Interview Supplied by Kees Uffen
Author: Enrico Steenbergen
Bob Snoeijer(!!)
Marc Basten(!!)

Mixology April '94

Ben Liebrand, 33, is one of the worlds most respected mixers and one of the founders of mixing in Europe. Already in 1983 Ben had his own one-hour mixshow on Radio Veronica called "In The Mix", and everyone knows of course his famous end of year Grandmixes. When "In The Mix" stopped in 1985, he started for radio Veronica with the mini-mix (a remix/additional production of one track) and steadily Ben got more and more involved with producing and remixing. We sent Enrico Steenbergen, Bob Snoeijer and Marc Basten to Ben's studio to meet the master of the mix

How did you become interested in mixing?
"In 1978 I was already interested in music and electronics. One night in a club called "The Kwein" (pronounced Queen) in Gennep I noticed that a track was not running at the normal speed and realised that the DJ was mixing!"

Did you teach yourself how to mix or did you go on training courses?
Since Ben is one of the founders of mixing in Europe his skills are completely self-taught. There were no courses at that time.

What equipment did you start with?
After experimenting with the pause button Ben bought 2 Phillips turntables and a Prefer mixer. Because the quality of the sound has always been very important to Ben, he soon bought a lot of good equipment. All remixes and megamixes that Ben made in that period were all taken form the original mastertapes. He never used vinyl records for his commercial projects. In 1980 Ben was mixing with Technics SL1200 turntables.

Whose work influenced you when you became interested in mixing?
"In the beginning I was influenced by Shep Pettibone".

What are your favourite mixes from your own work?
Without thinking Ben immediately answers "Phil Collins - In the Air Tonight".

Ben made this remix completely spontaneously in just one day. Initially the remix was meant for the Minimix. His favourite megamixes include the Grandmixes and "Dance Classics – The Mix".

What are your favourite mixes from other peoples work?
In general Ben likes remixes by CJ Mackintosh for example the remix of Janet Jackson & Luther Vandross "The Best Things In Life Are Free". "CJ Mackintosh's remixes add something to a track but do not ruin it".

If you could remix anything in the world, which tracks you would choose?
Ben cannot come up with a track, because he has already used the records that he wanted to remix in his Minimixes.

Is there anyone you would like to work with?
Ben would like to work with Rene Van De Weyde (Atlantic Ocean), with whom he expects to "do something" in 1994, and with Jochem Paap (Speedy J). Ben mentions that when he has to make a remix/additional production for a record company, he has to make it in such a way that it will gain high sales, so without a lot of "freaky" things. This is why he would like to work on a project of his own in the near future so that he can do alot of (freaky) things.

Do you have your own studio?
Ben has always had his own studio. In the beginning Ben had a little studio in his parents house, and now has so much equipment that he has a large room with air conditioning to keep the temperature at a good level. (the equipment provides a lot of heat). He also has a smaller room where the artists can sing or rap. Tony Scott did his raps here for the Ben Liebrand track "Move To The Bigband".

What equipment do you use?
Soundcraft 6000 mixer (56 channels), 2 x Akai S3000 samplers, 1 x Akai S01 sampler, 2 x TC2290 32 second samplers, 2 x SL1200 turntables, Technics SLP1200 CD, Phillips 850 CD, MPC60 sequencer/sampler, 2 x Akai DD1OOO optical disc recorders, Revox PR99 2-track, 2 x DR1200 digital 12-track recorders, 2 x Tascam DA30 DAT recorders, Sony PCM-FL digital recorder, Phillips DCC900 recorder (DCC), Yamaha SPX1000 reverb, 2 x Lexicon LXP1 reverbs, Lexicon LXP5 & PMC70 reverbs, 2 x Yamaha REV7 reverbs, Ada D1280 delay, 2 x Urei 1178 limiters, Sennheiser VSM201 vocoder, Korg MlR workstation, 2 x Yamaha TX7 sound modules, Yamaha FB01 and TX802 sound modules, Roland D50, JD990 & P330 sound modules, Minimoog (retrofitted for MIDI), Oberheim Matrix 1000 keyboard, Roland Alpha Juno 2 Keyboard, Waldorf microwave sound module, Monitoring through ROR E3's, Tannoy Eclipse, MT One's.

Is there any equipment you would like to have?
Ben would like to record direct-to-disc from his sequencer. This is possible with Cubase Audio and Notator Logic combined with Protools.

What are your favourite pieces of equipment?
MPC 60 (Ben uses the MPC60 as a sequencer and drum computer and does not use it's sample facilities) S3000 (Stereo sampler) DD1000 (optical disc recorder).

According to Ben the DD1000 provides the best available facilities for time stretching and digital editing. Ben, enthousiastic and spontaneous during the complete interview, shows us some examples of the time stretching facilities and some digital edits.

Do you play the Instruments you need for a production or remix yourself?
Unlike many other remixers Ben plays all instruments himself, except for the guitar and the wind instruments (horns etc.)

How would you describe your own mix style?
Remixing/additional productions: Ben always tries to make his remixes and his productions in such a way that there is a logical build up, so that the mix is easy to recognise and to remember (something "catchy"). Referring to his megamixes Ben says that he makes "smooth" megamixes.

How do you prepare for a mix?
Ben starts by copying all sounds from analogue to digital sounds. Then he writes down the structure of the song so that he gets a good overview and he listens to each separate track of the multitrack. Ben also thinks that his DJ'ing is part of the preparations.

Do you think It is easier to work in a mix team, or on your own?
"For many years I have worked on my own and I find this easier because, before I start an additional production/remix I have already excluded all alternatives because I have already tried them. So this leaves no room for a discussion and therefore it is useless for me to work as a team".

Do you mix full-time or do you have a day-job?
Ben is a full-time remixer/producer and spends some 48 hours per week remixing & producing. Nowadays Ben produces hardly any megamixes.

Where did you start DJ'ing and where do you DJ now?
In 1975 Ben started as a mobile with his own drive-in-show "The B. Liebrand Audio Studio". The first club Ben played was "Juicy Lucy" in Nijmegen (NL). Ben did not mix there. His mixing started in "The Kwien". In "Keizer Karel" in Nijmegen. Ben spun the decks there for some 8 or 9 years. Ben was still a student but played his records 7 days a week! At the moment Ben is a DJ with his sister Rita in a club called "The Hippodrome" in Hennef (Germany).

What is your favourite kind of music?
Ben likes a wide range of music from classical to dance to hip hop. "The most important thing is that the MUSIC has been put together well".

Do you think technology slows you down?
"Technology does not influence your work very much, some things can be done much faster using new technology but other things can take longer. For instance you can change the speed of track by using the pitch control but this also changes the tones of a record and therefore it can take a long time trying to get records back 'in key'. Today I can raise the speed of a record with Time Stretching which does not change the key, but the process itself takes up more time than moving the pitch-control slider on the turntable!"

Do you think there are any Advantages or disadvantages in starting to mix today as opposed to several years ago?
It is much more difficult today than it was then because in the past good editing was enough. Now you need much more equipment, which is expensive and you need more knowledge of technique.

What projects can we expect from you in 1994?
Very soon: Salt 'n Pepa - Whatta Man (Ben made a complete new production of this track which is much faster than the original. The remix sounds like Ben’s remixes of "Start Me Up" and "Lets Talk About Sex" so it will probably become a big hit), Karl Keaton Jr. Take Me Back (Ben made a remix of this track that sounds like the music of Robin S, especially for the German market he made an excellent remix similar to tracks by Culture Beat and Robin S). A megamix double CD on the Blow Up Label, The megamix includes the Prodigy & Dance to Trance amongst others. The running time of both mixes is some 40 minutes. Later in 1994: A CD with music and 3D pictures, Ben showed us some ideas that were very exciting. (there is a possibility that some projects may have already been released by the time you read this).

Special thanks to the Ben Liebrand Fanclub and of course Ben Liebrand himself for the interview.