Tribal Spotlight: Ben Hemsley

Articles // Thu 21 Mar 2024 - 14:35pm

Ben Hemsley has never quite fit into one category or genre; in the dance music world, he has been a creative shapeshifter who has consistently provided expertly executed and eclectic sets. The Newcastle-born DJ’s ability to read a crowd and galvanize them into action with his electrifying sonic experiences has shot him through the ranks, all the way up to the status of an international icon. However, his reputation, which he has built at a meteoric rate, is also thanks to the consistent creation of his dancefloor fillers over the past few years, from iconic tracks such as ‘Caress Me, to ‘Please Playboy’, and his latest release in 2023 ‘Benirrás’. 

Hemsley’s Odyssey into the Heartbeat of Electronic Music

Hemsley’s love for dance music unequivocally stemmed from his mother and older brother, with his mother playing him the Dave Pearce trance compilation CDs and progressive house from Sasha and John Digweed whilst he grew up, and the notable memory of his brother showing him a video of Tiësto performing at the 2005 TMF Awards. With the inspiration sparked from hearing and seeing the pumping music scene, Hemsley decided to begin his journey as a DJ, asking his grandma for money on his 13th birthday to buy the tools needed to create his own music. Over the next few years, Hemsley was not only making his own music at home, but he was also hosting under-18s events and slowly building his formidable reputation. 

Dancefloors or Decks?

At the age of 16, Hemsley began to venture into the heartbeat of the club and rave scene, although he admits that his clubbing experience was short-lived since he preferred to make music at home or be the man behind the decks. However, the DJ told Beatportal that his first big events were at a Feed Me party in London and a deadmau5 event in Newcastle, and his more frequent events were at Electriqua who held a residency at the Newcastle club, Digital. But with the undying support of his mother, his stepdad, and his brother, who was friends with Patrick Topping – then shared some of Hemsley’s tunes with him. As he grew up and refined his sound, his journey continued. Hemsley was getting booked once or twice a month and striving to pave his way into the industry, and then the pandemic hit the brakes on his career. 

Rearing with Releases

As the pandemic shattered dancefloors, Hemsley’s journey through uncertainty and the shifting landscapes of club culture and the rave scene was pretty rough, and yet, he never gave up. Hemsley’s third single, Snowdons Tune was released in April 2020 on Armada Subjekt, before working with Solardo’s label SOLA for his fifth single, Strength in Life a month later. In the Autumn of 2020, he released his first-ever remix for Gorgon City & Evan Giia’s track Burning, before releasing his first EP in November, King of Darkness, for Patrick Topping’s label, Trick. I think it’s fair to say that, despite the misfortune brought by the pandemic, Hemsley resiliently carved a path for himself, navigating through adversity to reach new heights in his career with an array of tech-house groovers.

From Pandemic Beats to Mainstage Mastery

In January 2021, the DJ began to gain even more traction with his solo debut release, ‘Through 2 You’ for the esteemed Ministry of Sound, which garnered support from music legends such as Fisher and music lovers across the globe. However, the trajectory of his career completely shifted when the UK government began to lift restrictions around social gatherings, and he was met with the once-in-a-lifetime experience to play for an 8,000-capacity venue at Creamfields at FISHER’s Catch & Release Stage.

Although Hemsley was doubtful he would be able to fill the floor, he proved himself wrong. As someone who attended the set themselves, the dance floors elation and energy were matched by the unbounded enthusiasm of Hemsley. It was at this moment he proved that he knew exactly how to speak to his crowd: he has an intuitive knack for deciphering the dance floor’s pulse, and as he masterfully weaved his crowd’s sonic journey, he ignited the strongest sense of euphoria within all of us. It was a privilege to share this moment with him. It is rare to see a DJ so invested in the crowd experience, and after being isolated in the pandemic for so long, Hemsley’s set provided the ultimate sense of liberation we had all been seeking. 

Revitalising Rave Sounds with his bebé

In April 2022, Hemsley launched his own record label, bebé Recordings, to create a medium which would ‘delve deeper, pushing the boundaries’ of the music genres that inspire him most, such as trance, as he told Mixmag. Additionally, the label is focused on supporting fellow artists who share his musical values, passion, and influences. Although Hemsley was sceptical of creating his record label so early into his career, it was a pretty smart move to make from where we’re sitting; not only has it allowed him to focus on his productions and on finding a distinctive sound for his fans to expect when they attend his sets, but more importantly, it has allowed him to find his way back to his roots: trance.

We all know Hemsley for his early tech-house sounds, but it was his love for trance that catalysed his desire to become a DJ, and he has made it very well-known that he intends to return to the earlier sounds he grew up with.

Where can you see Hemsley next…

Hemsley’s journey so far has him rubbing shoulders with the likes of Patrick Topping, Calvin Harris, Eli Brown, Deborah De Luca, Green Velvet, and many, many more. He has become one of the most prolific artists within the dance music community over the past three years, solidifying his position with his unique soundscapes of luring melodies and old-school rave nostalgia, alongside his crazy DJ sets which are always overflowing with tracks for everyone in the crowd.

And you can see him in Sheffield this Friday when he headlines for us at Hope Works, get tickets here.

Words by Aimee Dodd & Ruth Casey