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Ben Hoo: “Ibiza can really be what you want it to be, and there’s a very magical and spiritual side”

If there has been a theme running throughout London producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Hoo’s career to date, it’s that he’s never wedded himself to a single style. Techno and house inform his recorded music as much as down-tempo and contemporary classical. Ben is drawn towards sound manipulation and design. His approach is steeped in audio reconfiguration, which he offsets by creating his own rich synthetic tones.

We had the chance to talk with Ben Hoo as he just dropped a new EP, and prepares to release the ‘Get Physical Ibiza Compilation’ next June.

Electronic Groove: Hi Ben, thanks for your time. You just released the ‘Get Physical Ibiza Compilation’ marking the second year in a row that you’re curating the mix. How does it feel to once again be taking the reins on such a widespread project?

Ben Hoo: I feel really honored!  I’ve been living on the island for almost 5 years now, and there’s obviously a huge music scene here covering many genres of music – I’m really happy Get Physical have given me the opportunity again to present the sounds that are really resonating with me from some of my favorite producers.

EG: What can you tell us about your process when collating and mixing all the songs?

Ben Hoo: The whole compilation is made up of tracks from producers who have a strong link to the island – people who live here or who have club residencies, or people who have a strong history with Ibiza.   There’s a lot of outreach to producers whose sound I like, and I also create new tracks myself specifically for the compilation as well as looking for relevant artists to remix.  This year it was a huge honour to remix Nicole Moudaber & Carl Cox and also Blond:ish, and I have some amazing music from the likes of Reboot, Alvaro Medina, Enzo Leep & Avgustin, Alice Clark & F.eht, Eder Alvarez & Joey Daniel, Christian Len & Papadupau, Kr!ptone, TOLAB, and many more. In terms of how I compile the tracks, in true Ibiza spirit and also in line with my own eclectic tastes, I like to take the listener on a journey from sunset to sunrise and incorporate everything from ambient and downtempo, balearic beats, minimal, and dub techno.

EG: Do you approach working on this compilation differently compared to your own releases? 

Ben Hoo: Very much… when I’m writing music for my own solo EP’s I tend to try to keep a very open mind and create very freely, but with the Ibiza compilation there’s a direct intention in terms of the concept and this has a huge creative influence. The music I receive from others also influences the direction and somewhat dictates the original material from myself, as I’ll often write a piece to fulfill a certain purpose, for example, an intro track or a transition piece to enable me to move between moods.

EG:  What track, in particular, are you excited for fans to hear and why?

Ben Hoo: I’ve been getting a great reaction in the clubs when playing my track ‘Meet In The Middle’ and also my remix of Blond:ish’s ‘EEEYAAA’, so I’m excited for those to be released.

EG:  The compilation’s opening track ‘Into Focus’ features an alias of yours called Depth Migration.  And can listeners be on the lookout for future tracks from Depth Migration?

Ben Hoo: Depth Migration is a collaboration project with an amazing Ibiza based experimental/concept artist, Horacio M Alvarez. He’s a total analog-phile and he’s building an amazing collection of vintage synthesizers. He’s got such a beautiful mind and has some unique approaches to recording, which I find fascinating.  I needed an introduction piece for the compilation and thought his style would be a great fit.  We had a jam in the studio together and hit “record” and the track we created ‘Into Focus’ is the end result.  It’s just 2 synthesizers played live – Horacio’s Roland SH-101 and my DSI Prophet 12.  This is the first track we’ve completed together and definitely intend to do more.

“With the Ibiza compilation there’s a direct intention in terms of the concept and this has a huge creative influence”

EG: What really intrigues me is that across your catalog of work, you’ve never limited yourself to a singular style sonically. Why is it important for your work to showcase a breadth of musical influences?

Ben Hoo: I try to be free with the creative process and I have many influences and wide-ranging styles I love and I enjoy working with different sound textures. For me to explore different sound palates I feel I need to work across multiple genres.  I love to write for piano and contemporary classical music and enjoy incorporating vocals, but I don’t always like to use them in club music, so I often interpret them in other ways.  One thing that does remain consistent is my process of using sound manipulation, regardless of the specific genre I’m working in.

EG: Considering your wide musical palette, are there any artists outside of the house/dance arena you would be open to collaborating with?

Ben Hoo: I’m really wide open regarding collaboration ideas as long as I love what they’re doing and can find a relevance to my own tastes – I really enjoyed collaborating with LA-based spoken word artist, Karen Gibson Roc, on the ‘Breathe’ EP which was released on Ovum, and I more recently collaborated with an incredible cellist, Wayne Urquhart, with my new project called ‘Non Faction’.

EG: You truly have your hand in a variety of different pots. In addition to your Dj/producer duties, you host a radio show on Ibiza Sonica. How does one juggle all these demanding mediums?

Ben Hoo: Yes, I just celebrated the 200th edition of my weekly radio show ‘We Are Night People’ which is broadcast on Ibiza Sonica and Pioneer DJ Radio and I’m very grateful to the Sonica family for giving me this platform.  It can definitely be hard to juggle everything and keep the plates spinning, and sometimes your creative output can suffer when you’re trying to do too much, but I think I have a healthy workload in comparison to some.  I haven’t started a record label yet, something many producers and DJs add to their responsibilities, but it’s something I’m considering.

EG: You transplanted from London to Ibiza to really elevate your burgeoning career. What is it about Ibiza that attracted you initially and what about Ibiza still captivates you now?

Ben Hoo: The initial attraction of Ibiza when I first started coming here on holiday was, of course, the music and clubbing scene, but as you get to know the island more you realize there’s a whole other side to it.  Ibiza can really be what you want it to be and there is a very magical spiritual side.  Obviously, the weather is also a huge attraction, I LOVE the sun.  I made the decision to try to move here after an Easter weekend break in 2010. I think – it’s a really fantastic time to visit the island. I finally made the plunge in 2013 and I haven’t looked back.  I live in Paradise.

“I just celebrated the 200th edition of my weekly radio show ‘We Are Night People'”

EG: What home comforts, pubs and restaurants do you miss most from London?

Ben Hoo: I miss great Chinese restaurants and dim sum – I always visit Gerrard’s Corner in China Town when I’m back.  And the pub vibe in general.  I miss hanging with friends and family, but you have no shortage of visitors when you live in Ibiza. I also really miss Biltong!  It’s a South African spicy dried meat product – you can get it easily in London (Snoggy’s in Wimbledon is the best!!), but it’s not available here – I sometimes have friends bring it for me!

EG: What’s the schedule for your summer dates looking like? Any particular show you are especially looking forward to?

Ben Hoo: I’ve been speaking to some of my favorite promoters in Ibiza about a summer residency which I’m really excited about, but I can’t say anything more about that yet. Aside from that, I’m really looking forward to playing a special alternative chill out set at the magical Hostal La Torre on 8th June, and playing Pacha Barcelona for Sonar Off Week on June 13th. Also one of my favorite venues in Berlin, KaterBlau on June 15th.

Ben Hoo’s ‘An Expanse’ is already available. Grab your copy here.

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