To be described as a tastemaker means that there's a certain amount of weight that comes with your opinion and curation but to be regarded as one of the best tastemakers in the world, well, that takes some work.
Benji B is a name synonymous with music all over the world and as a radio stalwart, esteemed selector and production advisor, he's had a rich career that's lasted over a decade. Benji is a figure who's has steered movements and always kept his sights firmly on the future and numerous acts have him to thank in launching their names.
His work with Kanye West, notably on the track 'Fade' from 'Life of Pablo' saw him gain new levels of recognition and his regular BBC Radio One show welcomes guests of the highest calibre every week but one of his most notable projects to date is his Deviation brand and party series.
The highly-regarded London party, nay institution, celebrated ten years of operation in 2017 and has welcomed numerous guests like Flying Lotus, Zomby, Actress and Skepta.
This year sees Benji take his Deviation brand and team up with aiaiai, another equally ground-breaking movement. The headphone specialists have created a bespoke TMA-2 that comes in a collectors carry case with a custom configuration. To celebrate, aiaiai x Deviation will host a party at London's Village Underground this Sunday with a line-up that includes Dean Blunt, Dekmantel Soundsytem, Juju & Jordash, Emerald, Poté and of course Benji B himself.
We've got an exclusive playlist from Benji below and we caught up with him to chat about why he loves aiaiai.
"I’ve been using AIAIAI headphones for I'd say about 3-4 years, since they emerged on the market as a DJ headphone, when they sent me the Carhartt and Stones Throw collaboration. I use the exactly configuration chosen for the Deviation x AIAIAI collab, that’s why I chose those components, because I found, through using the different aiaiai components, that they are the optimum choice for both DJing and listening use."
Speaking honestly, even though I should probably not mention any other brands, they are the only headphone that’s come along that can rival and take the place of the Sennheiser HD25, which for many many years was the DJ headphone of choice. Other headphones have come and gone, but really it takes a certain quality to be able to use headphones in a night club when you’re Djing.
Namely really clear and punchy bass response for being able to mix, closed cup headphones so that there’s no bleed from the outside monitor and for me they were the first headphones that I used since the Sennheisers that I had always used that could take the place. So much so I ended up preferring them. I like the way they fit, the way they feel, I like the size of the cup on the ear, I like the sound of them in the DJ booth, I like the volume of them, they go really loud, they are the best DJ headphones that exist on the market.
Through the experience of DJing and travelling for so many years, I really wanted to create a product based on their components that ticked a lot of different boxes, I wanted them to be a perfect pair of headphones to DJ with, that’s the main use, that’s the main focus is really nightclub use for DJs. But I also wanted to appeal to fans who want a great pair of headphones to listen to. I find in my experience that the two sets of headphones are different, so I was carrying around two sets of headphones. One pair for DJing, which were kind of closed cup headphones with loud bass response, but the thing is if you listen to them for long periods on the plane, they would really hurt your ears, because they’re not designed to be comfortable. Conversely, Hifi headphones that are designed for listening to music would absolutely not work in a nightclub, they would not be loud enough. However the cup, the feel of it and the sound of it would be for comfortable for prolonged use, on flights, on trains planes and automobiles.
So what I wanted to do was somehow create a headphone that could be used for both, and to think about transferring from two different environments. So the solution we came up with was 2 sets of pads, ear pads, so effectively the same speaker quality, the same driver quality, but 2 different sets of pads, one set of ear pads for when you’re on the plane on the way there and one set of pads for when you’re in the nightclub environment.
The ear pads to use on the plane, the soft ones are comfortable to listen to and they don’t bleed as much and the closed cup for DJing with always bleed more sound and will be louder so you kind of want to have the option of both.
The other thing that used to do my head in was when you go on the plane and take off the quarter inch jack, so that you could plug your headphones into your laptop or your phone or even the plane entertainment system, what would always happen, you’d always loose the quarter inch jack. So when you go there club, you'd have to borrow one or worse you wouldn’t be able to DJ, because you’d always put it somewhere in the wrong jeans. So the solution for that is that we came up with a clip which attaches on the cable so you never lose it. That was a really important component for me too, based on experience cos those quarter inch jacks became the most valuable thing ever!
Lastly we wanted to add a little bit of signature design. So the 3M cable is something really subtle that will only let you know its there when a flash goes off or the lights really go down.
So the collaboration with AIAIAI is really based on creating the exact product that I was missing, that I really want to use, with all the components that I need in one headphone without having to carry 2 or 3 pairs, and I really think we’ve achieved that."
To head down to the Deviation party at Village Underground, head here
Check out the aiaiai website to grab some of the limited edition Deviation collaboration