By John Stein
Photos: by PhotoStudio Miami
Ben Bakson grew up an only child in a small village in southern Germany, watching movies, listening to music, and enjoying long days on the lake with his family. At 18, he moved to Berlin to study Economics, and after graduating, he landed a marketing job at a large firm. He found the 9 to 5 life wasn’t for that and began dabbling in music production.
His music style today is commercial with hard, emotional, and energetic beats. He regards vocals as vital, referring to them as the soul of every song. Music fans seem to agree as Ben Bakson has been playing to packed dancefloors every weekend for three months, spinning parties in Sao Paulo, San Francisco, Mykonos, Washington DC, and NYC. He returns to Atlanta on November 19.
We caught up with the master of the beat for a one-on-one in San Diego, where he was opening the city’s Pride events.
What’s the worst part of doing these kinds of interviews?
Never knowing what kind of questions are going to be asked! (Laughing) You need to have the right answer ready immediately. But I am quite quick-witted, to be honest; therefore, it has not been an issue so far.
You seem like the quiet type, someone who prefers to keep his private life to himself.
Interesting perception because I think most people think the opposite. They assume that I am outgoing because I’m a DJ that celebrates my life quite publicly on social media. They don’t realize all of that is part of my job. I try to keep my private life as private as possible, especially my love life.
It seems to me like a lot of DJs choose to speak their minds through their music sets.
I definitely agree, and I absolutely do that. Music is the one common language we humans have. For me, it is therapy. I can channel my emotions through music, and I love when I get feedback from fans that my music helped them to get through a difficult moment. That makes me very happy.
Would you say your music is tribal?
I’m not a fan of labeling my music as a particular genre because I honestly think my music style crosses several genres. I feel the same way about being forced to label my sexuality. Am I gay simply because I like sex with men? Sex is a very small part of who I am as a person, and I think everyone should have sex with the person he loves and finds attractive. I don’t think it needs an explanation, label, or commenting. I’m convinced that in the future, the whole idea of straight, gay, and whatever we do in bed won’t matter because, in the end, what counts is that we are all human and equal.
Is that why your dancefloors attract all genders and sexualities?
I try to make my dancefloor as diverse as I can. I have a lot of straight friends that I invite to my events, and they love my music as much as gay men and women. My big goal is for my sound to be loved by everyone. I would like to play all floors. The big hurdle for me is that most of the big straight festivals won’t book any of the big DJs of the LGBT world.
What will it take to blur the lines between gay and straight?
We need party producers to create events that attract straight and gay people and then book DJs from both worlds that will unite all and create a unique musical journey.
Tell us about your new song, “You Got Me.”
The track was written by the talented singer OMEO. It’s about a relationship with a toxic person and how important it is to free yourself from them.
Is it a song you can relate to?
Most definitely. I have been single for about a year now, which has been the longest time in my life so far. Honestly, I have been very happy, sharing my time with amazing friends and my beloved dog Macho. I may have met a special person, but I’m not putting any stress on it or making any long-term plans.
Who is your celeb crush?
That’s easy: JLo’s hairdresser, Chris Appleton.
If you could have any magic power, what would it be?
Sometimes I think I already have too many magic powers, like reading people’s minds and knowing what will happen next. I have a sixth sense! I also think music is my magic power. I can bring people together, make them feel happy on the dancefloor and even help them feel better at home through my podcasts. That’s pretty powerful.
Besides music, do you have a secret talent?
I think I do, but I can’t talk about it here.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
That moment when I realize how grateful I am for all that I have.
What is your greatest fear?
The music stopping during my set. It has happened twice so far, both due to technical issues that were out of my control.
What is your most treasured possession?
My dog, Macho.
What makes Macho the greatest dog in the world?
You have to meet him, and you will understand immediately. The cutest, most loving, protecting, most intelligent being I have ever met.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
There are things I’d like to change, and you can be sure I’m working on changing them already.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Envy. I don’t really understand people who try to sabotage others. I prefer to be happy for them and support their success. It motivates me to work harder to be more successful myself.
Which living person do you most admire?
My parents. I am very thankful for what they gave me in my childhood. Education, lots of love, and empathy; without them, I would not be where I am now.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I think I am ok. We all need to learn to relax a bit about being too self-critical and just be happy the way we are.
Follow Ben on IG @ben_bakson