Get to know 2023 Underground Dance Single of the Year nominee, Bensley in our “7 Questions With” series where we speak with first-time JUNO Award nominees from all genres.
Toronto-born Bensley is fast cementing his status as one of Canada’s most exciting young producers. Armed with impressive production knowledge and a proven track record in dance music, Bensley has carved out a signature sound that brims with influences spanning many different genres. Bensley’s most impactful releases include ‘That Feeling’, ‘Debonair’, ‘Fandango’, ‘Vex’ and 2019 album ‘Muskoka’ alongside official remixes for Zeds Dead, Flux Pavilion & Delta Heavy. His output has garnered support from some of dance music’s top tastemakers – including deadmau5, Dillon Francis, Andy C, Zane Lowe, Noisia, NGHTMRE, SLANDER, Jauz, Netsky and many more.
1. How does it feel to be nominated for a JUNO award?
It’s incredible! This has been a goal of mine for a long time, but since the kind of music I make is very much “underground” in Canada, I never expected it to actually happen. Last year’s addition of the ‘Best Underground Dance Music Single of the Year’ category has been great to see, and I’m so happy that CARAS has decided to shine a spotlight on the lesser known side of electronic music that I love so much!
2. Tell us a bit about your JUNO-nominated project.
‘Debonair’ is one of my proudest works & it took 5 years to complete! When I started the idea in 2017, I wanted it to be a long, progressive, Trance-inspired Drum & Bass record — a pretty tall order in hindsight! Every now and then I’d revisit the idea, adding more detail to the arrangement and updating the mix-down. However, when it inevitably didn’t sound the way I wanted it to, I’d shelf it again for a while. I was more confident in the song by 2021, so I sent it to deadmau5’s imprint ‘mau5trap’ and they loved it! This was the best case scenario for me, as I was a huge mau5 fan and couldn’t think of a more fitting label with which to release my most ambitious tune. ‘Debonair’ represents my growth as a musician more than any other work I’ve released, so I couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s been recognized for a JUNO!
3. What has been the craziest moment of your music career to date?
A while back I got to do my first-ever Australia & New Zealand tour alongside a handful of other artists I admired. The catch: I broke my ankle a week before the first show! Doctors advised me to cancel, but I knew I couldn’t pass up such an amazing opportunity, so I (foolishly) went anyway — crutches and all! It was a recipe for disaster: 6 shows in 1 week, inaccessible club stages, navigating airports in a wheelchair, 15 hour flights in a cast, poor nutrition & sleepless nights to slow the healing. Despite all that, I had the best week of my life, and I was so glad I went. I came away from that tour with memories that remind me how fortunate I am to be doing this for a living!
4. Which Canadian artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
My dream Canadian collab would have to be deadmau5. I know that’s probably the most obvious answer, but come on — have you seen his studio? I’d have a field day in there! I suspect that he and I align creatively in a lot of ways, so the final product would come together pretty naturally and allow for our own individual styles to come through clearly. And maybe the world needs some new deadmau5 Drum & Bass music!
5. What would you like music fans to know about you? How would you introduce your music to new or soon-to-be fans?
If you’ve read the words “Drum & Bass” a few times so far and not understood what it means, this part is for you. DnB is a style of electronic music that’s characterized by its fast drums, heavy bass and high energy. It originated in the UK but has since spread throughout the world, taking on many styles and becoming one of the most diverse genres of music around. My personal contribution to this scene brings in my classical training & unique influences from pop, jazz, cinematic soundtracks & left-field EDM. To get the best possible impression of my sound, I would encourage you to come to a show and experience it the way it’s intended to be heard: in a dark room filled with friendly people and a massive sound system.
6. What’s next for you?
Whether I take home the JUNO or not, this has been a hugely inspiring moment for me! This year I’m going to be pushing the boundaries of my sound through a series of singles as I work towards a concept EP. I’m also trying to level up the production of my shows, especially as I’m going to be playing some of USA’s biggest festivals this summer. Stay tuned!
Tickets for The 2023 JUNO Awards are on sale now! Don’t miss out on an unforgettable night of Canadian music hosted by Simu Liu on March 13.