In Canada, there is a guy by the name of Ben G (Ben Graham) who truly represents what indie music is all about. When most people hear his name they think he is a hip hop artist. But he says his music can be best described as Euro-Trash. And don’t let that name fool you either, this kid has skillz. His sound has been compared to the likes of U2, Pink Floyd and Oasis. He is completely self-driven and has no manager, label backing or band but when you hear his music you can already envision the video being played on MTV or VH1. He has a super producer by the name of Dave Thompson that single handedly creates these amazing tracks that will make you believe that this is a five man band. Ben has been featured in media write ups, articles and interviews, both in print and radio in Canada and the US. His emotionally charged debut EP entitled “Cut You In” can be described as an eclectic blend of organic songs resonating with love, angst and the pursuit of an ideal. Let’s get to know a little more about this one time avid photographer now turned rock star in the making.
How did you find out about us?
[ BEN G. ] I came across Nine5Four The Magazine when I was looking for new ‘Indie’ music. I was instantly hooked after reading the June issue.
You have an interesting story behind how you began your career in 2006. Please share with us briefly.
[ BEN G. ] In 2006, I disappeared from high school for one week. Nobody knew where I was, except my close friends. Since I was a pretty good student the teachers didn’t really ask what was up. I needed a week off and they gave it too me. When I got back, everyone was pretty surprised by the songs.
Do you still have an interest in photography?
[ BEN G. ] I do absolutely. My friends Sara Brydges and Matt Decker helped me put together a shoot just for Nine5Four The Magazine because this is such a great opportunity. Photography was my major at Beal Art (High-School), I think I might know more photographers then I do musicians.
Tell me about Dave Thompson and what he has meant to your career thus far.
[ BEN G. ] Producer Dave Thompson is the most versatile artist I’ve ever met. He’s given me a lot of insight into the music industry and life in general. Check him out at http://www.digitalunderdog.com/
When I first listened to your music, I immediately envisioned you in a multi-member band. How do you and Dave pull off this great sound with only just the two of you?
[ BEN G. ] Dave is a multi-instrumentalist and can fill any instrument in a band…true genius. With just him and I in the studio, there was the freedom to create songs without five or six band members bickering constantly. Being in the studio with him was totally a one of a kind experience.
What is the music scene like in Canada?
[ BEN G. ] Lots of hardcore bands, emo kids, and “art rock” like Feist.
How do you classify your style of music?
[ BEN G. ] Euro-trash meets Alternative Rock.
You have been described as a provocative and unpredictable songwriter. Is that a fair assessment? Why or why not?
[ BEN G. ] I think people who speak their minds, and don’t allow other people to sensor their thoughts are usually considered provocative and unpredictable. I don’t have a manager or label so I get to be the captain of my ship, so yes, I agree that’s a fair assessment.
What is your method to creating songs?
[ BEN G. ] I don’t really have a method, each song on the EP happened in such different ways. I don’t have a formula, the songs just ‘happen’.
You are the poster boy for independent Artist’s as you have no manager, label or band. How difficult has not having these elements made on your journey in the music industry?
[ BEN G. ] It’s been a considerably difficult task. I take on the work of at least three people…which doesn’t leave much time for anything else. It’s always been hard to find a balance.
I’m not the sort of person who will wait around for other people to labor for me either. When the CD was complete, I immediately planned elements of the release and started getting photo shoots underway for the cover art. I didn’t wait around for a manager or label to pick me up.
I was lucky enough to receive support on my journey from Indie publications and TV programs which made all the difference, although I didn’t have someone driving me, I did have assistance which I’m very thankful for. On a side note, publications like Nine5Four The Magazine make all the difference for true indie music.
Talk to me about the regional award show in which you beat out a gold selling act to take first place honors.
[ BEN G. ] The Ceremony for the 6th Annual London Music Award’s took place in June. The Awards held by Scene Magazine were created to help celebrate and promote the Southern Ontario music scene. By giving fans the opportunity to nominate their favorite musicians and other industry players and then holding a vote. Those who received the greatest number of votes got an Award in their category. All this took place during Canadian music week.
Thanks to the support from my close knit group of friends, a series of performances, and an interview broadcasted nationwide on ATPN, I had received enough votes to beat 28 other bands. Two of whom are seasoned veterans who were recently awarded gold status in Canada (20,000 units sold.) It goes to show with good friends, hard work and a little bit of rock and roll, anything is possible.
Now let’s talk about your debut EP. What is the title and what do you have in store for the listeners?
[ BEN G. ] On “Cut You In”, listeners can expect songs about real life. So many artists on the radio were hand picked from birth to be pop-stars and they aren’t in touch with reality. They don’t care about the shrinking middle class or people struggling to get by. I work a minimum wage job, endure the brow beatings that come with it, and deal with the social pressures of everyday life. Real life is way more interesting then a manufactured fairy tail and truth is always stranger then fiction. Expect the unexpected on my CD.
Which song off the album would you suggest to an interested A&R to take a listen to that will definitely blow them away?
[ BEN G. ] “Addiction” is the song I most recommend. I think it best represents my music.
Describe your experience of performing in front of a sold out crowd at the London Music Club.
[ BEN G. ] I’m glad you asked, but it’s a sticky topic that I’ve shied away from because I don’t want to sound bitter about the past. I think everything happens for a reason, there was a lesson I needed to learn back in January about leadership and friendship.
The show went well, but the experience was soured by controversy. The back-up band was really… bitchy… can I say bitchy? I had to go back to the drawing board and get new members shortly after the show. I learned that you can be the center of attention at a party, but if the people around you are negative, then no matter how well you do, you will still feel defeated.
I have to ask you about this controversial photo shoot you had. Please explain the situation.
[ BEN G. ] Long hair + Army camouflage = Terrorist… at least that’s what some old lady browsing Facebook thought. I ended up with a visit from London’s ‘finest’ with a concern over my profile picture. After they left, I was on the phone with my friends at Rogers Television explaining the experience. They put together a news story dispelling any myths about me being part of any radical militia. The London police ended up making a public apology based on my interview and coverage.
Have radio stations taken an interest in your music? If so, who’s playing it?
[ BEN G. ] Some secondary radio stations picked up my tracks. The very first radio station to play my music was Erin Radio. They are really supportive.
Is your ultimate goal a record deal with a major label or are you content with being a totally independent artist?
[ BEN G. ] My goal is to create music so if a major label deal is the best way of continuing, then I’ll go for it. But, if I get enough support from Indie music fans to make recordings on my own, I’d be happy doing that too. I’m grateful to everyone who lends me their support. Artists like me depend on support from viewers like you, if you’re on iTunes, Napster or Pure Tracks. Your 99cents can really make a huge difference.
Where can your music be purchased and how can you be contacted?
[ BEN G. ] Pure Tracks, iTunes, my web store via Indiepool and Napster are the best ways to support my music. To contact me directly: www.myspace.com/bengmusic .
Thank you for your interest and support of our movement. Here’s your chance for shout outs…let’m rip.
[ BEN G. ] First off, I’d like to thank Randall Jones and Nine5Four The Magazine for being kind enough to include me in this amazing publication. Thank you’s, shout outs, kudos, props and high fives go out too: Dave Thompson, Jenn B, Blu, Steveo, his lovely wife Cher, and their son Alexander, Danielle aka Cupcake, Christian, Edwin, Colin Potts, Justin Plet, Rick and Jenn, Tasha, Niki, Tizz, Melissa, Mike Jay, Shawn, Cindy, Sid, Simon, Dana Harper, Michelle, Jason and Beau, Chantel, Karen, Kayla aka special K. Tyler, Nick, Mama Coates and everyone else at Eds. Niki, Naomi Von Doll Parts, James Tanney, Sue Nham, Melina, Ashley, Roxanne, Tarek, Sammar, Jryan, Andra, Kricia, Shona Leigh, Greg Baker, Jeff Burling, Sara Cawston, Morgan, Sara Brydges, Ashley Fay, Matt Decker, and all my friends at Fanshawe. Aunt Jackie, Uncle Greg and Molson. Amy Hume, Lisa and Marco Balestri, Steve Vieira, and Erin, at Uncharted Sounds.