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Sunday 13th, March 2005
Ben Liebrand
Updated: Thursday 28th, May 2009

In 1976 Ben Liebrand (born in 1960) started as a DJ with his own mobile drive-in show. A few years later he started with practicing the art of mixing. He became resident DJ in clubs like "Keizer Karel" (Nijmegen, NL) and in the huge club "The Hippodrome" in Hennef (Germany). In "The Hippodrome" Ben spinned the decks for several years together with his sister Rita Liebrand. Nowdays you can still find Ben Liebrand in the DJ booth from lots of clubs, where he's mixing new tracks together with classical 80’s and 90’s stuff for example. Ben Liebrand also became famous because of his mixes on Dutch radio stations like Veronica and Radio 538. In 1983 he started at Radio Veronica with the first non-stop mixed radio show called "In The Mix". In 1985 he started with "The Minimix" (also at Radio Veronica), but most people will know Ben from his fabulous "Grandmixes". From 1983 till 1992 he made a one hour yearmix that was broadcasted every year at the end of December at Radio Veronica. In 1999 Ben started again with his famous Grandmixes and furthermore he made some other megamixes like "The Millennium Mix", "The Popmix", "The Midsummer Megamix" etc. etc. Furthermore Ben Liebrand did lots of remixes for artists like Armin van Buuren, DJ Jurgen, TLC, Phil Collins, Jam & Spoon, East 17, Salt-N-Pepa, Four Seasons, Sting, Tavares, Bill Withers, Grace Jones, Twenty 4 Seven, Alexander O’Neal, Art Of Noise, Genesis, INXS, Hot Chocolate and lots of others... And last but not least: In 1991 Ben Liebrand added Vision to his sound and quickly mastered the technical side of Image Composing and 3D animation. Since then he made several videoclips (For "Atlantic Ocean" for example), CD-covers and VJ Visuals for DJ's like Armin van Buuren, Perry O’Neil, Markus Schulz, Harry Lemon, M.I.K.E. and some others.

Early 2005 Trance.nu contributor Twan van Loon a.k.a. Dancemania made a visit to the Ben Liebrand studio for a very detailed interview with the man himself.

Trance.nu: Ben, you started your work as a DJ around 30 years ago. You’ve been resident in various clubs in the Netherlands, and also in Germany you were resident in the club Hippodrome together with your sister. The past few years you’ve played at “Back-To-The-Eighties / Nineties” parties, and with your own “Grandmix-Tour” you could be found in the dj-booths. In all these years you’ve experienced a lot of different styles of music, like disco, hiphop, swingbeat, club, happy hardcore and trance. What do you think, were the biggest changes in the past few years?
Ben: I personally think, end eighties, start nineties, when we had the first acid, and then the techno, which grew in popularity rapidly. The biggest change from that point, was that the music before this time felt warm and after this it began to feel a lot colder. Particularly dancemusic, because in pop music you had punk styles and such, had this colder feeling. Especially the first techno records from beginning nineties, sound like you are in the middle of a big empty factory hall.

Trance.nu: What was your personal favourite period to spin as a dj in these years?
Ben: Each period had his own good points. In the beginning, around ’78 to ’80, those were the highlight days of the disco music. The time of Studio54 and the real disco, we see a lot looking back these days. That period was just fun, because there was no trouble with drugs or other things like that. People entered the club, took a drink of what they liked and the music did the job to make them go wild all night long. Also the clubs and discotheques had a feeling of relief when the party was over. People stood there and were like “yeah now this was a great night”. That period was real fun, but also there were no SL1200 (red. Technics’ most common model turntable still used nowadays). People were spinning on Lenco turntables that time. Technically it was really difficult. It was also the time of cutting tapes. For me it was the highlight, because a lot of the music that became classic, originated from that time. They still are, nowadays, considered the best.

Trance.nu: Next to DJing, we all know you of your productions and remixes. You remixed artists like INXS, Armin van Buuren, DJ Jurgen, Twenty 4 Seven, Jam & Spoon, Phil Collins, Salt-N-Pepa and the list goes on. What do you think is the best remix you ever did?
Ben: Weird enough, some of the remixes that I thought to be the best ones, never became successful. And vice versa, remixes that were not that special, became pretty popular. For instance “Dimples D - Sucker DJ”, when I finished it, I didn’t really feel like it was a huge track, but when I sent it in, it became a huge success. The one I personally like the best is the one for Phil Collins, “In The Air Tonight”. Although I didn’t change a lot in the track, it was enough for the pop-track, to become dancefloor and dance music material. That’s the best you can achieve with remixing, I think, making a non-dance music marketed track into one you can actually use for the dance market.

Trance.nu: Every Friday you were on the radio with your “Minimixes”, in the show of Curry & Van Inkel. Can you tell us something about the tracks that started out as a Minimix track, but actually got released after the shows and became big hits?
Ben: The Minimix was really a mix at their show. The funny thing was that I had to decide what I wanted to put in the mix, every Friday morning, because it took me the rest of the day to produce the Minimix. But also the choice to pick the songs was intuitive and the things you changed, cut and remixed on the tracks were spontaneously chosen. It was a serious workflow of choices. You started with a track in the beginning of the day, and in the end you built it up from the bottom. The mix was on the mixer, it was just pressing play and recording the mix, and jumping in the car to race to the studio in Hilversum, where the show was broadcasted from. The fact you didn’t have to worry so much for the mix and it being totally spontaneous, resulted in a mix that was really accessible and people picked up pretty easily. “Eve Of The War”, which became quite a hit, started on a barbeque at Lex Harding’s place (Former Veronica DJ / director of radio Veronica) I started on it the day after and it worked. “Alf”, taken from the series, which was quite funny then, took not much time to make, but the paperwork resulted in seeing daylight quite some time later. Also once I did a remix for the “Four Seasons”, which took me around 2 weeks to complete. But it was already nearing Friday again, so I made the Minimix at the same time with the Bill Withers track “Lovely Day”. Funnily enough it became a bigger hit than the “Four Seasons” mix.
Back to “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, which started as a Minimix for the radio. I got great reactions from the listeners on it, but it was a pain to release it. In those years, and still, there are DMC mixing contests. The finals were held in London. And there were some DJ’s who mixed live and some showed their remixes. Then I put on my remix of Phil Collins, in front of those 2500 DJ’s. And I told them: “If you want to see this released? Call Virgin first thing tomorrow!” That resulted in Virgin being called by 2500 DJ’s, and this got the track signed and released by 1PM the day after! That’s the story for the Phil Collins remix…

Trance.nu: I see a lot of awards here, Silver, Gold, Platina records… Which one are you the most proud of?
Ben: I did a series of works for Salt-N-Pepa, and I’m really glad I did that. I’m really proud of how it worked out and became a success in the end. The tracks came from their CD, who totally flopped back then. But right before they wanted to put the CD in the trashcan, Pete Tong (known from BBC Radio 1 in England), who was A&R (artist & repertoire) Manager at London Records, asked me if I could do something with the tracks. The first one was “Do You Really Want Me”, which ended around #15 in the UK Charts, and the second one was “Let’s Talk About Sex”. This one sounded pretty much like a demo track on the CD, but I managed to make it a remix that topped charts all around the world. The only downside to this all, we’re the singers. They were totally crazy in a negative way and there was no way in having a good conversation with them.

Trance.nu: They we’re on stage with you in the TV show “Count Down” one time right?
Ben: True! During the interview one of them was playing with the stiletto knife and such. They tried to be tough with their homies. But they never acknowledged me as the one that actually made them into a success, because at that time they actually wanted quit the band and start a family, because the lack of success. But then there was me, this dude from Holland, who succeeded in making the flopped album a world success. But they never gave me probs for that.

Trance.nu: They never thanked you?
Ben:No, not at all…

Trance.nu: If we count all the mixes you did, we count more than 100. Are there records you still want to remix some day?
Ben: Actually, there is no drive to do it for me anymore. I never really had it, because all the remixes of Sting or Phil Collins, were done spontaneously for the Minimix. I was asked by Sting or Grace Jones also, so I kind of experienced it all already. Also Tina Turner was amongst them, so there are no real pop-gods anymore to mix. I started to get the feeling that people sent you wood you would actually burn in the fireplace, and then you had to give them back polished Mahoney. One day you reach the point that you don’t want to finish other people’s “crap”. Off course its awesome to put these pop-legends in your resume. There are loads of people that mixed Madonna in her star period, but those are not the mixes that really sold her tracks. If you look at for instance Shep Pettibone, he made the mixes that sold the records, he made the mixes that got world wide support and became the mega hits, not some lowlife’s mix that was put on the B-side of a rare and not to be found 12”.

Trance.nu: If you start on a remix, where do you start?
Ben: I start out looking at the parts I have. If I only have a two-track master, for instance Bill Withers or Phil Collins, then you start making a sequence and then you add the other sounds. If you have a multi-track master, where you get all other tracks too, and all instruments, then you start to check out what is useful. Then you prepare it for your sampler modules and software samplers. You start off with the bricks that will finally make the house: Parts like vocals, lead vocals, solo’s etc. I will make the bass, for instance, myself. Then I start to see where I’m at, produce a groove, find a nice set of drums and a nice bass line. And then you start to see where you want to put everything. You start the final sequence and put back parts, you got off the multi-track, in the remix. There are several ways to actually remix.

Trance.nu: Do you still remix a lot nowadays?
Ben:Not really, taken the fact that every track released, is already backed up with 25 remixes. I’m not that driven anymore.

Trance.nu: How long do you work on a remix?
Ben:That depends, sometimes its 5 or 6 hours, sometimes its 2 weeks or even months. You try a lot of different things, but it doesn’t feel right. Early eighties, for instance “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate, didn’t feel good, and took me 2 and a half month to finish, off course I did other things in between. Then I felt like freaking out on the B-side, I played different bass line and a horn section, and all of a sudden it all felt into place and felt right. I threw away the main mix and this second B-side “dub” got used for the actual released main mix.

Trance.nu: What takes longer, to make a production or a remix?
Ben: It doesn’t really make a big difference. A production you start from scratch, and for a remix you spend a long time gathering useful parts from the multi-track. From thereon it’s down to starting from nothing also. With an own production, you might spend a day in the studio recording vocals, instead of having them ready.

Trance.nu: In your studio you have a lot of hardware, which one is essential for you?
Ben: Easily said, without an AKAI, there would’ve been no Ben Liebrand. From the very first samplers they made, up till the MPC60, a hardware sequencer, which is legendary for its tight timing. Your average Logic or Cubase wouldn’t get the beats as tight as the AKAI. For the technical freaks, its only a 1-86 processor, (the predecessor of the 80-386), imagine that, running on 10 MHz. Mind you, compare that to your futuristic Pentiums 3,4 Ghz, it still runs tighter than any other product. Its been one of the key samplers and hardware pieces. I’ve done a lot of mixes and edits on the AKAI DD1500, a digital multi track recorder, fantastic for its liability. You could spend months working on it, without ever worrying for it crashing not even once. And also my Macs, I’m not a big fan of PC for audio use. I also have 2 big Mac’s running Logic, Protools, Reason etc, the biggest software production-solutions.

Trance.nu: You seem a “hardware”-guy, but nowadays everyone can use software. What’s your opinion about it?
Ben: The biggest down side of that, you can download a lot of plugins on the internet already. You notice people starting to use compressors, limiters, dynamics plugins, or reverbs, without even knowing what they’re using or what the effect is or what the plugin does. Ending up just wanting it to go as loud as possible, compressing the hell out of it, making it sound so bad, it actually sounds worse than a recording of a radio of 25 years ago would sound. People tend to think “the louder, the better”, without knowing how to setup a mix. Levels are set, but the compressor is working so hard, it doesn’t matter anymore, ‘cause it will pump up to the 0 dB level anyways. It’s fun, and also that way hits are produced; for instance when you listen to “My My My” by Armand van Helden, it sounds like a big bucket of gravel. And people tend to argument it being a “style”, but its absolutely not my style. I always liked to make it sound good also. When I hear those “killed” waveforms, squared up into distortion all the way against the 0 dB… I don’t know, if you are Benny Benassi with his track “Satisfaction” , you know what you are doing. You are making a statement really, making a style, he uses compressors and limiters pretty creatively. He knows what side chaining is. A lot of others, who use the cracked and downloaded plugins and software on their PC’s, are f*cking around, without actually knowing what they are doing.

Trance.nu: For some of your own productions, you collaborated with Tony Scott, the Gibson brothers, Karl Keaton, CJ and even your own sister Rita sang for the Goldilox project. Are there singers or performers who you like to make tracks with?
Ben: Good ones! And that basically answers the question totally. If you once had a good singer, you don’t want any different. You don’t want to fool around in the studio with a singer that hits the right note once in an hour... Nowadays we off course know the autotuning, but I don’t know. It’s all too fake. Same thing for a DJ who would mix with software that automatically puts everything into sync and order. You won’t really get a nice performance out of that. So a good singer will do fine. One of the better ones I worked with, was Carol Kenyon. She sang “No Good” on my CD “Styles”. Now that is a singer, she stands in front of the microphone, sings it and it’s done! You don’t have to repair anything in the take. One option you have is, is when you are so happy with the take, but the singer herself says: “I can do it better”. The singer starts singing ad-libs, free things, whatever goes. Then you go have dinner, and when you return in the studio after 3 hours, she wants to double the ad-libs. She puts on her headphones, sings and doubles the exact ad-libs, to make it sound fuller and you’re done. At such a moment, you really don’t want to work with a crap singer anymore, all the trash you see at Idols for instance. Never! Heatwave, a band from the seventies known of “Boogie Nights”, I produced a new version of “Groove Line” for. When they start singing, you get shivers. If you ever experienced that, you don’t want anything different.

Trance.nu: Since a short while there is a new study in Tilburg, where people can start learn to produce music. You collaborate on this study, so what does it really mean?
Ben: It’s a study, which goes in deep. Its meant for people who want to start DJ’ing and producing. It contains a lot of musical theory. For instance, if you work in the studio with a groove track, you can explain the bassist which kind of theme the track has or which key the track is in. Also the business side of things is covered, so you know your way in contracts and matters. And its lovely to be in the same building with 60 or 70 people, who don’t want to do anything else but music. For instance in the cafeteria, you can gather your recourses, your singer, your bassist or guitarist. And it’s a quite heavy study, so we don’t say: “Here’s 2 turntables, make us a fine transition and you’re done!”. It’s classified as quite a tough study.

Trance.nu: How long is the study and what is your task?
Ben: It takes 4 years, and my task will be project managing and support. While students work in their projects on their assessments, I will guide them through. And for the assessments, I also grade and judge the exercises, to see if they did the job right.

Trance.nu: Are there other famous producers or DJ’s who teach in the study?
Ben: Undoubtedly we will do that in the future. But most of the teachers are taken from other studies. We have a lot of qualified people, who know what they’re doing.

Trance.nu: You are pretty close with Armin van Buuren. He remixed your track “Give Me An Answer” and you fixed up Armin with a nice mix of his track “Communication”. Is there a possibility you will collaborate on a production in the future?
Ben: Time is the only problem. Every time we meet each other, we are reminded to settle a date, but its so tough these days. We both have ideas for it, but we never get to sit down and work. It doesn’t work in these times, seeing weeks shoot by. But we might see it happen in the future.

Trance.nu: At the moment the Dutch dance scene is blossoming. A lot of Dutch DJ’s and producers are scoring mega hits in foreign countries. The top 3, Tiësto, Armin and Ferry see you as a big inspiration. What do you think of that?
Ben: That is fantastic! You should look at it in comparison to the eighties. You didn’t have the internet back then, so you didn’t know how the reactions were on the things you did. For me I worked 7 days a week on music, and saw my best tracks end up in the charts all over the world, but you didn’t have the direct feedback. If Armin, Ferry or Tiësto spin somewhere tonight; before tomorrow morning, when your newspaper hits the doormat, it’s put on the internet what the party was like and how the visitors liked it. But I never had that feedback, and I never realized or I never could realize what the impact was on the people. Afterwards you read back, interviews of Armin or Tiësto, and you see your own name pop up. It’s reversed or delayed respect for me. If you are creative that’s what drives you.

Trance.nu: Do you keep track of the whereabouts of the Dutch DJ’s and or producers?
Ben: Absolutely! Armin is working very well nowadays; I talk with him pretty often. Ferry Corsten is also on a roll, whereas he has the guts to leave the trembled foundations of regular trance. He dares to take different styles into his own, and combine to his liking. He doesn’t seem scared to miss-produce something. He takes the risk, that it wouldn’t be a hit, instead of taking the things that have become over-regular in the past 10 years. To be honest the saw-wave used in every trance track lately, has become so boring and overused. And then still they become a big hit. But honestly we’ve been there. Ferry Corsten is one of the guys who go away from that. Tiësto has such a big management; he has become one big company. They work on a lot of more things than only DJ’ing. People around him organize various things where he is the key player in. He goes the furthest to gain the most success in various things.

Trance.nu: Who is your big inspiration?
Ben: The funny thing of it seems that the people who got inspired by me, inspire me “back” with various things. For instance Jochem Paap (Speedy J), who was mixing, scratching and always listened to my mini mixes. In the eighties there were guys like Trevor Horn, and in the early days Giorgio Moroder. If you take his track “The Chase”, and listen to it carefully and look what he put in the track. His sounds, filter sounds, sequences and percussion - forwards and backwards - make him a revolutionary producer, producing in 1978 or something. Too bad I never met these guys. I did meet Roger Linn, when I interviewed him in the “Melkweg”. I tried to get Giorgio to Holland, but I never succeeded.

Trance.nu: There was this one time you went looking for someone, by cycling on your bike through Germany…?
Ben: That was Kraftwerk! Those guys are fantastic! They are so ahead. If I would go to a Kraftwerk concert and find them sitting in a cozy chair on stage; having only one of the guys press a play button on a CD player or a hard disk recorder, it would still be awesome. It’s Kraftwerk damn it! They could pull it off! They don’t have to do anything, because anything goes for them! If they play anything forward, fine. If they play it backward, fine! It is Kraftwerk! But they remain a bunch of stubborn guys. They are so stubborn they will do what they like, and don’t care about the label’s opinion. A&R managers of EMI (Kraftwerk signed) told me, that it’s impossible to reach the guys. They don’t answer e-mail, fax, and telephone. As record company you can shut up, go f*ck yourself, be happy if they walk into the building with a new track, and then you still can’t comment on it, because they don’t care. Ralf Hütter, the lead man of Kraftwerk, has a hobby which is “cycling”. That’s why they biggest hit and album was called “Tour de France”. Everything evolves around cycling. Every day, you can find him on his bike, cycling around. So if you want to meet him, buy an expensive bike, and cycle around his hometown, you are sure to find him.

Trance.nu: Did you ever meet him then?
Ben: But not by cycling, ha-ha. It was in 1988 or something that I was introduced to him. It’s a very modest guy, I talked with him for a short while, but it’s kind of awkward to meet him, still very cool.

Trance.nu: You were one of the first producers of Year mixes, yours were called the Grandmixes. Why did you stop?
Ben: There’s a couple of reasons for this. One of the most important ones: the feedback, or more: the lack of it. You didn’t know what people thought of it. 30 Days fulltime working on the Grandmix in December, 10 to 12 hours a day mixing. On the 31st December it was finished, and the last years when I entered the broadcast studios, everybody was busy doing something else, not really interested, and only the technician who was on duty, sat with me in the broadcast room. I plugged in my gear, pressed play around six o’clock, and after an hour I disconnected it again, and took off. Having sat there for one hour, solely with the technician, it was the biggest anti-climax ever. This could be compared to making a piece of art, walking up to a bridge and throwing it in the river, without knowing the people’s opinions about it. But not only this, but last years it was getting quite expensive. I had to cancel a lot of jobs and remix for instance for Simply Red and a lot of other artists. It took away almost 10% of my year income, just because I wanted to make a mix for the radio, which was broadcasted in one hour, without knowing what the people thought of it. And on top of that there were bootlegs available every few weeks after the Grandmix was broadcasted. And nobody would tell me where they got them from. I bought all my records in this one store, but I also found the bootlegs being sold there. But they didn’t tell me where they got them. It’s like telling them Liebrand buys his stuff here, uses it for the Grandmix, but then also f*cking me over and selling un-official bootlegs of my Grandmix. Then I had enough of it.

Trance.nu: After a few years of absence your back on the radio with your Year mixes, the “Millennium Mix” and also Minimixes are back again on Radio 538. Also on Radio Veronica your back with the show “In the Mix” on Saturday night. In the Eighties you also had this show, how did it feel to be back after such a long time?
Ben: In the year before I started again at Radio Veronica, I decided to start doing more radio again! All those years I’ve DJ’ed all the time. A lot of people know me only from the “classics”. Yet up until 1995 I spun as a DJ. I experienced everything, I spun hard techno at 176bpm in Germany, and I spun Happy Hardcore etc. I spun it all! But in the summer of 2003, I decided to make a comeback, but I didn’t want to profile myself as a trance, hardstyle, groovy or classics DJ. Nobody would understand that. If you have a guest like Armin van Buuren, you know what you can expect. If you have Tiësto, you know what to expect. And if you have DJ Roog, you know its going to be funky! But what would be Ben Liebrand? Would I spin all these different styles? I did those! Also in the “Matrixx” club in Nijmegen, I spun trance or hardstyle DJ-sets. And then I had people come up to me saying “Awesome set dude, what’s your name?”. That I could prove myself a worthy DJ, but it didn’t feel right and I wanted to profile myself as a DJ. And the smartest move would be to go to the classics. I have a huge music library of classics and a lot of knowledge of that period. Added to that, a lot of people know me in that style. For Radio Veronica, it seemed a smart idea to get me aboard.
But nowadays it’s very uncertain in this radio-world. Radio 3FM got rid of quote some of their specialized mix-programs, ID&T removed all their mix-programs. You can ask what the hell they are doing!? The future will tell us where it’s going to end!
It seems that every “progressive”- style (not meaning the style progressive music, but the on-going developing styles) are interesting, become a hype and then become mainstream. The public gets interested; the radio sees the potential and starts making programs for that hot new current style. And after a few years they can start all over and find a new style, because of sponsors, because it doesn’t work anymore for the mass. They just put 40 year old, teenage sounding; fat DJ’s in the chairs and let them talk utter bullshit, if that is what sells. No offense, because there are nice DJ’s, but most of these kind are shit.

Trance.nuBut one of the advantages now again, is that there is internet and you get feedback!
Ben: Absolutely! People can show their feelings and opinions, right after a party they put that on the internet, so we can read it. Last weekend I had a party where everybody (3500 people) enjoyed themselves, and I could spin my own style! Another advantage of being profiled as a classics-DJ: Trance and Hardstyle parties go later and later, and if I would spin hardstyle big chance my set would start at 5 o’ clock. But with Classics, I enter the hall at ten o’ clock and see it filled with 3500 people. I start my set and I’m done at 1. Perfect!

Trance.nu: You were one of the first that started making Mash-ups! What is the best Mash-up you ever did?
Ben: In the past, when nobody ever heard of Mash-ups, I did a lot. Mash-up nowadays have to be 1+1 = more than 2. One of the best I did was “Aaliyah - Are You That Somebody” and “George Michael - Careless Whisper”. Those 2 combined, still give me goosebumps. Another really good one is “Janet Jackson - Control” and “Kraftwerk - The Robots”, it really fits like a glove. Also “The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up” and “Faithless - We Come 1”, is a real nice one.

Trance.nu: Internet gives the advantages of feedback, but also has negative sides to it. What do you think of the total MP3-revolution?
Ben: If you think downloading MP3’s, and actually stealing music, is normal. And buying a CD legally in the store is abnormal. Then there’s something totally wrong. That’s not good, there’s no way to make it ok. “But everybody does it”, not a way to make it ok. The Grandmix is a project which features 100 tracks, which have to be licensed into the compilation. 100 People or projects have to get an advance to be featured on the CD. Thousands of euros have already been spent on the CD, without; the CD being pressed, the label seeing any income, me seeing any income. The CD has to sell loads before only the advances have been paid. And if everyone starts downloading, the sold amount comes closer and closer to the bottom-line of selling break even. And because of the more amounts of artists this is already higher. Do we not sell this amount; it’s not even worth picking up the phone to arrange the licensing. Sony will not put money in the project to make it see light, and pull the plug. If people keep downloading, they will remove the options for me to make them again next year. And if you really liked it, but download it, the chance to kill it for next year will be bigger and bigger! This MP3 revolution’s bad effects might seem far away, but it’s so true and so close. “They have cash enough”, they say, but this way, its coming closer. Rapidly! I don’t believe in pointing the “Brein Foundation” (Dutch RIAA -red) or the “Buma Stemra” (copyright controlling agency -red) at these people. For instance I found the Grandmix on a website in Germany; I emailed the guys saying what they are actually doing. Seeing it removed in an email, with the kind regards, is cool.

Trance.nu: People really don’t realize it’s actually really “stealing”? “It’s on the Internet, so I could take it!”
Ben: Sure, it’s like the same people that buy car stereos or plasma TV’s on the black markets for cheap prices, of which you know it is impossible. “But they offered me, I could buy it, it was for sale!” No way!

Trance.nu: You’ve been active as DJ for 30 years almost, what’s the thing you are most proud of?
Ben: [ long silence ] I think that would be, without realizing at that time, that I am responsible for a whole generation of mixing DJ’s. Without it being my goal or plan for the future. But if I read back at how many people made music into their job and their life, while being inspired by me, which would be that substantial thing that I brought the Dutch music business.

Trance.nu: What kind of music do you listen to when you are driving in your car?
Ben: [ Laughs hilariously ] My style in that is kind of wide, things of now like Speedy J, Armin van Buuren, preferably unmixed tracks. Also classical, componists like Holst, Mussorski. A lot of years I had at least one cd of the Future Sound of London in the cd-changer. Now for instance, Hans Teeuwen (Dutch comedian -red) is in the player, because it keeps you awake in the middle of the night. For stuff in the car, it has to be done tight. That’s the reason why I never liked the Rolling Stones, because their drummer didn’t keep the rhythm. Very varied, as long as it’s a solid production: Classical music, techno, hardstyle.

Trance.nu: Next to music you are visual designer. You make designs in 3D, for instance CD-covers, Video clips, and graphical presentations. What is it that attracts you in designing?
Ben: I’ve always been attracted to designing. In 1989 I released my CD “Styles” and I did the CD-design for it myself. We used a photographer for that, but it was the time that we didn’t have Photoshop. In 1992, when the music in the charts and the clubs didn’t have my interest, I started to dive into 3D and software. As with music you can show people what kind of melodies are in your head, with Visual Design you can show people what you imagine in your head. Super cool! If you already know everything about music, the step to making video clips is quite an obvious one. You have the advantage of knowing what good music does to support visuals and vice versa. And I really like doing it. Also the Grandmix cover designs I did myself. During my DJ-sets I can show the designs in visuals and projections…

Trance.nu: What can we expect from Ben Liebrand in the Future?
Ben: I’ve always done what I liked in the past time. It went as it went, and as I liked it. It developed as it did. As a child I didn’t choose what to do later in my life. I think this point of view on doing whatever you like, is key in a creative job like this. See, if you build houses, I want to have built 20 by the end of this year. But while doing music, you can’t really do it like that, because of the creative process. You can’t pressurize yourself to be creative; it depends on the inspiration and the mood. I will go with the flow for the coming year and see how it all develops. I do feel like produce tracks myself, if vocal, with a good singer or performer. It’s not to show people I can do the certain style, but totally because I like it. It could very well be that it’s going to be Electro style, not because it’s the main style right now, but it’s because it has my interest right now. If I start producing now, it would be cool to do things like that; to start with that kind of rhythms and grooves. And who knows, we might be dancing to these kinds of electro sounds in a couple of months! Maybe Trance will move away from the regular 4/4 bass drum. I wouldn’t really care, because I want to do what I want to do. It’s something I want to get off my chest! Only time will tell.

Trance.nu: Thanks for your time and good luck in the future!
Ben: It was my pleasure, Thank you!


Special thanks to Ben Liebrand for his time and furthermore very special thanks to Paul Moelands for translating the whole interview from Dutch to English!

Written by:
Twan van Loon

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