Tommy Trash and Benson Talk Workflow, Influences, and "Spilt Milk"
Australian dance music titans Tommy Trash and Benson recently paired up for their latest tech house anthem, "Spilt Milk", released on April 22, 2022 via Ultra Records.
Benson's distinctive and compelling sound has pushed him into the spotlight as one of the hottest rising artists in the dance music scene. With his house bops, he has topped the ARIA Club charts on multiple occasions, toured globally, and headlined numerous music festivals across Australia. Benson has released music with a number of major labels (Sweat It Out, Ultra Records...), including his own label, Medium Rare Recordings.
Following his two-year hiatus at a psychedelic Ayahuasca retreat, GRAMMY-nominee Tommy Trash returned to the electronic music scene with a new creative vision unlike any other. He launched his own record label, Milky Wave, releasing new hits like "hiigh", "Tectonic", "Jaguwawa", and most recently, "Spilt Milk". Trash's innovative sound and innate ability to build immersive, avant-garde soundscapes has set him apart from countless other voices in the dance music industry.
The power duo's latest collaboration, "Spilt Milk", is a catchy club cut fit for dance floors all over the world. The single showcases forward-thinking software combinations, savvy synths, booming bass and beats, and a delectable dynamic range. The vocal track, written and performed by Melbourne-based artist Jess Ball, ties everything together, framing the perfect build-up to each beat drop and change in the song's form.
We spoke with Tommy Trash and Benson about their workflow, influences, collaboration on "Spilt Milk", and more. Read the full interview below and check out the single. Let us know what you think.
How are you doing today?
Benson: Above average, thank you!
Tommy: Chipper AF.
At what age did you start making music?
Benson: I was seventeen and my best friends showed me how to use a demo version of Fruity Loops…I’m still on FL to this day.
Tommy: I made piano songs starting at about the age of five, but I didn't start making house music until my early twenties…so I was definitely a late bloomer.
What first inspired you?
Benson: Going to nightclubs underage and just absolutely loving it. Looking back, it was a bit naughty of me, but it really shaped me.
Tommy: Early electronic albums that really inspired me were Trance Nation, Sasha and Digweed, and also Felix Da Housecat’s Kittenz And Thee Glitz.
How would you each describe your sound?
Benson: It leans towards the tech house realm, but I try not to put any boundaries on it…It sounds like a good time.
Tommy: To be honest, who knows?! It’s all over the shop, but I'm definitely starting to lean into more techy melodic stuff.
Why do you love music?
Benson: Because it brings us together, baby.
Tommy: I have no idea…I’ve just always loved it, ever since I was a baby.
What has been the defining moment of your career?
Benson: It was probably the moment I first got my own rider backstage. It was a very emotional moment for me because it was a sign that I had officially made it in the music industry.
Tommy: I think the defining moment in my career was when I got my first song on a Ministry of Sound CD and was able to tour around Australia.
Share a little bit about the Australian Electronic music scene.
Aus music goes hard; there are a lot of diverse acts across a lot of different genres, but as far as dance music goes, we have so much talent coming out of our country and the world is starting to take notice.
Do you use analog synths in your music or is it mainly digital production?
Benson: I use a bit of both, but when I'm on the road playing shows it's all on my laptop, headphones, and a midi keyboard. I love getting on the hardware when I can; it's such a different experience but both ultimately can get the job done.
Tommy: Honestly, I’m mainly using Diva and Serum softsynths, but sometimes I’ll get stuck into Lil Phatty and the Prophet 12 (which we used a lot on “Spilt Milk”).
"I love getting on the hardware when I can; it's such a different experience but both ultimately can get the job done."
Walk us through your workflow.
Benson: I usually work quite fast. I either start with a vocal–sometimes my own–and build a track around that or if I'm making a straight up club weapon, it all starts with the drums for me.
Tommy: At the moment, I'm working mainly in the box, as I'm traveling quite a bit. I use Ableton as the DAW, serum and Diva mainly for softsynths. I’m really trying to milk the stock plugs and samples in Ableton, as I really think there’s so much dope stuff that is super underrated.
What is your hidden talent?
Benson: I've never had a brain freeze from drinking or eating something cold.
Tommy: I moonlight as a trumpet player…Tommy Trumpet, anyone?
How has your experience and practice with breathwork and juice cleanses affected your well-being and music?
Tommy: Juice cleanses serve as a more extreme reset whenever I feel like I need it, but breathwork is a part of my daily life. It’s the perfect way to get my energy right, whether it's at the start of the day or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up!
What has been your favorite memory from a tour or a live performance?
Benson: I think my favorite memory from a performance was when I brought my Mum & Dad on stage and they both got on the CO2 cannons. They absolutely rinsed the front row in a cloud of CO2 and Mum and Dad loved it.
Who or what inspired “Spilt Milk”? Where did the vocal hook (“babe, you don’t fly with me”) and title of the song come from?
The vocal was sent to us by a Melbourne artist called Jess Ball. Honestly, you’d have to ask Jess about the back story, but as soon as it landed in our inbox, we knew it was going to be something special.
"...as soon as it landed in our inbox, we knew it was going to be something special."
How did the collaboration come about?
We’d been talking about doing a record together for a while and we were sharing ideas back and forth, but nothing really clicked. As soon as “Spilt Milk” came along, we knew this one was the track to jump in together on.
Tell us about the creation and production processes for the single.
I (Benson) sent Tommy a rough demo and he was instantly vibing, but we wanted to wait until we could be in the studio together before working on it. Multiple sessions and a couple of Zoom calls (while Tommy was on tour in the United States) later, the track was done. It was definitely a team effort on this one.
How did your respective sounds influence the track?
We both share a lot of the same influences and have been listening to a lot of the same records as of late. We wanted to create something that would take some of our influences from the past and modernize that into a current club record.
In what order did you record/add parts of the song?
We started with the vocal, drums, and bass first, which created that driving groove you hear in the song. Then we layered in some chords for the pre-chorus sections. After the structure was all done, we launched into some of those big industrial lead sounds you hear throughout the drops. There was a lot of experimenting with different sounds and hardware to get those right, but in the end it all felt quite natural.
Did you have any specific reference/inspiration songs for the project?
There was no specific song reference; the track was really just built by us jamming in the studio together and it just grew from that. It also helped a lot having such a great, moody vocal to work with from Jess.
Is there a music video on the horizon?
There are a few ideas floating around right now…we will differently keep you in the loop.
What’s next for you both?
Benson: Australian tour first, then it’s off to the states for a few shows!
Tommy: I’ll have a new release on my own label, Milky Wave, soon.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
“Spilt Milk” is out now, so you should go check it out!