Ben Hoo Q&A

Hello and welcome to Magazine Sixty Ben. Your striking new single: Reaching is out on Get Physical. Can you tell us about where the inspiration came from for the unique blend of sounds which informs the music?

The initial melody for Reaching came from my playing the piano in between periods of working on another track. I was playing the rising tones and developed it into a chord progression, which quickly sounded complete as an idea. Coming away from it, I developed a clear impression of the overall sound in my mind, so the sound creation really came from subconsciously thinking about the tones and movement and how well I could translate that to the recording. My acoustic piano sound remained in the recording until quite late, but I felt it too cold so I eventually replaced it with my Roland electric piano for a warmer touch.

(Photo by: Jordi Cervera / www.jordicervera.com)

Your distinctive, original style touches upon various influences. Could you talk us through what inspires you both within and outside of electronic music?

The most influential era of techno music for developing my production was during the more minimal years of the late noughties. It gave me an appreciation of hearing the individual textures of sounds and how the spaces between beats could enhance the groove. As far as other forms of electronic music are concerned, I’m heavily influenced by the intricacies and almost tangible qualities of glitch and the tension and harmonics of ambient. There’s no restriction to the many styles of electronic music that could inspire me though, especially if it offers a fresh perspective. For example, the Autonomic half step sound from Exit Records was a great source of enlightenment for me. I’m a lover of film music, which inspires a new project that I’m working on called Non Faction. It is an instrumental and electronic music project focussed on incidental compositions interesting soundscapes and rhythms, with vocal / instrumental collaborators.

How important is musicality and innovation in what you do? Do you think some of today’s ‘Dance Music’ is missing something, or do you think that music and club culture are evolving in a positive way?

Jordi Cervera photography © 2015

Innovation for me is the most important aspect of the arts in general. The artists who have been the biggest influences for me have been massive innovators in their field, so that’s what’s worth aspiring to in the long run. Musicality is both knowledge and innate understanding of music, so I think covers all good artists and their material. I think with a traditional view of musicality, it falls short of explaining what current music and musician’s offers. For example, an artist’s ability to compile and engineer soundscapes or when they can build a beat with an attitude that it’s almost a character. These elements are musicality too. In a more traditional view, music theory and instrument performance inform a lot of the music I write, but they’re not necessary to everything. To mention, I feel the studio can be considered an instrument in its own right.

It would be great to see more variety at individual club nights. Gone are the days of the chill out rooms and I’d love to see something like that return or combinations of different scenes that may surprise you. That’s more about the culture than the music though. I feel all forms of dance music that were created before exist in some form today, it’s just very compartmentalised.

Can you tell us about the process of choosing the music and how you approached doing the mix for your forthcoming compilation for Get Physical (which Reaching has been taken from)?

Get Physical asked me to include artists with strong links to Ibiza and openly said that the sound of the compilation could cover anything from sunset through the morning, to reflect the true spirit of Ibiza. I reached out to artists I really respect in terms of their production who I knew were resident or were residents at nights / venues here – for example, Nima Gorji resident at Underground, Alex Kennon from Insane / Mosaic at Pacha, Frank Storm from Unusual Suspects, Eder Alvarez & Joey Daniel from Ibiza Talents / Bora Bora and Music On respectively, Clara Brea from Heart and System Of Survival, Audiohell, Tania Vulcano & Jose De Divina from DC10. It was important for me that the compilation also represented my own style and was true to my own personal tastes, as well as being in line with Get Physical’s label sound.  The compilation includes some of my own brand new productions (a solo track “Reaching” and also a collaboration with Spanish producer Enzo Leep, “Cosmos Excerpt”), and I also worked on new edits for Tantsui and System Of Survival – both on a deeper, more downtempo vibe for the compilation’s opening.  Every track on the compilation is previously unreleased and completely exclusive.

Radio almost seems like an old-fashioned idea in the digital world but its importance in communicating music has not diminished. How do you feel radio functions in 2017 and please tell us about your weekly “We Are Night People” which is broadcast globally on both Ibiza Sonica and Pioneer DJ Radio?

When I was young, I never used to listen to the radio. In fact, the idea of me being a radio host would have been very alien to a young me. But that is mainly because radio stations that were available did not present the music I was looking for at that time. Since then, we’ve had expanses of radio stations added with DAB and now internet radio, so it caters for more individual tastes. I listen to more radio now than ever before and that’s because of the variety of music available to stream and I can listen to Sonica in the car. We Are Night People is my weekly radio show to present the music and artists that I’m following and listening to. It’s focussed on club music with my preference of minimal grooves, deep selections and quality underground productions. I have regular guests that coincide with the music I play and I feel the show has built a solid style and family over the last 3 years. On a personal level, I’ve made many friends and collaboration partners through my contact with artists for the show.

Your studio looks amazing. How long did it take to get it to where you wanted it to be?

Thank you! I used to dream about having an amazing studio for many years until recently, despite building my setup for nearly 20 years. With the latest additions of Dynaudio B15a speakers, the awesome looking Artnovion acoustic treatments and Ableton I can say I’m now happy with the setup and I don’t have those dreams any more. I bought my first (Roland JX-305) synth at 14 and it’s been a gradual expansion since then. I’m super happy with it, but doesn’t stop me looking at the Dave Smith Prophet 12!

Do you have a favourite instrument? Do you own one?

Most of my tonal ideas start with the Synthogy Ivory II piano. The piano is my favourite instrument and it can provide insight for all styles and rhythmic and harmonic aspects.  When my girlfriend and I designed our house, we kept a space for a grand piano, but we haven’t got it yet!

What are your plans for the remainder of the year plus for the next?

Much time will be spent working on more original, remix and collaboration projects with the awesome Enzo Leep, Iori Wakasa and others, with releases planned through the year. I’ll hopefully catch some good time to work on more Non Faction music too. I’ll be busy in the summer with various parties in Ibiza with the likes of Ibiza Sonica, Others, and Unusual Suspects, as well as the occasional sunset set which I love to do. I recently played Nicole Moudaber’s MoodDAY party in Miami, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do more with Nicole. There’s of course my weekly radio show and the very important task of spending time on the beach!

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