British keyboard ace Ben Jackson-Cook may be young, but he plays with the space and authority of a seasoned pro. He's currently on-tour with UK sensation (and Elton John favorite) Rag’n'Bone Man, whose hit "Human" was recently a worldwide smash. For those reasons, (and the fact that he takes his 1973 Fender Rhodes with him wherever he goes), Ben Jackson-Cook is our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.
NAME: Ben Jackson-Cook
HOMETOWN: Marlow in Buckinghamshire, UK but now I live in Battersea, South London.
MUSICAL TRAINING: I studied jazz when I was growing-up, and then moved to Bath and studied commercial music for three years.
FIRST GIGS: I was in a band called Good Night Jupiter. My mum was our biggest fan. I then worked for Disney Cruise Lines for a year when I was 21, sailing around the US with my best mates, which was like a massive paid holiday.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: I’ve always been obsessed by James Blake, and Robert Glasper is one of my biggest influences as a piano player. Growing-up, I was listening to Raphael Saadiq, Angie Stone, The Meters, Kanye West
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Jacob Collier, Yebba Smith, Kaytranada, Anderson Paak, BJ the Chicago Kid.
MY BIG BREAK: I’m not sure - there was no big break, it just came slowly really. I was doing quite a few small TV gigs at the beginning, which helped me meet people and get to know session fixers in London, then a few friends trusted me to sub on their gigs every now and then.
LATEST PROJECT/GIGS: Rag’n'Bone Man has been pretty full on for the past year.
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS/GEAR AND WHY: I use a Nord Stage 2EX on top of a 1973 Fender Rhodes. I send the organ output out of 3 and 4 and send it to a Leslie cabinet kept off stage and mic’d up. I love Nord keyboards. They don’t sound too clinical and perfect. They have way more character in them than any other keyboard and they can easily be sculpted to whatever sound you are looking for. I don’t particularly change my piano patch much but having the compression knob and the reverb knob there makes all the difference between tunes.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I’m touring with Rag’n'Bone Man for the next year. Coming up we're playing on Jonathan Ross, the Chris Evans Breakfast Show and we’re on-tour in November around the UK and Europe.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION:Play with as many people and as many bands as possible whether covers or originals, and push yourself into gigs where you don’t exactly know what’s going to happen and you feel a bit out of your depth. Also, don’t spend too much time practicing on your own. My favorite keyboard players (and the busiest ones) play with other people way more than they practice on their own.
Follow Ben Jackson-Cook on Instagram at @bjckeys