The Indiependent: For those people who aren’t familiar with your work, could you some up what you do in a few sentences?
I am a YouTuber that films lifts, trains, buses, and secret areas of buildings. I am most interested in interesting old transport that is rapidly disappearing. In my YouTube videos I regularly go on top of lifts or trains rather than just inside them, so I can see the workings of them, and it is fun. Also, this is how I get to secret areas of buildings – from on top the lift I can drive it to anywhere I want to go.
The Indiependent: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am from London. I travel all over Europe (and hopefully will around the whole world) looking for interesting lifts, buses, trains, and buildings. I don’t have much money and I do all of this as cheaply as I possibly can. I choose the cheapest flights and the cheapest hotels, try to take as much food as possible and avoid buying anything while I am outside the UK.
The Indiependent: What inspired you to start doing lift- and train- surfing?
There are a lot of people on Youtube that film buses, lifts and trains, but I wanted to do something that would make my videos more unique. I first started lift surfing while I was bored in hospital. It was the middle of the night. I had a lift key and I practised testing the safety circuit of one of the lifts. After I became confident that the lift was not going to suddenly shoot off uncontrollably, and I had complete control over it, I eventually decided to get on top of it.
The Indiependent: Are there any other YouTubers who have inspired or influenced you?
I was first inspired not by the big YouTubers but ordinary people uploading videos of lifts. This made me start my own YouTube channel.
The Indiependent: Have you ever been arrested for lift- or train-surfing?
No… but when you’re questioned by the police you really have to show them that you know the law. If you don’t, they will try to walk all over you. Police encounters can be stressful and they won’t be used to urban explorers a lot of the time. You just have to be calm and explain to them that no laws have been broken, and be ready if the police try anything on.
The Indiependent: Which is the best country you’ve visited on your overseas trips?
Romania has to be one of the most interesting countries as it’s very run down and the transport is very interesting. Poznań in Poland was interesting for its Communist towers and old trams. Benidorm in Spain has loads of tall towers, Luxembourg is very nice for buses. France is very nice for their VAL automated metro systems. Germany is one of the best places because I have made a lot of friends there and there is loads to do. Germany has the fastest lift I have surfed so far at 5.5 m/s.
The Indiependent: Obviously our site is big on culture, so could you tell us about your favourite musicians, films and artists?
I listen to progressive house music. My favourite artists are Martin Garrix, Avicii and Allen Walker. I find most music in the charts sounds like it is heavily manufactured and too easy listening, and just there to be popular and make the music industry money. I prefer music where a lot of effort has been put in, and there are lots of layers and complications to the songs. I like fast paced songs that have a good progression throughout, which has been done in a creative way.
The Indiependent: You’ve done some pretty nerve-wracking things, like sneaking into the Shard and staying in Rugby Hospital. What’s the scariest thing you’ve done so far?
The scariest thing I have done is exploring Aylesford print works. There is security patrolling constantly – the security guards drive around in police cars and think they are above the law. Lots of internet sites have talked about the bad things that have happened to people caught in there.
For some reason I didn’t find Rugby Hospital that scary. I think I was very tired that day. We heard security walking around very close to where we were sleeping. Two of my friends left, but I was so tired that I went back to sleep.
I have done some very risky lifts. My friend Jordan likes high risk things. We were both standing on top of a glass lift in the middle of Sheffield and Jordan banged on the glass and shouted “Look, we’re on top of the lift”…
The Indiependent: Do you prefer to film alone or take others along for the ride?
I prefer to go with other people.
The Indiependent: Could you answer a question which has confused a lot of new fans? Why is it that if you stand at the bottom of a lift shaft you don’t get crushed?
You have to be very good at judging risk. Every lift is different and there are many things that could go wrong. You have to know the problems you can get with different lift logics. There is more to it than just getting on top of a lift. Each type of lift logic behaves in different ways. With lift pits you have to be very good at judging things. There is often room under the lift to lie down, or sometimes there’s room to the side of the lift.
The Indiependent: Are you in a relationship? If so, do they approve of your more dangerous activities?
I am not in a relationship.
The Indiependent: What can we expect from Beno’s Youtube in the near future?
Hopefully more interesting buildings and more far away countries. Hopefully UAE and Hong Kong.
[Interview conducted by Annabelle Fuller. Responses have been edited for length or clarity.]