Ben Dela-Pena (pronounced Dela-Penia) – the name sounds kind of cool, doesnât it? A little sexy, a little mysterious perhaps. And youâd be right because it belongs to an up-and-coming DJ who youâre going to be hearing a lot more of. Why – because this fellaâs got the enthusiasm, the looks and the goddamn talent to take him all the way. âI grew up with R&B and hip hop,â he explains, âand used to hang around while my sisters and their friends would play records. I even did a spot of breakdancing but they soon started pushing vinyl my way.â With music always playing in the house and a classic collection of tunes building up, it wasnât long before Ben caught the music bug – in fact, he originally wanted to be a scratch DJ.
It wasnât until 92 that he got his first decks âhorrible belt-driven things,â he remembers – and by then he was already known locally as a music man because of his vast record collection. He was starting to acquire some classic early house tracks along the way too. Ben was always interested in vocals and a soulful sound but with a tough edge, so it was a natural progression for him to start getting into US house. A few trips to Uptown and Blackmarket Records in Soho soon sorted him out and there was no stopping our boy as he began checking out labels like Defected and Subliminal. In fact, Erick Morillo became a strong influence along with the likes of Sandy Rivera, Roger Sanchez, Lottie and Danny Rampling.
By 98 Ben was well and truly hooked on house music and soon picked up a couple of local residencies. He set one up along with Carl Johnstone (Zipcode resident) creating ‘A Bit of a Do!’ and took over Bar Latino in Croydon for a series of parties. When he wasnât there, of course, Ben was checking out house nights in London, as well as taking in a couple of trips to Ibiza along the way. Now 26, heâs also started playing out in London. Since joining up with the Movinâ House gang in 2002 heâs played for them at Inigo in Clapham, Trafik in Shoreditch, Fluid and Anexo in Farringdon, as well as picking up sets at venues like the Lusive (Lifthouse), Chapel bar, Lime bar, Scala (Frantic), Babushka in Kings Cross, The Mass, Plan-B in Brixton, Whitehouse in Clapham, Turnmills, Ministry, The EGG, Pacha in London and even oversea to Baracoa, Grenchen in Switzerland. Then thereâs the infamous Cheshire Street and AT NIGHT warehouse parties…
âI want to establish my name, my character and my style,â he says. âDeep, soulful and vocals but with a tough, funked up dirty jackin’ twist â itâs got a bumpy, chunky, edgy feel to it. A good DJ has to have personality too; technical ability is important but you have to be able to read the crowd and play the right tune at the right time. Itâs your job to put a smile on peopleâs faces and a good DJ – someone like Erick Morillo – makes you want to go back for more, more, more. And I do! Thatâs how I want to be.â
Since then Ben has been signed to the seditiondjs agency and launched his own monthly night at Loop Club with partners in Crime Joe Cullen (House Proud) & John Stone (Kinky as Funk), at a new venue opened in Croydon. Entitled Zipcode, it will give Ben the chance to play longer sets and really show us what he can do. Zipcode is going well and growing by the numbers with great acts from the well established to the up’n’coming dj/producers playing at this new night. DJ’s to have grace the decks at Zipcode have been Raymundo Rodriguez (Jaded, Space), Brad 212 Finlay (City Loud-Turnmills), SophieDJ (ohmy!Records), Tim Webster (Plan-B), Stuart Geddes (Mulletover), Dan Tait (PlayerRecords,Leeds), Anil Chawla (Mongo Bongo/Saved Records), The Soulpreachers (Switzerland),Lynda Phoenix (House FM/Housology) and Shane Watcha (Filthy) with many more in the pipeline.
For the 1st birthday in October 2004 it was a party to remember when Monkey Roberts (Halo) and the lovely Tania von pear (Ministry Radio / Going Places) rocked the night away and made Zipcode a house night well and truly established. Heading into 2005 Ben has potential sets out of London and beyond. They include Frantic, Plan-B, Inigo bar, Studio33, Whitehouse, Pacha, Turnmills,The Key, Ministry, EGG, Heaven, The End and Zipcode residency (of course) in London, with Leeds and Switzerland in the pipeline. It doesnât stop there though, after securing a new in-house residency for FRANTIC,RIOT! @ The End and joining the Filthykrew/FilthyhouSessions (Shane Watcha & Timo Garcia) he has found the time to step into the studio and plans to have a joint E.P out by summer 2005.
Ben Dela-Pena – remember that name. Itâs unique rather like its owner. Cheeky for sure but bursting with talent and enthusiasm – and, boy, does he know how to work those filters…watch this space!!!