Ben UFO: “The most adventurous festival I played at that summer”
Less than one week to go until Meakusma Festival 2017 opens its doors in Eupen, Belgium. The lineup is once more (read here the review of last years happenings by Friedemann Dupelius) beyond fantastic and brings together three days of eclectic artists like Sun Araw, Herco S, Niagara, Errorsmith, David Toop, Mary Ocher, Sky Walking, Andre Pekler, Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek, Phil Struck, Matt Werth, Georgia, Vladimir Ivkovic, Pierre Bastien, Phantom Kino Ballett and many more.
Ben Thomson, better known under his imprint Ben UFO, is curating a floor or this year’s event, featuring his colleagues Nina, Electric Indigo, Bruco and DJ Stingray. We talked with Ben about his experience in this new role.
Ben, this is the first time you curate a stage at a festival?
It´s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to program an entire festival stage myself. I’ve been in a position to make suggestions before, and requested specific artists here and there, but I’ve not taken full control like this before. We have curated festival stages under the Hessle Audio banner though – for example, at Dimensions we’ve programmed the Moat stage for a night every year; this year we invited Helena Hauff and A Made Up Sound to join us.
Is your Meakusma engagement the result of last year’s gig?
I really enjoyed playing, and listening to other people perform over the course of the night. I guess the guys liked it too, and I think a couple of weeks after the festival, once the dust had settled, we started talking about coming back this year. I’m always keen to try new things, and this seemed like a fun way for me to come back to the festival incorporating some kind of new challenge.
Talking about last year’s set at Meakusma – how do you remember the night? And the whole festival (did you have the chance to stay longer)?
It was great! I think in terms of its line-up it was probably the most adventurous festival I played at that summer, with some really impressive attention to detail in terms of sound and location. I was only there for a night but came away with some great memories – particularly of performances by Lord Tang and Toresch. Obviously I enjoyed my set as well – I always have fun playing on the Killasan rig, which always makes me free to play in a more traditionally UK style as well.
How did you approach building the line-up?
It was essentially a very easy, collaborative process with the rest of the Meakusma crew. I made a few suggestions, they came back with ideas of their own, and after a couple more back and forths we had the lineup finalised. I started by trying to assess what I thought had been most successful in the room I performed in during the first edition. The vibe of the room, which was darker, and slightly bigger than the second indoor space, and the low-frequency power of the sound-system informed my choices. I wanted to put together a lineup which made the most of those characteristics, and started shortlisting ideas based on that.
Looking at the lists of artists confirmed for your stage (DJ Stingray, Electric Indigo, Bruce and Nina of Golden Pudel Club), besides the fact that all of them are great DJs, the first thing I notice is that it’s 50% women and 50% men. Coincidence or a guiding principle?
It’s important to me to try and represent a range of voices and experiences when I’m in a position to do things like this. It’s not a coincidence – I think it makes for more interesting parties.
Ben, do you see yourself in playing the role of host at the festival? Does that feel different from just playing?
This is primarily Meakusma’s festival – it’s their party, and I’m just an invited guest with one added responsibility. I do feel proud of the way the stage has come together though, and I can’t wait to listen to everyone play!
Which other artists on this year’s line-up are you looking forward to?
There are so many it’s hard to choose. Eli Keszler, Masayoshi Fujita & Jan Jelinek, Philip Jeck, Niagara and Dominique Lawalree jump out at me when I scan the line-up… Once again, it’s probably the most interesting program at any event I’ve played this year.
Meakusma Festival is happening between 8th and 10th of September in Eupen, Belgium