Ben Chisholm is not just a composer, producer, engineer, mixer, and multi-instrumentalist, he’s also one of the masterminds behind some of the best albums ever released.
“‘Producer’ is sort of a nebulous title which can mean so many things,” he says. “I guess first and foremost I’m an artist and a musician, and the utilitarian label for the kind of work I do is ‘production.’ I think I find myself in this role due to my desire to collaborate with all the wonderful artists I’m lucky enough to know. My ‘production’ work could range from adding a little piano part, to completely deconstructing an artist’s song, and then putting it back together with them.”
The beginning of Chisholm’s career dates back to when he was just a teenager.
“I started recording all of the bands I played in starting in my late teens,” he says. “I was also into making electronic music separately, but it was always just for fun. At a certain point in my early twenties, I started to merge the loud guitar music with the industrial electronic music I was making. I played in and recorded with various bands around Northern California, but the first real notable collaboration was working with Chelsea Wolfe on Apokalypsis. That was the first widely released album I did any production work on.”
Chisholm is well known for being Chelsea Wolfe’s longtime collaborator. The multi-instrumentalist has been playing and working with Wolfe since 2010.
“Every record I’ve worked on with Chelsea has been an amazing journey,” he says. “I always come away with so many new layers of understanding. I’ve been lucky enough to continue to work with Chelsea for over a decade now, and it’s an ever-evolving quest for beauty and new depths.”
“Right now, we’re working together on a film score, working on writing a new Chelsea Wolfe album with the band, as well as writing and recording for a new Blood Moon album with Converge. I’ve also been mixing and editing a Mrs. Piss live session, and producing a grindcore album for an up-and-coming Czech band, Rany Osudu.”
Chisholm’s approach changes with every band or record.
“With some, I like to know what an artist’s external musical and sonic influences are, and for others I just want to know what the lyrics mean before I dig in, so I can try to support the song on that level,” he explains. “Then, I try to focus on every element in a song—zooming in and out on details, from macro to micro. Every song can be a world unto itself. Generally, a song or a mix will simply just click when it has a certain feeling to it, and then I know to step back. But I seem to run into Parkinson’s Law, which states that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,’ so sometimes I’ll work with a track right up until the deadline arrives.”
Chisholm has also produced ULTRAPOP, the new album by The Armed that will be released via Sargent House in April.
“They were the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced, but I can’t really talk about that due to the comical amount of non-disclosure agreements they asked me to sign,” he says. “It was truly a strange and intense experience. I worked all remotely, via email, never speaking to anyone on the phone or in person. In the end, though, I’m really happy to be part of the perplexing madness that is The Armed. I think we ended up with something really special.”
He has also worked on the new Genghis Tron, the new Chelsea Wolfe collaboration with Emma Ruth Rundle, Anhedonia, and with bands and artists like Deafheaven, Converge, Wear Your Wounds, Mutoid Man, Myrkur, Patrick Shiroishi, and Felix Skinner, just to name a few. Ben has also released the remix of songs by Alcest, Oathbreaker, Youth Code, Alice Glass, and Full of Hell, not to mention his collaboration on Prisyn, the latest album by Jaye Jayle.
“Another record I hold close,” Chisholm admits. “The entire process was almost effortless. We were able to completely trust each other, and bounce ideas back-and-forth without resistance. It was a breeze, and I think it’s also a really unique and stunning album, especially considering that half of it was created on his iPhone.”
Even though last year was not easy due to the pandemic, Chisholm managed to work on many new projects.
“After flying home from the COVID-cancelled European tour last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to throw myself into creating music, and to continue to learn more about recording with all the sudden extra time at home,” he says. “That’s all I’ve done with this time—write, record, and absorb as much new information as possible. We were given some extra time to hone our craft, though it was framed in loss and isolation, so I know it wasn’t an especially inspiring time for many. That said, I think we’re about to see a tidal wave of extraordinary work from artists across the board—some of the best work yet from many. I know that Sargent House has an incredible slate of releases coming up around the bend.”
Featured image courtesy of Sargent House Records.