When We Dip Interview: Behind the making of the ‘Evoke’ LP with Shaun Benjamin
Rising NYC-based producer and multi-instrumentalist Shaun Benjamin is fresh from the release of his debut LP. Benjamin dropped the exhilarating ten track ‘Evoke’ LP earlier in October via budding imprint Earthly Delights. We had the pleasure of catching up with the uber-talented artist this week as he took us through the inspirations behind the album, his top 3 LPs ever and lots more…
WWD: The album offers up a refreshing electronic blend. What were the key sources of inspiration fueling its creation?
Evoke is inspired by emotions, feelings and responses to my cultural journey as an artist. It’s my path of exploring universal values of inner harmony, equality, peace, beauty, unity and nature. Coming from Singapore, my intention was to harmonize Eastern values with the Western world. I found purpose in fusing the different worlds of classical, ethnic and electronic music.
As a percussionist, Ive always been drawn to the various drumming techniques from around the world. I began to realize every sound had a unique culture behind it, and it became an incredible journey exploring these techniques and how they were made. For example, I was really drawn to the Darbuka (Turkey) and Djembe (Mali). Two powerful drums that come from very different cultures. The way these drums are played and held are completely different, expanding the way my fingers approach the drum. This began my journey to seeking out instruments, players and recordings of percussions.
Inspired by New York’s electronic scene I had an innate desire to explore the world of hardware synths and sound design. I’ve played the piano but realized with the synthesizer I could push the understanding of sound. It was exciting to be a musician and a sound designer at the same time.
All the tracks started initially with ambient sounds of spaces. There’s a soul in the recordings of natural spaces like the Rainforest’s of Australia to the streams of upstate New York. I tend to take the experience of the space and begin to write from there. I guess maybe being in New York I miss the vastness of space and natural cleansing sounds. So this album is my way of bringing back mother nature into the music creation process.
WWD: Going into the studio, what were you hoping to achieve with the productions?
This project took a life of its own. Initially intended to be an 3 track EP became a 10 track album. Everything just flowed when I started to look inwards to explore myself, inner feelings, emotions. I created a space where I am able to feel safe and get lost in sound. And yes, I found myself through sound.
There is deep symbolism in this project for me, as I’m taking a stronger leadership role in my life and diving deeper into essence of art, music , society. Artistically I’m blending the elements of concert hall and ethnic cultures into the electronic stage.
All of this is done by integrating live instrument improvisation with synthesizers and sequencing. This allowed me to discover the sound synthesis and design element in music, marrying the worlds of DJ-ing and production performance into one.