Clarinet is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when referring to electronic dance music. Show tunes and jazz standards are unlikely to cross your mind, too. Yet for 26-year-old DJ/producer Richard Beynon, that’s where his foray into the industry began. As the Hard Rock Hotel’s new resident at Vanity Nightclub and the Beachlife pool complex, expect the classically trained Beynon to combine his two worlds for one set of music surprises. Hey, it’s not everyday you’ll hear Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” mixed with Eric Prydz.
Born in the U.K., raised in Vancouver and educated in Montreal, Beynon was on the path to be an orchestra staple who co-produced successful classical and jazz albums. “It’s my father that got me into music, and I could never thank him enough,” Beynon says. “He was a classically trained violinist and a phenomenal pianist as well. One day he brought a clarinet home from the music shop. I have no idea why he chose that particular instrument, but I think it had a little bit to do with Mr. Holland’s Opus, [when Gertrude] was trying to squeak out this note to ‘Stranger on the Shore.’” Beynon’s father frequently played the song and wanted to see if the young Beynon could give it a go. At 12 years old, Beynon nailed it out of the blue—and pretty much any other instrument he picked up after that.
So how did Beynon end up at a Montreal supper club in 2006 with a stack of CDs in jewel cases and iPod headphones spinning a six-hour set? “I had one of my friend’s CDJs at my house, and whenever we had parties, it was always me that would choose the music.” His roommate’s buddy liked Beynon’s track selection and gave him a gig. “I literally played every single track on every CD possible,” Beynon laughs. He must have done something right, because a nightclub owner offered Beynon a residency the next week that lasted nearly five years.
Producing EDM was next, but didn’t come as easily. “When I started out I was writing orchestras, I was writing concertos, and I was literally writing on manuscript paper in front of a piano and writing every single note. That, for me, was more natural than painting in blocks of MIDI stripes onto your computer; I just didn’t understand.” Beynon felt he disrespected music by using programs. “Sometimes I suffer more than the others because I overthink things. I want to add too much, it becomes too complex, and usually less is more when it comes to EDM.” Eventually he found the right formula, but his admittedly pretentious moniker of King Richard (a nickname from his uncle that stuck) was hurting more than helping.
Reverting to his given name when Las Vegas nightlife veteran Michael Fuller gave Beynon’s “Close to You” to Perfecto Records, his career reached new heights. Beynon’s reworking of Junior Jack’s “Stupidisco” also found its way atop the Beatport charts and on to the Ministry of Sound 2011 compilation—the same series that was Beynon’s first EDM album purchase. His first EP, Keep Me Alive, is slated for release in June and earned a nod for its title track as a “future hit” from Judge Jules on BBC’s Radio 1. Beynon is also collaborating with Starkillers and Dmitry KO.
“I think when people come hear me, they’re going to have a crazy time, because it’s an ‘anything goes’ kind of thing,” Beynon says. “I don’t want to say ‘open format’ because I’m a house DJ, but I love to put vocals over stuff—no matter what it is. It could be an Enya record for all I care, or Bon Jovi or something like that, I’m just a lover of music.”