Party Ben

 
       
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Biography

Party Ben is a DJ, producer and radio host based in Oakland, California, best known for his mashups, remixes, radio shows and eclectic live sets. His tracks have been worldwide viral hits, from the notorious Green Day/Oasis combo "Boulevard of Broken Songs" to a recent Hype Machine-charting remix of DJ Shadow. He was named a Top 10 "High Note" of the decade in Bay Area music by the San Francisco Chronicle, and two of his mashups (including a famous Snow Patrol/Police blend) were featured in the Razzie-nominated Adam Sandler comedy "Just Go With It." He's credited with helping jump-start the mashup phenomenon in the United States with his "Sixx Mixx" program which ran from from 2002-2006 on Bay Area alternative station LIVE 105. His live DJ sets are known for their mix of cheeky samples and underground beats, and he's toured around the world. He was the lead curator for dance and electronic music at internet radio service Slacker until May of 2015. When it comes to his own productions, Party Ben has shifted away from mashups and back to his first love, electronic dance music and remixes, creating epic new versions of tracks from artists like The Limousines, Gotye, Kreayshawn and Martin Solveig. His DJ Shadow remix placed third in the Soundcloud-sponsored contest and was called "perfect" by DJ Shadow himself.

After moving to San Francisco in the early '90s, Nebraksa native Ben Gill began a long career at Bay Area alternative stalwart LIVE 105 as a producer, on-air personality and program host, eventually ascending to the position of Imaging Director. One day he realized that the audio editing software he used to make station IDs could also be used to mess around with the music as well. It was at LIVE 105 that Music Director Aaron Axelsen gave him his embarrassing moniker: as a co-host of LIVE 105's long-running electronic music program Subsonic, Ben would provide news on upcoming raves and events in his "Party Report" which gave Aaron the idea to cheekily refer to him as "Party Ben." (Noted Bay Area DJ and XLR8R editor Shawn Reynaldo's former DJ name "Disco Shawn" was also Aaron's fault, incidentally). It's a terrible name, but it stuck.

His blends, bootlegs, and remixes soon gained radio and nightclub attention, even before the word "mashup" was invented. In 1999, Party Ben reworked Fatboy Slim's own DJ-set dubplate Rolling Stones-sampling version of his own "Rockafella Skank" into a local radio and club hit, and a sample-based 2002 remix of Eminem's "Without Me" was a Bay Area phenomenon, requiring the pressing of 100 vinyl records to fill demand. Party Ben had been a producer and co-host on "Subsonic," the station's electronic music program, since the show's inception, but in 2002 Party Ben started his own show to feature his and others' mashups, remixes, goofy covers, newsworthy novelties and whatever else seemed interesting at the time. This half-hour show, airing Fridays at 6pm, was first called The Six Mix but eventually gained two more X's to become The Sixx Mixx. Inspired primarily by Belgian duo 2manydjs and their "Radio Soulwax" compilations, but aimed at a more mainstream/alternative rock listenership, the Sixx Mixx was a genre-smashing, fast-paced and topical show, which gained a large drive-time radio audience. The show was immediately controversial, venturing beyond the LIVE 105 playlist to air sometimes polarizing mashups with pop, hip hop and R&B artists in the mix, something which made listeners angry at first. The Sixx Mixx also helped to jump-start the Bay Area bastard pop scene, providing local producers like DJ Earworm and international stars like Go Home Productions and Adam Freeland a prime-time audience of hundreds of thousands.

Of course, the Sixx Mixx was also a launching pad for Party Ben's own creations, and it's these musical combos for which he has become most well known. His first "hit" came in October, 2004, when a Green Day/Oasis/Travis/Eminem (and/or Aerosmith) hybrid “Boulevard of Broken Songs" became an unexpected worldwide viral phenomenon after its debut on the Sixx Mixx. The mash-up eventually received airplay on hundreds of radio stations around the world, from Tokyo to Cape Town, and the mainstream press started to pay attention. Green Day's own Billie Joe Armstrong called the mash-up "cool" on MTV News, Rick Dees invited Party Ben on The Weekly Top 40, and the San Francisco Chronicle made Party Ben front-page news. In fact, the mashup was such a phenomenon that it was unofficially credited with helping extend Green Day's run on the top of US rock airplay charts.

Party Ben later joined forces with Australian producer Team9 to produce the mash-up album American Edit under the pseudonym "Dean Gray" (a phonetic spoonerism of "Green Day"), combining the Bay Area punk band's album with music from Johnny Cash to Queen. The album became an illicit internet sensation and received five stars from the San Francisco Chronicle as well as positive reviews from Spin and the Toronto Star. It also received a "cease and desist" order from Warner Brothers Records within 10 days of its free internet release. Team9 and Party Ben pulled the files from the Dean Gray web site, but in an act of defiance, fans worldwide posted the mp3s on a day of coordinated disobediance (modeled after a similar earlier action in support of Danger Mouse's "Grey Album").

Many of Party Ben's unofficial mashups, remixes and blends found unlikely audiences in the "pre-YouTube" era. A 2005 combo of Tegan & Sara with Mylo ended up on legendary Seattle dance station C89.5's Top 5 most played songs of that year, and a 2006 blend of The Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize" with John Williams' theme from "The Empire Strikes Back" was a hit among Star Wars fans worldwide. A combination of Snow Patrol and The Police called “Every Car You Chase” initially gained popularity in Ireland, with Dublin's 2fm calling it “probably the biggest hit in the country” in April of 2007, and it woudl go on to even greater things later. Another blend of General Public and Rihanna called "Tender Umbrella" got props from Dave Wakeling himself, and a cheeky mix of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" over the theme from the Andy Griffith Show grabbed media attention.

Party Ben has done guest DJ mixes for a long list radio stations including Radio Bis Warsaw, XFM London, Fritz 102.6 Berlin, Pure FM Belgium, Oui FM Paris, Indie 103.1 Los Angeles, 91X/San Diego, and Sirius Sattelite Radio.

In 2010, comedian Adam Sandler heard "Every Car You Chase" and tracked Party Ben down to feature some mashups in his next movie. Eventually, both "Every Car" and "Tender Umbrella" appeared in the 2011 comedy "Just Go With It." Both mashups were fully licensed for the film, gaining rights from the artists and songwriters involved, making it the first time mashups had been officially used in a major motion picture. Party Ben was given access to the original instrumental and vocal tracks from the songs and recreated the mashups specifically for the film in cinema quality, but unfortunately various stumbling blocks prevented the tracks' official release. Two other producers also had work included.

Since 2010 or so, Party Ben has focused more on original dance remixes, producing versions of tracks by Martin Solveig, M.I.A., and Bay Area artists like The Limousines, Kreayshawn and Geographer. A recent remix of DJ Shadow's "Scale It Back" was picked up for promotional distribution by Island Records and placed third in a Soundcloud-sponsored remix contest, and a version of "We Are Young" by Fun. became a Hype Machine hit. A remix of Lyrics Born's "Coulda Woulda Shoulda" was included on a remix EP available on iTunes via Decon.

As a live DJ, Party Ben combines exclusive mixes made just for his DJ sets, new versions of classic mashups, and a keen eye for new music, combining it all into a fast-paced party experience. He's performed in cities around the world, including two European tours and jaunts to Canada and Mexico, and more recently, Russia.

Back home in San Francisco, he was a resident DJ at Club Bootie, America's first all-mash-up nightclub, from the time of its founding by the local duo Adrian and Mysterious D in 2003, until 2009. The club has been voted “San Francisco’s Best Club” in the San Francisco Weekly and San Francisco Bay Guardian multiple times since 2007 and spawned numerous international partners.

From 2006 to 2009, Party Ben was a music and culture writer for San Francisco magainze The Mother Jones' arts and culture blog "The Riff."

Starting in 2009, Party Ben brought his radio experience and encyclopedic knowledge of electronic music to San Diego-based internet broadcaster Slacker Radio, the premier online streaming radio service, where he oversaw the dance and electronic music stations, including programming and hosting several of them.

In 2010, Party Ben was brought on board as a resident DJ on St. John's legendary San Francisco radio show, House Nation, airing Saturday nights on 99.7 NOW. In 2011 he returned to his alma mater LIVE 105 as one of the rotating hosts of the electronic show Subsonic, putting those associations on hold in 2013 to make the move to San Diego for Slacker.

 





SOME PICTURES

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Party Ben
BFD, Shoreline Amphitheater (2011)

Party Ben
WOMP, Metro Opera House, Oakland (2011)

Party Ben
Bootie, DNA Lounge, SF (2008)

Party Ben
Bootie, DNA Lounge, SF (2008)

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Bootie, Echo, LA (2008)

Party Ben
Munich Gay Pride (2009)

Party Ben
Bootie (2007)