Formerly of The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue, Ben Rubinstein matures onwards in his own poignant, 60s pop enthused project of Benedict Benjamin. The whimsical singer-songwriter forms candid and soothing words with classic song writing in a flourish of saccharine country, folk and rock. London-based Rubinstein chats to Hooting & Howling in the run up to the release of his wistful and earnest debut LP ‘Night Songs’

benedict benjamin

 

So first of all, what made you move into the project of Benedict Benjamin following work in The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue?

Ben Rubenstein: Peggy Sue came to a natural end for me because I was just playing bass for the album ‘Choir Of Echoes.’ And I haven’t really picked that up again, so I have had a lot of free time in that regard. And with Mariner’s, I started to find that working with a big band of busy people is just logistically very difficult. So there was a big kind of logistical reason [for going solo].

Mainly I just wanted to try and work by myself for a bit, I mean I’ve been working in bands for the past ten years and I just wanted to see what it would be like to give it a go by myself.

You have been described as folk and rock to deriving from 60s pop and psychedelia, but how does Benedict Benjamin describe his sound personally?

Ben: Kind of like those words? I was listening to a lot of 60s pop at the time that I wrote these songs, like Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers that kind of thing. So the 60s pop influence is a really big one.

But I kind of find that in almost everything I do, no matter how hard I try to move away from a certain folk-rock it always goes back to that. So I think it is a mix of 60s pop influences and folk-rock.

You recently played for So Far Sounds in Brighton. How was playing the intimate setting?

Ben: It was great, it was in a weird kind-of hotel that a ridiculous amount of people where packed into like sardines. But yeah those shows are cool, you always get a very different sort of dynamic from the audience because they are in strange none-venue like places. The barrier between the audience and the artist kind-of comes down.

So your forthcoming album ‘Night Songs’ sees release March 25th on Sugarcoat Records. What can we expect from your debut record?

Ben: It was all recorded in churches and kitchens and bedrooms, hardly any of it was recorded in a studio. The church sound you hear a lot across the record, I spent a lot of time with my friend Dan Blackett, who helped produced it, just trying to get a certain type of analogue-y 60s kind of sound from it.

It’s an album about being in your twenties and panicking about the next step.

 

Tell us more about the production of the record. What lead to recording in a series of churches, bedrooms and kitchens across London?

Ben: It seems like a really good idea in hindsight but we kind of doing it that way out of necessity. I couldn’t afford to do it in a studio entirely, studio time can be very expensive. And we found a chapel in Dalston that we could rent for just seven pounds an hour, though it’s not seven pounds an hour anymore I’m afraid, but for a brief window of time it was really affordable. And it sounded beautiful in there. Unfortunately that window closed and we had to find a church in Kent to continue.

But yeah recording in churches, it sounds beautiful but they are not meant to be recorded in. There’s no kind of sound insulation, like when you get in a studio. So every time someone walked past or a plane flew overhead we had to stop. So it took a lot of patience and determination. It was infuriating at times but I think it was worth it.

Have you been pleased to the responses from tracks released so far? You’ve previously explained how ‘Thin Skin’ is “sort of an apology to those who’ve pointed out truths to me who I’ve made feel unwelcome.” Can it be tough to write songs with such lyrical authenticity and honesty at times?

Ben: Yeah really pleased, I’ve been really happy with how things have gone so far.

Yeah, it can be tough to write that way but I kind of wanted the songs on this album to be a bit more direct and open. Which I was kind of scared about before I started playing them to people. Now I’m totally fine with it.

But I think it’s important to be as direct as you possibly can with song-writing. I don’t think everything has to be to totally autobiographical. I’m cool with song writing being creative writing. But I find that with everything I write I like to really hit in a kind-of gut-punchy sort of way.

 

March 30th sees you celebrate at The Islington with a live show and full band. Are you looking forward to the show? Is it an exciting rarity to play with a live band, are you often used to solo acoustic sets?

Ben: I mainly play solo but this will be the second time we’ve played together as a full band. But I’m really, really looking forward to it because I love playing with those guys. Really looking forward to it.
Catch Benedict Benjamin live March 30th at The Islington, London.
Night Songs’ sees release March 25th on Sugarcoat Records.

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Emily Schofield

First Year Music Journalism Student. Particularly focuses on indie and alternative music. Has a keen eye on new and unsigned bands which need a push and promotion. Born in Bolton just outside of Manchester, she is a follower of the Manchester music scene and its history. She also constantly has her eye on up and coming artists gigging in and around London. Twitter: @TheMoverTweets