The likes of Disclosure, Rudimental and Duke Dumont have all contributed to a bumper year for electronic beats and bleeps while across the Atlantic, the rise of the so-called ‘EDM’ looks unstoppable.
Ben Turner is a key figure in this burgeoning landscape. He’s manager of Richie Hawtin and Bestival’s Rob Da Bank while also being the brains behind the Ibiza International Music Summit, a conference where the great and the good from the dance music industry gather to discuss the key challenges and opportunities it faces.
This week sees Ben turning his attention towards London for the first ever LEAF event. As with IMS, the festival promises a mouth watering line up of panel sessions and club nights with the likes of Giorgio Moroder, William Orbit, Duke Dumont and Major Lazer all due to appear over the course of the weekend.
Head to the LEAF website for details of the full programme of events, which kick off Thursday 7 November.
M managed to find some time with Ben to talk about how he fell in love with electronic music and why now is the right time for this new venture…
How did you first get into electronic music? Can you remember the first records which got you into the genre?
John Peel inspired me to actually purchase records I'd heard on the radio – at the time, the only real place to identify music from media channels. He turned me on to early Newbuild-era 808 State, LFO and the kind of slightly leftfield electronica which was being documented by the indie press, which I then became a part of pretty quickly. Peel didn't play a huge amount of electronic music but what he did definitely inspired.
Why did you decide to set up the LEAF event?
LEAF to me stands for two things – putting the art back into electronic music and putting London back at the heart of electronic music. Out of these two ambitions, we have created LEAF. I do think there needs to be greater care taken to how this genre is perceived and presented and we've programmed things we're into, in places we like, to try and create a platform for the genre in the city that really is one of the most influential in the world. Having Dinos Chapman provide an installation and giving the likes of Keith Riley and Terry Farley a platform to share experiences reflects this. We love city festivals from other parts of the world. So why not London?
How did you end up collaborating with Rob Da Bank on the festival?
Myself and Rob Da Bank have worked closely together for 18 years from when he was a work experience intern at Muzik Magazine for me. We stayed connected and have been through a lot together. In 2001, when I set up my own company Graphite, I took him on for management and we've been together since. We work on nearly everything together. I think we're inspired by different aspects of electronic music and that makes it work.
The LEAF line up makes for a mouth watering list of electronic music makers. Who are you most excited about seeing /hearing?
William Orbit has something very special lined-up for us. I think this is what makes events unique – when talents really go the extra mile to present something unique for you. And then to be honest, I am most excited to hear the talk about New Order's Technique. This was a very powerful album and when I was younger checking out the sleeve notes, it referenced the fact that it was recorded in Ibiza. It goes without saying this was when Ibiza was making its first major modern influence and it made me fascinated about the record. Arthur Baker will interview them and I know already this is going to be an epic conversation. If Bernard can remember much from the experience!
Was it difficult to get certain artists to be involved? Giorgio Moroder is quite a coup to say the least.
I was pretty instrumental in putting him back into people's minds at IMS two years ago. I had no idea that on that day both he and Nile would reveal on stage at IMS that they were both working with Daft Punk. I still don't know if it was calculated in some way but it was a real moment. It meant people all over the world started to get a glimpse into the mind of Daft Punk for the first time in years. And then it all got confirmed a few months later and the rest is history. So it’s an honour to now bring him to London with LEAF. His appearance consists of a talk, an introduction to a classic film, plus a DJ set, which says a lot about what we're trying to achieve with LEAF. Industry people are spoilt now with talks at conferences. LEAF also allows consumers to hear their people speak in person.
What are your thoughts on the current health of dance music? Is now an exciting time for electronic music in the UK and beyond?
Incredible times. Worldwide. Daniel Avery's album shows me there are artists out there with big ideas for a big future. Richie Hawtin is performing in the middle of the Guggenheim museum in New York this very week. And Giorgio Moroder, aged 78, will DJ at the Oval Space for LEAF. I mean … what a time…
Which new artists are you currently most excited about?
Daniel Avery as stated above. His is an incredible new album. Everybody should own this record and I am sure they will come next summer.
What does the future hold for LEAF?
We're very proud of even making it happen – everybody involved has other day to day focuses in life but we all felt that London needed an event like this. So who knows. We've already been asked to take the concept abroad which is a little crazy seeing as we haven't even done one event yet. So exciting times. We hope to give London something back after taking so much enjoyment from it for the last 20 plus years. Watch this space.