Ben Jaimen knows the term “citizen of the world” sounds cliché, and yet, it is the most apt description of how he feels. Raised in Berlin, now living in L.A. by way of Bordeaux, Tel Aviv, London and Buenos Aires, the young singer/songwriter’s cultural identity and musical tastes were shaped by this relentless globe-hopping. Ben has viewed much from behind a microphone and it’s those experiences that molded the six songs that now appear as his scintillating debut US EP, Through The Universe.
Ben was born in Germany to bilingual parents who had him trilingual and on the piano in grammar school. In his teenage years he developed a love and aptitude for improvisation and songwriting and time spent living in France gave the fledgling musician wider life experiences. However, it was American and British artists, such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince, Elton John and Bob Dylan, plus growing up in trendy Berlin, that provided the perfect real-world music primary education.
Immediately following high school, Ben moved to Israel to study at the nations’ most respected music school, the Rimon Music School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. It was in Israel where Ben got his first taste of life outside Europe and that fundamentally changed his worldview. While Ben was seriously considering remaining in Tel Aviv, an opportunity to continue his music education brought him to London. At this time, in addition to his studies, he was starting to perform in local clubs. After completing his undergraduate education (along with dozens of performances), Ben moved to Argentina to teach music at a children’s cultural school in a small village. It was there, in Córdoba, where he realized that his overall message for his music should be about embracing life and being present in the moment. Leaving Argentina, he returned “home” to Berlin again.
Ben says, “when I came back (to Germany) I manifested everything that I learned through all those journeys” and while he, always heeding his wandering spirit, never planned on staying in Berlin for as long as he did, his career began to take off. In summer 2010, Ben’s performance at a Cancer Charity was seen by world champion middleweight boxer Arthur Abraham. Abraham was looking for a new theme song to accompany his walk into the ring. That song, “The Cave,” was used for many of his fights and provided him the opportunity for his largest opportunity to date – on New Year’s Eve Ben played “The Cave” (and two other songs) at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate for a crowd estimated at 1,000,000 attendees. Also, “The Cave” sessions, provided Ben his first taste of professional recording, as Hansa studios was where David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Siouxsie and the Banshees, U2 and more all recorded albums.
Shortly thereafter, Ben was working with a hospital on a project where they took several children into a recording studio to record a song with him. That track, called “Not a Healer” took on a life of its own and Ben was asked back to perform at the Brandenburg Gate (for another massive crowd) with a children’s choir – it was as moving for the crowd as it was for those onstage. After hearing about “Not a Healer,” The German national diabetes organization’s asked Ben to write and record the song for their annual charity benefit. That track, “Loop of Life,” which Ben recorded in Los Angeles with producer HB Barnum (arranger for Lou Rawls, Count Basie, O.C. Smith, Frank Sinatra, The Supremes, Aretha Franklin) later became the organizations theme.
Ben continued to play throughout Germany -and was even booked for a third (!) time to play the Brandenburg Gate- as part of the gala celebrations surrounding the highly-anticipated European football (soccer) tournament Euro 2012. After hundreds of gigs throughout the nation, it was time to fulfil his dream: moving to America.
Upon arrival in the States, Ben began to assemble a new team. He started working with Ilana Martin (has worked and/or performed with musical greats such as Sean Combs, Patti LaBelle, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, Donna Summer and more) and Davy Nathan (piano player and/or musical director for such heavy-hitters as Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton, Sean Kingston, Jason Derulo, Eric Benet and The X-Factor). Martin became his music mentor and advises on his vocals, while Nathan produced all of Through The Universe.
During the past several years Ben had written hundreds of songs. Nathan advised him to come in with the best 30 or 40 only, and from there, the process of finding what he really had to say with the EP began. Ben explains, “I was telling everyone that this EP should be a celebration of life, about every aspect of it. Even if there are dark situations that you are going through or something down, if you can always find a way to connect to the positive side, then you are sure to be able to appreciate life to its fullest. That was the message that I wanted to convey in the EP.”
Recorded over the period of February to June 2014, the EP was solidified at six tracks: “Satellites,” “Not a Man for Sale,” “Tokyo,” “Devil with the Dice,” “Die for You and “Piece of Me.” Ben laughs at the irony of the final song section as he explains, “We had one song that we eventually took out — it was called ‘Celebrating Life’.”
The first track on the EP “Satellites” was an immediate “yes” for Nathan as soon as Ben played it. The two agreed that it not only needs to go into the EP, but that it would be the lead single. Ben explains, “That song, represents the whole EP, and represents also me as an artist because it includes so many topics that I like to talk and write about, mainly because it is about a universal love. I want everyone that listens to that song to make their own interpretation what kind of love it is.”
With its epic chorus and enormous production, “Tokyo” is one of the most memorable songs on the album. “Tokyo talks about losing yourself,” says Jaimen. “… losing yourself in many ways. The inspiration came when I watched the loss and destruction of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. I lost myself in the emotion of what it would feel like to lose everything you have, and I ended up in a world between heaven and hell.”
“Not a Man for Sale,” a track with a cool rock vibe, is as Ben describes, “a bit cocky” both in its sound and meaning. “Devil with the Dice,” is directly influenced by the funk and soul music that he grew up to. “Die for You” is a piano-driven promise to that very special person in your life (whomever they may be).
The final track on the EP, “Piece of Me” is a strong and powerful ballad about “not being able to let go.” In fact, Ben, himself, couldn’t “let go” of “Piece of Me.” The song was the final addition and the last touch to what was originally a five song EP.
Ben is prepared to embrace another key moment in his life with the release of his US debut EP Through The Universe in early fall. It’s an opportunity to thank his family, friends and fans that have made his journey so rewarding so far.
Ben Jaimen’s tracks