Benny Benassi talks pop collaborations, his upcoming album and offers advice to budding producers
Benny Benassi is a name that flows synonymously with the uprising of commercial house throughout the 2000s. Breaking in 2002 with classic hit “Satisfaction,” Italian-born Benny has been one of the select few who has been able to create a lasting career through the ups and downs of the recent electronic wave. He has produced songs all over the map from collaboration with Public Enemy , to “Cinema” which went on to win a Grammy after Skrillex remix treatment, to “Beautiful People” with Chris Brown and his latest collaboration “Dance the Pain Away” with R&B vocalist John Legend. We sat down with Benny to find out what his secret to success has been over the years and what he thinks of dance music’s latest uprising.
House music was still relatively underground when you started producing tracks in the early 2000s like “I Feel So Fine” and “Satisfaction” yet you were still able to break through. What was your secret to achieving such phenomenal success?
I’ve always produced with my cousin Alle Benassi. He’s the musician and the man of the Mac. We’ve always made music we believe in so when we produce a track there will always be at least two people in the world who like it. Sometimes those tracks appeal to many more which makes us very lucky. We always thought “Satisfaction” was a good club track, but never imagined it would be so influential. We are just as amazed as you are.
There have been substantial changes in the popularity of dance music over the past few years which must have been interesting to watch from your perspective. Have you noticed a difference in the crowd over the years you’ve been DJing? How have you changed the way you interact with fans in the new digital age?
Hey, it’s always been about dancing and having fun. That part hasn’t changed. What’s changed is the growth of festivals and the number of opportunities to play if you’re a DJ, and to go and have fun at if you’re a fan. And yes, social media has obviously had a big impact on how I communicate with fans. It’s a great new way of communicating and letting fans know they’re a big part of my success, because they are the most important part.
You have dipped into collaborations with mainstream artists like Chris Brown, Madonna and John Legend over the past couple years. How much creative control do you have when working with such big names? It also seems like an unlikely pairing between you and John Legend. How did this come about?
Our friend Jean Baptiste Kouame is one of the writers of John Legend’s song “Dance the Pain Away.” Originally he sent it to us asking for a remix, but we liked it so much we contacted his management to find out if it could be a collaboration instead. Creative control isn’t really an issue because everyone seems to agree on the direction we are going in so it’s never a problem.
You’ve been playing records for much longer than most DJs on the scene right now. If you could give those DJs a piece of advice for how to extend their career into a lifelong gig, what would you tell them? Any ideas on what will happen to the mainstream EDM scene, and who is your favorite upcoming producer at the moment?
Be true to your taste and adventurous. Don’t think about money. Money follows if you’re doing something right. Alle and I don’t deliberately try to sound different, we just try to sound as much like Benny Benassi as possible. Stay true to your sound. We don’t have a crystal ball and therefore cannot predict what will happen to the mainstream EDM scene, but it’s been a wonderful journey so far and Alle and I both hope it’ll continue for a while. It’s hard to name just one of our favorite producers at the moment but if we have to it would be Clockwork/RL Grime.
What upcoming projects do you have in the pipeline? Can you give DA readers a special peak inside what you are working on at the moment?
We’re working on the next album which will be on its way sooner than you think! I’m really happy with the collaborations and the music. It’ll be an album to listen to in your car as well as to dance to.