Cameron Benzel or more known by; BENZO$ is a Denver based dubstep/trap producer who has only been in the game for a short period of time. Given his raw talent it has contributed to his meteoric ascension in the scene. The music that catapults from this crazed man will have your spine tingling and senses peaked. Please welcome BENZO$ to the storm!
Question 1: For the unknowing reader and soon to be fans, what is the origin story behind the alias; BENZO$?
Answer 1: When I switched from just DJing recreationally and decided I wanted to pursue production in May of 2019, I knew I needed a better name than my then alias “DJ GentLman“. My girlfriend and I went to EDC, and I spent most of the time manifesting my dreams and studying the artist names. I noticed a lot of one-word names that were inspired by the artist’s legal name was a common theme. I was called BENZO a lot in high school football since my last name is BENZEL, so being the car guy I am and always loving/driving Mercedes Benz, I wanted to stick to a BENZ theme. However, when I went on Spotify and SoundCloud to test the name there were so many artists named BENZO. To be identifiable I wanted to add an S, but to keep all association away from the drugs “benzos” I decided to make the S a “$” much like HE$H and others before.
BENZO$ · BENZO$PIDER
Question 2: You recently went through a rebrand, what lead to the decision, and why this choice?
Answer 2: As I mentioned, when I came up with my name I wanted to keep association with drugs far away especially since in summer 2017 my best friend passed away from a drug overdose. As I was gaining steam with my releases/show bookings, I was hearing people were thinking my brand was endorsing drugs. The main tipping point was when I submitted my Roddy Ricch “The Box” Flip to a Subtronics demo stream, he spent the entire time telling stories about how Benzos were wack and that he doesn’t support drug use. Being he is a huge inspiration to me and I dream of one-day collaborating with him, I knew I needed a 100% solid brand that when seen/heard there would be no way to think I was associated with the drug. I spent about a month going through different names or a thing to brand. I wanted to keep the Mercedes-Benz theme but I was worried about copyright (and HE$H has already kind of claimed the car brand and I don’t want to be thought of as a HE$H rip off). I loved my color combo and began a random google search of red and black animals. I stumbled upon the spider and instantly inspiration started flying. My signature sound has a vibrato “spider wub” feel to it and I knew I could build a solid brand around it. Plus, spiders fascinate me. I thought about it more, created my own species of spider, and wrote BENZO$PIDER to give a clear indication of who I am. I am surprised how quickly and well it has caught on. A TON of people will tag me on Instagram and Facebook with videos of spiders in their house or a creepy spider video. It makes me happy that fans are grasping my vision so well.
Question 3: Your primary genre seems to be a fusion of dubstep and trap. Where does this liking derive from?
Answer 3: As a kid, I grew up listening to hip hop on the radio. I was fascinated by the beats and the deep 808s. My mom didn’t like the lyrics, but I rarely knew what they were saying. As I grew older, I found RL Grime and the EDM “Trap” genre and was hooked. I loved that I could hear the similar beats I loved without the language my mom didn’t like. As I explored more into EDM and began to go to shows, I discovered Excision, Lit Lords, Tynan, and Subtronics. I went on a huge dubstep binge for a few years, so when I started making music, I got to incorporate the beats I liked with heavy “headbanger” drops. I feel like there’s not really a genre to classify my music and not a lot of people are making similar music, so I’m really trying to capitalize on that and push through in my own lane.
Question 4: Are there any other genres you would like to experiment with or have you found your sound?
Answer 4: I have definitely found my sound, but I think House and Future Bass are my guilty pleasures. I don’t think I’ll go as far as some of these other artists and create a whole side alias, but I think you’ll see a trappy/house track from BENZO$ sooner than you think. Also, I had a ton of success with my Halsey “More” Bootleg that’s Future Bass. I’m sure I’ll have similar songs coming soon but definitely, more Trap/Dubstep influences if anything.
BENZO$ · Halsey – More (BENZO$ BOOTLEG REMIX)
Question 5: Walk us through a day-in-the-life of Cameron Benzel. What goes into the life of a producer?
Answer 5: Unfortunately, I am not surviving off the music, so I work a day job selling cars. This line of work comes with long hours so it makes it hard sometimes, but it has helped me in the business aspect of my brand. A lot of my marketing skills and connections have been formed by looking at it in more of a sales viewpoint. I hope to eventually start touring and be able to pay my bills comfortably with my music, but until then my life is work, music, eat, sleep, repeat!
Question 6: What tech are you using in the studio? Give us the run-down of what it takes to be BENZO$.
Answer 6: I love this question because it is one of the most frequently asked questions in my DMs. A lot of people think you need all the plug-ins and all the gear you can think of to get quality sounds, but that’s just not true. I have an older Mac Desktop I bought off the Facebook marketplace for under $500, a $20 Axiom mini keyboard I bought from my friend who upgraded, and $60 Audio Technica Headphones. As far as the DAW, I have Ableton and I rent to own Serum and Ozone 8 from Splice. Other than those, I use all Ableton stock plug-ins. I think there’s a lot of high-quality sounds you can make by being creative with plug-ins and using them in unconventional ways to create sounds no one has heard before.
Question 7: With being our first guest on our NIGHTLIGHT Weekly Mix Series, we thank you. Can you walk us through your thought process on the tracks involved?
Answer 7: Thank you for the opportunity– I had a ton of fun. My girlfriend and I will frequently have “Dance Parties” in the studio where I’ll hop on the decks and just freestyle mix. A lot of the doubles and song selection came from one of those dance parties. I was throwing down the heat and had to write down what I was doing because I was impressing myself. Other than that, I wanted to incorporate all my original music that was finished or almost finished. I’ve noticed a huge trend with “DJ Mixes” being made in Ableton where you just drag and drop songs and use FX, and to me that doesn’t feel like a true “DJ mix”. Therefore, I did the mix on my DJ Controller because I want the listener to feel like I’m DJing their own “Dance Party”. If you enjoyed the mix you’ll love my live sets, that was really just a teaser. I can’t wait for shows to start back up when it’s safe of course. Dropping these doubles live and hearing the crowd, it’s a rush. I miss it.
BENZO$ · MONSOON SEASON-Nightlight Mix series FEAT BENZO$
Answer 8: It’s unreal, it really is. I had no idea I was going to even get an opportunity like this. I noticed one day Rico Downloaded my Roddy Ricch “The Box” Flip as well as reposted my Halsey “More” Bootleg. I was already friends with him on Facebook, so I figured that was as good of a time as ever to begin a dialogue with him. I started out by saying thanks and telling him how much I admire him and his music, then eventually got to talking about unreleased music, sent him the WIP (Work In Progress), and he LOVED it. He really hooked it up too. He worked with me well and has been super supportive. When I got the vocals back, I had goosebumps. The vocals fit so well with the song, I was just floored. I knew I had gold on my hands, and I wanted to make sure I explored a label release before I dropped it myself. I knew Rico Act and Dirtysnatcha were good friends, so I made it my main goal to get it on there. I manifested it hard, and it took a couple follow-ups to get it to happen, but I’m so thankful and blessed it worked out. It really goes to show if you work hard enough for something and don’t give up, you can do whatever you want. I’m a big believer in manifesting your dreams.
BENZO$ · BENZO$ OUTTA HERE FEAT. RICO ACT
Question 9: What else can expect from the likes of you in the near future and not too distant future as well? Big plans afoot?
Answer 9: Before COVID hit, I had my first festival booking offer for a festival in Utah, as well as a few other shows. Since those all got canceled, my focus got to switch back to the music and it has definitely been beneficial. On top of the Dirtysnatcha Records release, I have locked in 2 more label releases with some amazing labels that are making huge waves. Deathstar Cult Ltd and Badkill Records are dropping bangers after bangers, so go check them out and you’ll see me on there soon as well. Other than that, I’m planning on dropping a song a month whether through labels or self-release, so stay tuned I have a ton of projects I’m working on.
BENZO$ · Count That Paper
Question 10: You came to our attention as a recommendation from Auselot. We are thankful he mentioned you. Who do you wholeheartedly believe deserves more spotlight in their up and coming musical career? Give them a healthy shoutout below!
Answer 10: Auselot is an incredible dude. If you hadn’t already interviewed him, I would say check him out. Other than him, one of the most influential people in my success has to be Mr.Fink. I met him through Defyre Society and was amazed at his music. He told me about how his music used to be so bad and gave me a lot of hope when I was in my first few months of production. He once had me send him a project file, and he arranged it into a template, got on ZOOM for 3 hours, and showed me how he sidechains, resamples basses, and post processes and sent it back to me expecting NOTHING in return. That was probably the main tipping point in my career. Those few things opened my eyes and helped me level up my production to have professional sounding music. He now does a lot more engineering and 1 on 1 lesson very similar to what he did for me. Little did I know I was his guinea pig for his own business, but that gesture is something I am forever grateful for. He is now the audio engineer for Deathstar Cult, and he is killing it. If you need music mixed/mastered, MF Mastering is the way to go. He LEVELED UP my Roddy Ricch Flip when he mastered it for me. I don’t know if Mr. Fink knows how important to my success he was, and I’m happy to have a friend like him. Despite preferring to pursue engineering over DJ/Producing, he continues to make insane music dropping records on ODIO Records, Badkill Records, Prime Audio, and Deathstar Cult Ltd!
Thank you so much, Cameron! It has been monumentally great getting to know you over the past couple of months. You are truly talented, driven, and destined for success. We are undeniably stoked this came to life, and with your help! Thank you!
Keep spinning them spider-wubs!