Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SHOW & BONK Artist Interview/Spotlight: BOB HANSEN


Friday, October 22
Chop Suey
1325 E. Madison
(click HERE for more info!)

Show & Bonk Artist Spotlight: BOB HANSEN (Jacob London)

Dad. DJ. Producer. Photographer. Needless to say, Bob Hansen has been a busy man. As one-half of local legends Jacob London (with Dave Pezzner), Bob established himself as a world-class DJ and producer touring and recording for an amalgam of respected labels such as U-Freqs, Free The Funk, Viva, Om, and their own imprint squid:records. Jacob London recently took a break as Bob became a father & Dave pursued his solo career.

Bob spoke to me about his time with Jacob London, what he’s up to these days, and what’s next for him.

VERSE: I know you recently became a dad – congratulations!! Was parenthood a primary reason for taking a step back from performing and producing? Dave has moved on as a solo artist, but are there plans to get Jacob London back together in earnest?

BOB HANSEN: Parenthood came after I had already taken a step back from performing and producing with Dave. Jacob London got put on the shelf a few years ago, when we realized that our goals for our music career just didn't sync up. Dave wanted to go full-time with it and really make it a career, while I've always preferred holding down day jobs and doing the music when, and how, I want. He's also built for the touring lifestyle much better than I am. While I really enjoyed traveling and playing out with him, I just don't have the stamina–or desire–to hit the road as much as he does now. Which, you really have to do if you're trying to make a serious go at it.

I never stopped writing and producing though. I've been working on a couple solo projects as well, just at a much slower pace. I've been remixing and producing mainly as Hanssen, exploring indie/rocktronica/ambient/disco sounds. I had grown really tired of producing music specifically for DJs to play at dance-clubs, and this new direction has been a real creative boon for me.
Having a baby even helped, I think. I've gotten more done in the 9.5 months we've had her around, than I did the 2 years before that! I've gotten really good at getting a lot done in 45 minutes.

We haven't really even put the lid on Jacob London, for that matter. We've added new stuff to the Jacob London discography every year, up thru this year! We started going off the rails a bit though, so I don't think it's really been noticed. We did a hip-hop EP for Street Ritual and a gabber remix for Mochipet. We had a quirky minimal techno record on Frankie. And we're currently working on a garage/2-step release. We both would love to collaborate more, but our careers and lifestyles don't exactly allow for it more than once in a while. Anything can happen though!

VERSE: I recently interviewed Eva, and she mentioned being inspired by frequenting clubs around Seattle such as the Monestary and the Underground. Did you also frequent these clubs?

BOB HANSEN: I completely missed out on The Monestary, but I did go to The Underground at least a handful of times. Dave lived in the U-District at the time, so he went a lot more regularly than I did. I remember seeing Autechre play live there...must've been '94? That's gotta be in my Top 5 list of things that I probably didn't appreciate nearly as much as I should have! I'm pretty sure I even said something along the lines of "This is boring! They're just standing there pushing buttons and turning knobs!"

VERSE: Did you and Dave start DJing together in 1992? What inspired you to start playing and mixing records?

BOB HANSEN: We didn't actually start DJing until the mid/late 90's. We had gotten together in high school and started making ultra-low-tech industrial music around '92. That gave way to rave music, which gave way to trance and house, and by '97 we had our first vinyl release on Carlos daSilva's eatKnowledge records. We had been performing live at raves and the like under the name Vitus Dance, and Carlos thought we should use a different name for the release...and Jacob London was officially born.

DJing came around then as well, when a good friend of ours, Josh Stewart (aka Axcys), left his 1200's at our place for an extended period of time. We kept at it and taught ourselves to beatmatch and got totally hooked on quirky/funky house and ridiculously banging techno.

VERSE: Please explain the unique CD labeling system you and Dave used. I noticed the interesting and hilarious iconography pasted on each of your CDs with little to nothing else marked. How would you know what music was on which CD?

BOB HANSEN: We've gone thru a number of labeling strategies trying to find the ideal method. One of things that bothered us about playing the CD's was that you missed the experience of flipping thru a crate of records and being able to quickly find the one you want based on what the label or jacket looks like. We found ourselves flipping thru these CD books, with no idea what anything was without reading every one. Not really great for when you've let a track run too long and there's only 45 seconds left before it ends and everybody starts laughing at you.

We tried icons, which is probably what you saw. We always had the artist/track names though. Icons helped, but still didn't quite do the trick. So we started designing and printing custom labels for each CD. We'd cruise the internet for images and photos that would stand out, and used them for the labels. Of course, they'd usually end up being really hilarious photos.

VERSE: What kind of equipment were you using in the pre-Ableton/ProTools era?

BOB HANSEN: When we started out in high school, I had a Roland Juno-1 synth and a couple crappy Korg drum machines. We'd "multitrack" by dubbing between two tape decks, playing along with the previously recorded material. We graduated to an Ensoniq EPS-1, and then ASR-10, which we used almost exclusively for a long time. We eventually started sequencing everything on a Mac, but the sound was still all ASR-10.

We discovered Fruity Loops around version 3, I think it was. I have no idea what year it was that we made that switch, but we've been using it ever since. I miss hardware sometimes, but Fruity Loops (now FL Studio) is so fantastic I can't bring myself to bother with the "hassle" of it.

VERSE: According to your bio, your “Hydrogenated Funk” record served as a big break for Jacob London. Did you start touring around this time to support it?

BOB HANSEN: Not really, no. And I suppose it's slightly misleading to say that was our "big break". It was a break in the sense that it was our first vinyl release, but our real big break came when Classic Records released the Casual Bingo record in 2003.

However, before that release in 1997, we had been primarily a live PA for a while. So, we didn't tour, but we were pretty busy playing one-off parties at NAF Studios, the Lish House, and other assorted dirty venues around the area.

VERSE: Your photography work is gorgeous (www.bobhansenphoto.com)! Are you pursuing this in earnest in lieu of music?

BOB HANSEN: Thank you! I really enjoy it, but it hasn't been "in lieu of" anything. I started doing a lot of it while I was not yet a parent, so I had plenty of free time and money. I've nearly stopped doing photography completely (aside from the nightlife stuff, which is a totally different beast) now that I have very little free time or expendable income. I'll get back to it in full force again soon I'm sure, but for now my inspiration is hitting pretty squarely on the music side.

Bob Hansen performs at the Show And Bonk showcase on Friday, October 22nd at Chop Suey (1325 E. Madison). Click HERE for advance tickets and HERE for additional Show And Bonk information.

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