One of the reasons ascribed to dubstep’s continuing success has been its ability to absorb nfluences from across the entire electronic spectrum, and no label has been more key to its continuing evolution than Hessle Audio. Started in 2007 by David Kennedy, Ben Thomson and Kevin McAuley, the label quickly became a benchmark for quality, through releases from (the then) new artists like TRG, Untold and James Blake, as well as a vehicle for their own productions.With 18 releases over the past three years, the imprint is renowned for its impeccable quality control. Kennedy is their most prolific producer, under his Ramadanman and Pearson Sound monikers, now amalgamated into his own name. Ben UFO has always stayed true to his initial love, that of DJing almost as curation: he demonstrates this biweekly on his Rinse FM radio show and at Hessle’s Fabric residency, having been one of the first to start playing with the tempo to allow for older house and garage influences in his sets. Pangaea defined his sonic palette on a self-titled EP, a landmark of 2010, with minimal rolling basslines, vocal-driven melodies and more than a nod to the music’s old school roots.
David Kennedy’s work as PEARSON SOUND & RAMADANMAN has been a positive scourge on the airwaves this past year. His current deviation from any kind of conventional ‘dubstep’ template hasn’t come as a shock for anyone who’s been following his career from the start - he’s always had a particular slant and a percussively textured style all of his own that’s often layered with thick and potent bass frequencies and synth washes - but it seems like with recent material like ‘Work Them’ (released on Loefah’s Swamp81 imprint) Kennedy is simply toying with the world’s expectations of him.
As a key component behind some of the most daring dancefloor music released in the last year, both as a producer and as a label owner, he’s travelled the world numerous times over releasing music by key producers like Joe, Elgato and James Blake as he’s done it.
As BPMs have dropped and influences have broadened, so too has the vision of BEN UFO's DJing. He remains one of the few DJs in the UK to have made an impact without a production career to fall back on, and as such his reputation is solely the result of his skill as a selector and as a mixer. As a result he remains in a position to fully explore sounds both old and new, across the worlds of house and garage, dubstep and grime, and further into the past. This level of commitment to the dance music of the last two decades has led to a collection of records which reflects the position London has long held as a city responsible for the constant development of forward thinking music.
This is not to say that his focus is primarily on the sounds of the old school, as Ben UFO is looked to as one of the leading figures supporting up and coming producers.
Raised in the West of England and now residing in North London via Leeds, PANGAEA (aka Kevin McAuley) is one of the key producers and DJs in forward-thinking electronic dance music. Although he made music from an early age, Pangaea was inspired to concentrate on his production and DJing after being exposed to the then-emerging sounds of dubstep in 2005. He was involved in Leeds’ first dubstep club night and formed the Hessle Audio label with Pearson Sound and Ben UFO at the start of 2007, with the aim of releasing original music which wasn’t being represented elsewhere. Pangaea’s sound is distinctive, yet hard to categorise and ever-shifting. Whilst house and techno influences are apparent, his music is firmly rooted in the traditions of UK bass music past and present.