Benji Boko is the boy with the big hair and split personality; whose larger-than-life stage persona and unbelievable mixing skills are matched by his creative prowess as a producer and beat-maker. Boko lives in our hometown of Brighton where his musical sensibility was initially sparked, and continues to be influenced and shaped by the eclectic selection of records to be found in second-hand shops and flea markets. His live shows have already added the likes of Zane Lowe, Rob da Bank and one of his own biggest musical influences, DJ Yoda, to his fan-base. Boko’s 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 at the merest whiff of a catchy or nostalgic hook. It is this unique style which has also won over the likes of Maxi Jazz (Faithless) and Ricky Rankin (Roots Manuva), who both collaborate on the debut album Beats, Treats And All Things Unique, released in June 2011.
Boko started DJing as a teenager, and then headed up to Leeds to study Music Production at university. It was there that he started playing out really regularly and, wanting to take his audiences somewhere bigger, he came up with the concept of his live ‘Can I Mix It?’ show, which he describes as “on the fly, off the cuff, completely improvised live remixing”. We’re talking Mozart vs. Missy, Dizzee vs. Depeche Mode and Snoop vs. Simpsons, just to name a few. From Bestival to V Festival and Ibiza to Amsterdam – not to mention the midnight set on New Year’s Eve 09/10 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.
In between wowing the sweaty masses with his incendiary live antics, Boko has been toiling away in the studio. In 2009 he released a standalone single, “Jungle VIP”, on Wax On records, and with airplay on major radio stations across the world, it shot to number 16 in the iTunes electronic charts, marking him out as the one to watch. His fresh, melodic, slightly twisted hip hop-infused style – as much influenced by Beardyman, DJ Yoda, Fatboy Slim and the Neptunes as it is by cartoons, Peter Sellers, Monty Python and fairytales.
If the hyperactive, livewire DJ is one side of his split personality then the debut album reveals the other facet of Benji Boko’s musical persona. The first single from Beats, Treats And All Things Unique is the mesmerising “Where My Heart Is” featuring Maxi Jazz. This unpredictable pairing makes perfect sense, and the musical chemistry crackles. Benji Boko’s deep, evocative yet playful beat provides the foundation for Maxi Jazz’s inimitable soul-felt vocals.