Ben Rolo’s music is like that hidden gem that you find and cannot stop raving about. Combining euphoric melodies with his pulsating style of Drum & Bass, Ben is one of the most exciting producers in the genre.
Bringing his influences from the cinematic lands of Drum & Bass, Ben Rolo’s music communicates a story that seeps into the human imagination. Hailing from the Southern coast of England, Ben Rolo’s music has spanned across labels like Soul Deep, Four Corners Music, Headsbass, with Bay 6 Recordings releasing a wide majority of his tantalizing Drum & Bass expeditions.
After having a run of some magical releases in 2021, Ben Rolo has kicked off the new year with a return on Bay 6 Recordings for a dreamy 4-track EP called ‘Distant Notion’ which is a culmination of brilliantly constructed melodies, seamlessly crafted with care and precision for the perfect dose of uplifting Drum & Bass.
We got the purveyor of effervescent soundscapes for a conversation with us about his journey as Ben Rolo, his bootleg for Tycho, his thoughts on the EP and lots more.
How did the Ben Rolo journey begin?
Ben Rolo: I have been into Drum & Bass from a young age, listening to Pendulum, Chase & Status and Sub Focus amongst others. I think this planted the seed in later life to get into the world of DnB production. Throughout Uni I was in a band making mainly Indie Rock, after we broke up in late 2018 I didn’t want to stop making music, this led me to start experimenting with many genres from Hip Hop to Future Bass.
However after watching LSB play at a festival in the UK called Boomtown, I finally settled on making predominantly Liquid Drum and Bass. Although I had released a few demo’s in 2019/early 2020, it wasn’t until November 2020 where I had my first experience of releasing music on a DnB label, this came from winning In:Most’s ‘Pieces’ remix competition (which I am still hugely grateful for and in shock over!) This made me start taking my music career a lot more seriously.
Having explored a wide range of sounds from the dark and light realms of Drum & Bass, how do you think your sound has evolved over the years?
Ben Rolo: I think my sound has progressed as I have learnt more about production. At first when I was putting out demo’s back in late 19/early 20 I think my sound was more towards the pop/dancefloor side of liquid, as this was mainly the type of tutorial I was watching when I was learning the basics.
As I became more confident in my own sound, I always wanted to make more ‘soulful’ and ‘jazzy’ tracks as I was heavily inspired by the likes of LSB, Technimatic & the Jazzsticks label. Hopefully you can hear this in my first full original release in ‘Fluorescent’ that came out on Bay 6 at the start of 2021. This was the first collection of music I put out where it felt fully like myself and not a copy, even though there are still elements of trying to sound like a particular producer I started to move away from that slowly from here.
After ‘Fluorescent’ and making a lot of soul and jazz inspired tracks, I got slightly bored of making similar sounding tunes and tried my hand at darker styles of liquid. I think ‘Sentient’ on my ‘Fall into Place’ E.P is an example of trying something a bit darker and club oriented. Hopefully in the next few years I can carry on in this path, while still making the rolling liquid I have always loved to make as well.
Let’s talk about your Tycho Bootleg for a minute. It’s a difficult track to re-work on but you nailed it and we love the tune so much. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Ben Rolo: First of all, thank you so much! I’m really happy that one was received well. It’s always a nervous moment putting out a bootleg, especially when the original artist is a massive inspiration like Tycho is to me, so I’m glad you feel I have done it justice!
At first I made this for a bit of fun, I have always loved Tycho since I heard ‘Awake’ .This song has always been special to me since I first heard it, so I wanted to see if I could make a DnB version for sets. I started by using a tool called Splitter IO, which is an AI programme that splits a song into individual parts, although not perfect all of the time it extracted the parts well, especially the main guitar.
I knew the main guitar riff had to be the core component of the song, it’s a perfect catchy melody that works so well meaning it would be a great melody for a DnB song, luckily the original songs tempo is at 87bpm which meant it was the perfect tempo for DnB and the riff fit perfectly on some DnB drum breaks.
From here the rest of the song came together pretty easily, I built some drums around the guitar, added some bass and more atmospheres, structured it in the standard DnB way and it worked! I find it’s very hit and miss with some songs when trying to re-work them to DnB but luckily this one fit to a tee.
Around this time I was considering making my Patreon and thought it was the perfect song to launch it with.
An EP on Bay 6 Recordings to begin the year; your relationship with the label goes way deeper than the gorgeous releases. Doesn’t it?
Ben Rolo: For Sure! Bay 6 is a label I have always considered a ‘Home’ label if you like. They were the first label to take a punt on me and release my first original songs at the start of 2020, I will always appreciate the chance they took by signing my debut E.P ‘Fluorescent’ and all the work that went into promoting it to, to this day the E.P is still my highest streaming original release.
So I have to say a big thank you to Jack (Echo Motion & Owner of Bay 6) for the trust, transparency and creative freedom I have had releasing on this label, and to recent recruit Mike (Skallagrim) for running the wicked mix series and making my next release go as smooth as possible!
Thank you for the kind words on my new E.P ‘Distant Notion’ too! I felt it was fitting to have my next E.P on Bay 6 release exactly a year after the last, I hope you can hear similarities with ‘Fluorescent’ but also a hint in the direction I’m going in the future.
You have your Patreon as well. How and when did that come about?
Ben Rolo: I do! Firstly I am incredibly lucky to have that support behind me, I can’t thank my patreon’s enough for all the support.
The idea first came around when I had a few messages asking if I could make some sample packs. Instead of just making one and most likely never making one again, I wanted to challenge myself to make content every month, So the idea of starting a patreon came about! After talking to a few people who already had brilliant patreon’s running like Winslow & Alpha Rhythm, I decided this would be a beneficial thing to keep me busy in lockdown and help anyone who wanted samples and tutorials for their own productions.
I never thought I would run it for this long but the support has been amazing and I am honestly so grateful. I currently offer a monthly reward which range’s from sample packs, that include samples from my released songs + samples made especially for patreon, to exclusive songs with samples from those songs, as well as bonus content like, early listens to label releases and tutorials + feedback. If you would like to know more please feel free to give me a message!
Three collaborations on the EP as well. How was the experience while working on the tunes with Dim Bolt, Fullalove and Lauren Walton?
Ben Rolo: I want to thank Victor (Dim Bolt) Fullalove (Joe) & Lauren Walton for their incredible work on this E.P, Couldn’t be happier with their work on this E.P, they were all a pleasure to work with! Please check all three of them out, Victor and Joe are incredibly talented DnB producers & Lauren is absolutely smashing it with her vocals on every song she’s on! The title track ‘Distant’ Notion started by Victor sending me a brilliant Piano and drum idea he had played in.
I knew it would make a great core idea to a song as soon as I heard it. After he sent me the stems, I built the drums, bass and atmosphere around the piano loop and the structure came together incredibly fast, I sent it back to Victor and he was happy with it.After this it was all was done within a week or two, This was probably one of the fastest collabs I have had so far and I couldn’t be happier with it!
‘Black Hole’ with Joe and Lauren was a bit of a longer process however I’m so pleased with how it all turned out. I originally sent the core idea to Joe, he then fleshed the idea out and structured the song adding some of the brilliant bass fills you hear throughout. We sat on the idea for a while, and after getting feedback from a few friends we decided the song needed a topline after originally being an instrumental. Lauren had recently worked with our good friend and talented producer Harry (HD) on a tune called ‘North Star’
After hearing ‘North Star’ Joe and I were blown away by Laurens voice and knew we had to get her on the tune. She luckily agreed and absolutely smashed the vocals, becoming the stand out element. The collabs all came together so easily on this E.P, I was honestly blessed to work with such a nice talented group of artists!
What are Ben Rolo’s plans for 2022?
Ben Rolo: I have a hectic start to the year, however I am by no means complaining! I can’t say too much just yet… but I should have another E.P coming in the first quarter of 2022, as well as two single releases on VA’s too, I can’t wait to show you all of these.
I am also in the process of mixing down a third E.P which is a collaboration E.P with a couple of good friends of mine, scheduled for later in 2022 as well. Writing wise I am trying my hand at something slightly different this year…
It’s been a goal of mine for a while to make something slightly out of my comfort zone and more ‘Club’ based so hopefully you should see this kind of style from me in late 2022/ early 2023! As for other content, I will continue to make sample packs and tutorial videos throughout the year for my patreon, so I hope you will all enjoy that as well!
5 tunes you are feeling at the moment?
Ben Rolo: Only 5! That’s a tough one haha…
Henry & Echo Motion – Worth Something
Alpha Rhythm & HumaNature ft Leo Wood – Keepin On (forthcoming)
Tengu – Warzone
Mystific – Coffee Shop
OSO – Murmurs
Grab Ben Rolo’s ‘Distant Notion’ EP – HERE