Interview with

Joe LiTrenta from Bengalfuel

Bengalfuel is the audio/visual project of Joe LiTrenta and Lou DiBenedetto. They have released ambient electronic music on labels such as Hibernate Recordings, Resting Bell and Twice Removed Records as well as many self-released digital EP’s and albums, with accompanying music videos.

Facts

1: Bengalfuel is Joe LiTrenta and Lou DiBenedetto; Joe makes music solo as Doc Deem, Lou makes music solo as Headlock.

2: I (Joe) ate a hamburger for energy to answer these questions.

3: I’m listening to a mix I made called Rat Phoenix.

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The Other Side, other dimensions, outer space. The vibrations in our world. All that kinda bullshit. Bengalfuel started as a way to have peaceful music playing all the time while I was moving out of a haunted house. It has also been useful as meditation music when the shit other people were doing was too cheesy and I felt like it was distracting and needed something smooth. September 6, 2014 had an especially powerful effect on me, something woke me up at 5 in the morning that was an intense wave of loving energy. It was so strong it woke me up and it paved over my negative feelings and worries at the time (about the world and how fucked up things are) and it communicated to me, without words, the simple advice: feel good. Bengalfuel is music which I believe helps me stay connected with these kinds of energy. It has saved me at times when I needed calming music. And the forces that influence it most are the invisible things in reality. My spirit guide has given me ideas for Bengalfuel music videos more often than I’ve come up with them myself.

How and when did you get into making music?
I was 14, I had been listening to The Downward Spiral for a few years and had a guitar with two strings and a tape recorder. I would play guitar as one layer, then play that through a stereo with the tape recorder next to it and add the next layer which might be just me making noises with bottles and cans or my cat meowing. I still have the tape recorder and put it in my latest Doc Deem music video.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
The Many Facets of Roger; Mr. Scarface Is Back; OK Computer; The Downward Spiral; …I Care Because You Do are all desert island albums that I can’t live without, music I have been listening to since I heard it as a kid. They are still important today. I think on the new track Lonniesquares from this Shimmering Moods release you can hear NIN in the beat. I would also mention music from a 1989 videogame called Herzog Zwei for Sega Genesis, and as for film music I’d need The Mosquito Coast soundtrack by Maurice Jarre. In 2011 I lost my mind and listened to that every morning while making breakfast. I never got tired of it.

What do you associate with Berlin?
The ambient netlabel, Resting Bell.

What’s your favourite place in your town?
Devil’s Footprint. It was a camp for the Lenape tribe way back. If I am taking a walk and need to make a phone call, I go there because there’s no cars and it’s in the woods enough not to be bothered.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
I am doing it. Making movies.

What was the last record you bought?
Colossal by Nannou. She is brilliant.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Michiru Yamane. I love her music.

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
There haven’t been a lot but I played music at an art gallery called Now Now that was run by my girlfriend at the time, I basically just did whatever I wanted with tracks for a few hours and friends were there. It sounded really good.

How important is technology to your creative process?
Very important. There is magic in the way a synthesizer can accidentally produce sounds that works really well, or how just taking a guess about where to put a snare can make a beat seem perfect that wasn’t exciting five minutes ago. I think technology is everything, an acoustic instrument is also a form of technology. My brain is technology. This is where my collaborator, Lou, and I agree most. We’ve been friends since we were kids so there’s no need to talk about it anymore but we are both into the possibilities of technology as a means of capturing energy, like you’re having a shitty day and you plug into the machine and send your vibes into it; the synth or programmed beat or whatever it is becomes a mechanism to convey your emotions. When I sing on tracks it is the same as a synth singing. The machines are just as alive as we are.

Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
I have a brother and sister. They are supportive, my brother’s voice is all over the track Lonniesquares saying crazy shit on the new album, Rapalyea. He’s in a few music videos as well. And his kids are, too. Bengalfuel is a family thing.

Our Favourites: People Wincing  | Escape |  Real Meal

Links: Soundcloud |  bengalfuel.band camp.com