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Bristol boy Ben Nicky talks about his DJ life before Ironworks date

By Margaret Chrystall

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Over the last couple of years, Ben has become one of dance music's busiest, strongest-selling DJs in the world. Racking up over half a million air miles last year, he regularly features on the world's largest festival line-ups and has recent releases on Mad Decent, Ultra and Spinnin' Records. He answers Margaret Chrystall's questions below...

Q Ben, you have this reputation as the 'bad boy of dance' thanks to a famous quote from Armin Van Buren. What inspired that quote – and is it a useful/annoying handle to have or would you agree it sums up your style perfectly!?

A I think I got that ‘nickname’ based on the fact I don’t play by the rules. I’ve always done what I feel is right for me, rather than listen to what everyone else tells me to do. It’s worked out for me so far, so if that’s the reputation I have, then I’m OK with it.

Q Why was trance the genre of dance music that felt right for you – or is it not that simple, as everything from techno, hardstyle and bounce are also mentioned in the same breath when people are talking about your music?

A It’s definitely not that simple, trance is only a small element of what I play these days. Trance was the genre that made people notice me, but believe it or not I actually started out playing Clubland style music back in the day. Nowadays I just play music that I love, whether it’s a new track or an absolute banger from years ago. I want to have a just as good a time as the crowd at my shows, so anything goes!

Ben Nicky.
Ben Nicky.

Q You first played in our area last year at Groove Loch Ness – what are some of your favourite places to play?

A That was such a great festival, loved the vibe there and I got to show my darker, techier side. Scottish shows are always legendary and obviously places like Belfast never disappoint, selling out my own arena show to 15,000 people at Belsonic there this year was a definite career highlight.

Q The travel you do is incredible – I see it could be as much as half a million air miles last year. Are you a relaxed traveller? And what are the best/worst things about having a career that means you are a citizen of the sky, effectively?

A I’ve got so used to travelling now that it’s just part of my daily life, I can’t get stressed out about it as it takes up such a huge part of my time. Of course getting to visit loads of amazing cities is great, but missing out on seeing family, friends and my dogs really takes its toll on me to be honest.

Q What did your early Bristol connections mean when it came to forming your DJ career and your own style. How did Bristol contribute to the making of Ben Nicky?

A There’s actually a great DJ scene here in Bristol, DJs from all genres would come and play the clubs and I got to take inspiration from them over the years, which is probably why I don’t stick to a genre now, haha!

Q What would make your 2019 – and what are your ambitions for 2020, big and small?

A 2019 has already been a great year. I’ve released lots of my own tracks this year too, that have so far done really well across the Beatport charts, plus I finally bought my own dream house too. I also found out I was one of the top 5 selling DJs in the UK, which is a huge achievement. I’ve got some big things planned for 2020, you’ll have to follow me on Instagram to find out what though.

Ben plays Inverness Ironworks on Saturday from 10.30pm with Adam Fairbairn (Milkit) and Maddog.

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