Pre-sale tickets for Deru, Robot Koch and R/D are available online. Get yours here before they sell out.
Words by: Duke DuRock
The beautiful music of Benjamin Wynn, who records under the alias Deru, has been a favorite of ours for years. Listening to his albums conjures cinematic images from imaginary movies as you get lost on a musical trip, which always maintains ample elements of Wynn’s longstanding love for hip-hop. While his intricately produced studio albums are ideal home-listening or headphone material, for his up-coming show with us at the King King alongside Robot Koch and close friend R/D, Wynn will push the tempo and serve up plenty of musical surprises, providing the perfect soundtrack to get the party started.
“My live set differs a lot,” explained Wynn. “When I make albums I like to create a whole listening experience. When I play live it’s all about beats. There aren’t really any ambient sections. I tap into my hip-hop DJ roots. It’s beats that make you feel a certain way which maybe you’re not used to hearing in clubs yet but they still make you dance.”
Wynn added, “I also have some unreleased stuff and remixes for different bands. So there will be some indie vocals thrown in. I also like to pepper in a few 90‘s-era hip-hop songs. I try to get the chin-stroking music nerds dancing and also the chicks that just walk in and want to party. It’s about finding an in-between where everybody can be happy. I also really like to do some stuff for the headz. Songs everybody would like but the people that really know them freak the fuck out.
Wynn has been making music since he was in high school, but it was once he attended the prestigious Cal Arts college and began to study electronic and world music that his productions really began to take shape.
“I actually started as a hip-hop scratch DJ,” Wynn recalled. “ I love that golden era of hip-hop and I still listen to that stuff all the time. That music is the reason that I wanted to make music and I still feel that a lot of those influences are still with me today.”
In October 2011, Deru’s latest release saw the producer live out a dream by fully embracing his hip-hop roots with the one-off release,“Mini-Mini Me,” which featured vocal collaborations with Bay Area icon, Gift of Gab and Casual.
“The reason I called that release “Mini-Mini-Me” is because I finally did a release with some rappers,” shared Wynn. “I had stuff here and there, like producing a track with Slug of Atmosphere back when I was in college, but that single was for the fourteen-year-old in me.
“It was really cool,” Wynn added on the chance to collaborate with his hip-hop heroes.” “There have been some times in my life where I’ve been surprised at what you can get if you just ask for it. I was amazed at how willing and open both of those guys were. I think I might keep with these small little one-offs because these projects you don’t have to belabor over as much as with an album. And just keep doing these with rappers that I’ve always loved.”
Deru’s more introspective take on electronic music is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the stadium-sized sounds of the current Skrillex craze. But with interest in electronic music at an all-time high, veteran artists like Deru are also experiencing a boom on the dance floor like never before.
“The way I feel about trends is that I tend to not belong to them and I’ve never tried to,” Wynn offered. “I feel like I operate in my own little universe and the fact that people are into it is amazing.”
“I’ve never really tried making music for an audience that hasn’t just sort of found me on their own,” Wynn added. “The phenomenon that is Skrillex is something that could only happen right now. It couldn’t have happened when I put out my first record. There wasn’t an avenue on the Internet and a way to garner your own fame other than going through a more traditional route. It’s sort of an amazing sign of the times that an artist can go from making music in your bedroom to establishing a whole team and doing these huge multi-million dollar tours, to winning Grammys. It’s something that wasn’t around when I was releasing my first record.”
While the current dance floor craze may be heavy Dubstep, Deru’s genre-smashing sets maintain a similar tempo but with a decidedly different energy altogether, which he’s looking forward to letting loose at the King King.
“I think the one thing that has happened recently that I’m really happy with is that ten years ago people didn’t dance to slow music,” Wynn said with a laugh. “That has changed with Dubstep and I think there’s more hip-hop-inspired electronic musicians that do dance sets which people love.”
Wynn added, “I really love Do LaB shows because they always have the best sound and it’s packed. There’s a great energy and everybody’s really open. The crowd wants to dance and have a great time. That is really unique. I’ve played hip-hop shows and they tend to be much more introspective. As a performer, you really do give back the energy that you receive. Every time I’ve played a Do LaB show it’s always been one of the more fun experiences I’ve had, so I’m really looking forward to this show.”
Tell us what you think of Deru’s interview in the comments section below, and you could win 1 of 5 Deru T-shirts! You must be attending this show to win.
Join us next Thursday, March 8th at King King where Deru will be playing alongside the speaker-shaking sounds of Robot Koch and R/D! Plus, we’ll also have live painting all night long courtesy of the talented John Park and Ashley Bowers. Tickets are selling fast so click here to gets yours before they’re gone!
We’ll see you on the dance floor!