Track Record: Benni Johnston (Cruising)


Benni Johnston is currently making noises with Cruisinghaving fronted Logikparty and lending her vocals to a couple of tracks on Bantum’s 2013 debut LegionAlong with a stint as a successful DJ in Dublin having shaped her eclectic taste, it’s only natural that the record collection she has amassed over the years is impressive. We hang out at her apartment in Dublin and have a chat about her favourite albums from Joy Division to Laurel Halo. Photos by Shaun Neary.

Gang of FourEntertainment

Gang of fucking Four. Nuff said. Pity about that new record though eh. Fucking DISASTER.


Jon Hopkins Immunity

It’ll come as no surprise to people who know me to see this record in here. I’m a pretty massive fan of his. I only really discovered Jon Hopkins properly in the last 2 years or so and I lived with this record for a little while before it really hit me, but when it did it hit me like a train. It’s probably the record I’ve listened to most in the past year or so. I can’t get past it. I’m aware I may sound like a twat saying this but there’s loads of times I’ve put this on, closed my eyes and disappeared inside it for the hour or so that it lasts – and not only at 6am after a massive session when I’m feeling…. cerebral ha! In general I have a pretty physical reaction to music and this is such an all encompassing listen for me. I’m pretty enamored with his approach to music in general too, I’ve read lots of interviews with him and he says he works a lot on the basis of wearing down your senses by hypnotic, repetitive textures and very subtle builds (but not always, he’s prone of a lethal drop here & there!) but whenever I hear this record everything else falls away pretty quickly and I’m a goner. So many good moments on this record but ‘Collider’ is the one.



Selda BagcanSelda

I love love love traditional indian, hindu, eastern european and unusual folk vocals especially if the singer is female. This is a reissue on the ridiculously awesome Finders Keeper label, it was originally released in 1976. Selda is a folk and protest singer & musician from Turkey. Her vocals absolutely blow my mind and there’s elements of prog, free jazz, full on guitar jams…. argh it’s just so good. I don’t speak Turkish but it doesn’t matter one bit, her delivery and performance transcends language barriers and you can still totally get a sense of her desperation and frustration at what her country was experiencing at the time she recorded this record. She’s still recording music and touring to this day. What a legend. I heard a track off the album ‘Ince Ince’ by chance on a blog having never even heard of her before and bought the record immediately. Astounding.


Joy DivisionCloser

Without doubt the most important band and record in my collection in the formative sense. Most people regard Unknown Pleasures as their masterpiece but this is the one for me. I don’t listen to it that much anymore cause I don’t really need to I guess but without this record I wouldn’t have been turned on to music in such an aggressive way as I was. I was always into music of course, but when I first heard the opener ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ when I was about 12 it was game over. It’s not just the band and the songs; Martin Hannett’s production did and still continues to blow my mind. I didn’t realise that at the time of course cause I was so young but the sparseness in the sound, that drum tone, the space in the production, the coldness, the lyrical content, the dissonance. It’s devastating. They turned me on to so many other bands and will always remain a huge influence for me.


James Holden The Inheritors

I came pretty late to techno and while that’s a huge term and covers a crazy amount of sub genres and acts it’s probably the type of music I’m listening to most at the moment. While this record would be classed as techno I don’t really see it like that at all really. There’s a huge amount of organic instrumentation used – live and sampled – elements of Krautrock, folk, free jazz. There’s a real pagan feel to it, and that’s not just influenced by the cover, but I do think the stone and scrawls on the cover reflect the tone of the record perfectly. I kinda think James Holden is a total genius basically and I’m very happy to have found him. Since I’ve become a little bit obsessed with him I starting checking out lots of other acts on his label Border Community and found some real gems – namely Nathan Fake and Luke Abbott, whose gig I finally saw a couple of weeks ago and almost had an out of body experience. This was my favourite album of 2013.



Laurel HaloQuarantine

This was her first release on Hyperdub and a pretty big departure from what she released before in my opinion. Not that the previous stuff wasn’t good – but this is different and totally awesome. Some moments remind me of Bjork, others like Laurie Anderson and then there’s stuff that I can’t really describe at all, it’s just really really good. I remember when she released this record some people dissed her vocals and said she couldn’t sing – as if the only accepted type of vocal delivery has to be generic and pitch perfectly delivered. Pfff! It’s her total reworking and new approach to her own vocals that made this record stand out for me. She’s a great producer and this record knocked my socks off.


James Chance and the ContortionsBuy Contortions

Not a record to listen to if you’re in a fragile disposition. Or maybe it’s actually the BEST record if you needed a total kick up the arse. The whole New York No Wave scene is hugely influential fin terms of my taste and own music making and James Chance is the daddy of the whole thing for me. Half the time the band members hadn’t a clue how to really play the instruments they were playing when they started but that didn’t stop them and that’s my approach to music 1000%. If you feel it and you need to do it, don’t let your lack of knowledge ever be a barrier. Passion and enthusiasm wins over every time. The combination of the driving disco elements, his snarling, frantic vocals and the blasts of schizophrenic sax on this record was like nothing I’d heard before. He was a huge influence on one of my previous bands and although there’s lots of great moments on the record ‘Contort Yourself’ just can’t be beat.

The Velvet Underground & Nico 

Another hugely influential record for me. When I was about 18 or 19 I used to basically live in Whelans from Thursday night right through the weekend and always accompanied by a particular old school mate and partner in crime. Every Sunday morning after a couple of days there on the trot I’d end up back in her sister’s house in East Wall, eating King Crisp sandwiches, smoking cigarettes and drinking tea and listening to this record on repeat. It was just me and her and we’d always be laughing about some mad silly shit we got up to over the weekend. I barely even drank then and I was quite shy and nervous in general. Brings me back to more innocent times I guess that seem pretty far away now. I love when listening to a record does that to me.



VesselPunish Honey

This is my favorite record this year. It’s probably one of the sexiest records I’ve heard in a long time although I guess in general the industrial overtones all over this album do tend to lean towards that kinda vibe. Similarly to James Holden on Inheritors he makes a lot of his own synths and midi controllers and so the sounds are always so unique and kind of otherworldly as a result, something that can’t really be achieved by standard plug ins and you can really hear that in this record so much. There’s a tone off it that doesn’t really compare to anything else – can’t put your finger on it type thing – which keeps me listening over and over. It’s such a physical record. The textures are so mechanical, like a big iron bridge or structure twisting and contorting the fuck out of itself but it’s so warm and human and sensual at the same time. I’m not sure how he managed to do that but he did. Basically if the 2 Bjork cyborgs in the All Is Full of Love video decided to be a little less tender and get a little bit flithy with each other, this would be the record they’d put on.

White CarEveryday Grace

This was my favorite album of 2012. A mate of mine rang me one day and told me he needed to play a record for me and that it was one of the most Benni Johnston records he’d heard in a while – and he was right! This is like a fucked up warped cyborg fronted NIN inspired mental record. There’s distorted, reversed vocals really amazingly weird production but it’s so beaty and dancey…. but then it’s also quite claustrophobic and kinda uncomfortable almost. I’m not doing a good job of describing it here. Just listen to it! I’ve played it for a couple of people and I think it’s kinda gone over their heads – but what do they know. I am the world’s leading authority on good music. No contest.

is the co-editor / photo editor. She also contributes photos and illustrations to The Thin Air print magazine.