For Ben Davis, aka Vibe Street, life as a producer is literally just beginning. He recently played some of his first sets at the incredible F.A.R.M. Fest in New Jersey back in July. In our honest opinion, we think it will only be a short matter of time before a label, hopefully Pretty Lights Music, adds him to their roster.
HYPE Editor, Phil Sunkel, got a chance to catch up with Ben over the phone to talk about his first shows, getting started as a producer and his goals.
HYPE (Phil Sunkel): Wait did I just see on your phone that your from Connecticut?
HYPE: Ok, cool man, Im a Ridgefield boy at heart and was born in Norwalk and then I moved down to Florida when I was 13.
Ben: Are you in Florida right now?
HYPE: I am, I’m in Vero Beach, FL at this very moment.
Ben: Gotcha, well that sounds pretty nice.
HYPE: Yeah man, I’m enjoying the weather. Let’s talk Vibe Street, could you tell me a little about the musical influences you put into your songs?
Ben: As far as my musical background goes, It’s actually pretty nonexistent. I mean I played guitar until I was 13 and quit, I was never really into it. I didn’t really pick up anything musically until I started learning how to produce back in the summer of 2010 when I started searching for software to start messing around with and buy. 2011 was when I started to learn how to make beats. I guess the music I grew up listening to though was classic rock with a little bit of bluegrass mixed in there, thats coming from my parents, mainly my dad. What I mainly listened to was hip hop.
HYPE: So how did Vibe Street, come out of those influences?
My second year of Bonnaroo in 2010, some friends dragged me to go see Bassnectar. I had no idea what I was in for. I don’t remember much but I do remember thinking to myself that I want to do what he did. So I basically got home from Bonnaroo and I googled how to make beats on my computer, that was a little over four years ago. When I started, like I said, I had no background in musical production, composition or sound design. I had to literally learn everything from scratch. I would listen to Pretty Lights and Bassnectar to slowly try and figure out hat kinds of things they were doing production wise. After a couple years of doing that, I felt like I had at least learned the basics of production. Thats kind of when I get to the point of making my own music creatively now that I could make beats and roughly mix songs. That was around the time when I moved out to Wisconsin, a year and a half ago. I had a buddy out there you might know, Garret Myer, he goes by Artifakts.
HYPE: Im not too familiar with him.
Ben: Yeah Artifakts is coming out of Wisconsin, its very down tempo trip hop beats. Anyway, I moved out to Wisconsin to make music and live with him, it didn’t really work out but thats where I developed the idea for the bluegrassey type stuff. I had a buddy out there who I met through the bar tending job I had who is super into bluegrass. He basically cultured me on bluegrass. I had listened to some bluegrass in the past but had never really delved into it. I really fell in love with it, fell in love with the sound, vibe and everything. I started messing around with bluegrass samples, I kind of realized at that point that I loved the sound that I was making and other people that I showed it to had this reaction that I had never really gotten before. Which was that they had never really heard anything like it. I moved out to Denver back in December and started putting the finishing touches on what will be the first album and playing my first all original music shows. I would really consider my first Vibe Street shows, the ones coming up in January, I’m kinda just gonna take it from there. Right now Im going through all the songs I produced last year, remixing and mastering them with the production skills I have now because I want to be ready for festival opportunities and be able to have everything sounding as tight as possible.
HYPE: So basically you’ve just been trying to perfect your craft even before you play any real shows?
Ben: Absolutely. I really haven’t been doing this for that long and I’ve kind of been learning everything from the ground up so by the time I played my first little show about 8-9 months I already had everything sounding good enough. But Im getting better at producing everyday, its definitely something I haven’t mastered yet though.
HYPE: Man I also got to say, your track with the samples from Jerry Garcia & David Grisman’s version of Shady Grove, is pretty incredible. When I heard that song at F.A.R.M. Fest I literally could not believe what I was hearing.
HYPE: I mean its pretty awesome that you throw down this classic bluegrass on a track and make it sound almost oriental. I think maybe the best, if not the best, Shady Grove remix.
Ben: I actually just finished remastering that one today. So next time I play it live it will go off a little bit harder.
HYPE: Now I gotta ask, have you thought about Vibe Street Live Band yet?
Ben: Hahaha yes, I have. The dream is Vibe Street and the Future Folk Band, I’ve definitely thought about it. Its a ways off at this point, I really want to be completely comfortable in my role as a musician before I bring some other professional musicians into a project like that. But, I have played with a fiddle player three times this past summer, most recently at the RowdyTown pre-party. His name is Samuel Wexler, it all started back when I was opening for a couple djs in Denver in May and he was playing with the group after me. He just came out like 20 minutes into my set, just came up on stage and asked if he could jam with me. I mean, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so I figured why not? He totally just ad-libbed with his fiddle and effects pedal, he just absolutely killed it for 40 minutes.
I had never brought any live acts to my music before so it was blowing my mind as people in the crowd were really enjoying it. So, I brought him out with me a couple more times. Actually the last time I played with Samuel, I dug in and pulled some of the fiddle samples from my songs to allow him more room to play over it. Which was somewhat of a risky move since we never practice together, it was all just hand signals of me telling him to come in heavy at this part or the song will sound like something is missing. He killed it and it was really cool. It was definitely an accomplishment to pull that off.
HYPE: So for my final question I’m just gonna ask you what your biggest goals are right now?
Ben: My biggest goals right now honestly are A. to continue growing as a producer and B. overall as a project, is just to start getting booked enough to really constantly be paying my bills by playing music. That way I feel like I can really just totally focus on the music and not have to worry about whether or not going to be able to eat this month. I feel like a lot will open up once I hit that point.
For more information and music check out VibeStreetMusic.com