Bensworth‘s recent progression has been a long time in the making. Beginning as early as the 5th grade, his passion for music has been a driving force in his personal growth and his public successes. By combining his formal education with his affinity and appreciation for the history of Detroit dance music, Bensworth has leveraged his natural talents and organic connections in a way that has elevated himself and the people around him.
We sat down with Bensworth to talk about his artistic journey, his recent projects, and what to expect going forward. Read on below, and be sure to check out his recent Rinse.fm mix, as well as Supply & Demand spinning at Rave Family Block Fest this weekend within Minecraft! RSVP here and catch them on Sacha Robotti’s SLOTHACID stage from 6:00pm – 7:00pm ET on Saturday, July 11th.
How did you first get into music?
I grew up in Ann Arbor, and in 5th grade we had to pick an instrument for music class. I was able to repeat patterns and rhythms pretty easily, so I ended up gravitating towards drums and percussion. After learning all of the basic stuff, I was really getting the hang of it and I realized that it came pretty naturally to me, so from there I was hooked. After that, all of my focus went into drumming and music in general.
How did your journey lead you into studying music in school?
In highschool I was playing in all of the bands at my school – Symphony Band, Orchestra, Jazz Band, Marching Band, Drumline, all that. I was actually playing in the University of Michigan Youth Orchestra and Jazz bands as well, and by my senior year I was accepted into the University of Michigan School of Music to study Jazz Percussion in 2010. I was mostly playing drum set, but that’s where I really learned how to play congas from my teacher Michael Gould. I studied a bunch of music composition and theory, and that’s what really got me into playing keyboards. I met a lot of very talented people being there; the caliber of the U of M School of Music is really high. It was both competitive and supportive, we were all just kind of figuring out our sound and learning what we could do with it, so it was a great place to learn. I lived with all of my friends from the Jazz school and we would just play all day and night in our basement – drums, percussion, keys, bass, rappers, horn players, singers, all of that, everyone would just come over to create.
How has your music education influenced your current creative path?
Just being engulfed in it so much during college, you learn how to network and operate as a professional musician because that’s what you’re training to do. After 4 years of Music School I was pretty well versed in how certain things worked – getting gigs, promoting, finding your sound, and obviously being well versed on your instrument. We were throwing these house parties with a live band back in Ann Arbor when I was in college, so my friends and I kind of got into the groove of throwing parties and entertaining.
What inspires you about techno pioneers such as Kevin Saunderson?
The constant elevation of the music. Kevin is never standing still when it comes to progressing. Whether it’s stuff for Inner City, E-Dancer, collabs, working with the Saunderson Brothers, he is always thinking of new ways to move the music forward and it’s really inspiring. Dantiez, Damarii, and I have been friends for years (before I really even knew who their dad was), and I’ve been able to travel all over the world with them to see them play. They’ve taken myself and homie Justin to some crazy places: Ibiza, Spain, Amsterdam, Sweden, Portugal. Just being there to see how they all work has taught me a lot. I’ve been working in the studio with Dantiez as well, and I always learn a ton from him during our sessions. We’ve been able to combine some really cool ideas with my musical background and his production skills – he’s a wizard with production, so I feel grateful to be able to lend a hand to the music using the skills that I’ve developed over the years.
What has been your experience working with Inner City? How have those experiences shaped your creative process?
The work with Inner City has been really cool. Being able to see behind the scenes of how a legendary group from the 80’s operates in 2020 is so interesting. It’s really a live band, and Kevin treats it like one. Right before COVID I was playing with them at CRSSD Fest in San Diego, playing my drum machine with them. It was a great festival and Inner City got mad love out there, it’s like a whole cultural thing with Inner City. Very powerful music with a good message. We had some European dates that I was going to be playing on that got cancelled unfortunately, I was really hype for those. Sonar Festival in Barcelona! Of course I’m bummed, but it just gave us all time to work on things even more. We shall be out there soon enough.
How did you get involved with your collaborators in Supply & Demand? How did the group start, and what are you most excited about as a part of the group?
Supply & Demand is our collective: Dantiez, Mo, and myself have been friends for years, among a whole squad of other friends that make up Supply & Demand. As we started putting more work in and taking our collaborations more seriously, we decided to give a name to the project with the intention of bringing things to the next level. It’s really an artist collective representing new vibes and sounds in Detroit – our take on things. The collective runs pretty deep: we are doing shows, live streams, producing, events, clothing, all of that stuff together. We have Photographers like Darren Clark, Tyler Fuhrmeister, Max Dashevsky, and Mateo Jordan shoot all of our shows and promo, so we keep everything in house. Our friend Justin helps us out a lot with logistics and connections, Swish does some really cool video animations and clothes under his Sowe Collection – everyone in the whole squad is bringing something to the table, we really feed off of each other’s creative energy and work ethic. So far the feedback has been really positive, and we’re all excited about some of the new projects that we’ve been working on lately. Definitely look out for more coming from Supply & Demand in the near future.
What inspires you to work and create within the Detroit creative / music scene?
Detroit is an amazing place. It’s a good mix of old and new – and the scene is reflective of that. I moved out here in 2014 and just kind of started meeting everyone I could. There’s a great scene out here and the city still stands alone as the techno capital of the world. We’re spoiled in that we still have all the OG’s out here playing regularly, but there’s also enough room for newer people to come try out new ideas. There’s a good core of people who really love house and techno out here, so as long as you’re playing good music, people want to come out. I really do love a lot of the venues out here too like TV, Marble Bar, Magic Stick, we’re really fortunate to have these techno clubs around the corner – it’s a lot like Europe in that sense.
When people are watching a Bensworth set / listening to your music, what impact are you hoping to have on them?
I just wanna make you feel something! To move, dance, and feel good. It can be energetic, a little dark, a little experimental, and it’s always fun – I like my sets to have a bit of an attitude to them. Overall I just want listeners to feel like themselves, and to go on this big groove journey with me. I really like bringing in the live element when I spin: I use my Roland Handsonic and a Boss RC-505 loop station. I use the drum machine to create live percussion patterns that I loop – so really every time I play it’s completely different. It brings me back to all of the improvisation stuff I learned in college, and then applies to the electronic realm – which is super fun to do. I’m starting to get my style on that whole set up really locked down, so very excited about that. People sometimes get real hype up and tripped out by the drum machine, so it’s always fun to watch people’s reaction to that. The live element can really get people dancing, and I try to use the gear at my disposal in unique and innovative ways.
If you could imagine yourself in the crowd watching one of your own sets, what do you hope that would feel like?
For one, I hope the bass in the club is loud enough so you can really feel it in your chest, in your bones. Our job as DJ’s is to make people dance and have a good time, so I would also hope that everyone around me would be moving and vibing, just embracing whatever setting the music is in. Our crowds out here in Detroit are normally a fun group of people, it can get pretty wild.
What are some of your most recent accomplishments? What makes them so memorable for you?
Getting to play CRSSD Fest with Inner City was really huge to me. I’m so close with Dantiez and Kevin that I can sometimes forget how legendary they actually are (laughs). Being able to experience that with them was major, I still feel really humbled and honored about that. Having the Magic Stick show right out of quarantine was really fun too. My homie Johnny Malek invited me to come play a set for a show that his collective did, Sauced and Found. Magic Stick did a really good job of following COVID precautions, lots of sanitizing stations and capacity limits. We actually sold that show out a week before because people were so ready to come out and get down! It felt good to be back. Aside from that, we are all working on new music which we are hyped about too. Dantiez, Mo and I have some cool collaborations coming out.
What are your goals in the coming weeks / months / years, and what can we look out for coming from you in the future?
To get all these releases out! Dantiez, Mo and and I have some tracks that we are really excited about that we have been playing in our sets. We are currently in negotiations with labels we want to release music with, so stay tuned. Should be happening very soon though. We are going to be playing a set for the Rave Family Block Fest on July 11th which will be happening inside of the Minecraft video game which is super dope, and super crazy. We’re playing for our friend Sacha Robotti’s SlothAcid Stage, really looking forward to that. Aside from that, we are really just going to be pushing the Supply & Demand stuff. We are excited to get traveling again too. Just more shows, more releases, get some merch going, and get people used to seeing that Supply & Demand name.