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Interview - Ben Gomori

Ben Gomori is a professional house DJ who has played at some of Europe’s biggest and best clubs and festivals including Ministry of Sound, Creamfields and Glastonbury. Having developed a passion for dance music at a very young age, Ben bought his first set of decks as a 14 year old and his music career has since gone from strength to strength.

Ben’s passion for music, however, has come at an unfortunate cost; failure to wear earplugs in his earlier years and continued exposure to loud music has caused him to develop tinnitus, a chronic hearing condition which causes an uncomfortable ringing in the ears. Ben is now an ardent champion of wearing specialist DJ earplugs, demonstrated by his recent blog for Mixmag magazine.

Ben took some time away from the DJ circuit to talk about his career, and condition, in order to educate budding DJs on how they can take better care of their ears.

How would you describe yourself in four words?

Passionate, empathetic, determined and hairy.

How did you get into DJing?

I first started DJing when I was 14 year old. My brother bought some cheap old hi-fi turntables and then I got some budget direct drive decks for my birthday. I was obsessed with dance music from around the age of 12, getting my education from DJs like Pete Tong, Radio One’s Essential Mix show and Muzik Magazine.

Aside from house music, hip-hop is my other biggest love, but I genuinely listen to and love a bit of everything. I am currently really excited about the new Empire Of The Sun album.

Which club nights have you performed at?

Since I started my DJ career I've played at We Love...Space, Glastonbury, Creamfields, Fabric, Global Gathering, Ministry Of Sound, Secret Garden Party and Sziget to name a few, and was resident at Turnmills, The Cross, The Key, Egg and Pacha London, back when residencies still existed.

I have been lucky enough to share stages with DJs like Kevin Saunderson, Eats Everything, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Duke Dumont, Skream and many others. My typical DJ week normally involves producing music during the evenings, spending time at club nights, DJing and trying to see my friends and family as much as I can at the weekends.

What’s the secret of being a good DJ?

It’s really about being able to adapt to place, space, time and vibe. I have a lot of respect for DJs who just do their thing regardless of those criteria, but they need to be booked to play in the right places at the right times; otherwise you end up with situations like when DJ Shadow, a well-respected hip-hop DJ, was thrown off the decks at a club in Miami.

On top of that, the better you know your tracks, the more skilled you will be behind the decks; but knowing your tunes inside out is difficult in this digital age - there is such a wide selection of music to listen to and play!

When did you start to develop hearing problems from DJing?

It was when I was 18 - I went to a big old hardcore and drum and bass rave called Slammin' Vinyl, where I danced very near a speaker for the majority of the night. Afterwards I experienced prolonged ringing in my ears which never really went away, although it is somewhat subdued these days.

This isn’t just a widespread problem for DJs, but also amongst young people and casual clubbers generally - more and more of my friends tell me they are now experiencing problems, which is really worrying.

How have you managed this problem since?

Since I developed tinnitus I have been wearing custom fitted musician’s earplugs with 15dB filters whenever I'm at a club, festival, concert or DJ gig that I feel is too loud for my ears, which is now most of the time.

I try to wear earplugs at most DJ gigs, but in reality the sound system set up, DJ booth and monitor speakers often make it impossible for me to mix wearing them. On a good setup, with monitors on both sides and an independent monitor volume control, I can use earplugs and generally mix okay. You might not feel quite the same impact from the music, but your ears will thank you for it afterwards when they're not ringing.

I have also stopped listening to music on earphones unless I'm at work, which has really helped, although I’d ideally like to stop altogether, as they definitely tire my ears out. Producing music has also provided another strain on my ears, so I try to keep the volume down as much as possible.

What advice do you have for budding DJs hoping to get into the industry?

Get some moulded musician’s earplugs and get used to wearing them early in your career – they offer huge benefit in the long run.

On a more general note, my best advice is to make friends with like-minded DJs, promoters, producers and anyone else you can in the industry. Aside from producing, the best way a DJ can get themselves known is to put on club nights and parties with the friends you have made. If you're trying to get into DJing and you're not part of the scene you want to play in, it's not going to happen.

Which earplugs do you use now, and why?

I have been using ACS Pro Series-15 with a 15dB filter, the 25dB is too quiet and 9dB wouldn’t be quite enough. I have also recently bought a set of ProGuard Custom Musicians and DJs Earplugs which are a really effective solution. 

Should clubbers and festival goers wear earplugs?

Yes! Even if you just buy a cheap pair of Cirrus Ear Planes or ones that take a bit of the top end off, it will really save your hearing in the long run. Human nature is to not fix something until it’s actually broken, but I hope that increasing awareness of hearing damage will change that. It's affecting all of us.

I'd also strongly recommend saving up to get a pair of pro moulded musician’s earplugs if you want the very best protection.

What do you have planned professionally over the next year?

I have EPs and singles lined up for Stranjjur, House Of Disco, Paulatine, RvS and more. I am also playing at Standon Calling and Field Maneuvers festivals, working on a lot more music and hopefully playing in New York too. I am also building up my new weekly podcast, Turned On.

Thanks Ben!

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