Interview and introduction by Victoria Freeth
With his debut released on an album that DJ Mag named their 2011 compilation of the year, Benny ‘Bringa’ Griffin has proved he’s got talent. ‘Cemetery’, produced with fellow Brightoner Foreign Concept, for me, encapsulates the deep and dark sound Shogun Audio has made for itself. I caught up with Benny to see where he’s come from, and of course, where he’s going. He also jumped on the decks for a 50 minute guest mix, included at the bottom.
Thanks for taking the time to let me grill you! Firstly tell me, when and what started your love affair with drum and bass?
I was always into hip hop as a kid, I was mad on it but loads of my older pals were deep into the jungle/dnb scene and were making tunes already. We all used to skate together so whenever we drove to the nearest skatepark they would always play me tape packs. I remember there was this one tape, Andy C at Pure Science at Atomics 1999, I nicked it out the car and listened to it over and over. He drops Dillinja’s Nasty Ways on it and I had never heard anything like it! I think shortly after that I got my first set of turntables and started hassling them for vinyl and spending all my money going to town to hunt out promos, as you do.
Where did the name Bringa come from?
It’s just a nickname I was given about eleven years ago from my mate Raff. I don’t have a clue what it means or why he started calling me it to be honest… pretty unusual name I guess and I wish I had a really interesting story to go with it but I don’t I’m afraid! It just seemed to stick!
Tell us something no one in the drum and bass scene would know about you…..
I’m a part time assassin and I’m addicted to Rio Tropical.
So, your debut was released on the mighty Shogun Audio, you must have been ridiculously psyched?!
Oh for sure, it was a great privilege to be on the album alongside people like D Bridge, Spectrasoul, Perez etc especially as we are new on the scene! Yeah was all pretty mad really.
How do you know Foreign Concept?
His girlfriend works in a sandwich shop just down the road from my old job, I used to go in everyday for lunch and one day we got on the subject of dnb. She was like ‘Oh my boyfriend makes tunes too, add him on Soundcloud’, so I did. We just spoke on AIM a bit and then started hooking up to make tunes!
Then how did your introduction to Shogun come about?
As far as the whole Shogun thing, I have been friends with Friction for years through my friends Noetic (whose Pure Science tape I nicked) and Nu Balance, before even Shogun existed actually. They used to have a studio right near my house, so I used to go down there sometimes and annoy them, we’re talking like 10/11 years ago! When he started the label and doing nights he asked me if I wanted to come down and play at the local ones in Brighton, so I guess that how the whole Shogun thing came about.
Was it a conscious decision to make Cemetery for the Way of the Warrior?
Nah we never made Cemetery for the album! We didn’t make it for anything in particular we just sat in Matts [Foreign Concept] basement and made it! I ended up sending it to my good pal Garvey from The Prototypes to see what he thought and he was like ‘Mate you sent this to Ed!? [Friction]’. Ten minutes later I had a text from him saying he wanted it! At the beginning it was going to come out on SGN Ltd, so when they said it might go on the album we were obviously well happy!
At the moment you describe yourself more as a DJ than a producer, what’s your favourite venue to play at?
Probably Shogun at Cable, it’s always been a wicked vibe in there and it always goes off! The sound tech is a machine as well so you know it’s always gonna sound crisp. Nothing worse than trying to listen to a set of monitors that sound like someone farting out a coke can!
Have you got a favourite tune that you like to play out?
That’s a pretty tough call to be fair…… I don’t think I could say. I never get bored of Spirit and Digitals ‘Phantom Force’, I have played that over and over and it never gets old!
If you could collaborate with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
Hmmmm…. Would definitely have to be Guru man!! To actually get him to collab and not just to sample him would be fucking rude! He was my childhood hero!
You’re also into your graffiti, how long have you been doing that for?
Yeah man I’m into graffiti, I probably first started doodling when I was 16 and I’m 29 now so yeah about 13 years! I love graffiti, I used to go out and paint all the time but I wouldn’t call myself a ‘writer’, I just paint the odd piece for fun and have for a while now! Some of my friends are proper soldiers that live, sleep and shit graffiti, they take that stuff serious! I’m more of a 3 piece a year guy now! I don’t think it’s ever something you’ll grow out of or get bored with if you’ve ever painted.
Do you plan your pieces before you paint or do you just let inspiration strike?
Sometimes yeah, most of the time you got a rough idea of what you’re gonna paint. If I haven’t got a sketch I’ll pretty much know what I’m going to do…. I just get vibed out and go with the flow man! Haha
Brighton is a great hub for music and graffiti, if you had to leave, where would you move to rival it?
Ahhhh I don’t know really, I love Brighton and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else to be honest…. London’s cool, but a bit hectic for me. I like that fact everything is close by here and you don’t have to mission too far. I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m pretty lazy! Bristol’s dnb scene is obviously banging and I’ve heard it’s nice and chilled out in places, a bit like Brighton, plus there is loads of graff, so maybe there?!
I saw a piece you did for The Prototypes’ Born to Rise EP which was in a pretty public place, are you generally allowed to paint as you please in Brighton (within reason) or is there a code of conduct?
There’s a few places in Brighton you can paint and you don’t get any hassle from the boys in blue but you need to check who you’re going over! Same thing as any town/countries legal spots, if your painting over someone who has only had their piece up for 2 days then they’re gonna be pissed! When they asked me to do it that just seemed like a good spot at the time and the piece underneath had been there a while so it was all gravey.
Lastly, what would you like to see yourself accomplishing in 2012?
Just doing more of the same sort of thing I’m doing now really, I’ve recently left my job so I have a lot more time on my hands now, so hopefully get a few more tunes done and get to play out in some other cool places!
Thanks for the time Bringa!
Guest Mix Track List
Arp Xp – Closer (survival Jungle VIP) – (IMLtd)
>Enei – Stonehead – (Critical)
Alix Perez & Jubei – ? (Unreleased)
Bredren – Habitat – (Dub)
Mortem – The Touch (IMLtd)
Trex – Red Clouds – (Dub)
A Maurs – Weight Loss – (Dub)
L33 & Equivelent- Orion – (Dub)
James Turner – Shore Leave – (Dub)
Foreign Concept – Possessive – (SGN Ltd)
Ed:it – Echo – (Dub)
Anile & Dakosa – Code Of Conduct VIP – (Dub)
Octane & DLR – Back In The Grind – (Cern & Dabs Rmx) – (Dispatch)
Konflict – The Beckoning – (Renegade Hardware)
Foreign Concept & Bringa – Cemetery VIP – (Dub)
Jubei – Patience VIP – (Metalheadz)
Hybrid Minds – Lost – (Dub)