Ben Rau goes Knee Deep for his first release of the year The Player EP. Signing it onto Hot Since 82‘s label Knee Deep, the German DJ and producer shares the musical inspiration for his 18th EP and talks travel and touring. While he hasn’t played in U.S. clubs or venues yet, American fans might be seeing him sooner than expected.
Congrats on your upcoming EP and first releases of 2020. You’ll call Knee Deep home for these tracks. The tracks “The Player” and “Le Fonque” are pretty different from each other. What was the inspiration behind these?
We wanted a well-balanced EP, so Jansons and I decided that the A-side [of] The Player should definitely be a techy groover based around a killer groove and a bouncy Acid line. It is somewhat of a marriage between our signature styles. We also both love disco and french touch filter house, so “Le Fonque,” as the name suggests is a nod to that period of house based on funky bas[s]lines and that french touch.
What was the moment that you decided you wanted to dedicate yourself to making people dance and sweat on the dancefloor?
It was a natural progression first I was a dancer and raver for many years. My connection to the dancefloor runs deep so it was only a matter of time for me to cross over to the other side which is making people dance and sweat. I think there is a universal appeal in rave culture. Losing yourself in dance that every generation rediscovers and its roots are ancient.
We see all these lists that rank DJs and tracks, but many industry people and fans have questioned the credibility of these. Who do you make music for?
I make music because I love making music, and I love creating. If DJing or the industry didn’t exist, I would still make music for my own enjoyment. Through hard and some though challenges I managed to make music my life and I became a pro. I intend to do music professionally for the rest of my life.
What is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an artist? What’s one of the biggest challenges?
The rewards are plentiful. The biggest one I’d say is setting yourself goals, achieving them and meeting great people along the way. Living life on your own terms is huge. The biggest challenges are initially getting used to working self-motivated, finding your own voice and being able to evolve and taking your audience with you.
Is there a particular song or DJ that has played an influential role in your career?
Too many to list them all, but Sven Vath definitely made an impression on me in my early days of raving. [Others are] Laurent Garnier and Danny Tenaglia.
Anyone (DJ, producer, vocalist/singer), in particular, you’d like to create something with this year?
I’ll be back in the studio with Jansons this year, to be honest, I think he’s one of the best in the game. We have a very similar approach to producing. I really enjoy bouncing [ideas] off him, and we inspire each other so there will be more collabs with him.
You spent some time in the UK and decided to go back to Berlin. Living in other places allows people to experience a new culture and its intricacies. It can be a great source of inspiration. Do you have any desire to live in another part of the world again? If yes, where?
Yes I would really like to spend some more time in Asia. I really love Bali, and I’m drawn to the island so I could imagine staying there for a few months. I’m also keen on touring the U.S. this year and could imagine spending some more time in the States, as I have some dear friends in LA.
You started with two vinyl-only labels (Inkal and Meta). What prompted the vinyl-only focus, and what differentiates the two?
At the time, there was an oversaturation of poor digital releases and all the cool stuff was coming out on vinyl. It was a way to differentiate yourself from the masses, but then it became trendy and vinyl also became swamped. I have no sentimental attachment to vinyl really [and] we have now gone digital as we want to reach more people but we are still pressing records too.
Now with both of your imprints serving digital consumption as well, can you share any upcoming releases?
We currently have Rossi climbing the minimal charts on Beatport sitting at No.2. [Some] upcoming killer releases from Hart and Neenan and The Checkup and Project89. Ray Mono is coming with a belter of an EP and Janson is doing a solo EP on the label as well. The labels are on fire at the moment, and we’ll keep our foot on the pedal with a lot more quality music this year.
As we round out the first month of the new decade, what do the next 11 months look like for you?
A lot of touring in the next eight weeks. I’ll be back in Chile and then Australia for Pitch Festival. Also, New Zealand for 121 Festival. We have some really cool announcements to make for Ibiza, and I’ll be starting my own events series in London very soon.
On the releases expect a minimum of four EPs that will be a range of house music that reflects what I currently play in the clubs from tech house to minimal to disco. I like to mix things up in my DJing and increasingly as a producer as well.
Don’t think the U.S. has been graced with your presence yet, right? Any plans for a U.S. tour soon?
Expect me this year!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes I can see from my play stats on Spotify that the love in the U.S.. is real, I can’t wait to visit the U.S. on my first tour and meet all my supporters, hang in there we are working on it …