Name: Ben Kaczor
Occupations: Producer, DJ
Current release: Ben Kaczor's Sun Chapter One is out via KCZ / CZT.
Recommendations: Insight / Outlook - Albert Hofmann (book); Live on the Boffomundo Show - Fumio Miyashita (album)
If you enjoyed this interview with Ben Kaczor and would like to know more about his work and music, visit him on Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
My father was a musician himself and he bought me my first drum kit for my sixth birthday, with which I made my very first experiences. My skateboard was soon somewhat more important to me, but a big part of the drive while skating was my Discman on which I listened to albums like "Licensed to Ill" by the Beasty Boys. At the same time, I was always on the lookout for new music, swapping CDs and recommending the music I liked to everyone I cared about.
When I was 14, I bought my first turntables and was part of our hip hop crew as a DJ for the first time. Later, I became more and more interested in electronic music and learned to produce my own self-taught music.
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
I perceive moods and feelings rather than colours. It is the deeper level on which music or sound resonates with me. When this resonance arises, it is one of the most fulfilling feelings for me.
When I make music myself, I look for exactly this moment. I rarely work according to an idea but much more often I try to capture the moment I am in.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
Up and down, backwards and forwards, three steps up and then thrown back two — things being sewn with the zigzag stich is a better fit and that's why mistakes might also be good and of benefit.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
I would describe myself as a very self-reflective person, internally and externally. This can be a curse or a blessing depending on the situation, but with the right perspective, it enhances my personality and creativity a lot.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
I always try to remain myself, to follow my intiution and not to judge it.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
Generally speaking, I think that perfection as a concept only exists in presentness. When I am comfortable with what I am doing, I might perceive some sort of perfection, so to speak.
I try not to make any demands on my artistic work and I am therefore not committed to any future.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Certainly Ableton Live and reduced instruments like an old piano, but environments, situations and people can be just as inspiring.
Basically, I am most creative when I work in a reduced way. I can rarely concentrate on more than one sound generator.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
A good breakfast to start the day is way to go. Then I like to write or meditate for 10 minutes to empty my head. Afterwards, I go to my studio and briefly write down my goals for the day. I don't have to work through them, but in a way and also as a starting point they help me keep my focus. I then try to let my creativity run free as much as possible.
In the evening, I like to do some moving around, and meet up with friends and family.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
For my new live set that I am currently preparing, I am recording hours of sounds that I record intuitively in the moment. Later, I cut parts that I particularly like out of these recordings, create loops and sound palettes with which I can then play and improvise.
Once these steps have been taken, I prepare my equipment so that I can perform live and also leave myself the option of improvising with other instruments.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I am a big fan of collaboration and exchange with other people. But I only feel comfortable with it when I can also be completely myself and the other person just as well.
So when the chemistry is right, beautiful things emerge and very creative projects can develop further.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
I put a lot of love and feelings into my music, if it radiates these feelings and moreover other people become part of it, then I can make my personal contribution to bring love into society.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
I think they have good and bad sides.
On the one hand, science brings the technical possibilities with which you can make music ever further. Many programs facilitate a lot, this gives you the opportunity to be more intuitive and free from thinking creatively. At the same time, the technology of science makes us dependent and we forget how powerful simple things are and how to create them ourselves.
I myself am glad that today's technology enables me to do a lot at the push of a button, so to speak. But I also try to achieve the same amount on the piano, for example by getting into the same state of creative being through the sounding of a tone. As long as technology and subject are in a productive balance, I see science as a good and progressive thing.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
In the end, it's the attention you give to the moment and therefore to the detail that counts. Certainly when I'm making music I pay attention more often to being in this state called "creativity". But I also try to live this creativity in everyday life situations.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
Yes, it is the resonance. Vibrations that are in everything interact, and they can create a harmonious dialog in their situative resonance.
If you like a song so much that it gives you goose bumps or makes you extremely happy, it is somewhat resonating with a common mood, the vibrations are directly affecting the deepest point of you in moments or as a specific person. This triggers a deep feeling.