New Voice: Ben Jacov

Ben Jacov
Ben Jacov

Ben Jacov describes a recent work ~

“being far away from myself. 
the alps – mountain tops, dust drowned valleys, moss covered bridges, noise gargling rivers.
foreignness – not being away from the comfort zone. simply feeling foreign. 
letting go physical awareness and wandering on that thin line, a point where future is about to come and the past is just as close, but my thoughts don’t care about none of them.

that state where time does not exist, where it equals zero, that certain thing called present, waking up, unable to believe it is over. 
trying to focus the mind on nothing else but inebriation and losing contour. 
getting lost in a single breath. 
diving into cheerlessness. 
dreams – certainly. 
distant dreams – i was trying to remember this dream and failed but i lived a moment of foreignness from my own.

i tried to make this record the way i tried to”


Born 1988 in the south of Germany, Ben Jacov started playing piano in the age of seven, and discovered the possibilities of electronic producing by the time he was 14.  Starting out with Hip-Hop, collecting records, DJ-ing and then as he became more focused, Jacov started playing the piano seriously.  Ben found his way to the study of sound engineering at IEM Graz and after four years changed to Berlin/Potsdam where he studied sound engineering. Currently, he is working on the completion of his own short movie that will be sound-designed and mixed in Wave-Field-Synthesis. Also, this spring, Doumen Records will release a recording of his music which has been occupying his attention for the past year.



What is your earliest musical memory that, in looking back, has proved to be significant regarding your career as a composer?

I cannot really tell, what my first musical memory is, that had a significant influence on me wanting to create music one day, I think it’s complex processes of course, that lead us in taking decisions. And maybe there never was a decision to do things the way I do them now. Thinking about your question raises a memory in my head though: I think it must have been in my early teenage time, when I was 13 or 14 when I first listened to Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Gesang der Jünglinge”, one of his most famous pieces. A good friend, who was much older than I was played it to me on a cassette recording, surely Stockhausen wouldn’t have appreciated that, but still it moved me quite a lot and became and still is one of my favorite pieces of electronic music from that time. I was blown away, when I first had the score in my hands in art university in Graz: So many pages of tiny, tiny numbers, equations, calculations. Unbelievable that someone was able to create such a breath taking piece of art from this kind of mathematically organized material. So I learned a lot about approaches like this. Maybe it didn’t influence my decision concretely, but it pushed me in a certain direction.

Are there composers who have been influential or relevant regarding your own work?  Has this changed over time?

Another question that is not easy to answer, because there are too many, obviously. I don’t think that there are many people that are not influenced at all by other composers and most of the people who say so make music that proves the contrary. 

Within the last years, I was occupied with the music of Charles Ives a lot, his style of quotation, his poly-tonal experiments, the chord pads he is constructing, programmatic ideas, his unbelievable love for the detail, he worked for over forty years on his piano sonata.  Also, inspiring was his musical independence, he was a pathfinder for some unique approaches.  For my own work it has influenced me indirectly, philosophically you could say; the same could be said of HelmutLachenmann. 

I listen a lot to Schönberg, Woyciech Kilar,also, I really liked the recent Tim Hecker album, Aebeloe, Death Grips, The Smiths, JDilla, Trentemoller, Radiohead, The Delphonics, Madlib, Japanese electronics.  

Would you mind speaking a little concerning your working process, i.e., do you have a regular schedule for writing; do you use a computer for composing (either for creating pre-composition materials or notation), if so, do you find that it inhibits your process?  What other technology, if any, do you use?

I mainly use Steinberg’s Cubase and Avid’s ProTools as sequencing software and for the preparation of the mixdown for which I prefer using SSL C200, TubeTech, Drawmer Multiband, the genius Dolby Spectral Processor and all that stuff you will find in the studios where I have the luck to be able to work. 

For the sound design I use many recordings that I did on my own. For example I visited a garage for military tanks where I recorded lots of sounds that you can find on my upcoming record for Doumen Records, I am totally in love with religious chants, I collected recordings from Indonesia, India, SriLanka, Morocco, Greece from Muezzin chants to Orthodox monks in a monastery.  All of this stuff from my travels is getting manipulated and weaved into the music, so for me a piece of music is a very personal thing, always. 

Also I use my Octatrack, a Semtex XL, a MicroKorg, my piano and my modular system. I love the Waves Plugins and use the Native Instruments Komplete bundle. 

The real working process is something that I cannot describe, it is different for every song and I actually don’t know too much about it, but somehow in the end, it works for me. Surely there are many smaller processes that stay the same, mostly my way to design sounds, but the large picture…I couldn’t tell too much about it. Sometimes I improvise on the piano, record something, think of it as a good Elton-John piece and then spend the rest of the time to eliminate Elton John from what I just played and that is it. I never listened to Elton John a lot though.

Soundcloud | Podcast

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