Born in Bristol, Ben Jacobs aka Crackazat, currently resides in Sweden, where he’s developed a long-running relationship with Stockholm label, Local Talk. However, his last few releases have graced Jimpster`s Freerange imprint, and his new collection of quality recordings – the Demucha E.P. – is ready to go with The Netherlands` Heist. The title track opens with acoustic contrabass and builds on the same classic Detroit house template beloved by Bruise – packing some real piano power, and a saxophone blasting like a crazy kazoo. Sarge is seductive, sexy, deep. Its sparse keys, part marimba, part bleep, while the tinkling ivories and dubbed-out detail are like something you’d more commonly find on a trip hop side.We Know starts with pounding drum programming that had me thinking of Felix Da Housecat`s Tunnel Vision, but quickly morphs into something far more musical. Via a cosmic choir, taking off in a fantastic fusion-esque flight. Here our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider, caught up with the jazz man who continues to wow the house scene.
Interview conducted by The Insider.
Hello Ben, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.
My pleasure and thanks for having me.
You’ve been putting out some pretty amazing music this last year. How are you feeling about that right now?
It feels great thanks. I’m very happy with my musical achievements this year.
Your album Evergreen was so unbelievably impressive. How long did it take you to put it together?
Thank you. The whole project took about 18 months to complete. That includes writing demos, recording, artwork and promotion/release!
Would you call it a labour of love? Was it painful at times or was it all pure joy to make?
It was a pure joy to make, and I worked with such a wonderful team. Naturally making any project a reality is a process and there can be problems and issues you have to sort out.
Must have been quite emotional when it was finally ready to go?
Yes it was very emotional! I’ve dreamed of singing and writing my own songs since I was 14. I`m now 34. So this was the climax of a twenty year-long aspiration of mine. I wasn`t sure if I could pull it off.
You seem to be having success after success. Do you ever feel surprised by all the acclaim?
Thank you. What surprises me is that I have found relative success in the area of house music. In my head I`m still a jazz musician and beat maker. I didn`t start making, or listening to house, until my 20s. I am forever grateful to the house community for giving me a musical home, and a career.
You kicked off with Futureboogie and then with Local Talk. Do you feel that these teams helped to launch Cracazat and put you on your way in a sense?
Yes absolutely. Though my time with Futureboogie was short they where very encouraging and positive.
My work with Local Talk was the most informative and educational experience of my career so far. I was still incredibly new to the house music scene, and they acted very much as a shelter for me while I developed my own sound.
You sing on quite a few of your new tracks. Is singing something new for you?
Yes and no. It is new for me to present myself as a singer. However if you listen to “Person” from my first album and “Called My Name” from my second album, you can hear me trying out my singing there first!
Do you enjoy singing? Is this something that you plan to do more of?
Yes I love writing real songs, and singing. I would love to do more.
Your name is across a lot of labels right now. Z Records, Local Talk, Freerange, Heist…How do you manage that work load?
My movement across various labels is very pre-conceived. I manage it by giving myself long time-lines and nurturing long-term partnerships.
Creativity seems to be flowing for you. Has it always been this way? Do you feel like your planets are aligned right now?
To be honest, it`s always been this way. Perhaps it appears like a flow because I work very quickly, and play a lot of the parts on my songs myself. Social media has also been a great opportunity to show my music making flow through videos.
Heist have said that your last E.P. for them – Alfa – was one of the biggest selling records they’ve ever had. Did you know that? How does that feel?
It feels great. When I made Alfa I was going for a sound that I knew was accessible and commercial yet also distinctly “house”, and “vintage”. I`d heard the same style on other Heist records and I wanted to exploit that, and purposefully push for a successful, commercial, release.
Hot on the heels of Evergreen – on Freerange Records, comes Demucha. Quite a contrast to Evergreen and perhaps more in line with Alfa. Can you tell us about the making of Demucha and were you keen to take things in a different direction after the album?
Demucha is indeed a direct follow up to Alfa. Working with Labels means I can move in different directions at the same time. I like to establish a sound with each label and build upon it for future releases. I`ve done the same thing with Local Talk and Z Records.
You`re a one man show, playing keys, bass and providing the vocals. Do you ever think about collaborating? Have you ever collaborated in the studio? and is there anyone that you would like to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate in the studio. My time commitments make it hard for me, but I’m very happy to report that I have some collaborations in the works (smiles).
You’ve had some incredible remixers with Ron Trent being one of the most recent. It must have been quite a buzz to have the Prescription Records master working on your music?
Ron Trent’s Remix of Simple Things is astounding. I’m very glad that he came onboard. We can thank Jamie / Jimpster at Freerange Records for making that happen.
The Crackazat live performance is something special. Are there plans to take this on the road this year?
I am currently taking a break from solo live performances. The next goal, though, would be to bring in other musicians, and perhaps play as a band. That’s something I`d love to do!
What else are you working on at the moment Ben?
I have some collaborations and remixes in the works and I`m figuring out how to get more musicians involved in the music, both for live performance, and my socials / videos.
It really does feel like it’s your time right now Ben. Please let me wish you all the best with this wonderful release once again!
Thank you very much!
Crackazat`s Demucha E.P. is out this Friday, August 26th, on Heist Recordings.