built-in sequencer called Rosa. I really love to use that because when I'm not fully inspired, I I just hit randomize on some parameters and see what comes out. It's super crucial to what I do and I think to what a lot of musicians and electronic producers do as well. I think that if you're missing some creativity or you're not feeling it that day, technology can actually bring bridge that gap. Also, there may be skills that you might be missing and Ableton or other tools can automate them for you.
Not sure if that's necessarily a good thing but it will definitely change and shape the industry and how people produce music in the future.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
You've definitely asked the right person about a morning routine. I'm a huge fan of them and I have quite a long one and quite an active one. I tend to get up around 7 am every day sometimes even earlier but never after 8 am really.
What I do first before anything is always meditate. I'll make a cup of tea being the Brit I am, then I will meditate and then I usually do a HIIT workout at home. The latter is something COVID has actually been good for, as it's allowed me to get used to working out at home.
I then sometimes journal. It's not something I do every day, I must admit. But there is an amazing book I read [The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron] where the author says that you should do morning pages where you just write whatever comes into your brain in order to kind of brain dump before the day. She thinks that's the best way to stay creative and I agree on this.
If I do the morning pages, I really feel a difference to my day and my workflow. So, I think my morning routine is absolutely essential to a productive day in the studio. And yeah, I'm a big fan of books such as the five am club by Robin Schwarmer who says that a lot of the world's most successful people actually get up at 5 am and they have a morning routine that lasts for hours, so yeah, I think I'm not quite there yet but seven am is also fine for me.
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
If I have a gig I'm usually downloading some promos. Probably not the day of the gig but I usually do that once or twice a week and then, when on my way to the gig, I'll always always organize my music on the plane. Sometimes I do some sort of order if it's a very big gig or if it's a different time to what I usually play.
I will get the first few tracks in and organize them and then literally just flow from there. Usually, a set of mine can really go off the plan that I originally had, but having those first few tracks means that if I had any nerves or mental block, I just have those few tracks planned in the beginning.