PHOTO CREDIT: Mike Massaro
I love a modern songwriter who makes you think…
of those classic artists of old. That blend of contemporary production and epic, heartfelt songwriting is not something you see that much of – not delivered in such a stirring and memorable way. It is good to speak with Ben Hobbs and get to know him a lot better – he talks about his new work, Blue Sky EP.
I ask Hobbs if he has a standout track from the E.P.; what the inspirations and stories are; which artists he is influenced by; what he has coming up in terms of gigs; if he gets much time to unwind away from music – he ends the interview with a bit of a classic!
Hi, Ben. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I doing well, thanks. It’s been a good week: happy to see some sunshine!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure. I’m Ben Hobbs; a singer-songwriter, musician and producer.
Blue Sky EP is out. What are the main themes that inspired its creation?
The Blue Sky EP is inspired by positive thinking. I like to think of it as a little reminder to myself to push the things I love and try to turn bad experiences into good ones. I think each song offers a different perspective or experience on this idea.
It’s up and down in tempo and mood: some of it is more about longing and some of it about acceptance but, overall; it’s about aiming to be content.
PHOTO CREDIT: Caitlin Mogridge
It has already picked up praise and great reviews! Do you get a lot of energy from positive feedback?!
I do, absolutely. It’s one of the things about this that is, in some ways, out of your control as a new artist. So; getting good feedback motivates me a lot. It’s a great feeling hearing when people get what I’m doing.
Is there a track from the E.P. that stands out? Which do you rank as a favourite?
My favourite right now is the track Simple Life. It’s just got a summery vibe to it that I was keen to put across in my music so, in a way, it feels like a new type of song for me. But, also, Blue Sky - the closing track - I’m really proud of.
That one is good to play live, too.
Tell me how you got started in music. Which artists compelled you to follow that path?
I was always really into '70s and '80s music growing up: I just found it more appealing than what was in the charts at the time! I started playing the piano when I was about ten and then, a few years later, guitar and vocals. The Police and The Beatles made me want to play in bands and write songs. Also, my dad used to play Jeff Buckley in the car a lot and I thought he was such an inspiring artist.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jodie Canwell
South London is where you are based. What is the area like for new music and gigs?
It’s pretty good! I remember the first big gigs I went to were at Brixton Academy, so I’ve always liked that place a lot. In fact, Brixton has become a great place to play/watch gigs in terms of variety.
Who do you count as your main influences and musical idols?
The Police, Tears for Fears; Kate Bush, David Bowie; The Killers, Frank Ocean; Joni Mitchell and Bon Iver, to name a few.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jodie Canwell
If you had to choose three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
It was the first album I owned and it had some real forward-thinking production on it (see: I Am the Walrus).
Incubus - Morning View
It reminds me of summer holidays as a kid, as I went through a stage of listening to this record a lot. Big-time nostalgia. Haha.
The Police – Synchronicity
It’s just got some of my favourite-ever songs on it - and I can always come back to it and enjoy every second.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading off to?
It’s a work-in-progress, but there will definitely be some shows in 2018! I want to book some in the U.K. and some elsewhere; so, it’s all currently being talked about and put into action.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I just want to see things continue moving. Over time, you see that there are people who really follow and love what you’re doing, and that’s amazing. I want to build on that and continue making music that I’m proud of and, hopefully, more and more people can connect with it.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
The one that sticks in mind is my Asia tour at the end of last year...
I went out there not really knowing what to expect, but we had the best time. To be on the other side of the world with people in the crowd singing my songs was really special. But, the whole experience was great.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
It’s hard, but try not to compare yourself to other artists in terms of success. Of course, take all the influences and inspiration you like, but I think it’s important to not try to be the next ‘whoever’ and do what you do as best you can.
But, also, don’t be afraid to listen to opinions - you can choose to ignore or take on board what people say about your music and I think that’s a really good way of discovering what you want out of it.
IN THIS PHOTO: Abi Ocia/PHOTO CREDIT: Dami Oyetade
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
To be honest, I’m normally doing something related to music but walking my dog, Murphy, is one way I ‘unwind’ (he’s pretty full-on!). Also, more recently, I’ve started doing some climbing and bouldering, which is such a good way to take your mind off things.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Bruce Hornsby and the Range - The Way It Is
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IN THIS PHOTO: Caitlin Mogridge