There’s a simple reason Benny Benassi was picked by Material Girl Madonna to open for her Abu Dhabi gig earlier this year – he’s a true crowd starter.
Since rising to fame in 2002 with his smash hit “Satisfaction” (you know it: “Push me. And then just touch me. Till I can get my. Satisfaction”), Benassi has been a DJ-producer in demand.
Touring with Madonna, headlining at Creamfields and gigging from London to Las Vegas, 2012 is shaping up to be quite a year for the long-haired Italian.
Now he’s been called upon Dubai’s uber-popular Sandance festival to keep things going long after Newton Faulkner, Leftfield and the mighty Stereophonics have left the stage.
But don’t be fooled by his success, because for some reason Benassi has a problem with praise.
“I owe everything to my cousin Alle Benassi,” he told tabloid! ahead of his gig in Dubai on Friday November 9, 2012. “It’s important people know that. The “Satisfaction” hook was created by him.”
Benassi first hit the dance floor with his own projects in 2001 with the single “I Feel So Fine”, released under the name KMC with vocals by Dhany. The track first stormed the charts in Benassi’s native Italy, and soon became a No 1 hit in the UK.
“Satisfaction” took Benassi’s success worldwide with high-profile DJs including Carl Cox, Darren Emerson, and Roger Sanchez singing his praises and it was then the requests came flooding in.
Remixes for OutKast, Goldfrapp and Felix da Housecat came first and in August 2007 Benassi released a Grammy-winning remix of Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”.
Benassi worked with Madonna on a remix for her single “Celebration”, which was included on the official music video for the song. Kelis, T-Pain, Chris Brown managed collaborations but it was Madonna he always came back to, just months ago producing tracks “Girl Gone Wild”, “I’m Addicted” and “Best Friend” for her latest album “MDNA”.
Q. Are you looking forward to Sandance? What makes Dubai a special place to play?
A. Absolutely. Dubai has an amazing crowd with a great energy which is totally unique.
Q. How would you best describe the journey your music has taken from your infamous track “Satisfaction” to your more recent release of “Control” ft. Gary Go?
A. A wonderful journey, for sure. Alle (my cousin and producer) and I have never tried to create a specific sound even though we are known for the Benny Benassi sound. We just adapt the music we make depending on what influences us at the time.
Q. You have produced some tracks for Madonna’s new album “MDNA”, does the merging of house music with the more mainstream commercial charts concern you?
A. This has been going on for some time, especially in the US. I think as long as it means more people are listening to dance music and are coming to more shows I think this is a great opportunity.
Q. Are you an artist who embraces the changes or are you fonder of the old school ways?
A. I embrace change, it’s inevitable!
Q. You’re renowned for your remixes, but which has been your favourite one to date?
A. I couldn’t pick, Alle and I just produce each one to the best of our ability and we’re proud of them all. We won a Grammy Award for our remix of Public Enemy so that was a pretty special occasion.
Q. Most of your tracks feature vocals. Why do you choose to use them?
A. We don’t plan it that way, we just start producing each track from an idea and hopefully the rest of the track unfolds. Our new single with Pink Is Punk “Perfect Storm” doesn’t actually have a vocal -- yet!
Q. With more than a decade of experience as a DJ and producer what has the highlight of your career been?
A. Waking up each week and still being able to tour the world, play my music and every once I a while jump on a bicycle. It’s a blessing to have such a long career doing what I love.
Q. You had great success with your debut single “Satisfaction” in 2002, where did the inspiration for this come from?
A. Alle takes all the credit for the main riff in this, he invented a unique way of using the compressors in the studio which gave the track that signature pumping sound. I was listening to some of the early experiments in what later became electrohouse, like stuff Robbie Rivera was doing at the time and I brought those influences into the studio.
Q. Have you achieved all you want or are there more boxes to tick?
A. There’s always more to do and boxes to tick. But yes, I have achieved a lot and I’m very happy.
*Sandance takes place Friday November 9 2012 from 2pm-2am at nasimi Beach, Atlantis, The Palm. Tickets, priced Dh275 (Dh300 on the door), are available at platinumlist.ae from Virgin Megastores and Nasimi Beach.