INTERVIEW: Jackhigh / Singing Statues
Jackhigh, Singing Statues, Bnjmn, 141, half of Teebs & Jackhigh, to me, he goes by the name Ben Thomas, and 2010 is going to be quite the big year for him. Recently singed to Ghostly International, among a slew of other labels (including Rush Hour) the 22 year old beatmaestroguitarplayingenigma took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about his upcoming release on Ghostly International, among other things…
Jesse Futerman: When did you start making music and why? And when did you get into making electronic music, were there any particular artists that pushed you into it?
Ben Thomas: I started making my own music about the time I left school. Before that I had been playing the guitar in various bands since quite a young age, but I felt like I wanted more freedom in creating music and getting into music software enabled me to do that. I had a few friends that helped me to get to grips with the software and showed me what could be done with it. As I got more into electronic music I left the guitar behind for a few years and have only just got back into using that with the Singing Statues stuff.
JF: How would you describe the sound of Singing Statues? And is there any particular reason that you started using your guitar again, instead of just software?
BT: I’d like to think it combines the best bits of all the music I’ve done before; melodically, sonically and rhythmically. I’m really into atmospheric soundscapes, the type where you can imagine yourself in another place or time. That would be my main goal really, to evoke images in peoples’ minds. I started using the guitar again just as an extension of what I was doing before, the process of making music is still the same. Also I try to use my voice in the same way, just as another layer to the music, instead of it being at the forefront of the music.
JF: Are there any specific artists, either audio or visual, that have inspired the sound of Singing Statues?
BT: Ahhh, so many. Obviously a lot of electronic music, a lot of the minimal beats stuff over the past few years, people like Lukid and Zomby that are really pushing things forward in those realms. Also a lot of older music, Nick Drake and John Martyn spring to mind. Then there’s artists like Animal Collective and Caribou who fit somewhere in the middle of the electronic/organic stuff who I’ve been really inspired by lately. Oh, and a lot of early dream pop/shoegaze stuff like My Bloody Valentine, that “wall of sound” way of mixing has been a big influence.
JF: Not too long ago you got signed with Ghostly International, how did that come about? Could you give any information on your upcoming release in terms of sound and feeling?
BT: The label boss, Sam V, actually contacted me through MySpace early last year. I continued sending him stuff over several months and we finally penned a deal in September. The first release is going to contain stuff made from last year, but I’m always sending him new things so there may be some new additions aswell. In terms of sound and feeling, the stuff I’m working on now is probably more song-based than anything I’ve done before, with more emphasis on vocal melodies and arrangements rather than just “beats”. I also switched software a few months ago, and what I’m using now has much more of a clean sound to it, which has taken me a while to adjust, but I feel that the tracks are sounding fuller sonically.
JF: I remember you were using some fairly archaic sound software. With your switch to Logic, have you found it to help your work more so than your other software?
BT: For a while it really put a halt to my creative output, I thought I’d lost my sound, ha ha! But now I feel just as comfortable as I did using Cubase. It’s hard to explain, but once you get over the learning curve of the software, and you’re completely comfortable using it, it almost becomes a part of you and the ideas can then flow freely through you into the software, without any hindrance of technicalities.
JF: Very nice. Out of curiosity, do you have any upcoming projects or releases you would like to talk about?
BT: Apart from the Statues stuff on Ghostly, there is a Teebs & Jackhigh EP coming out on Svetlana Industries in a few weeks, which is going to feature artwork by Teebs and some really cool limited prints and tees, which I’m really excited for. Svetlana are also going to be putting out some of the unreleased Jackhigh material along with an EP I made under the name 141. Also, Rush Hour in Holland are going to be putting out some house/techno things I’ve made under the name Bnjmn, which has been mastered, but I’m unsure of release dates.
JF: Well, thank you for your time good sir, and I wish you the best with your upcoming releases!
BT: It’s been a pleasure man, big thanks for doing this! People should also be looking out for ‘your’ music in the not too distant future!
Grab the Outtakes EP by Singing Statues for FREE here.