Somojo Magazine

Ben Dalby

Champagne (Single) - 2010
Doctor Can (Single) - 2010
Farmer’s Son (Single) - 2009
Chinese Friends (Single) - 2008
Symphony of Silence (Album) - 2002

Hi, how are you?

Doing good thanks!

Which instruments do you play?
Guitar and vocals.

What made you decide to be a solo artist and not want to be in a band?
It’s just never worked out with the bands I’ve been in to date. Maybe one day!

Do you work with the same musicians when recording as you do when performing live?
I have some regular session musicians and friends who’ve been on the past few recordings.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Quirky, thought-provoking, deeper and more moving than it appears on first listen. Has been compared to Gary Numan, 70’s Bowie, Lou Reed, Marc Almond.

What have you been up to recently?
Been on a mini-tour around England to promote my new single ‘Champagne’, and recording some live radio sessions

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
More great singles – and potentially an album if things continue to go well

Did you always want to be in a musician/singer when younger?
Pretty much!

What music did you listen to while growing up?
My parents listened to a lot of classical music, especially Beethoven. And then latterly they got into Pink Floyd, which was probably my first big musical love.

How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
20 years.

What was your first music making experience?
Some of my friends created a huge band/collective called ‘Live Sex On Stage’, whose sole purpose was to rush the stage at other band’s gigs and perform ‘Groove Is In The Heart.’ I remember this happening at least once, with some mild violence ensuing!

What is your current equipment?
Tanglewood TW45-R
Line 6 Toneport + Laptop for home recordings

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
Guitar: lessons for a few years and then self-taught
Vocals: many lessons over many years

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Martin D-35 Johnny Cash
A piano
A rack of pre-amps so I could control my sound more live

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?

The Tanglewood goes everywhere, but I get to use the electric in the studio, and various other instruments that I can’t use as a one man band.

Ben Dalby - Champagne

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
I’d love a set routine for writing! I’ve learnt a lot from immersion composition, which is very much about catching ideas while they’re alive, rather than over-analysing.Recording is much more set – I do my tracking at River Studios in Southampton, and then Mark Wallis tends to do the mixing at Unity Studios in London

Which software/recording process do you use?
At home I use a little-known Mackie program called Tracktion. I’ve used it for years, and once you’re used to something it’s easier to stick with what you know. The studio work starts off in Logic and then ends up in Pro Tools.

Would you sign with a major record company?
Patronage is a challenge for every artist, so I can’t rule it out, but I suspect some of my material may rule out all but the bravest companies, particularly ‘Chinese Friends’ and ‘The Credit Crunch Song.’

Do you have any new recordings planned?
I have a couple of things brewing. I feel like doing another YouTube extravaganza for Christmas :)

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Full involvement. To some extent, I’m still finding my feet on the production side. I tend to start from a melody and a lyric rather than a sound, so it’s a bit of a challenge to arrange. Have started to find it easier since I’ve limited myself to what can be done by a live band.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Never tried, so don’t know!

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Yes, and yes. It is pretty hard to beat the feeling when you wake up in the morning and think ‘today I am going into the studio.’ I’d do it every day if I could!

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
They are radically different experiences for my fans. I try and make each as compelling as I can on their own terms, but don’t really feel any obligation to be consistent! If anything, I’d like to get a bit more of my live fire and passion into my recordings.

Do you have any favourite tracks on your album?
I’m pretty proud of all of my recent singles. ‘Champagne’ catches a certain transition in my own life story and development which makes it pretty special for me.

Do you write songs/tracks only about personal experiences?
Loosely – there’s considerable artistic license, but it just gets a bit dry for me if I can’t relate to my own feelings.

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Pretty easy to write a song. Very difficult to write a good one!

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
It feels like my muse is out there, but I’m not entirely sure who she is right now! My ultimate ambition is to get Jeff Beck on one of my recordings.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
Roger Waters, Bob Dylan, Prince, Tom Petty.

Which countries have you gigged in?
Just the UK, so far.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia (and the US of course)

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
I use a great indie PR company for mail outs and radio plugging. My YouTube channel gets a lot of traffic, so I try and draw people in that way. Otherwise it is live performance, posters, and the usual social media sites.

Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
My favourite used to be Amie Street, but that has just closed down. I’m currently really appreciating Reverbnation.

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
On balance, yes. The doors have never been more open for artists producing exceptional work, whatever their background. The only snag is that exceptional is harder than you think.

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
It would be nice to see a mainstream web site cutting download prices to about 10p – it’s still a bit like everyone is doing tracks for either a dollar or nothing.
How do you relax?
Watch a film with my wife. Walking in the New Forest near where I live. I am a voracious reader.

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Best: Playing ‘Chinese Friends’ outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London at a Zimbabwe Vigil meeting.
Worst: Playing at a open air market in the middle of a traffic gyratory in North London. The rain was lashing down on this flimsy gazebo, and my fingers were so cold I had to stop playing.

Do you get nervous before a gig- how do you calm down?
Usually not too nervous. Pint of guiness.

What else do you do apart from being a singer/songwriter?
I am a computer software developer and consultant. I run a men’s group. I try and keep my wife and son happy too.

Would you like to be a full time working musician or are you happy with things as they are?
Full time musician - I’d bite your hand off J

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Not yet. I’m hoping the music supervisors for ‘House’ will pick up on my ‘Doctor Can’ track someday soon, though.

Is composing for film & tv something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?

Is there anything you'd like to add?
I’ve created several viral videos on YouTube, involving sexy nurses, Microsoft Windows and Gordon Brown, although not all at the same time – take a look!

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