Interview: Benny Tones of Electric Wire Hustle

The last 18 months has seen the recognition of what us Kiwi’s have known all along…New Zealand has a bubbling (and very dope) music scene. With artists such as Julien Dyne, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Electric Wire Hustle and David Dallas getting widespread international attention, it’s no surprise yet another buzz-worthy release has come out of New Zealand this year, this time from the very hand that helped make a lot of those records.

We sit down and have a quick chat with Benny Tones; producer and unofficial 4th member of EWH, about the recent release of his superb album Chrysalis, the NZ music scene and what’s next on the agenda for himself and EWH.

Firstly, congrats on the release of Chrysalis, it’s a great record. One of my favourite tracks on the album is Fountain of Youth. How did the collaboration with Shihan the Poet come about?

Nice one, its cool to see which ones different people pick out from the album, everyone seems to have different favorites which is cool. The ‘Shihan The Poet’ joint came about from Shihan coming over to NZ to do some shows which I went along to & got inspired by. And I just approached him after the show and said I was really feeling what he was doing and that I would love to make some music with him. He was into the fact and a few months later I received an email from him in L.A saying he was in the middle of getting some beats together for his new album. So I made a couple beats for that and one of them being the beat that ended up on my record, I liked it so much I just asked him if he was cool to put it on my record as well.

A lot of people may know of you solely as a sound technician. What got you into producing and how long have you been doing it?

Just music got me into wanting to produce. I loved every part of music. Was a DJ at the time and it was just a natural progression I think of trying to get as close to music as possible… I’ve been experimenting through sound for about 6 years now. It’s like nothing else.

I’ve noticed Chrysalis has been building quite the buzz on the global blog circuit with shout outs from the likes of Moovmnt and such. What is your opinion on the force of the internet as a NZ artist?

The force is strong now for sure. Some think it’s a curse but in my opinion it’s the best thing that has ever happened for music. Being able to collaborate across the globe with the click of a button… it’s the next level. I think some people are trying to hold on to music too much instead of letting it spread as fast as possible, it’s an expression and can be used for amazing things if used properly. And coming from somewhere like NZ where a lot of things are not so accessible, it’s a life saver.

On my recent trip to SXSW this year, I was really taken aback by how many people knew of, and were diggin what was coming out of the NZ scene. Artists like yourself, EWH, Julien Dyne and Lewis McCallum have really started making people stop and take notice of what’s goin on down here. How would you describe the NZ music scene right now and where do you think it’s heading?

I think we’re the healthiest we have ever been, and to have some outside attention is definitely making it easier for artists in NZ to finally be able to tour other parts of the world (it’s still very difficult) and make their music more available to wider audiences. And again, it’s a large part to do with the internet and viral spreading of energy. And as for where we’re heading… UP!!

What are you listening to right now, both locally and internationally?

Locally getting inspired by artists like: Obviously the EWH boys (Taay Ninh, Mara TK, Myele Manzanza) are a large source of vibes but also Eru Dangerspiel, Julien Dyne, Isaac Aesili, Pacific Heights, Lewis MaCallum, Fat Freddys Drop, Rio Hemopo, Adi Dick, Lord Jackson… too many more, internationally even more! People like: Flying Lotus, Dorian Concept, Harmonic 313, Sa-Ra, Kuedo, Architeq, The Clonious I could go on for hours haha!

I know you’re heading off on a European tour soon with EWH. Are there any US stops planned in the near future?

Yeah we’re off again to the warmer side of the world on the 3rd of July. Getting to play some awesome shows, a couple with some of our favorite artists like Benji B at his ‘Deviation’ night in London. Also we’re getting to do a show with Bilal in Amsterdam which should be good some good vibes. As far as US shows go, there is a US tour in the pipeline for October this year with one of those shows being the CMJ Festival in New York which we’re all stoked about!

What will 2011 bring for Benny Tones and EWH?

A lot of hard work, another EWH album, another Benny Tones album and a lot of good times with a lot of good people 🙂

You can listen to and purchase Chrysalis here
Follow Benny Tones on Twitter here