When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from England, the London-based tech-house talent/psychotherapeutic counsellor Bushwacka! (aka Matthew Benjamin).
What’s it like where you’re living? How have you spent most of your time? I now live in Hampstead Garden Suburb – on the edge of Hampstead Heath Extension – in between Hampstead and East Finchley. It is mostly a Jewish community here, and very family-oriented. It’s pretty quiet, save for the impatient drivers who love to beep their horns at any given opportunity. We love living here because we are so close to the heath and beautiful nature, and also a stone’s throw away from central London. I spend most of my time divided between my psychotherapeutic counselling private practice, which I have been running exclusively online this year, my live-stream days, and some studio time, with some time off to relax and recover, too, when I can get it.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? This year I lost a huge number of important gigs. I lost two residencies, one in London, one in Ibiza, which accounted for 24 shows. I lost some very big gigs in London, Europe, and Australia, and I lost my beloved summer coastline outdoor shows that I have been doing for the last few years. It hit me very hard financially, but in some ways that opened the stable doors for my “therapy” horse to bolt and fast-track me into my new ventures.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? Have you learned anything in the downtime? Actually, I am doing loads, as well as constructing and releasing a tutorial masterclass in remixing for Make Your Transition, and my Loopmasters Sample Pack, I have now produced and performed 37 weekly live-streams for my Vinyl Love Affair show and had over 2 million views. This has led to talks with various sponsors, from tech companies to clothing brands, and to a fantastic management deal, which I have been in talks about for six months and have now signed off on. I have also released two vinyl, digital and streaming Bushwacka! compilation albums, Listen Up, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and am working on a third. On top of this, I have signed music to Crosstown Rebels, and collaborated with Darius Syrossian, Archie Hamilton, and Carl Cox to work on various tracks, which will come out next year.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? On top of Listen Up, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, we recently launched Listen Up Therapy Limited, our new company aimed at providing therapy and meditation for people in creative industries. My partner and I started working on this in the summer of 2019 and registered the company a year ago and have started taking on clients for counselling and meditation courses already. I will be running my private practice from our new HQ in Harley Street, beginning in February 2021. It is a culmination of a lifetime of experience in the music industry, journeys in and out of therapy, and meditative practices. Helping others through their difficulties and on their journeys is where I see myself now and moving forward, in tandem with my life in music.
What’s your DJ set-up? Mine changes from week to week. I am currently using the amazing Denon DJ [SC6000 PRIME] players, and I have the motorized ones that act like turntables. I swap between the Pioneer DJ DJM-V10 and the Rane MP2015 rotary mixer, depending on how I want to play. I still mainly use my vinyl and Technics turntables, though. For me, the most important thing is what is coming out of the speakers.
What’s in your studio? My studio is mainly Logic Pro, UAD Apollo audio interface, thousands of plug-ins – currently Softube being some of my favorites for processing, as well as UAD, and a multitude of outboard gear, from my Moog Minitaur, Moog Sub 37, to my Dave Smith Poly Evolver PE edition, Roland TB-303, Analogue Solutions Leipzig. The list goes on…
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realised during this period of social distancing? As a DJ-turned-psychotherapist, I have realized how much the social connection is needed in society, and what happens to us when it is taken away, and we are forced to adapt, how that plays out culturally and socially. Observing the way some people have coped and some people haven’t has exposed sides to people that were always there, but easy to hide before this pandemic. There is a lot to learn from what has happened.
Have you done anything online recently? Have you seen any DJ video streams that impressed you? I just did my final Vinyl Love Affair show of 2020, which was great. I have also been recording streams for various charity events, and planning next year’s shows. I really enjoyed Suat – I think that’s his name. He’s the guy wandering the streets with a DJ player strapped to him, raving all over the place. I saw him get chased ’round [London department store] Selfridges by security while playing great music. Epic entertainment to break up the groundhog days of 2020.
Any theme tunes recommended for the moment? Loose Ends’ “Hanging on a String.” This takes me straight to the carefree ’80s, hot summer days, and makes me forget how serious life is now.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Firstly, remember, however you are feeling, like all things it will pass. Nothing is permanent. Things will change even if it seems like they won’t. Don’t be afraid or too shy to reach out and talk to someone, to ask for help, and don’t buy into the stigma that you need to be strong and have a stiff upper lip. It is OK to be not OK – it is acceptable to be struggling. Try to connect with people who will raise your vibration, not bring you down.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.