Head-To-Head With Bensley and MC Armanni Reign
Head-To-Head With Bensley and MC Armanni Reign

There’s no denying that Bensley has been making a concerted effort towards gearing his own celestial ethereal vibes towards the dancefloor lately. Still riding high off the success of “Ascension” which found all the heavyweights dropping it into their sets across the globe, Bensley goes all in again on the flip with MC Armanni Reign by his side.

Aptly titled “Do It Again,” the tune features an upfront vibe that quickly rockets to a turbocharged groove with Armanni’s inimitable vocals toasting over the groove. It’s straight-up party music with perfectly placed dirty stabs, a half-time breakdown, and that ever-present glow that graces each and every Bensley cut.

To check in on this hip-hop-inspired dancefloor cut, we thought we’d switch things up ourselves and get Armanni and Bensley to sit down for an in-depth one-on-one chat that ranges from how the tune came together to their respective influences and routines. Check the full Q&A below and don’t forget that Bensley’s “Do It Again,” featuring MC Armanni Reign, is out now via Ram Records so lock yours in here.

Armanni: “Do It Again” seems to pay homage to a Q-Tip hip-hop classic. Was it your intention to redefine it as drum and bass from the beginning or did it naturally find its place through creative progression?

Bensley: I actually had no idea the hip-hop vocals would work so well until I pitched it to RAM. It was Andy who suggested that a vocal in the style of Q-Tip might bring the tune to the next level, and once I received your recording I knew it was a perfect match! Which elements of the “Do It Again” instrumental excited and inspired you upon first hearing it?

Armanni: Honestly, my love for old-school hip-hop isn’t a secret, so as the track started, I got a bit nostalgic in a “You Know My Steez” Guru/Q-Tip kind of feel and wanted to share that. The flip to futuristic as soon as the DnB takes over created this cool swing in the melody that kept what I was feeling from the intro.

Bensley: When I approached you with the idea for this feature, I asked you to record in the vocal style of Q-Tip. What changes did you make to your usual style in order to achieve this likeness?

Armanni: It’s a tricky thing. There will always be a fine line between imitation and paying homage. I learned how to rap by listening to great writers like Q-tip, Busta, Cube, Andre 3000, B.I.G., Royce, Em…the list is endless. If we can spread that vibe in a respectful way, we are in a good place. What about you, who are your biggest influences in music?

Bensley: Camo & Krooked, Phaeleh, deadmau5, Hans Zimmer, Dave Brubeck, KOAN Sound, and my late grandfather who was an accomplished jazz pianist. I know you listed some names already but any others that come to mind as direct influences?

Armanni: I am a fan of MCs across the board so, that’s where I look up to first so, as far as a direct influence, I would say Royce da 5’9” and Busta Rhymes. Royce’s ability to completely recreate bar structures is wild, while Busta was never afraid of a beat bringing out a different personality. Writers like that inspire me to write better. To be honest though, I’m influenced by every artist I am honored to work with. All of this music we love and create is from the minds of many.

Hip-hop raised me. Hip-hop also introduced me drum and bass, which connected me with people in places across the world. How could I love not them both equally?

Bensley: Which genre did you originally begin performing: drum & bass or hip-hop? How did one affect your style in the other?

Armanni: Hip-hop raised me. Hip-hop also introduced me drum and bass, which connected me with people in places across the world. How could I love not them both equally? Forever the student, forever the work in progress, I try to adapt with every new experience. KRS and Nas challenged me to write poetry growing up. SS, Foxy and Skibba showed me the inner workings of a timepiece. I’m sure it’s the same for you—we both love to pull elements outside of drum and bass into a lot of music we create. Do you find it difficult to not stray too far in either direction to maintain balance while creating this unique style we love and expect from you?

Bensley: I enjoy listening to and creating lots of music that isn’t within the realms of drum and bass, so it’s a natural process for outside influences to be heard in my released work. It can be tempting to wander out left-field, and sometimes the balance doesn’t happen naturally. However, if I take enough time with each idea to explore all of the possibilities, I’ll eventually arrive at the best outcome that suits my style.

Armanni: Are you a wake up and create with breakfast person, a late night grind until you pass out person, or a healthy blend of both?

Bensley: I’m definitely more creative in the evenings, and some nights go LATE. When you get on a vibe, every productive moment is worth losing sleep over! However, I tend to wake up early and do administrative work, so obviously the routine of staying up late and waking up early isn’t the healthiest to maintain. I suppose I haven’t really figured out the balance yet! What about you, what kind of preparation is essential to your recording process?

Armanni: It depends on the tone of the tune, but mostly time. I like to keep it simple—grab a water, some Cheezits and constantly go over the material in front of a mic until you don’t need notes. Some things fly right out, some things take more than one session to develop. Either way, you are constantly molding something you hope is special like we did with this tune. Speaking of which, what next can we expect from you and how soon can we enjoy it?

Bensley: I’m in the late stages of my next album, which “Do It Again” will be a part of. While we don’t have any dates locked in as of yet, I’m hoping it’ll see the light before the end of the year!