Artist Profile: Ben Sims

by | Jun 4, 2024 | Artist Profile, Blog

Over three decades, Ben Sims has carved his niche as a DJ, producer, and label owner, seamlessly blending techno’s past, present, and future into a relentless career. The latest stop on this epic path will be at CABINET, where Ben Sims will play Control Club on Friday, June 7.

Beginning in the 1980s UK, Ben Sims was steeped in influences ranging from hip-hop, roots, and reggae to soul, house, and the nascent rave scene. These influences informed his techno approach, characterized by a potent mix of funk and driving beats. His formative years would be spent spinning records on pirate radio stations and at parties around Essex and East London, where he quickly earned a reputation for technically acute DJing . This radio background continues to this day with Sims’ monthly NTS show Run it Red.

The 1990s saw Sims rise to prominence as the rave scene in the UK exploded. His reputation as a skilled DJ, capable of three-deck mixing (sometimes, even five) and crafting high-energy sets stacked with tough, funky grooves, grew further. His ability to create an immersive techno atmosphere through seamless track transitions set him apart from an ever-crowded field.

Transitioning from DJing to production, Sims began releasing music that mimicked his sets’ raw energy. Tracks such as Manipulated and Way Back Then combined thick basslines with intricate rhythms. His productions quickly garnered attention and resulted in a discography as extensive as anyone’s in electronic music. This discography (including alias, Ron Bacardi) ranges from the biggest technio labels in the world to some of its most cherished cult imprints—Tresor, Drumcode, Klockworks, Ostgut Ton, Mosaic, Karlovak, Bass Culture, CLR, Hardgroove, KB Records inc, Symbolism, etc. On Drumcode, His 2011 album Smoke & Mirrors would feature, blending his signature techno with authentic house outings.

In the late 1990s, Sims founded Theory Recordings. Through Theory, Sims has championed numerous artists. The label’s roster includes notable names like Mark Broom, Paul Mac, and Ritzi Lee, all of whom share Sims’s commitment to boundary-pushing quality, creatively and technically. His own releases on Theory have also been pivotal to the scene, with tracks like Riots in London and Welcome to the Club of particularly note.

Sims’s influence extends far beyond the UK. He has performed almost everywhere, often appearing at Berghain, Fabric, and Awakenings. His sets are known for their intensity and technical precision. They usually incorporate live edits and on-the-fly remixes through 3-5 decks, faders, effects and EQs. You can find a Ben Sims edition of virtually every podcast and mix series for a taste of his DJing. Crack Magazine, Resident Advisor, HATE, Reclaim Your City, and Boiler Room would be a good start.

In addition to his DJing prowess, Sims has earned acclaim for his prolific remix work. His remixes for artists like Adam Beyer, Green Velvet, Robert Hood, Kevin Saunderson, Carl Cox, Oscar Mulero, and DJ Rush transform the originals into high-energy techno anthems.

Sims’s commitment to innovation may best be exemplified by his recent project, Machine. These events have become a staple in the global techno calendar, known for their cutting-edge lineups and emphasis on new sounds and textures, including showcases of his current imprints, Hardgroove and Symbolism.

Put simply, Ben Sims has played a crucial role in shaping the sound of modern techno. His legacy is one of innovation, energy, and a deep love for all things true-school, making Ben Sims a bonafide techno legend.

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