Beats, Treats & All Things Unique
‘Beats, Treats & All Things Unique’ is the debut album by fast rising star Benji Boko, which features a diverse roster of collaborators including Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Ricky Rankin (Roots Manuva) and Boko’s seven-year-old cousin.
‘Beats, Treats & All Things Unique’ is the debut album by fast rising star Benji Boko. With a diverse roster of collaborators including Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Ricky Rankin (Roots Manuva) and Boko’s seven-year-old cousin, who you’ll hear on Intro and Outro duties, the album is out on 20th June on Tru Thoughts, preceded by the single “Where My Heart is” featuring Maxi Jazz in May.
An innovative, energetic DJ and producer, Benji Boko is the boy from Brighton with the big hair and the split personality (…his alter-ego is a hyperactive purple monkey…) whose larger-than-life DJ presence and amazing mixing skills are matched by his creative prowess as a producer and beat-maker. Boko’s musical spark was initially ignited by the eclectic selection of records to be found in the second-hand shops and flea markets of his home city; this appetite for all types of music is combined with an appreciation and talent for sound and sample manipulation, and a habit of sliding into highly visualised forays of imagination. His fresh, melodic, slightly twisted hip hop-infused pop is as much influenced by Beardyman, DJ Yoda, Fatboy Slim and The Neptunes as it is by cartoons, Peter Sellers, Monty Python and fairytales.
In recent years Boko has made a major impression with his ‘Can I Mix It?’ DJ shows, which he describes as “on the fly, off the cuff, completely improvised live remixing”, and counts Rob Da Bank, Zane Lowe and DJ Yoda among his growing fanbase. From Bestival to V Festival and Ibiza to Amsterdam – not to mention the New Year’s Eve midnight set at the O2, with Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 – Boko’s show has been transporting people in their thousands from the ‘norm’ into a world of pure imagination.
His magic touch as a producer was briefly seen in 2009 when his track “Jungle VIP” gained radio play across the world and shot to no. 16 in the iTunes electronic chart; now, having inked a deal with Tru Thoughts, he is set to unveil his full album. If the hyperactive, livewire DJ is one side of his personality, then ‘Beats, Treats And All Things Unique’ reveals another facet of Benji Boko’s musical persona.
Tru Thoughts A&R Robert Luis describes what he saw in the artist: “Benji Boko’s introductory email stood out from the rest. He had recorded music with Roots Manuva, Maxi Jazz and Ricky Rankin and had an album pretty much ready. He’s from our home town, so we met up, and he came across as a very hard-working artist and a hugely charismatic personality. He has a DJ/Live set that is full-on party orientated, and makes music that is multi layered and deep, but still full of hooks. I instantly felt he was unique and a real catch.”
The album explores a wide spectrum of influences, and yields an equally diverse selection of sounds; from the deep, evocative beat of the single which is complemented by Maxi Jazz’s inimitable soul-felt vocals, through the hypnotic instrumental track, “Glider”. Then at the other extreme – more in line with the relentless energy of his DJ set – is “No. 1 Sound”, which has a really ‘live’ vibe, as Ricky Rankin freestyled the whole thing. “It never stops for a second”, says Boko, “it’s the perfect festival tune!”. Dotted around the album are a host of little skits, each with its own charm, including “I Had A Dream (Mini Obama)”, inspired by a fortune-telling vinyl record found in a charity shop. “Benji Bolognese” is like a journey that hops from place to place and hooks you along for the ride; says Boko, “it’s exactly what it’s like living in my head…loads of ideas, getting distracted very easily and quickly…ha…this sentence has taken me about 20 minutes to write as I was just distracted watching Kermit the frog eat Vincent Price on YouTube”.