Getting to Know… Ben Champell
Ben Champell is a German artist based in Hamburg.
His productions have been released on labels like OFF Recordings, Unity, Complexed, Blufin, Stick and Natura Viva to name a few. For his next release, he returns to OFF Recordings and offers us two pieces of functional and catchy Techno. ‘Close To You’ gives a prominent feature to the name-giving vocal sample, joined by a tight combination of groove and synth stabs. ‘Poison Alley’ introduces a chord theme, to a similar functional effect.
We chat and get to know Ben Champell today on Data Transmission!
Hi Ben, glad you took the time to talk to us. We heard your real name is actually a different one, isn’t it? How did your artist name Ben Champell come about?
Haha, that’s true. My real name is Stefan Börner and my artist name Ben Champell actually came about quite unspectacularly. I wanted a new project name for my solo career in 2012 after working with my colleague Andi, with whom I had the project “Spinnin Elements”. Somehow I was at the time the opinion I could not do that in any case with my name (why? I do not know today and would probably do it today under my name) and so I thought that my artist name should sound as if you have heard it before. Thought done, Ben = common first name, Champell = common last name and so simply the project name was created, which is today like a second skin for me.
You live in Hamburg on the Elbe, which is your favourite club and why?
In Hamburg I really like to go to Club Frau Holle on the Reeperbahn, the club is rather small, very cozy and the atmosphere is familiar and warm. Also, the age of the guests is not rather young, as is usually the case, but rather a little older on average, which I also find very pleasant.
For a little over a year now, in addition to your music, you’ve been putting out your own radio show every 2 weeks. “Global Grooves.” What made you decide to start your own radio show?
I very much wanted to spread my definition of techno not only in the club but also reach other people around the world on a regular basis.
Are there already any successes to be seen? (regarding the radio show) I think the radio show is doing very well so far, the number of listeners and the number of stations that broadcast the show is growing steadily.
What specials do you offer your listeners?
Besides my mixes I invite every 2 weeks an international or national top star. However, the range of the artist is not important to me, but only the music that the act presents. With all the artists presented so far, I am an absolute fan of the work they do and proud that they are a part of the Global Grooves radio show.
In addition, there is a #friendseries to which I invite local friendly deejays and offer them a platform.
When and where did you play the first time in a club?
My very first club gig was in 1999 at Max Club in Gütersloh. (a small town in NRW in the middle of Germany) I had worked there as a waiter to watch the deejays at work and earn some money. The boss knew that I was also a deejay or would like to become one. One night my phone rang because one of the resident deejays was sick. I had to leave immediately, packed my records and was thrown in at the deep end. In retrospect, not everything went great that night (I was very excited and the transitions, at that time with records without any electronic aids) were definitely not all clean, but it was enough to impress the boss. From that day on I was a resident of the club and from then on I played there every Friday.
What makes your music style and your appearance as a DJ special?
I’ve always played techno slower than my colleagues since the beginning. I find that this gives the tracks even more pressure and you are much more taken in by the music. I call it downtempo techno myself. But also the speed with which I play has changed over the years. Today it is 132-134 bpm.
Where will you be seen next?
I’m playing a few festivals this summer, some of which haven’t released their line up yet. I can reveal that I will be headlining a stage at Oldenbora Festival again this year and that I will be making my debut in the south of Germany at Midsommar Festival in June. Furthermore, I will be a regular guest in my living room the Club Frau Holle in Hamburg. More gigs in Kleve (Xlr8 Club), Berlin and other cities are of course planned.
What is your next goal that you want to achieve?
I’m working on new releases that I would super love to place on labels like Ei8ht or Uncage. As a deejay I would like to play more festivals in the summer and I am planning a small tour of India in the winter.
What do you do in your free time when you’re not dedicating yourself to music?
Normally I like to do sports and run in nature. Since I became a father, I have to reorganize my time and I enjoy spending as much time as possible with my little daughter and my wife.
Do you have a wife/girlfriend by your side to support you?
As I just mentioned, I have a wife. We have been a great team for many years and she supports me as much as she can. The funny thing is that she doesn’t like or listen to techno. But she knows that I love very much what I do, so I can always count on her.
When did your career really start?
Did it? I don’t think I have a career. I do what I love and in the end maybe I can make a living out of it. I like to let others judge that kind of thing.
What clubs do you visit when you’re not DJing?
I’m not on the road a lot, but when I am I usually make it dependent on the line up where I go. Because for me there is nothing worse than bad music from bad deejays.
Is there a DJ / artist for you that you can describe as your personal role model?
Carl Cox immediately comes to mind. I’ve mentioned in previous interviews that this man is a huge inspiration to me and I really hope to meet him one day to tell him so. And of course the crowning glory would be to play for him at one of his many events.
Did you pursue other activities before your DJ career? If so, which ones?
Yes I am and I still am. Deejaying is a hobby for me, even if it is one that I do as professionally as possible. I don’t know if one day the decision will come if I have to give up my main job because of it. In my normal life I am a sales manager in an event agency for business clients and I also organize my own events.
Is there an album of yours in the works? What can be expected?
Yes I have been working on my first album for some time. I’m trying to create a time travel from my musical beginnings until today to give a broad impression of what I imagine electronic music to be.
In which club would you like to play?
Space, Ibiza! But unfortunately it doesn’t exist anymore. This would definitely have been a great dream. There are so many great clubs in Germany alone where I would love to play, the list would go beyond the scope here. Internationally I stay with Space, but now the one in Miami.
Has anything very embarrassing ever happened to you at a gig? If so, what?
Nothing embarrassing for me.
Listen to ‘Close To You’ on Off Recordings and grab a copy here!