Band Spotlight: The Bohemian Embassy

In our latest Band Spotlight, we chat to Ben Angel, vocalist of The Bohemian Embassy about music, inspirations and more. What inspires you outside of music, think specific people, places […]

In our latest Band Spotlight, we chat to Ben Angel, vocalist of The Bohemian Embassy about music, inspirations and more.

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What inspires you outside of music, think specific people, places and movies for example?

Specific people that inspire us outside of music would include authors, George Orwell, Henry Marsh, Yuval Noah Harari.  Artists such as Egon Schiele, Stanley Donwood, Mel and Leon Pozniakow.

The people we meet along the way are always so kind and beautiful.  We are very inspired by Pinky (Our sound engineer), Max Weedon (Justice Records) & Sal Lifely (Foxy Music Management) & Greg Brooker (Glasstone Distribution) for having so much faith and belief in us they take the time to push us forward. Along with being inspired by so many family, girlfriends, friends, fans and followers (there are so many to mention and they know who they are) and how grateful we are.  Most of all we are inspired by each other and the chemistry we create as a band.

We have been together for quite some time so it’s a family, a band of brothers.  Originality, making people move/ sing and writing songs we are proud of is more important to us than anything else.

Places that inspire me personally are various parts of Canada, Austria and France, a brief visit to New York when I was younger and more recently touring in Granada & Almeria as well as Brighton, London, Bath, Bristol and inspiring places I am looking forward to seeing and playing include Jamaica and Los Angeles. I know other members of the band (Louis Lanfear – drums , Luke Cradock – bass and Will Jefferies – lead guitar) are each inspired by places such as Baltimore, Iceland and Portugal.

We look forward to playing Manchester, Dublin and Glasgow in the future as well as anywhere else in the world, Touring Europe especially venues in Berlin, Japan and The States is what we are working towards.  We are very inspired By Pitchfork Rebellion Studios and Moles Studio (sadly, it no longer exists) as these are the places we create and connect the most.

Movies that inspire us include  “2001 A Space Odyssey” “There Will Be Blood”, “Dr Strangelove”, Blade Runner & ” No Country for Old Men”, “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” “Searching For The Sugarman” and “The Wrecking Crew”.  But they are all very serious and life can be so hard so for fun its got to be “Naked Gun” and “Planes Trains and Automobiles”.

Bands that inspire us have to include Radiohead, Massive Attack, The Heavy, The Secret Machines, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads, The Clash, Joy Division and countless others.  For music production it has to be David Carlyon, Paul Corkett and Brian Eno and mastering Martin Nichols that inspired my own mixing and production of the previous two albums we have released. (Leaders Don’t Love You & We Are All Animals)

What challenges do you face as a band?

We try to see challenges as opportunities, we try to make it as professional and fun as possible.  We try to enjoy the journey and not think about the destination.

What have you learned about yourself as musicians and artists since being in a band?

How much we love each other and how much we want to perform our music to as large an audience as possible.  We have learned the power of frequencies and vibrations causing such emotion and movement.  How less is more and how we have to harness our creation and ride the waves, sunshines and the storms.  The power of hard work and dedication.  Its very important we all help each other, family, friends and strangers as much as possible in life let alone just music.

What advice would you give to others about being in a band?  

We have played with 100s if not 1000s of bands and personally I have recorded a large amount of artists in various studios as well as teaching music production.  From our experience it seems the bands that stay together the longest are normally the closest. It’s easier to sound like other bands and play it safe by imitating what has already been done but that’s never the reason we created The Bohemian Embassy.

We strive to be different and original (if we are or not is completely up to the listener) by being influenced by such a variety of factors.  We are inspired by so many artists, each other and life in general.  It just doesn’t get boring. It gets more exciting, more magical and more mysterious.  Be prepared to put the hours and years into your art form, be reflective on how you can improve and never be put off by anyone saying anything negative about what you are doing. Listen to constructive criticism and have an open mind but really the most important part of being an artist is what you think.  Its too subjective to take anyones word but your own.  Listen to all opinions but make your own decisions.

Hold on to the love and happiness you bring to audiences and remember all the kind overwhelming things that get said to you after you play a show or release a record.  Have a plan that you can adapt, don’t hesitate to take risks but get everything in place first before you start to send out.  Think outside the box, get local audiences behind what you are doing and take them with you when you play bigger cities, we have hired coaches in the past and it was very successful as well as letting fans decide our set lists,  enter competitions, being in music videos etc. Work with the bands and artists around you, have an adaptable plan, write everything down, be polite and positive.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

We have just found what was a lost album called Modern Abuse which was recorded over 8 years ago which we are going to release.  As well as a new album Passenger Planes, an acoustic album and a live album.  We are currently working towards appearing at as many festivals as possible in 2019 and in the meantime playing as many venues as possible across the country.  We are working closely with our new management company and are currently working on multiple new music videos as well as a filmed 45min live performance.

We currently use Tama, zildjian on drums,, Vox AC30, Late 1980s Marshall Bluebreaker guitar amplifiers, Epiphione and Fender guitars, Markbass heads, Ashdown 8×10  bass cabs.  We use SSL, Neve, Alan & Heath, Spirit desks, Slate, Waves plugins AKG, Neumann, Senhisers, Shure microphones all in the studio.  When it comes to effects pedals its all about Electro Harmonix Vale Hot Tubes, Mel 9, Ravish Sitar, Homebrew and Rat Distortions as well as Boss and Line 6 delay modulators.

We also run a lot of guitar effects such as Earthquake Devices, Strymon shimmers and reverbs and very very recentlyThe Rainger FX Reverb X (distortion after reverb circuitry) which my supportive and loving girlfriend Jordan kindly surprised me with). This pedal has particularly changed my playing and approach to songwriting.  It very inspiring to keep songs simple but technical and then explore the possibilities of trying to recreate guitar sounds that might not have ever been heard before.  When we record “Passenger Planes Album” later this year we will be involving the Infinite Jets by Hologram Electronics into the equation to cement the euphoric, transcendent and psychedelic  guitars tones we are developing.

What have been some career highlights so far? 

Self producing our last two albums, working with our new management company (Foxy Music), having a song featured on an advert, airplay on BBC6 Music, Supporting Skindred, Vintage Trouble and The Heavy.  We are the only band in the history of Bristols Keynsham Music Festival to be asked to headline 2 years in a row as well as performing at the O2 Academy in Bristol. Headlining Bath Festivals Party In The City at Parade Gardens was amazing and giving paid performance opportunities for young upcoming bands in crucial.  Recently launching my own music production company (Super Productive Angels) is very exciting and never could have happened without The Bohemian Embassy.  Other highlights include spending countless days, months and years writing, performing and recording.  The highlight for all of us is, after being together for so long we still spend the majority of our time laughing hysterically because we find each other so funny…… which is probably quite irritating for everyone else around us for which we are sorry.

Dom Smith

About Dom Smith