Grooving to the stars

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Benn Jordan

Benn Jordan plays the bass guitar while his dog Lucy walks around his home studio Thursday, (Rob Hart/Chicago Tribune / September 26, 2013)

Q: How do you describe your music when, say, a sibling's friend asks?

A: It's, like, the worst possible question. I would rather have them ask me about my sex life. ... For a long time I would be like, "Have you ever heard of Aphex Twin?" And now I pretty much avoid the conversation. I say, "It's cinematic and it's instrumental mostly," and that's about it. Because if I say it's electronic, they're like, "Oh, so you're a DJ?" No. Then I have to have that conversation. If I say it's jazz, they're like, "Do you play sax?" And I'm like, "No." Usually, I'm just like, "Go, get your smartphone and search this and listen for five seconds and you'll understand."

Q: How is your sex life?

A: (He laughs.) You know, I have a lot going on here so, um ...

Q: Your albums have pretty strong titles. The new "Hardscrabble." "Opus at the End of Everything." "Soundtrack to a Vacant Life." Is there a special burden to be interesting in the titles of instrumental music?

A: Hardscrabble is named after this neighborhood. That was the original name of Bridgeport. Immigrants would come here and work and send money back to their family and then never be heard from again because they got worked to death. So. ... Yeah, I always try to come up with an interesting title, but especially now, I'm more interested in writing music and releasing it the way I felt and wrote it. I think earlier in my life I was concerned with what people thought and album sales and things like that, but now that I do a lot of composing work for different ads, TV, things like that, it's actually taken that burden away. And I don't have to worry about what people think, which is awesome.

Q: When did you first start having some commercial success, some renown?

A: It was with "Soundtrack to a Vacant Life" in 2008. That was the first time I got something in the mainstream media, first time I had sold-out shows. Until then I was very obscure. Probably the thing that makes me feel the best about my career is, you'll see the audience, and you'll have one guy who's like an accountant, one guy who's a weightlifter, and one guy who's like a raver and one guy who's like a punk guy. I don't have "an audience." They don't all dress the same.

sajohnson@tribune.com

Twitter@StevenKJohnson

The Flashbulb Live

When: 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive

Tickets: $20; 312-922-7827 or adlerplanetarium.org

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