Recently out of university, Ben Woods has excelled in a career within music production and management. His tracks, which are released on SoundCloud, have a mix of different instruments and styles that come together to present a lo-fi environment to the listener. With his own flair to each of his tracks, Woods incorporates sounds and beats influenced by his favorite artists such as STS9, Tyko, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat.


“Just know that whatever you’re making, even though it might not be very good in your eyes, can really change somebody else’s life.”


After his recent collaboration with 17 other artists in the SVMMER SUNSET collaboration project produced by the label SVUNSET WAVES, Woods gave Gnarles the scoop on the ongoing volumes of SVMMER SUN and the up and coming projects that Woods is involved in. From music/paint show collaborations that leave people literally breathless to platform preference and advice, here is DJ Woods:


What genre do you consider Woods to be? And who would you say are your biggest influences when producing?

“I would consider Woods to be, at its core, experimental with an electronic influence. What I’m really trying to incorporate is a live band setting that is really influenced by percussion. To have a basis of a sound that builds a mood where other individuals can build off of as well. I would consider Woods to also be a basis of experimenting and bringing different genres like jazz, hip hop, rock and roll, and electronic music all into one idea that people can work out of. My biggest influence, for one, would be STS9. I’ve been listening to them for probably ten years now and ever since I’ve started listening to them, I’ve fallen in love with how different they sound. They are kind of similar to what I’m trying to do in regards to being a live band but also having electronic sounds and influence in genres. So definitely STS9 is my number one inspiration and then that stems into Tyko, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat. There are just so many different artists that I hear pieces of their work and try to incorporate into some of my own stuff.” 


What do you think the classification of genres within music is today and how do you think this generation within the music industry has affected your projects?

“I think my project, itself, is constantly in the state of experimentation where it’s just exploring different sounds. It’s really hard for me to classify my music into a single genre. I feel like music nowadays is so hard to classify. It’s not that music as a whole is starting to sound the same but that each branch of it is extending so far out where, for example, a punk band starts playing country music and people dig it. You know what I’m saying? It’s just a constant web of growth that’s forever changing. Another thing is that all of the people that I know personally are very good musicians who are working on different projects and have their own distinct style of playing but they can translate that very well into different settings. That’s why I want to have a live band where people can bring different tastes in music and styles of playing into my own music and just kind of go off of that and see what happens. I just think the best sounding stuff comes out of freely playing and going off of a certain rhythm or sound. That’s one thing I like about STS9. They are pushing the boundaries and are constantly progressing. It’s amazing to see a band that is so well known and has been around for a while still getting better and better.”


What would you say are the best places to play your music? What’s your favorite spot to play at?

“Most of what I’ve performed has been at house shows in the area and those are definitely my favorite places to perform in just because it’s a very laid back environment. You can get super sweaty in them sometimes [laughs] and you’ll just be partying till 3 am [laughs]. Especially in the area where I went to college. Those are the good parties that happen around here. Not frats nor bars. The good parties are house shows. It’s just a bunch of people showing up and throwing down. The cops would show up and just tell us to be done by 12 am but they didn’t really care [laughs]. I actually started putting together some house shows myself. Tried to start a production company like start video recording people and start a web series but it fell through. What came out of that though, were the shows we put on where we didn’t even have to promote anything to get a crowd. For one of the shows, we got three bands on the ticket and over 100 people showed up and we got a live painter there too. They’re pretty great over here [laughs]. There’s a lot of bands here and it’s so weird because a lot of people think that Nashville is JUST a country music scene. Yeah, it’s big here for sure, but it’s slowly becoming more than that. Shoegazer type rock and roll, kind of like Mac DeMarco type bands, are what’s really growing here. There’s a lot of bands that are being that lazy rock type genre that is coming up here.”


What process do you go through when producing tracks? 

“It’s different every time I go into it. For example, I hear a track that I really like or something that I hear and try to emulate that. Sometimes, it’ll turn into a full-on project and I’ll go based on what I laid down. But there are also points where I’ll just sit down and be messing around with different sounds, like playing some chords.  I’ll play a melody and depending on what that sounds like, I’ll go off or sometimes I’ll start with drums and then add the melody later. It’s just constantly changing the way I create my tracks. But usually, for the most part, since I am experimentation-based, it’s all just a matter of what I’m feeling that day. It’s altered by music. Sometimes I’ll just be chilling and create something that sounds super sad and depressing but in reality, I’m just chillin [laughs]. And not depressed [laughs].” 


What platform do you think is best to use when releasing new music?

“I think when you’re first starting out, the best platform to release your music is definitely SoundCloud. It gives you the chance to put stuff out there without feeling the pressure of making sure that it’s fine-tuned, sounds really good, and getting consistency back. With SoundCloud, you can go to an artist profile and come out on a track. You can actually message them and tell them that you love the track. There’s been multiple occurrences where I’ve talked to somebody that I am influenced by or vice versa and then that’ll turn into us just collaborating on a track or having different opportunities to talk to different people and work on different opportunities. Right now, I’ve gotten further away from releasing on SoundCloud because I actually want to get paid for my music now [laughs]. It’s not ideal for getting paid because I just feel like SoundCloud is becoming more saturated. It’s still a solid platform to release music on. I think a lot of people are moving more towards releasing 3 out of 5 tracks on SoundCloud and if you want the rest of the tracks you go on Spotify or Bandcamp or wherever. I think as an artist, starting out with SoundCloud or Bandcamp is definitely the way to go if you’re doing singles or small EPs. It also depends on accessibility now because with STEM it’s easy for people to just get an account hooked up and start getting paid for their music. STEM works with different artists and has a different way for musicians to put their music out there for movies, tv shows, or anything that is available to the artist, which is good. Even if it just turns into Spotify changing their payment plan where every time an artist’s song gets plaid they send like .0025 of a cent [laughs]. The cool thing about being an independent artist is that there are many different ways to get your stuff heard and it’s always going to be changing depending on how the industry works. It’s such a weird time right now for the music industry because of the technology that is coming out and not being sure of what it entails. But I think it’s going to be good for the artist. It’s more geared now towards helping the artist. Especially with the new law that was passed by the house of representatives called the Music Modernization Act where artists need to be paid more for their music.”


Do you think that there are any influences of Tennessee within your music?

“In some ways yeah, based on my environment. I’m just a product of my emotions and surroundings. Tennessee itself doesn’t influence me to make anything. The culture of Tennessee has just been changing with hipster town [laughs.] In that, it’s just super gentrified and all of this nonsense that doesn’t need to be there is there. I just feel like a lot of places are being gentrified and becoming super white which isn’t really good. I feel like if I lived in Colorado, I would enjoy that environment so much more and would have more of an influence in my environment unlike here in Tennessee. My house is in a pretty nature-esc area, so I think that is the environment that influences me the most. I don’t think it would change very much how I make music if I didn’t live here either though.”


What is the funniest thing that has happened on stage or with a fan?

“We had our first showcase with a live painter that I put on. He had a bunch of spray paint because he was a graffiti artist. This was completely unplanned because one of the artists was like “Hey my buddy wants to stop by and combine playing the show with painting” And I was like “Yeah that sounds incredible!” So the dude shows up with all his gear and sets up in the garage right next to the basement area where the band was set up. People start showing up and he’s setting up his canvas and everything and the first band starts to play. Everything is going well while he’s spray painting and all that. By the time that the second band comes up though, I see this girl bring in this huge plant saying “we need some fucking oxygen because we’re all feeling so light-headed from this fucking guy painting” [laughs] So I had to tell this guy to move outside because people were getting light-headed and he just gave me such a hard time about it. I was like “Bro people are dying in here” [laughs] So yeah, that was a pretty funny situation because you could tell people were just walking out constantly to get fresh air during each set [laughs].”


I saw that you were recently along with 17 other artists on SVMMER SVN vol. 6, what’s that about

“In 2015, when I was really getting into producing on Ableton and figuring out my sound, I was contacted after releasing a track by this guy Corbin who runs SVNSET WAVES, which is his label. SVNSET WAVES is really focussed on just getting these independent producers on this platform and for them to share their music. To be able to be proud of something more than just them releasing a track and receiving feedback. It’s about being part of something that is big with other artists that you can network with. For artists to be in a community of people who are willing to support your music. So, he contacted me to release one of my tracks on the third volume for this SVMMER SVN compilation album. Corbin does these different compilation albums with different seasons. He’ll do Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring compilations. He really focuses on the mood of each season because for example, if you go back and listen to some of the WINTER WINDS compilation tracks, they are all very mellow, melancholy, and cold sounding. This, in itself, is super interesting to me and I’ve always appreciated people expanding on art like that in a way of just having different themes for things. These compilation tracks feature artists from all over, and some of them are really popular and some of them have like 200 followers. It’s so cool to see a compilation album and to list through the tracks and hearing all the different styles and all the different artists in general. After a couple of years of releasing 3 or 4 tracks in total with SVNSET WAVES on these different compilation albums, and after graduating college with a music business degree, I’ve still kept in touch with this guy and have been helping him grow the label more by advising him on different business aspects. He wants to turn this label into something along the lines of Ghostly International, which is a label that is more than just music. It also does cool videos, visual artists that create posters and zines, showcases all over the world and is a platform for people to share their talents. It’s cool to be included in something like this that grows further than what we think it will grow into. We’re actually working on a magazine that is going to be for all the different artists that have been a part of SVNSET WAVES. I think overall, there are over 200 artists that have released tracks through SVNSET WAVES. It’s probably one of the biggest labels out there right now with one of the biggest rosters. It’s not like they are all signed or anything. It’s all just a matter of having the opportunity to contact people on the internet and having any tracks they want to send to us to make some money off of. The magazine is something that is developing and hopefully will be released sometime next year. We are also in the process of building our summer tour for next year when we release SVMMER SVN vo. 7. We would do a west coast tour and try to set up gigs in Portland, Washington, California, and Seattle. We will spend two to three weeks with a bunch of artists in the collaboration who all have different genres and styles, but with similar interests. I’m super excited about it even though it’s not fully confirmed and in the process of setting up [laughs].”


Can you tell us more about more projects you’re doing besides those with SVNSET WAVES?

“I actually run a podcast with a couple of buddies. It’s a music-inspired podcast and if I do go on that tour next summer, I’ll probably take the podcast with me and film a mini-documentary while interviewing artists that are on tour with me. The podcast itself is really fun because it’s me, another musician buddy, and two other friends who aren’t musicians but have amazing taste in music. We’re on episode nine right now which means that we are still just starting out. It’s also sort of a comedy podcast with musical influence. We are trying to turn it into a platform where we can have an artist come on, they can make a track with us, and then we interview them. It can be seen as free press for the artist. We want to make this podcast into a showcase. Just shoot the shit and hang out [laughs]. People are obsessed with podcasts right now because they love the realness of it and the fact that it is relatable.”


If you had one piece of advice for any solo artist, what would it be?

“It would be to stay motivated. To spend time on things. A lot of people get caught up in the idea that they are going to become this huge touring artist someday and that they are going to love being on tour and playing huge shows for people. But when it comes to that point, you might end up hating being on tour and playing in front of a huge crowd. I think the best thing for someone to do is just be beside themselves and really understand that the best part about making music is the feeling that it can portray both personally and externally. You can make something that you are not very proud of and you don’t think it’s that great but someone else can listen to it and think it’s the best song they’ve ever heard or even helps them through a hard time. Just know that whatever you’re making, even though it might not be very good in your eyes, can really change somebody else’s life. Just to know that to make the music itself for a community and to share the human condition in a different way to get other people to relate to it in their own way. To stick with making music in general and not get caught up in the idea of where it can take you in the future. That it is not as important as just making the music right then and there. My advice is to focus on the actual music and not the glamour of what it can bring.”


You can find Woods’s projects mentioned in the interview below or tagged in the article as well as Woods’s links to their social media accounts:



Save The Podcast:


Woods on Soundcloud:


Woods Social Media: 


Conducted August 2018
*This interview has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to give the artist a proper voice from audio to writing. For the original version, please contact the author.