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It’s every aspiring producer’s dream: to send off a single demo and get signed straight away to an exclusive deal with a world-class label. It seems an almost impossible feat; and yet that’s exactly what happened to Peter Bennett, aka Bensley, in December of 2013, when he sent a two-song demo to a number of top-notch drum & bass imprints in the UK, hoping for some feedback and encouragement.

Within a matter of weeks, his world was turned upside-down, as none other than the legendary Andy C plucked the 19-year-old Canadian out of relative obscurity and signed him exclusively to Ram Records.

“That was the first demo I sent to anyone,” says Bensley. “I had sent two tunes over, one of them being ‘Next Generation,’ which they really liked, apparently, as Andy got back to me and said they wanted to sign on the one single with Program [Ram’s sister imprint for breaking new talent].”

Bensley kept sending new bits off to the Hornchurch headquarters for feedback, and about four tunes in, word came down that they wanted to sign him exclusively to the main imprint, Ram. “Since then, I just kept working on more and more songs, sending them in and getting feedback; and eventually, they just piled up into this big collection of songs that ended up being enough for an album—so that’s the direction we went with it.”

Bensley was immediately asked to keep all of his music locked and offline as Ram announced in a low-key press release that Audio, Stealth and Bensley had been signed exclusively to the imprint. Most of the heads were stoked to learn that the bone-crushing Audio and the dark-and-deadly Stealth had been welcomed into the Ram family. Bensley, however, was a name no one had ever heard of, and with a quick check on the internet yielding no results, the anticipation was that much greater when the time came to showcase the first tune from the artist a little over a year later, in February 2015.

Premiered via Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1, “Fandango” provided the first glimpse into the unique and eclectic vision that had captivated Andy C and the rest of the Ram Records crew in an often surprising way. Surprising, in that Ram is often considered home of the hard and heavy dancefloor rinseout, while here was a tune that seemed more aligned with the deeper sensibilities of Hospital or Med School.

“A lot of people were expecting something much more intense,” says Bensley, “but my music is fairly laid-back, for the most part.” Drawing on an array of seemingly disparate elements, Bensley combines his love of Camo & Krooked, Wilkinson, and Calyx & Teebee with the more soulful, abstract elements of non-D&B artists like Haywyre and ZES, and what he calls the “vibe” of jazz music in general.

The results, as evidenced in “Fandango” and the bits that would follow, were extraordinary in a way that is not only about the melodic and ethereal, cinematic vibes at the core, but the way in which Bensley’s music seems built on an entirely unique foundation that doesn’t feel influenced by drum & bass at all.

“I know I shouldn’t, but I’ve been reading a lot of comments about my music online,” says Bensley. “You learn a lot about opinions and subjectivity—you seem to have a group of people that think, ‘Whoa this is totally fresh; I’ve never heard anything like it before’; and at the same time, there’s another group of people who think, ‘Wow, this is derivative and just like everything else out there.’ It’s so weird to me, but very fascinating.”

As the full extent of Bensley’s evolving vision is unveiled in the form of his aptly titled LP Next Generation, the 10-track selection feels specifically designed for headphone listening, a place where genre is slippery and refuses to be boxed in by any preconceived notions of what drum & bass is or should be. There are striking harmonics and melodies; it’s progressive and ethereal. But don’t get the wrong idea: It’s not quite easy listening, either. These are atmospherics grounded by a mature understanding of the dynamics and power of the dancefloor and the genre in which it holds its own.

“I definitely try to bring in a lot of outside influences and blend styles,” Bensley explains. “A lot of the stuff on this album was influenced by electronic music but not necessarily drum & bass; it was more really funky, chilled-out stuff that I tried to translate into a drum & bass setting.”

As his full LP is launched and he begins looking ahead to future projects, the young Canadian is already wary of being affected by the larger currents in the scene: “I think the best way I can move forward is to make sure my sound doesn’t change into a heavier dancefloor sound. I think people would be disappointed if that happened, because the reason I got signed is for the sound I have now; so I’m just going to keep going in the direction I’m going in, make my productions better, cleaner, and see where I can go creatively in the future.”

Bensley’s Next Generation is out now on Ram Records. Make the jump for a track-by-track breakdown of the album from Bensley himself…


This was the first tune I started working on after Ram got back to me. I’d been listening to a lot of Etherwood at the time, so I think the influence from that is pretty obvious if someone were to make a direct comparison. I wanted to make mine a little bit harder, so there are some gritty reese basslines in there to round it out.

“Fool’s Gold”

This was all about making it more deep and minimal around a bassline—some organs and Rhodes chords with a catchy melody.


I ended up making a cool synth patch which sounded like a music box, and it sounded pretty creepy when I played certain melodies with it; so I used that on this one to make something that sounded a bit like a lullaby that dropped into this really heavy bass section.

“To the Moon”

This is the first tune that I pushed into non-D&B territory after getting signed. I just wanted to slow it down and see if I could get the same feel that I had in the other songs, but at a different tempo. I don’t know why I went with the space theme, but as soon I did, it took on an atmosphere of its own. I had some quindar tones—the sound you hear when mission control is sending or receiving messages from the Apollo astronauts—and I also dropped in some countdown samples from NASA. But before that, it was the first synth pad in the intro that had me thinking of floating through space; it sounded dreamy, and as soon as I put in the space samples, it took on that personality and came together fairly quickly.

“Rain Dance”

Throughout the course of the album, I was experimenting with different percussive elements and seeing what I could do with drum & bass tempo and patterns. On “Rain Dance,” I was definitely experimenting, so it’s more of a half-time song with these steel drum hits that sounded very tribal to me. I actually made the drop section first, the high energy part, and then filled in the gaps with rain sounds and thunder, just taking it way down into this very ambient synth that I could use the same chords with—but make it really chilled before bringing the energy back up pretty majestically.


This is the one that everyone seems to know best, since it’s the one that Ram released first, and also the one they seemed to like the best. I honestly did not expect the overwhelming response this one received, as it didn’t seem noteworthy to me at the time. I guess, looking at it now, I can see how it appeals to the broadest range of people and feels balanced between home listening, while still appealing to the club.


This is actually the oldest song on the album. Even though it was part of the demo I had sent out, I had made it way before that. They weren’t particularly crazy about it, but it was one of my favorites at the time. I made this one during my transition from dubstep to drum & bass, and so I think it reflects that space for me as something in between: half-time, very heavy, but still melodic, ambient and abstract, even.


This was one of the first ones I made fairly soon after signing with Ram. I wanted to make something a little more conventional by drum & bass standards, so the beat is fairly straightforward; but I tried to get really deep in, with cool chords and melodies. It’s called “Manta” because I had just returned from vacation and had seen manta rays; there’s literally no other meaning behind that title.

“Next Generation”

The best songs, to me, are the ones that just seem to flow effortlessly. This is one where I can’t even remember the process that went into making it. I do remember using some interesting samples; I had this little finger piano—you know the kind with the little steel bars that you pluck? I had one of those that I thought would make a cool sound, so I sampled that; and I don’t even know why I put the sample of the kids in the schoolyard in there, but that’s what inspired the title.

“Cold Storage”

This is another one that came out so easily, I don’t remember making it. I made it during a phase where I was just trying to explore the sound as much as I could without going beyond what I imagined I should be doing for Ram. I wanted to make a song that was very centered on one lead that would fill the space with delay and reverb, but also one in which the second half was completely different than the first. This one is also noticeable, in that I made it much more cinematic as a note to end the album on—the strings and piano just fading out very gradually so it doesn’t feel like a sudden end to the album. I think it ties it off nicely.

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