We are New Zealand bound this week as we touch base with the Ex-Brit Breaks legend and head honcho of the award winning Global Breaks Festival, Hexadecimal!
Where are you from and where are you living now?
I was born and raised in England, which is where I first made a name for myself musically. I grew up near Cambridge, went to University in Nottingham, then 12 years ago I moved to New Zealand after meeting a Kiwi girl at a club I was playing at in London. We are married now and live in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. It’s a beautiful place, and I have a beautiful family. I am a lucky guy!
How did you come up with your DJ name?
In the early 2000s, there were two of us in Hexadecimal. I was the main DJ of our duo and Ben was the main Producer. Some friends were in a Progressive / Tech House decks & FX act called Sound Alliance. One of their tunes ‘From Home’ was signed by James Zabiela’s for his first commercial mix compilation. They knew James liked his breaks, so they suggested we had a go at remixing another one of their tracks, ‘The Hit’.
James loved our remix and decided to put it on his CD as well. At the time we were known as Scottlosttheplot & Mr Ben, hardly the most professional sounding names, so we decided we needed to come up with something better. One of the guys from Sound Alliance pointed to a Hexadecimal conversion chart on the studio wall, and said, what about Hexadecimal? The rest is history, as they say.
What’s your equipment list?
Nothing fancy really. I have a couple of Pioneer CDJ2000 Nexus and a DJM750 mixer. I have a badass gaming PC for streaming and a little Akai sample player. I sold my Technics 1210s before I moved to New Zealand, which I regret. My Mum sold my entire record collection, which I left back in the UK for about 150 quid, I am still quite bitter about that and that guy got such a great deal, I had 1000s of records! Luckily I converted some of them to digital before I moved to NZ, and gave someone my Hexadecimal vinyl releases to look after, although I am not entirely sure who has them now, I need to track them down.
Where did your musical journey begin?
I was in bands when I was a young teenager. Played Bass guitar and thought I was pretty decent. I loved slap bass and would play along to the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Jamiroquai. When I went to uni in Nottingham in my early 20s, I bought a set of decks with my student loan. I played on them for hours and hours until I started to improve. I got a show on student radio, the graveyard shift (2am-5am) on Sunday mornings, but I used this to my advantage by showcasing local promoters and interviewing them about their club nights. In return, they booked me for guest slots at local club nights, and it grew from there.
What made you decide to take up DJing?
I started buying vinyl years before I even had a set of decks. I just loved the scene from an early age and wanted to be a part of it. I was obsessed. I loved being on the dance floor with my friends and started to go to clubs from the age of 15. A group of friends and I would drive around the country most weekends and go to some incredible club nights, mainly Trance events like Peach at Camden Palace, Bagleys, Clockwork Orange and Gatecrasher. This obsession went from wanting to be on the dance floor to behind the decks. One of my friends had a set of decks, and we would try to outdo each other buying the best tunes we could find, even though none of us had a clue how to mix. It was only when I went to university and bought some decks, when I started to perfect the art of mixing for real.
What are some of your interests/hobbies/passions outside of streaming/DJing?
Well, music production, but I guess that falls into the streaming/DJing category. I’ve been producing and releasing music for about 20 years now. I used to play Sunday league football until the COVID lockdowns put a stop to it. It was an over 35s team, as those young kids, full of energy, could run rings around me. I have a pretty full on day job working within the NZ government, and I also created and run ‘Global Beats Festival‘ one of the biggest online music events you will find on the Twitch platform.
When did you start streaming on Twitch?
Probably a similar story to many. I had been thinking about doing some live streams on Facebook for years, and when New Zealand went into lockdown during the pandemic I heard about Twitch, and decided to start streaming late night here in New Zealand, which was Saturday mornings for friends locked down back in the UK. My weekly streams became quite popular, and I expanded it into a collective called ‘Reckless’ to showcase DJs I knew both in New Zealand and the UK. That collective came to a close at the end of the lockdowns, but I kept on going and growing what I do, both on and offline.
Is there anything you really hope to accomplish in your life, whether it be related to music or not?
I’m not really sure. I am pretty satisfied with what I have got and appreciate where I have come from and where I have been. An IRL goal would be to get over to Breakfast in Perth. That is an event I have been meaning to play for years and now I am not so far away and releasing again it could be possible! Other than that, my Twitch goals are to keep growing my audience and growing the GBF Collective into something sustainable that will allow the team and I to devote more time to doing more as an organisation. So many ideas, but so little time to make them all happen! I guess I have learnt to enjoy the journey, one of the best things I learnt earlier in my career was to enjoy the process, you never really make it. The day you think you have made it, is the day you haven’t. Gotta keep pushing it!
Who are some of your favourite streamers? Why?
There are so many! Brisk team favourites include theMagic Mike, Bombtraxx, Huda Hudia, Chris Craze, Maculate and Paul Santana, I also raid the Big Man ‘DJ Brisk’ regularly, and he is alright too. Arptrx is pretty cool with his epic marathon trance sets, he plays all the Trance classics I still love today. Others I enjoy include Thug Shells, Heather Collins, Dawn Perignon, John B, Moases, Gypsy Kid and many more.
What is your favourite genre to play? Why?
I’m mainly a Breaks guy because I love its versatility and energy. It makes you want to move and is really accessible. A lot of people like Breakbeat but just don’t know it yet! It’s a form of Electronic Music which takes influences from so many other genres. I got into Breaks through my love of Trance. There were some awesome Breaks B-Side remixes of Trance tunes by the likes of Hybrid and Matt Darey which got me excited. Going back to my student radio days again, when I began there, I decided to play breaks to have a point of difference from other DJs on the station. It was a good decision as it has led to a fairly decent career.
What are some of the most memorable events you’ve participated in or streamed?
In real life, I have played some unreal events back in Europe. I played regular slots at some of the super clubs back then, Gatecrasher, Fabric, Matter etc. I have some amazing times as a Spectrum resident, and one of the gigs I played for that crew I remember well was at Godskitchen. I was in the breaks room and completely stole the crowd away from Sander Kleinenberg who was playing at the same time in the main room. Tours in Russia and USA were also career highlights, and I had both live sets and production mixes aired on BBC Radio One. I also won the Best Breakthrough DJ at the International Breakbeat Awards in 2007, hosted at Fabric.
On the Twitch platform, my Global Breaks/Beats Festival events are pretty special to me. I had the idea of bringing together all the breaks streamers on the platform into one event, which I did off my own back early into the pandemic. My first event was hugely successful which helped me to book off platform DJs to stream such as Freestylers, Atomic Hooligan, Deekline, Rennie Pilgrem and many more for my next events. I had such fun times chatting and streaming those events, seeing so many people having an amazing time off the back of my hard work. These days, there is a much bigger crew helping me, an amazing team! We are always after great people to help with the running of events, so if you like what we do, have drive, talent and energy, and want to get involved, get in touch.
What does Team Brisk mean to you?
It means a lot to be part of one of the biggest and best teams on the platform. There are so many incredibly talented DJs across the team, across genres and timezones. It is a joy to be a part of such a fantastic collective. Paul also had a lot of time for people off platform, we often chat on video and have a really good connection since we both moved away from the UK to the southern hemisphere. I feel there is so much more we could do collectively in 2023.
What’s your favourite thing about DJing on Twitch?
Love the community! I have made so many friends through the platform who I have never met and may never do! I also enjoy not having to lug equipment into town, practice a set and be disappointed as the night isn’t that great etc. It’s cool to be in a position where I can play what I want on my own channel, which has grown and is supported by such a great crew of viewers who make every stream feel special.
What is a challenge you’ve faced as a DJ/streamer?
Just being able to promo upcoming streams and set up in time to stream after work is a constant challenge to keep on top of! And trying to keep things interesting by changing things up with new scenes, tech etc is ongoing. I have had a bit of Twitch drama I’ve needed to manage in the past, and through GBF we have had to manage our fair share of craziness but I prefer to leave that stuff in the past with just those who know.
Do you have any special projects, streams or events you would like to tell us about?
We will be hosting a huge multi-genre Twitch streaming event in the new year (2023), which could be a good opportunity to get more Team Brisk peeps involved. More news to follow, so please stay up on my socials.
Is there anyone you’d like to shout out and/or thank?
My wife and family for their patience and understanding, letting me juggle my passions with my home and work life. Ems a Gem and Bombtraxx who helped me start up on Twitch and for being there with me on this journey. I’d like to thank the Twitch teams I am involved with, all at Team Brisk, Global Funk Fam, Twitch Mob (Chris Craze is a legend), Kaleidoscope Music (Huda Hudia, Ashleigh and the rest of the crew), and thanks to the Global Breaks and Global Beats volunteers, back room staff, DJs and promoters (we have an awesome team of talent from across the world), Big ups to the amazing supporters of my channel, Ems, Lawkitty, Amy, Bene, Brownie and anyone else I should have mentioned who donates from time to time, hangs in the chat regularly or keeps a sub going, it means a lot!