Interview: Trekkah Benjamin Introduces us to ONEAM

Interview: Eileen Pegg
Friday 15 February 2019
reading time: min, words

Many might know local creative Trekkah Benjamin for his label, Phlexx records, but he’s recently announced his latest musical project that has got us pretty excited.


ONEAM kick-starts with a launch party at Rough Trade this Saturday so ahead of the night, we caught up with Trekkah to learn exactly what to expect from the event, the brand and beyond.

What is your role at ONEAM?
My role at ONEAM is to be the deliverer of many things, as is the case with most of the dedicated people making waves in the creative industries.

My main roles in the outfit involve content hunting, DJing, producing and events booking & promo.

What is your ultimate vision for ONEAM?
Our focus is afro / deep / tech / tribal house. We are a Nottingham collective of DJs, producers, promoters and visual artists who came together with the ambition of starting something fresh and new; to create an exciting, powerful experience for our audience.

However, we don’t want to be confined to just one of these genres, and we see different approaches working in the contrasting venues we are in talks with. For example, we have an up and coming night with 4Mation at Box that we are really excited for, where we know that our selection needs to sway more towards the deeper, techy tracks in our record bag.

We have networked with some of the top DJs in the scene and if the sound is received as well as we think it will be in Nottingham, we would love to bring these international DJs to our city too.

I know you have a pretty rich musical background…
I’ve performed in acts that span reggae, hip-hop, grime, folk, ska, heavy metal and blues, to name just a few. As a producer, all of my releases as Trekkah focus more on collaboration rather than targeting a specific genre. To me this isn’t a problem - music is music you just gotta find your connection.

Is ONEAM going to be a record label too?
100%. We have signed, sealed and delivered the contracts with a top dance music distributor that we are really excited to work with. So far we have three producers that are working on ONEAM releases and we are keen to get the label side of things popping.

To be honest, ONEAM came at the perfect time. Forming it as an electronic label has allowed Phlexx Records to become more focused on what we want to achieve as a label too. Phlexx has released music with artists from a diverse array of genres and has promoted events in art, poetry and film, as well as music. But now, with ONEAM as our electronic sister label, Phlexx can have a more unified direction pushing acts such as Soft Girls & Boys Club, Nactus Kunan, Idle Nova and Do Nothing.

Who else is part of the ONEAM team?
The brand started from an exchange between myself and Hubert Wojcicki (ONEAM Photography). He wanted me to produce some bits around some deep / tech House and the handpan instrument.

From this, we began exploring and building a collection of music focusing on this style. Alongside DJ Circle, we then took up the opportunity to feature on Mimm Radio.

Following our first show, we went on to explore afro house / afro tech more. I really love this genre, merging my love for African artists such as Mariam & Amadou and Staff Benda Bilili Band, with the driving low end of underground dance music. We had so much positive feedback on the set that we began to see that this sound was relatively unexplored in Nottingham, as well as being an up and coming dance genre in the UK, and around the rest of the world.

Since this, we have expanded the team with new signings such as Sabzero, and we have been gifted an amazing slot on London based afro house station, Drums Radio. We have also linked up with a number of international DJs, producers and labels and have just taken our first out of town booking at Box Park Wembley with Tribal Soul… we are excited to see where this journey takes us.

ONEAM is quite an exciting concept for Nottingham - where did the brainwave come from?
Combining live instrumentalists within a DJ set is something that I’ve seen before, but I feel it should happen a lot more. I love watching DJs, hearing them present their ideas within a set and share their vision of the music in their mixing. But, what I also love is the interaction between an audience and live musicians. I believe that our launch provides all of the above. Instrumental collaboration and improvisation over a finely crafted DJ mix - this has to be a winner, right?

Don’t be surprised if you come to the night and you find some percussion in your hands, just join in and add to the vibe.

Who are the resident DJs, instrumentalists and vocalists we can expect to hear on the night?
This Saturday, we really wanted to showcase The ONEAM Sound. We have DJ Circle, myself and Sabzero on the decks. Coming along to join us and help increase the vibes are Njega Sohna playing Djembe & Tama, Jude Winwood playing Djembe and Yusupha Mboob playing Sabar & Tama.

We also have a handful of vocalists, saxophonists and potentially, a legendary flautist, but I guess you will have to come along and see for yourself.

If there was one track to sum up the night, what would it be?
Oscar Sulley, The Uhuru Dance Band - Bukom Mashie (JKriv's King Mashie Remix) would be a good, upbeat track that would represent the night well. We want to create a positive vibe where people are immersed in the moment and the music. But though this is a real feel-good track, expect to be taken down some deeper rabbit holes too…

Please tell us some more about your plans for the visuals.
To us, it’s all about creating an atmosphere and an environment that compliments the music, and we feel visuals are an important factor of this. Luckily, we have Hubert who is a genius on the visuals, and we have also been investing in lighting, lasers and hasers. We want to try and make Rough Trade look a little…different.

We saw you're taking donations for a charity - can we reveal which one this will be yet?
We feel that it’s important to raise awareness and money for local charities and community workers that are changing people’s lives for the better.

Even though the event is free, we will be asking people to donate to Daniel Henry’s Just Giving Fund. The children that Daniel fundraises for live in the poor suburbs of Nakura, Kenya, suffering from bad nutrition, health and development. They support children who have HIV/AIDS and those that have been orphaned and are living in a deprived environment. He is so close to his target and if we can contribute anything to this fund, we will be happy.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Leftlion readers?
A few shoutouts to people that have supported the launch of ONEAM. Nathaniel & Ollie from Mimm Radio, Rastarella Falade for the help on promotion, Jackie P from Kemet FM and Dee from Drums Radio.

We hope that people come to our launch and enjoy the ONEAM sound.

For any DJs, Producers, Promoters, Bookings and/or anyone that would like to get involved in ONEAM please email us at [email protected].

ONEAM launch party takes place at Rough Trade on Saturday 16 February, 9pm - 12am and is free to attend.

ONEAM launch party event page. Listen on Mixcloud. 

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