Ben The Glorious Bastard
Ben, “the Glorious Bastard,” 36 yr old beatmaker, audio engineer, sound designer and music producer, was born and raised in Paris, France. He relocated in early 2013 to Brooklyn, to expand his career. His journey into the music world led him to cross paths and work with a lot of very inspiring legends: Damon Dash, Jim Jones, Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Dipset/Diplomats, Ryan Leslie, Ski Beatz, A-Trak, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch, Styles P, A$AP Rocky, Swizz Beatz, DJ Clark Kent, Wiz Khalifa, Philadelphia’s iconic Soul producer Bobby Eli, RZA, Raekwon, Warren G, Kanye West, Mike Dean, B-real from Cypress Hill and many more.
We chatted with Ben about how he’s using the Pro 2.
Ben, what made you choose the Pro 2?
“I stumbled upon the Pro 2 when I was building Damon Dash’s music studio. I was going to pretty much every music store in New York City to try gear — from drum sets and guitar amps to mics and studio monitors. The Pro 2 just came out, I gave it a shot and was really impressed. At that time I was not shopping for a synth, so I just kept the Pro 2 in the back of my head as something I should check later on. Then, something like a year later, I was looking for my main synth. I was determined to find that one piece of gear to rule them all; something I could sit in front of and create new music with. New sounds, new textures, new styles. I was looking for an inspiring instrument. I went back to that store and jammed with the Pro 2 again and asked a lot of questions. I was hooked. When I thought about all the possibilities of the digital oscillators, the sound of the 2 powerful filters, 5 envelopes, 4 LFOs, 4 delays and pretty much endless modulations, I thought: “Is this the best mono synth ever, or what?” It was almost too good to be true. Then I watched all Marc Doty’s Pro 2 videos, countless times, just to make sure I was not tripping and that that synth was as good as I felt it was. ‘Cause you know, it’s always different in a store. You can’t really vibe with the instrument and get a deep feel out of it. It stays on the surface. It’s like a date, you have to get intimate to really know the person. This doesn’t happen in a bar on the first date — you have to bring the girl home to really know what’s up. But it’s a commitment. Nobody wants to buy a synth to later on sell it, it’s a terrible feeling. I did a session for Kanye West for The Life of Pablo and I remember feeling very inspired and in a weird train of thought, I ended up thinking “I need to buy the Pro 2 right now!” I called the store and went to pick it up. One of the best decisions ever.”
How are you using it?
“It’s my main composition tool, I do most of my synth sounds with it — basses, leads, effects… it does every monophonic sound I need. The Pro 2 can sound analog or digital, whatever that means to you. I love to hook it up to my Ensoniq DP/4+ or just play it raw. Also, usually I’m not big on on-board sequencers but with the Pro 2 I can spend an entire day playing with the mind-blowing 15 tracks of modulation. Just saying it makes you realize how next-level this is: 15 tracks of modulation inside a mono synth.”
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“I love everything about it, seriously. Let me start with the oscillators, you get so many waveforms! It’s amazing how they sound and what you can do with them. I love the wavetables, where you can use the shape mod to blend different waveforms together. It’s truly amazing. I love the effects and the fact that the external input is fully processed like an oscillator. I hook up my Vermona Mono Lancet to it and unleash some straight-up gigantic sounds! Then come the filters, they’re some of the best out there, period. You can go subtle or on some crazy drive, but I must say, the multi-mode filter and the serial/parallel blend knob got me from the get-go. The 4 delays with a fire BBD-like, 4 LFOs, 5 envelopes and countless modulation slots… this is truly a sound designer’s dream. Plus, you get the analog distortion and the amazing feedback section. Like I said, it feels like it’s too good to be true. So I’d say that my favorite thing about it is that I love everything about it!”
What does it give you that other synths might not?
“The sonic palette. It’s endless. I’ve been into synthesizers for like, 15 years solid and it takes a genius to come up with a great synth. I’m really big on Reaktor and I love modular synths which makes me fully understand how a great synth is way, way more than a sum of great modules. When you buy a Pro 2, you don’t just buy different good sections hooked up together in one box. You also buy something that, in my book, is worth a lot: you buy Dave Smith’s synth architecture expertise. The way things are set up, the options you have and don’t have, how things work, the logic behind every function, the choice of waveforms, everything! It’s truly the work of a genius, because it’s a real instrument that empowers you. We all have some virtual synths with like 256 wave forms and 96 filter types and a gazillion LFOs and modulation slots that we never ever use. Why? Because it’s not an instrument, it’s just specs with a terrible interface and no persona, no mojo. I love that the name of the brand is DSI, it says it all, you buy an instrument made by Dave Smith. It is a keyboard instrument from the mind of the man who created some of the best synthesizers in music history and who pretty much came up with the MIDI standard. This is legendary expertise.”
Any interesting Pro 2 tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“I love to modulate everything, but very slightly. I put the LFOs at a decent speed and play with small values of amount on a lot of parameters. I also love to put 2 oscillators, LFOs, delays or pretty much anything with very close and similar values – just to make the synth shake. You can create a lot of movements in the sound with the Pro 2. It’s truly remarkable.”
Check out Ben’s website here.
Check out Ben’s music here.