Benzo Baseline: breakups, bangers and a tin whistle
Benzo Baseline is a musician’s musician.
Though he’s best known these days for his dark, funky electro tunes – slabs of deep house perfectly suited for both the pumping dance floor and the quieter introspection available in your living room – he’s shown a fondness for toying with genre over the course of a career that has seen him tackle a range of musical types and instruments.
Indeed, his very start in the industry came thanks to his deft skill on the trumpet. “I killed my first live performance on the trumpet,” he says. “I improvised a version of the rag-time classic Bugle Call Blues. So much so that I received a [grant] from a local mining company to further my musical journey. I then procured a custom shaped Rusty surfboard with this grant.”
Though Baseline is not one to toy around with words like ‘fate’ or ‘destiny’, music has certainly always been in his blood. His earliest musical memory involves the chimes of the clock in his grandfather’s house, and his growing up was shaped and influenced by a range of sonic guiding points.
“My grandmother used to sing like a Polish angel around the house when I was too young to appreciate it in its full glory,” he says. “My grandfather made, played and shredded the tin whistle, delivering his finest performances after returning from the local Buninyong watering hole.
“The tin whistle was and is my biggest influence and does explain why I write such high-pitched, signature screeching synth lines.”
Again, though it might sound strange to hear that a man who makes club bangers is obsessed with the tin whistle, Baseline’s entire oeuvre is based around the mashing up of the old and the new. He finds much to be explored in the area where traditional instruments clash with contemporary structures, and a song like his single Cut That Shit appeals to both old-world sensibilities and an emerging audience.
The track also happens to be his favourite that he’s ever penned. “It’s the track that got me my first ever label release. Also, [through] the track I found a spicy video clip on YouTube earlier this year that inspired me to recommence bulk dirty beat production once again.”
Not that the song produces entirely good memories, mind you: it does also come with its own fair share of emotional weight, given it was written during a particularly dark time in Baseline’s life. “It’s a break-up song written about a beautiful girl, written the day she broke up with me. I was utterly gutted. But without that I probably wouldn’t be making music now, and I feel incredibly excited about the direction the new tracks are heading and seriously digging the sound so far.”
On the subject of those aforementioned new tracks, Baseline is guarded, not willing to spoil the surprise. But he is very obviously excited about what he has brewing, and fans of the musician should be prepared to have some pretty special bangers flung their way sometime in the near future. “The track I’m polishing off now is pretty much the track I’ve always wanted to make my entire life. It’s the illusive banger I always knew was within me, but just couldn’t coax out.
“The harder I worked for it, the further away it became. I got it down over the course of last night and this morning. It’s a similar feeling to that of holding your first born in your arms for the very first time.”
It’s obvious that the man will never stop making music. It’s not just some hobby to him, or a mere distraction: it’s his life’s work. “I don’t think I could stop myself writing music even if I wanted to,” he says. “I would create an instrument of some obscure form and record it somehow to see what it sounds like. I love nothing more than a dark, dirty club, with loud music and a packed dancefloor bumping and grinding after 2am.”
By Joseph Earp
Benzo Baseline will be mastering his new tracks, his first since 2008, at Crystal Mastering this December.