In Conversation with Brain Rays
Written by Tom Lye on 20th December 2017
After the final Dobwalls Gateway Zone came out on 19th December, we sat down with Ben aka Brain Rays for a quick little catch up on how things have flown over the past few months and what his plans are for the future…
Brain Rays has been deep in the studio recently. With four releases in as many months, his ability to push out new and relevant music is refreshing. Experimental in nature, his latest series entitled Dobwalls Gateway Zone is a string of dance floor focused releases, with collaboration at it’s core. As co-founder of Devon based Bizarre Rituals and one half of Baconhead, Brain Rays diverse productions highlight a wide ranging taste for good music, with his debut offering, ‘Music for Abandoned Beach Parties’ garnering a lot of support. Since then he has also soundtracked films and continued to push Bizarre Rituals as a pioneering collective straight out of the South West.
Listen to the latest release below, cop it from his Bandcamp and read on…
Big congrats on the final release! That’s 4 EPs in as many months, all part of the same Dobwalls Gateway Zone series. Was their a motivation or method behind this approach?
“It was an experiment really. I liked the idea of churning out some music fairly quickly, with the focus primarily on the dancefloor and the idea that each new release would post-promote the last. Mostly I just made them for DJing out at our parties, so for the most part they are pretty functional. They seem to be going down well thankfully.”
The four releases have a number of guest appearances too, with the Bizarre Rituals crew getting involved as well as Neil Landstrumm and Dan Jose. What do you personally achieve from collaboration and why is it important for your output?
“I’m a firm advocate for collaboration. I think it keeps things fresh. You can get pretty bogged down in your own ego and struggle to finish projects when you’re flying solo. Working with other like-minded people gives you a little insight into other people’s processes, which I think can only help you develop as an artist (and a person). To be honest, I also just like the company. Anyone who works endless hours in a studio knows how solitary it can be sometimes.”
Previously producing hip hop and film soundtracks, why did a more dance floor focused release appeal to you?
“We’ve been putting these Bizarre Rituals parties on for the past few years, and because we’ve got such an open minded crowd of people who come to dance, it’s a great testing ground for new material. The Baconhead stuff that I’ve been putting out with Paul Bowyer has leaned more towards downtempo hip hop definitely. It’s not really the right pace for the parties, so I’m enjoying working with faster tempos. Paul is currently working on some new music under his ‘Hthr’ alias, so I’m doing my own thing and letting him get on with that. When he does finish making some new tracks we’re all in for a treat.”
I’m looking forward to hearing the new stuff then! With the Bizarre Rituals crew, what sort of stuff do you all get up to and why do you think it’s good to form a collective?
“Our extended crew is pretty big and everyone is working on individual projects. Together we throw parties, make music for films and computer games, sometimes manage to get it together to do a rather disorganised radio show on Soundart FM. Mostly we hang out in Devon pubs, chat breeze and formulate harebrained schemes. Forming a crew to bounce ideas off and provide a support network is so helpful when you’re coming up with new music and ideas. I would recommend it to anyone.”
Is there anyone in the future that you would like to collaborate with?
“I mean… there are so many people I would collaborate with haha. I love the stuff that Machinewoman is doing at the moment and I recently discovered Gazelle Twin too, she would be on my list. I guess Missy Elliot would be my ideal end goal. Or maybe Grace Jones.”
How’s the BR Christmas Party shaping up?
“We are excited about this one. It’s basically our office Christmas party haha. This one’s ‘Deep and Crisp and Even 2’, and, like last year, it’s medieval themed. We’ve got Freddie (Medallionman) joining us and Cam (Fraxinus), both Devon fam back for the festive season. So it’s looking like a pretty epic b2b session, with a lot of hessian fibres flying around the club.”
What’s your favourite Christmas tune and your favourite part of Christmas Day?
“I’m a sucker for that Paul McCartney one, but more recently i’ve been tanning that Slugabed edit of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, and this little banger we “re-released” last year.”
“Favourite part of Christmas day? Probably around the time cocktail no. 3 kicks in. I think this year it’s a Mayflower Martini.”
Any big plans set for the New Year?
“I’m working on some tracks for the excellent Seagrave label. Me and Stoogie Houzer are working on a sequel to our stoner techno mixtape ‘Enter the Fug’, and me and Cape Khoboi just finished working on a Giallo-inspired soundtrack for a new folk-horror film called ‘The Sermon’ which will be out sometime in the new year.”
Dobwalls Gateway Zone Vol. I – IV are available to purchase now via Brain Rays’ Bandcamp page. Check Brain Rays socials as well as the Bizarre Rituals crew to keep up to date with what they’re doing…