Singer-songwriter Ben has a style which draws on the experimental Folk of Joni Mitchell and John Martyn, the swampy Funk of The Meters, the alternative Soul of Meshell Ndegeocello and the electric Jazz of Herbie Hancock and Steely Dan. In 2015 he released his debut LP, ‘What Would You Like To Leave Behind?’. Recorded at Funkhaus, Berlin, it features the visceral sound of a 4-piece band captured by producer Johannes Saal using a mix of digital mastery and rusty DDR equipment.
He has recently joined the DIME team as a contributor, and created the content for our Introduction To Music Theory short course.
· What is your role with DIME & DIME ONLINE?
Course writing, particularly in the fields of music theory and composition/arranging
· Who were some of your influences as you progressed as a musician?
Too many to count, but my influences came in stylistic phases. Listened to hiphop as a kid, then discovered alt-rock and jazz at the same time. Was only allowed to listen to the alt-rock in public, but secretly based my musical understanding on Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Weather Report. Started playing music professionally and realised that Erykah Badu and D’Angelo was my favourite way to play the guitar. Was introduced to Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan bizarrely far into my musical life and immediately wanted to make that kind of music. Somewhere along the way, James Taylor, MeShell Ndegeocello, John Martyn, Bassekou Kouyate and Judee Sill became enormously significant. But so did loads of others who are currently not on the tip of my brain!
· How did you establish yourself in music education?
Started teaching privately in my early 20’s but gradually became involved in more and more workshop-oriented teaching projects. My love of vocal music and songwriting eclipsed my devotion to the guitar. With that change came the desire to facilitate others in overcoming boundaries to creative music making.
· What was the first record you ever bought?
I think I borrowed ‘Nothing Like The Sun’ (Sting) from a Newcastle library and then copied it. The first record I remember buying was a Fusion compilation from Columbia Jazz- I didn’t know what Fusion music was yet, but I was a science geek and I thought Nuclear Fusion sounded pretty cool. The rest isn’t history!
· Best experience in music – (recording or live etc?)
…is yet to come. It always is!
· What gear and equipment are you using (or any studio tips or favourite gear)?
REAPER is great, cheap and doesn’t crash. Shure SM7b really gets the job done for a medium price. Fractal AX8 doing a very musical impression of analog guitar gear (through a real guitar speaker)- as much as the purist in me doesn’t want to admit it.
· What projects / bands are you involved with at the moment?
My own songwriter music takes priority at the moment, I’ve also just produced an album by a great Berlin band called Holler My Dear.
· What’s your top tip for being a professional musician in the modern age?
Be open to everything, be reliable and bring all your enthusiasm all the time. Train your ears as much as (if not more than) your techniques