The interview with the most famous british trance musician had been done in earlier 2014. I’ve talked with Juno Reactor’s founder Ben Watkins about russian taxi, Matrix, Mexico and whole lot of interesting things.
Hello, Ben! How are you? I understand you are touring somewhere in the middle of Mexico at the moment. A lot of your hits are associated with Mexico, like “Pistolero”, “Inca Steppa”, “Conquistador”. Is this country your main source of inspiration? How Mexico managed to conquer you?
These tracks are not as closely associated with Mexico as you think :) as Pistolero was written for Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez after watching and loving their films, Spaghetti Westerns as well. Conquistador — was looking at the invasion of Latin America by the Spanish and seeing a parallel to the Iraq war, Imperial arrogance! Inca Steppa is definitely made for Mexico :) After the last time down in the south, I would love to live there, amazing place.
Due to your passion for Mexico a friend of mine thinks that the name ‘Juno Reactor’ is pronounced as in Spanish — like [huno riekte]. Please resolve our argument, how the title should be pronounced and what does it mean?
Juno Reactor means: Juno (being one) as the early Greek Goddess’s were given this as a first name like Juno Luciana or Juno Regina. My girlfriend made a 70 foot long sculpture called Juno Reactor, I made the soundtrack to this instillation at London Bridge. I loved the name, we tried to start a group of people, film makers — writers — musicians etc., in a hope of starting something fun, but the music took over and was much easier to fund with record companies etc. and the band took off.
Did Mexico meet you well?
Well there was great weather, and coming out of the european winter it was heaven on Earth. I try not to think of Europe, too cold here…
We totally love your latest track Trans Siberian and we would be even happier if you made another one track dedicated to Russia. We’re jealous to Mexico ;).
Trans Siberian is dedicated to Russia :) it was written with Russia totally in mind :)
What mobile phone you are using now?
I use an iPhone 5, standard phone really now, incredible for me to keep in touch, but when I am away, I still prefer to work from my laptop.
Do you remember you first mobile phone?
Not really, but my fav old phone was the one the Wachowski’s gave me on the Matrix, a Matrix phone as in Matrix Reloaded. It is a perfect phone :) no app’s, feels great in your hand, and looks futuristic.
Can you compare mobile internet in Mexico and, say, in England? Do you have any difficulties with getting Facebook status updates?
No problem in Mexico, no problem at all, I was lately down in the south near Tulum.
Can you describe the most useful mobile apps you are using for work and in everyday life?
Skype and Facebook, emails are less important. My fav music app is Nano Studio, as i can write 3 or 4 tunes on a flight with my iPad, and sounds good :)
How do you feel about Garage Band и Traktor DJ mobile apps?
I never use Garage Band so i don’t know, I tried it once and thought is was pretty dull. Traktor I love, and for amusement I use it on my phone. I use the main program for DJing on my laptop so I do prefer that.
What do you think about food photos and selfies?
Food photos and Instagram not my thing, selfies on the road are fun, I try to make videos for Juno Reactor so I always have a GoPro or my Canon XF 100 with me. I love editing and playing with Premiere Pro, and seeing what the plugins can do…. many video’s in the making.
Maybe there was a situation in your career when a mobile phone totally saved the day?
Before the days of mobile phones, my band got stuck a snow storm, the small bus we were driving was in snow, and us inside freezing. I wish we had the one on that night. On the road the mobile is brilliant, helping everyday, especially finding the gigs in the gigs with GPS.
What do you think about mobile games?
I am not a gamer, as I spent too much time in-front of computers, so the games I like are very simple, one that you can play whilst on the toilet amuse me most :)
Final Frontier (first track of The Golden Sun of the Great East album) is a homage to Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack. What do you think — why there are no mobile phones in anti-utopian futures shown in movies like Brazil of Blade Runner?
Because in the future we don’t need mobile phones, telepathic thought has removed the need for mobile phones.
You are a veteran and a founding father of trance music. How do you feel about dubstep? Have you tried to use wob-wob in your music?
I was into dubstep when it started around 2006-2007, but like all genres of music it gets filled with very average material. My fav dubstep is still bands like Broken Note.
Few years ago you toured with Laibach. That was a great performance. Would you like to repeat this experience?
Touring with Laibach was great fun, as we got on so well as people. Musically I don’t think the match was made in heaven.
If you’d have a chance, whom you’d pick for a new collaboration?
Today i would like to work with a reanimated holographic of Elvis Presley singing over our tunes…
Well. How do you like an idea to play a concert for the queen of GB in collaboration with the Prodigy?
The Grave Yard shift, ummmm not sure, not my thing to play to Royalty. Collaboration with Prodigy sounds fun, but unrealistic.
How have you come to the idea of making score for The Color of Pomegranates? We already knew that you used scenes from this movie for your God is God video, but now it looks like reverse engineering )
I was asked to make a full score for the Poland film festival in Bialystok. Which I performed live last September. Great experience as with the video I felt Parajanov was sitting beside me. I would cut, edit songs into position and underneath I could tell what was on the original score could also be mixed into tunes. So on some tracks like “Song for Ancestors” there is the original voice and Taz’s voice. You would not think this could happen. It sounds like one tune. The magic happened on this of Parajanov and the Juno Reactor.
Have you ever walked down the street and heard your track used by someone as ringtone?
I was in a taxi in Russia and Navras was his ringtone, when I told him it was my music he was very happy and refused to take my money :)
When you will visit Russia again?
I hope to be reunited with our Russian fans this year, as I miss them and my Mutant Theatre in Moscow.