Music producer, DJ, and Brewster native Ben Woods’s song “Can’t Seem to Hide” has close to three million streams on Spotify. With warm vocals by Megan Doherty and choppy guitar licks reminiscent of Chic, it appeals to feet, head, and heart.
“I talk about that a lot, with West African music being the thing that hits all the spots,” explains Woods, who performs under the name Bosq. He is visiting Brewster from Colombia, his home since 2016. “To me, Fela Kuti was the king of all music that is intellectually challenging,” he says, referring to the Nigerian pioneer of Afrobeat. “There’s heavy jazz happening in there. It makes you shake your ass, and it has a message. That same trifecta is what I’m trying to hit.”
If his streaming record is anything to go on, it’s a spot he hits more often than not. Not bad for a Brewster boy who took his grooves totally global. Bosq will bring his unique sound to Truro Vineyards for one night — Saturday, Aug. 28 — as part of Twenty Summers.
Woods graduated from Nauset Regional High School in 2001. He, his wife, and his 12-month-old daughter will be visiting family here until October. Woods finds it “weird but beautiful” to be back where he was raised after living in South America for the last five years.
“I always wanted to be around music as much as possible,” he says. “I always wanted to produce my own music, but worried it was not a viable career path.” His interests in hip-hop and reggae led him to create his own beats using vinyl samples and doing sound design for video games.
He studied music and recording technology at Northeastern University, graduating in 2007. “I was interested in producing more than the technical end,” he explains. But during the 15 years he deejayed and produced in Boston, Woods yearned to actually play music. He started with keyboards, percussion, and guitar, “figuring it out, slowly but surely,” he says. “I’ve picked up a bunch of instruments that way, by necessity, becoming a master of none of them but decent at many of them.”
It gave him the building blocks he needed to pull other musicians in to build his tracks, piece by piece, working with horn sections and live singers. This takes his music away from the robotic sound of a lot of dance music, giving it a fluid warmth and organic heart that only flesh-and-blood players can bring.
“That was going well enough,” he says, “that I thought, ‘Maybe I don’t have to worry about getting a job at a recording studio.’ ” He’s never had to, expanding his DJ circuit nationally and globally, eventually releasing the album Bosq y Orchestra de Madera on Ubiquity Records in 2013. Now, four albums in, he’s formed his own label, Bacalao.
“I’m a DJ obsessed with music from all over the world — lots of different places, but particularly Colombia,” says Woods. “There’s a melting pot of musical styles that exists only there. There’s so much African influence, but also South American and Cuban, with everything kind of getting stirred together.”
Woods’s underlying itch to experience the world not as a cultural tourist but as a participant is what caused him to settle just outside Medellín. “I live in farmland,” he says. “It’s pretty removed.”
Woods feels it’s important not to appropriate cultural influences but rather to become part of that thread, giving back aesthetically, culturally, and financially. “It’s so easy now to hear something and copy it completely,” he says, “removing the context in which it was created and the communities that developed the music — a sanitized version for you to just profit off over and over again.
“A lot of these places are poor, without the infrastructure we have,” he continues, “really remote areas of Colombia where certain types of music were born hundreds of years ago and developed only there.” He feels that stealing those musical ideas is “just another form of extraction.”
For Woods, the giving back needs to be tangible. “I try to pay the people I work with there the same I would pay in the U.S. or France,” he says. “Five to 10 times the going rate there, sometimes. If I can help them do good in their community with the extra money, it’s an added bonus. I make sure they maintain ownership rights of anything we do together.”
Woods’s last album includes voices in eight different languages. “The music has spread out more — I have a larger network now,” he says. “That’s the beautiful thing about collaboration. Sometimes what they add will make me see the song in a different way.”
But the Bosq sound remains consistent. “I’m looking for an immersive experience,” Woods says. “In Colombia, music is so much more a part of the culture — another plane of communication that people deeply understand.”
Woods wants to transcend borders and boundaries to create “something infectious that makes you want to move your body,” he says. “I want to have it be something that speaks to people, whether it be about politics or about love.”
Who’s the Bosq?
The event: Twenty Summers presents Bosq
The time: Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
The place: Truro Vineyards, 11 Shore Road
The cost: $30