Trance DJ and producer Ben Gold is in Kuala Lumpur for a late-night Thursday show at club kyo, but before he sets about ruining everyone’s Friday morning, he’s speaking to young students who want to be just like him at Goldsounds Music Academy.
He covered it all, how he left school at 18, how he got started, how he got big, how he joined trance godfather Armin Van Buren’s record label, Armada, and also why he recently left one of the biggest agencies in the business.
He’s visibly tired, but kinetic, moving around the decks and showing wide-eyed could-bes how he plans his sets, whipping out USBs and wires. You get the impression that Mr. Gold is incredibly hands-on when it comes to his job, but also doesn’t mind sharing some of the knowledge he’s amassed over the last 20 years of playing, creating, and having to travel for a living.
This bodes well for us, because we’re here less to find out about how to DJ, and more curious on gathering tips and anecdotes from one of the world’s most seasoned travelers.
Ben sits down with us an hour later, still with the same energy that he had for the crowd earlier, which is impressive considering he just got off a 12-hour flight, and whacked 20 chicken nuggets on the way to Damansara Utama.
First thing’s first, and we’re sorry we even need to ask this but, could you explain what trance music is to our parents and the uninitiated?
Hahaha — well, trance is a feeling. Nowadays music is separated into a million-and-one sub-genres, trance included. It’s all the same thing: A feeling that comes from the melody, from the vocals. It’s that emotion from the producer to take you on a journey. It can make you happy or sad, but it’s still trance.
OK — we’re not sure our parents will understand that, but we feel you. #TraceFamilyForever
DJs travel a lot so we’re going to ask you about some of your travel experiences, life tips and whatnot. Is that OK?
Yeah! Go on —
Alright: Best city to spend 24hrs in?
I’m not sure I’ve even spent 24hrs in a city. Let me think. I love Tokyo. Dubai is nice. Buenos Aires is good as well. Tough innit. I’ll say Tokyo — but honestly, I’m not sure I’ve spent 24 hours there yet.
Least advisable tourist destination?
Oh man — that’s a tough one. I’m gonna offend someone if they’re from that place. I don’t know — Egy-?
No — you know what scratch that — I have a new statement – nowhere – everywhere in the world is beautiful. Thank you.
We have an unhealthy appreciation for air travel nightmares. What’s been your most terrifying plane ride?
Oh, there are a few. Ok, so there was one from Europe to Asia – can’t remember where – but the whole nine-hour flight was so bumpy, everything was shaking, constantly. I even asked the flight crew if it was usually like this and they told me it was normal, but it was really bad. I had to take my headphones off because I was starting to lose balance. Look — I know turbulence won’t affect the plane, but when you’re trapped inside 60 tons of steel, you get a little worried. We were fine.
Another was this takeoff to the US on an A380 –
That’s a huge plane —
I know! Which means it’s extra scary when you can feel the plane moving and shaking. Well, when we were taking off, the whole plane went to the right – it swerved, you could feel it was not right, and everyone on that flight screamed, the whole flight just started screaming. The pilot steered it back, but it pretty bad.
Oh — and another was a Russian plane. We were landing, and then suddenly we weren’t anymore – we went right back up again. It was kind of unexpected and terrifying, and the pilot hadn’t mentioned that we WEREN’T landing a lot of us weren’t really sure what was going on.
That is the worst. We had that happen to us on a flight — it’s so weird because you REALLY feel the force when it goes back up again.
Emirates, definitely. Turkish Airlines is also good.
They were voted one of the best in-flight meals.
Yeah — it’s good. Also, Lufthansa’s not bad. Out of all the airlines, I fly Emirates the most and it’s always a brand new aircraft, young aircrew, good food, good entertainment selection. You get a nice layover in Dubai.
Oh, yeah! You can go to Shake Shack.
What? There’s a Shake Shack?!
Yeah! Terminal 4. Get on it!
I will — but truth be told, I prefer Five Guys. That place is life changing.
First place you go to when you’re back home?
I’m from London but I live in Amsterdam now. It’s not very exciting, but the first place I go when I get home is to my bed.
Also, my gym is down the road and has a Jacuzzi or steam bath. I could also go there and spend an hour in the steam room. Honestly though, sleep is the first thing I do.
Most underrated travel destination?
From a trance point of view?
Mauritius, off the coast of Africa. Yes — it’s really hard to get to. It’s not your typical destination for a big rave or big club show. I was there once, and the party was great and the island was spectacular. A long way to go for one show but it really was incredible.
Three things that you always pack with you:
A penguin cushion thing I’ve got – it’s the same feeling as a neck cushion, but oval shaped and I hide the penguin bit. I just used it to sleep 12 hours on the way here.
Sleep really is the most important thing in the is job, and making sure that you get it. I will take an hour here or there – bank in hours all over the place.
Greatest festival in the world happening right now?
Untold Music Festival in Romania. It’s in a park in the middle of the country and it’s just beautiful.
In five years, they’ve grown to be one of the biggest festivals in Europe, and they’ve done it really, really well. Not just a dance music fest, or another EDM festival – it’s a whole experience. It’s all ages, which makes the vibe different. There are chill out areas, there’s shopping, there’s a bit where they screen movies, a projector — I mean — it’s a whole experience – I really recommend it to anyone.
Most widely agreed upon music mix for a celebration?
Hmm. I have two brothers – and I DJed at their 18th and 21st birthdays, and I couldn’t play any trance. Not that I couldn’t, but I wouldn’t. I played a bit of everything really. I guess that’s it – it has to appeal to everyone: Good music in ’70s, ’80s, ’90s.
We have a theory that the ’90s made most of the necessary party jams.
Is that so?
OK, last one — sum up KL in five words:
Fun, hot, friendly, good energy – that’s five right?
Oh — and good food. Also that.
And FAR – for me at least.
That’s what makes us special, lah.
Ben Gold plays in Jakarta tonight (Friday, 12 Oct 2018) at Colosseum. Tickets and reservations at 0822-7000-1001.