DJ Bosq, aka Ben Woods, credits music programs on the Cape for his successBy Rob Conery
At age 11, Ben Woods had developed a serious interest in music. A few years later, he received his first turntables and “started messing around.” Now, Woods—more commonly known as the international music producer, disc jockey, and composer DJ Bosq—will be releasing a four-song EP this month, followed shortly by a second album in October.
While growing up in Brewster, Bosq learned to respect and enjoy living in a culture that embraced the arts. He made the decision early on to enter the music business while in sixth grade—a choice partially influenced by his older brother’s rap tapes. Bosq cites early hip-hop albums as a jumping off point for his rhythmic infatuation.
“[Producers] like RZA (pronounced Rizza; from the Wu Tang Clan) and DJ Premiere (Gang Starr) really got to me,” says Bosq, mentioning that he was drawn most strongly to the production of albums and music. He sought something more stripped down, more organic. It is the organic grittiness of RZA’s sound that inspires Bosq’s work to this day.
He took Lisa Brown’s world music class while attending Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, as well as an independent study in music. Even before high school, the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School in Orleans (now in Harwich) offered music classes that he recalls as being fun and more experimental as compared to other middle schools. Bosq continued his education at Northeastern University, where he majored in music technology and multimedia studies. Bosq, now 31, lives in Jamaica Plain to be closer to the thriving music scene of Boston.
Bosq, the Spanish translation of his last name (Woods), released the single “Bad For Me,” featuring Nicole Willis, in February. It’s a mid-tempo disco groove, one that Bosq says is perhaps the “most coherent and musically complete” track he has released so far.
Bosq describes his own sound as “Afro-Latin disco funk, with definite reggae and hip-hop influences.” When composing, Bosq will start with a drum pattern or even a chord progression on the piano, then build on that sound. Then he’ll add drum tracks, loops and sounds, samples and horns—whatever he feels the track needs—and then find a lyricist or a musician to fill out the sound before heading into the studio to record the final result.
The self-taught musician composes on keyboards, but also plays percussion. He says he has played bass and saxophone on records, but admits he has “a long way to go on both of those [instruments].”
Considering the intriciate layering of each track—drums and samples, keyboards and vocal mixes—Bosq says, “Sometimes the hardest part is knowing when it’s done. It’s a gut feeling.” Driven by passion, Bosq puts in the time. He says he works at least five days a week, “sometimes for 15 hours, sometimes for eight.”
Propelled by the success of his own work, Bosq is moving afield, too. He’s played West Coast gigs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and recently wrapped production on an album recorded in Puerto Rico. Billed as Bosq and the Candela All Stars, he was able to work with local musicians there for two weeks of collaborations that netted his soon-to-be-released album “Celestial Strut” (Ubiquity Records). In the past seven months, he has also traveled to Belgium, Columbia and Chile, and he is frequently sought as a DJ in clubs in New York City, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Boston.
Now, Bosq says the hardest part of his job is not stressing about how to make money through music in an atmosphere where there isn’t any money in sales. “It’s a collapsing industry,” notes the musician.
But Bosq says that even while the music industry goes through painful changes, there is a silver lining. Without the top-down, performance-driven, results-oriented direction from the big labels, independent artists are allowed more freedom to both pursue their muse and to create their own sounds. Lost voices are finding their audience in a fractured media landscape.
Bosq enjoys DJ-ing the clubs, which he admits is a great way to try out some of his new material. While he enjoys working on remixes of other artists’ material, he attributes his highest form of pride to the composition of his original sounds. “It’s more of an honest expression.”