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Archive for December, 2011

Interview with Ben Hoo

There is a very talented emerging artist on our hands who has been working on a number of things lately, but most notably doing some outstanding remixes for electronic music pioneer Moby.   His name is Ben Hoo from London and in the process of finding out more about him, I have also discovered how immensely talented he is.

Here is the interview-

What first made you interested in electronic music?

I was always surrounded by music when I was younger, but I first got turned on to electronic music on a family holiday to Cornwall when I was 13.  We had an album “In The Mix ’97′ Volume 3″ on in the car repeatedly on the way there and the way back.  Tracks like Brainbug “Nightmare”, BT “Flaming June”, Tori Amos “Professional Widow”, Chicane “Offshore”, Airscape “Pacific Melody”.  I was amazed that there were so many sounds I hadn’t heard before so I couldn’t help but delve into it.  That was definitely the moment which changed my focus.

I saw on your bio that you draw inspiration from Nitin Sawhney (a great electronic artist) who else are your biggest influences?

Yes, Nitin is definitely the person I’ve followed the longest.  I really admire his versatility in performance and production and have an affinity for his choice of instrumentation and tone.  When I was younger, I was really inspired by BT, Future Sound Of London, Way Out West, but I would say Hybrid were my most important musical inspiration.  The combination of complex rhythm patterns, plethora of effects and emotive chords really got me!  Hybrid’s sounds seemed impossible, so I needed to work them out. That inspiration has become part of the way I produce now. Recently my inspirations are many and always changing, but I’m really liking what Davide Squillace, Nicolas Duvoisin, Tolga Kashif, Digitonal, Jacaszek and Aoki Takamasa have been doing, amongst many others.

What is the difference in your process for remixes and your process for making your own music?

My music has a tendency to go through various guises before I arrive at a decision to go with it.  I’m definitely more precious about the sounds I create in original music, although I don’t think it necessarily shows in the final recording.

When working on a remix I tend to go with my first developed concept, and when working with someone else’s sounds I try to uphold an idea from the original so I don’t veer too much.

I’m wondering about how you came to remix the Moby tracks.  How do you choose who you remix?  Is it just up to you? Did he choose you to remix his music?

I had done a remix for a previous artist from DEF Management (Rex The Dog) and was offered the chance to do a spec mix for Moby ‘Pale Horses’.  I chose to do a downtempo mix based on the vocals, as I believe my slower style blends better with the texture of voice.  Fortunately, Moby really liked it!  I had another opportunity when Moby was looking for a slower mix of ‘Lie Down In Darkness’ and he really liked that too, requesting me again on the following single, ‘The Right Thing’.

What are you listening to right now?

Aoki Takamasa – Simply Funk- is actually from 2004, but you wouldn’t know it.  You get to hear Takamasa’s brilliant development of powerful rhythms throughout and the ambient tones and glitchy percussion sounds occasionally appear to switch roles in the ever changing soundscape.  There’s strong stereo presence and sometimes playing with the depth, weaving the sounds in three dimensions.  The title track is my favourite –  an unfolding tight rhythm completed by the beauty and resolve of the chords.

Being from the UK, why do you think the electronic music scene is so strong there?

Electronic music has been accessible here for a long time.  There’s a long history with rave / club culture, from illegal raves to world famous clubs such as the Hacienda and Ministry of Sound.  Our media is very open to electronic music… we have lots of specialist radio shows here pushing new music and long standing dance magazines like Mixmag / DJ mag plus great underground club scene with Fabric & Sankeys Soap etc.  Many people have had the opportunity to be part of a scene as a listener, performer, organiser, collaborator etc.  Entire communities have been created from the affinity with the music scenes. Communicating with our friends and those around us is still important here today and stands as a different and more personal outlet to the web.

Where do you see electronic music headed in the future?  More genres? More mixing of genres?  More popular, less popular?

Its a hard question to answer, but I think there will definitely be more genres, and fusing of genres – electronic music is always evolving.

There are always genres that seem to emerge as ‘popular’, and become more mainstream, but fads change… I believe the proportion of people who really love electronic music will remain the same.

Any thoughts of a live tour or are you just doing DJ sets and mixing in your own stuff?  If you do tour are you just staying in the UK or will you go all around EU? Festivals perhaps?

At the moment, I’m just DJing, but I definitely plan to take things live eventually.  I would love to develop a setup for both house / techno sets and chill music.  I’m often playing keys and percussion over my productions and thinking of the sounds from a live perspective.  When I tour, I would definitely like to take it beyond the UK.

Any other projects to speak of besides what I have seen on your RA bio?  When do you expect to release a full length album?  Any preview tidbits you can provide? (An overall theme, genres being used, track names?)

Well, the latest Moby remix I produced ‘The Right Thing’ is released globally on 12th / 13th Dec.
I produced a tech house remix of M.A.N.D.Y vs Adultnapper’s “201″, which is released today (25th Nov) on Beatport: http://www.beatport.com/track/201-ben-hoo-remix/3110156 and then I have another solo EP coming out on Kindisch very soon (we’re just getting remixes in). I’ll start working on a full length next year!

Mr. Hoo definitely seems to have a knack for making great tracks even better with his changes and you can sample some of his work in the YouTube video below.  This wonderfully chill remix of Moby’s- “The Right Thing” features the soulful and amazingly beautiful vocals of Inyang Bassey.  Hoo adds a ton of gorgeous synth sounds and a minimalistic, haunting close to Moby’s original more funk-driven version with strings.  The track will be released today on iTunes UK and tomorrow in the US.  I’d also recommend checking out this remix of “Pale Horses” on YouTube.  On that one, Hoo puts fantastic downtempo spin on another great Moby track with hypnotic waves of synth and great beats.  I’m sure we will hear much more in the future from Mr. Hoo so keep an eye out for more from him.  Thanks so much to Mr. Hoo for making this interview possible.
Keep chillin’
-Chris