‘Powerful, Poetic, Cinematic’ | Interview with Benjamin Charles

The more I have dedicated myself to this music, the more alive I have come to feel.
Benjamin Charles is presenting the album “Before the Fire,” which features a collection of genuinely honest songs characterized by exceptional songwriting, heartfelt melodies, and filled with melancholia arrangements. Read our discussion with the talented artist below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Powerful, Poetic, Cinematic

Tell us a few things about Before the Fire. What is the story behind it?

Before the Fire is eleven songs I carried with me for years that were burning a hole in my pocket. I had given up on the idea of myself as a musician and moved back to LA to work on film sets. Of course, as time passed, all this music began dreaming of me as its maker. It would come to me and soothe me, shake me, move me and I didn’t have the heart to let it go. So, I carried it in bits and pieces until I realised, with the help of those around me, that I had better find the courage to bring it into the world. These songs came together and began to show me what I was too blind, too proud or too fearful to see was my life and so in the odyssey of bringing them to bare they transformed it.

Which track of your debut album, if any, represents you the most and why?

All are equally representative. As you listen just imagine “me” as an idiot posing, undressing and leading himself up to the stake, then lighting a fire beneath his feet.

Your most personal/honest lyric?

Oh they are all personal and honest. You tell enough lies to yourself the truth will force its way out like a spring out of a mountain top. And if it ain’t personal/honest what’s the use of doing the dance?

Born in Los Angeles and raised between the US and UK. Firstly, what do you love/hate in Los Angeles/London? Additionally, which city’s music scene has a greater influence on your sound?

I love these cities dearly. London for its laughter, loitering, lingo, loneliness and every pompous and/or grim position it affords. Los Angeles for it’s soul-lessness, paradise lost and foundedness and state of saintly post-traumatic apocalyptic loveliness. I love the people of these cities. I can’t find it in my heart to hate these places. Perhaps London needs to get out of its head more and laugh at the game of twister it plays to get to work. Los Angeles needs to quit its job and hike the whole way back to its apartment to really get into character. I’m not sure I’ve ever really been part of a music scene. London taught me who I was in an audience and who I was on a stage. LA taught me how to take the extreme pressures of life and use them to practice my own alchemy.

Adding to our previous question, artists and people that have influenced you?

To name a few: John Steinbeck, Radiohead, Nina Simone, Primo Levi, Elliott Smith, Chan Marshall, Arnold Böcklin, David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, Bill Callahan, Alejandro Jodorowsky, London bandleader Sahil Batra, Chris Scott of Athens based band AMKA and my love the writer and performer Iva Moskovich. My sister/manager too – she is legend.

What would be the tagline to the sitcom of your life?

“This fall he makes good”

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Go with your whole heart. Go now.

Thank you!

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