Ben Westbeech Q & A
Singer, songwriter, DJ and producer Ben Westbeech follows up his 2007 debut album, Welcome To The Best Years Of Your Life, with the long awaited second album, titled There's More To Life Than This. The album took four years to finish and involved collaborations with well-known producers from all over Europe. The man at the heart of it lets us into the creative process and his life preceding the album release.
What is your approach to song writing? Where do your ideas come from?
I have a great studio in Brick lane, which is where I make a lot of my music now and it is such a creative place - you’re surrounded by lots of lovely shops and art and a really eclectic mix of people. You’re also next to a massive record shop called Rough Trade so it's great to hear lots of new music in there. My surroundings and the people around me all affect my music and the things I write about.
What is your new album about?
I wanted it to carry on meaning from the last album but also comment on where I was as a person now. I feel it encompasses all these things. There is always more you can get from your life. Wherever you happen to be in it.
What song on the album is most significant to you?
Let Your Feelings Go - I just love the vibe, the melodies and harmonies of the layered vocals and George Levin’s bass playing... It reminds me of a smoky jazz club, being lifted out of yourself and talking about an experience with someone else. It is me to the core. It takes me into a different place when I sing it live.
Your album took four years to finish, how have you changed as a person and were you faced with any particular challenges?
I have grown up a lot. I became disillusioned with music for a while after touring stopped - I had done a lot of partying and just burned out a little. I was a bit confused about what direction to take my music in. I had a lot of fun times and a lot of bad times over the last four years, and it took me a while to want to make another Ben Westbeech –record. But now I’m ready and inspired again: full of energy to create more music and play live again.
You’ve collaborated with many producers on this album, what were the reasons for doing so? What was the experience like?
It was so we could experiment with different angles and I could work with people I'd loved and respected musically for a while - to get a mixture of sounds and styles. I chose people by their sound and vision about making records; mostly on previous work or just people I'd met along the way. I hadn't worked with any of the producers before so it was all about a new musical experience and for me to get pushed and come out of my box...
Midland - A decision by my manager, he is a very talented young house producer and I love the tune Stronger we made together. It is a very personal tune to me. It turned out great and I play cello on it too.
Henrik Schwartz - Henrik is the most amazing thinker and musician. We worked on Inflections in Berlin at his home. I feel it is the most mature tune on the record and it takes you on a journey. I also played cello on this tune.
Motor City Drum Ensemble - Danilo is a very good friend of mine and I wanted to work with him for a long time. We always talked about it and finally got to do it on this record. Justice is a protest song about the world we live in.
Danny J Lewis - I'd heard some of his music through my A & R for the record and so wanted to work with him for his soulful style. Something For The Weekend turned out very summery and reminiscent of So Good Today.
Rasmus Faber - This was a suggestion from the A & R at the label. I heard his music and was instantly uplifted. We made Butterflies and Summer’s Loss together in Sweden. It was freezing cold! He is a brilliant producer and now a good friend of mine. His chops are crazy...
George Levin - George is mad! He is so musical and funny. It was sometimes difficult to work with him as we are both singers! But this added to the quality of the music we made. We had a mad energy together and the music I made with him speaks for itself.
Chocolate Puma - I had the best time in Amsterdam with Gaston and Rene. We made some great music and it was a shame the other tracks didn't make it onto the record.
The album was recorded over 12 months in several countries, any memorable moments?
I fell into a big hole in the snow while walking with Rasmus Faber. I also went swimming in lake Geneva with Michel Cleis. It was very cold!
For me the best part is meeting other musicians and producers for the first time and not knowing where it's going to go. I enjoy eating food with them and meeting their families and friends.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
I would love to work with Paul Epworth.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I listen to all types of music: classical, jazz, dance, hip-hop. I love Totally Extinct Dinosaurs, Eats Everything and Tame Impala at the moment. They are in my stereo.
Oh, and Toro Y Moi. I like them.
Have you played at any festivals this year, what were the highlights?
Secret garden party is the best one I've been to this year. I love the setting and the people. It is such a good vibe. It reminds me of how Glastonbury used to be. I did a solo live show there to an amazing crowd. Good times.
What can we expect for the live shows?
The new album and some of the tunes from my old album. The band consists of me, bass, keys, drums and samples. We do not play to a click track, which gives us a lot of scope for improvisations and scope to extend and take tracks into different places.
I feel so happy I can tour again and play live. I am excited also at the prospect of playing to my fans again and to see and hear their reaction to the new music.
What’s your Strictly Rhythm?
Hardrive – Never Forget (When You Touch Me)
(c) Yuki @ Strictly
There's More To Life Than This is out now: http://bit.ly/qWKOKh
1. The Book (Produced by Georg Levin)
2. Something For The Weekend (Produced by Danny J Lewis)
3. Falling (Produced by Lovebirds)
4. Same Thing (Produced by Chocolate Puma)
5. Justice (Produced by Motor City Drum Ensemble)
6. Stronger (Produced by Midland)
7. Inflections (Produced by Henrik Schwartz)
8. Sugar (Produced by Redlight)
9. Let Your Feelings Go (Produced by Georg Levin)
10. Butterflies (Produced by Rasmus Faber)
11. Summer’s Loss (Produced by Rasmus Faber).