Ben Elliot is one of the most underrated artists we’ve encountered over our decade in existence, and we’re (very) glad he’s back.
S] What made you want to create new music now?
I’m always wanting to create new music, the difference in the last year has been that I’ve had the impetus to produce a finished product. The motivation for that quite simply was the realisation that I had around 30 projects ongoing, none of which were finished, so I set myself a challenge to complete at least 10 or so before I started anything new. Most were ideas or half finished recordings from the last three or four years, but there were also some songs I’d not got round to recording properly going back as far as the mid 2000s. So I guess Masquerade, in a sense, isn’t an album of new music, but more of a collection of all sorts of phases of production and writing, which I think is reflected in the diversity of the genres and sounds throughout the album.
S] What defines success for you?
For me, phase one of success is actually getting something finished and phase two is anyone else other than me appreciating and enjoying it.
S] What challenges do you face as an artist?
I produce and mix my own music which means I’m able to have a lot of control over a final product, however it’s really easy to lose the perspective and ability to be objective too. I think that, added to my process or writing and recording means I often find coherence challenging. I don’t tend follow a set format for songwriting and usually record as I write as it gives me the best idea of if an idea is going to translate into a full recording.
By that, I don’t mean I’ll record piano and vocal tracks and build from there, but instead I’ll record a full arrangement of just a verse or chorus or intro. It might then be weeks before I come back to expand on it, by which time I’ve become completely over-familiarised with the original 30 second snippet it started with. This can often mean that any additions feel alien and I can’t distinguish between it being wrong because it’s not what I’ve become familiar with, or wrong because it’s just rubbish. It’s what I’m used to and comfortable with though so I can’t imagine changing the process any time.
S] How do you look back on your earlier work now?
It’s all process isn’t it? I certainly cringe at some really early stuff, but it had to happen to get to the things I’m more proud of. I put my first EP from 2003 on Spotify and did a YouTube video that went through all the music I’ve made from age six up to now, so I’m certainly not trying to hide it. Rather embrace the evolution, even if some bits make me cringe or laugh. I do love to revisit old songs and experiment, rearrange and rerecord older stuff though.
S] What inspires you outside of music, think specific people, places and games for example?
I’m always really taken by people who are doing something that I either can’t or don’t think I’m capable or confident enough to do. I can watch hours of random videos on YouTube of someone spending a week in North Korea, someone frieght train hopping across Canada, or someone painting a 10ft mural on a wall in New York. I think that kind of interest has bled in to my music too as if I hear something I like, whether it be a style of music, a chord change or a particular synth sound, I’ll always want to try and recreate it or learn how its done which is why I play with such a lot of different genres and probably a safer way of outputting inspiration than hopping on the next flight to Pyongyang.