KISS FM DJ Ben Malone unleashes this year‘s ‘Future Five’ – a five-week series showcasing the next generation of top-tier breakthrough electronic music talent
Ben explains, “The Future Five is one of my favorite parts of each year on my KISS FM UK show! Throughout the year the show is dedicated to uncovering new artists, sounds, and talent in underground electronic dance music both within the UK and globally, but January always feels like a special moment to take stock and look at the full year ahead.”
Based in London, Ben Malone broadcasts throughout the UK on KISS FM UK, along with Mark Knight, Sam Divine, Gorgon City & DJ S.K.T. He also hosts Armada Next on Sirius XM, as well as Podcasts.
If that’s not enough, Ben is the UK Label Manager for Armada Music, which is the largest indie dance music label in the world, including house, techno, melodic, progressive, trance, and commercial dance music. In addition, Ben is launching his own music production career via Armada Electronic Elements and Zero Three Records.
CelebMix spoke with Ben Malone to discover more about Future Five, how the artists are selected, and how he got started in music.
What three things can’t you live without?
Hey! I’d have to go for Music, my friends, and my bed! Music is my life, so I really don’t know what I’d do without it! Friends I guess is the same for everyone, but I’d have to put bed in there too… nothing better than a lie-in!
How did Future Five come into existence?
I’ve been doing the Future Five in its current form for three years now. The dance music industry definitely works on the calendar year – December is always time to look back at the biggest releases of the previous year, and that leads nicely into looking forwards when January hits! My show has always been about finding and showcasing new dance talent, but the Future Five gives me the chance to focus in a little more detail on five really exciting names! It’s a great opportunity to get new talent into the KISS studios and onto the show to show us what they’ve got, through a guest mix and interview!
What criteria are used to determine which artists are featured?
There are no fixed criteria that the artists have to meet; but the team and I look at everything from successes in the previous year; forthcoming gigs and releases; the overall trajectory of an artist; and of course, most importantly the quality of their work! The Future Five isn’t just about who’s ‘coolest’ at any given moment, it’s about who’s talent and work speaks for itself and is on the cusp of breaking out! I’m lucky to be pretty immersed in the new dance music scene, so I come across artists early in their journeys, and previous Future Five artists have gone on to do amazing things; like Maur who went on to collaborate with Solardo the same year they were named Future Five, and Tibasko who are touring all over Europe and playing every festival there is now!
What got you into music?
I’ve always loved music since I was a kid; I used to play guitar and drums when I was at school, but my tastes quickly moved towards electronic music once I was old enough to go to clubs! There’s always been something about loud music that’s drawn me in – I guess it’s just that feeling of letting the music overpower your thoughts and give you that energy boost! You can’t beat a big moment in a record – that’s why I love dance music so much; it’s built around these moments!
You’re now involved in music production. Which artists/musicians/producers would you say had the most impact on your sound?
Yes, music production was a lockdown project for me; I’ve been working in radio playing other people’s music for years but had always wanted to try it from the other side! I’ve still got a lot to learn but I’m really enjoying it. I’ve always been drawn to big epic build-ups and drops, and uplifting melodies and chord sequences so, artists like CamelPhat, Eric Prydz, and ARTBAT have had a big influence on my tastes! But I’m also influenced by more recent artists like Franky Wah, Prospa, and Tibasko who I mentioned earlier!
If you could interview/talk with any artist, who would it be?
I’m lucky to have interviewed some amazing artists through my time in radio, but I’d have to say, Carl Cox! He’s a true icon in our scene and I think he’d have a lot of wisdom to share! Plus, I’d love to hear that legendary voice in real life! Oh yes, oh yes!
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I think this year picking the Future Five was harder than ever; the last couple of years have forced so many artists to adapt, change their styles and just get their heads down in the studio, and whilst it was a devastating period for the scene, the benefits of extended studio time are really starting to show for a lot of artists! So far, we’ve revealed the first two of my 2022 Future Five artists: Eynka and Amy Wiles. Eynka are a London-based production trio who produce a really cool atmospheric and euphoric sound. They had a couple of big releases last year; check out ‘Ascendance’ and ‘Shadow Dance’ and I know they’ve got some big things lined up for next year! Amy is one of the most exciting rising stars in the Trance and melodic space; she’s got a packed gigging schedule for 2022 and some super exciting releases in the pipeline! Check out her single from last year, ‘Biding Time’! The remaining three Future Five artists will be revealed in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled for that!
You are also the UK Label Manager for Armada Music. What does a “label manager” do?
So, I think the exact role of a Label Manager varies depending on the label you’re at, but generally, my role is to further the interests of the label in any way possible; whether that’s through supporting our Marketing and Promo teams on specific releases, or more long term growth and development of the label! Armada is an independent Dance label, headquartered in Amsterdam but with New York and London offices, so my role as the UK label manager is to coordinate our efforts in the UK territory!
Any advice for young people who want to get into music?
Just do it! A career in music is super rewarding and you get to work day-to-day with like-minded people and friends who share a common passion; it doesn’t get much better than that! Be prepared for a hard slog to get into the industry though. It took me four years of working full time in another industry and trying to break into music on the side before I landed my first full-time role – but it’s all worth it when it happens!
What’s next for Ben Malone?
I’ve got some exciting bits in the pipeline for this year! I’ve got more new music to release and I’m really enjoying finding my sound. I’ve also got some exciting gigs lined up for summer; looking forward to (fingers crossed) a full summer season this year! And of course, I have my KISS FM UK show every Saturday night so I’m looking forward to supporting another year of amazing artists and music on there too!