Benjamin Wynn creates electronic music under the name Deru. Raised in Hyde Park in Chicago's South Side, Deru attended the University of Chicago's Laboratory Schools, a primary school attached to the University of Chicago. Early on, he was influenced by the music he heard coming from WHPK's legendary hip-hop DJ JP-Chill. By the time he was in high-school, Wynn had become a fixture hanging around the station with local legends like Common, Rhymefest, and Juice. He was eventually able to showcase his budding DJ skills at WHPK when JP-Chill asked him to come in and drop a handful of mixes on the air (Check out a couple of his old DJ mixes, under name Rockwell here).

Wynn spent his first two years of college in Madison, Wisconson. He established himself as a prominent local DJ, and was asked to support Atmosphere on a Midwestern tour which ended in a sold-out show at Minneapolis' First Avenue.

After two years in Madison, Wynn moved to Southern California to attend Cal Arts' Music Technology program. It was at Cal Arts that Wynn began mastering the disciplines of synthesis, signal processing, acoustics, music theory, and composition. When not studying, Wynn was working at music house Musikvergnuegen, applying his education to real-world sound-design and scoring jobs for film, television, commercials and more.

Wynn says the most rewarding thing he studied at Cal Arts was world music. "Balinese Gamelan, African drumming, hand percussion, etc. I did one private study with an incredible percussion instructor named John Bergamo. We did a piece using the Indian syllables (ta-ka-di-me) where he was on Tabla and I was on a turntable. I did another duet for turntable and marimba with a different faculty member." These exercises in marrying hip-hop, electronic, world music, and classical composition led to the birth of his musical alter-ego Deru.

"Just because you love something doesn't mean that you have ownership to it. Like just because I love hip-hop doesn't mean that I live and die by hip-hop. I like classical but I'm not a classical musician. I like folk but I don't sing. So what am I? I'm somewhere in the middle of all these things, I'm wherever these meet. I study classical composition and yet I revel just as much in the sound of an 808. In the years to come I plan on blurring these lines even more." It's this balance that has shaped Wynn's music as Deru for the past half-decade.

Combining the subtlety and rich texturing of classical arrangement with bubbly bass lines and hefty drum programming, Wynn has carved out a niche for himself among the numerous bright spots in LA's hectic and often overlapping independent hip-hop and electronic scenes. His past releases for luminary electronic labels Ghostly International, Merck, and Neo Ouija have earned him critical acclaim and a seat at the table among electronic music's most elite producers.

It has also given him unique opportunities, including composing for the Ballet d' Paris. After exchanging music with composer Joby Talbot, Talbot had been asked to compose for the Ballet. He brought Wynn in on the project, and the two of them composed a piece about Darwin based on the evolution of sound and movement.

All of this movement of the last few years has now culminated in Deru's latest full-length, Say Goodbye To Useless. Exploring the ambient textures that defined some of his previous releases, as well as the heavy beats that formed the basis of his early hip-hop productions, Say Goodbye To Useless is Deru's most refined release to date. Gauzy analog synth pads unwind themselves across time as thumping kick drums and crisp snares lend both subtle structure and nervy punctuation. The arrangements on Say Goodbye To Useless are truly Deru's most focused to date.

But do not think that the more precise production means he's going soft. In fact, just the opposite. "I wanted to make a record that was more in your face. Something that said what it wanted to say in a really clear and bold way. I think my last record was more subtle, for this I wanted to use a bigger tool." And Say Goodbye To Useless is bold.

Describing the title of the record, Wynn says "To me it's about stripping your life of un-necessary things and focusing on what you love; clearing out the noise to let the good bits shine through. I tried to pare the songs down to their essentials more, to get to the point."


1. I Would Like
2. I Want
3. Peanut Butter & Patience
4. Hello
5. Basically, Fuck You
6. Walk
7. Fadeaway
8. Days, Then...
9. What Happens When You Ask
10. Cottonmouth Lothario
11. Goodbye