If Ben Rau has a knack for getting to the heart of what the dancefloor wants and needs, it’s because he’s spent more than his fair share of time on it. With releases on labels including Knee Deep in Sound, his own INKAL imprint and the iconic BBE Music, plus gigs all over the world everywhere from Amnesia to Glastonbury, BPM to Pitch Festival and a previous Fuse residency, his is a dancefloor journey that is decades in the making.
Born in Berlin and raised in the countryside of North Germany, he first fell for music listening to the likes of Michael Jackson and Issac Hayes on American Forces Network Radio before discovering hip hop in his early teens. “Where I grew up in Germany, there weren’t that many black people around,” says Ben “So I think I was always looking for role models to follow in music.”
With an older brother who was already into electronic music, by the mid ‘90s, Ben found himself at the heart of one of the most exciting moments in musical history, as Berlin opened up to the sounds of house, techno and trance in the wake of the Berlin wall falling.
Already an avid record collector, Ben headed to the UK to study in Bournemouth, and found himself learning to DJ on a friend’s decks and beginning to put on parties in the city as the UK house scene flourished and UK garage started to break through.
“At the time, the minimal sound was starting to break through with people like Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin becoming massive,” says Ben. “And I was always buying all of the records from the German labels that not everyone in London had. Nic Fancuilli told me he loved my mix but the thing that frustrated him was that he couldn’t work out where half of the records were from.”
As the minimal sound began to spread through London and the UK, Ben teamed up with Enzo Siragusa to play ‘a small party in a pub in Clapham’ before eventually becoming a resident at Fuse in 93 Feet East as Enzo’s brand began to grow.With the Fuse brand becoming a phenomenon, Ben decided it was time to focus on learning to produce too, initially working with Justin Drake of Peace Division before heading back to Berlin in the mid-2010s and investing in his own studio space.
During the set people were constantly coming up to me to ask what I was playing and it was always my own tracks”Launching label INKAL in 2016 to release his own music (followed by Meta to release music by others), Ben’s releases quickly gained attention, with his vinyl releases quickly selling out and digital releases reaching the upper echelons of the Beatport charts including a No.1 in 2020 , plus earning plaudits from DJs including Seth Troxler and Darius Syrosian.
In 2020 he released ‘The Player’, his first release on Hot Since 82’s label Knee Deep in Sound which hit number two on the overall Beatport chart and he followed that up in 2022 with his debut album for Knee Deep in Sound, a groove-laden affair with shades of classic French filter house, Breakbeats, Deep and Melodic House, as part of their 8-Track series.
“Making this album really liberated me, creatively” says Ben. “It was made during the pandemic and not playing clubs allowed me to expand my sound and bring more musicality in and make something that works just as well at home as in the club. There’s so much emotion in these records and I can’t wait for people to connect with it.”
Ben Rau follows up a great year in 2022 which saw him making appearances at some of the leading venues in the UK, Europe , South America , Asia and Australia including The Beams London , Pacha Barcelona , DC10 Ibiza, La Feria Chile and Lost Sundays Sydney by joining NGE Booking for representation.
In 2023 his musical plot features upcoming EP’s for Archie Hamilton's Microhertz, Eastenderz, PIV records and Defected , with upcoming collaborations with Oden and Fatzo & Archie Hamilton plus self releases on his own label Inkal and lots of fresh exciting music signed for sub label Meta will make for a heavy year of releases and a heavy touring schedule to match.