Experimental Music Love

February 27, 2009

Esser Interview

Filed under: Features,Interviews — by Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 7:32 pm

Esser and food.

Esser and food.

An interview with Ben Esser.

He looks like Morrissey and talks like Stewart Lee, but Ben Esser is a real individual when it comes to music. Here’s what he had to say to EML just before a supporting slot for the Kaiser Chief’s in Edinburgh.

So, how did touring with the Kaiser Chiefs come about?

They just kind of turned up randomly and saw us do this gig in London, then asked us to do a show with them at the Forum. It’s nice they actually asked us on this tour themselves because a lot of the time it’s an agent or label who organises that sort of thing.

Are you learning anything from such a renowned live act?

It’s interesting because the venues are so huge. It’s been good watching how they command everyone. They really get people going.

What’s the story behind Esser?

My dad was a music teacher so there was always music around. And I kind of gravitated towards drums, I played drums for a while in a few bands. And I started messing around on a computer and keyboard at home. So I did all those kind of things, and it never really came together until I started singing. I was taking all the stuff I’d done before and making them into songs really.

You were making music from an early age then?

My dad comes from a very musical family so whenever they came over, there was always loads of stuff happening. It was all very natural really I suppose. I think a lot of people see someone on television and kind of have an epiphany and think ‘I want to be a rock star’ or something. But for me it all came about from being in that environment.

Have you ever had a job not involving music?

I used to work in a cardboard factory. I used to have to check the flat pack boxes, where the lines are cut out to fold, and I had to check that they were the right length. It was one of those temping things. You had to fill out all the qualifications you got, and if by the end of the year if you haven’t got anything, you end up at the cardboard factory.

How are you finding the music business?

I just want to keep doing stuff that’s interesting, because when you’re in a new band and you get thrown in with all these other bands, you try and work out who’s going to be around for a while. Not everyone can possibly have a career that’s being hyped up at the moment. Hopefully I can still keep doing interesting things, and keep myself interested.

2009 seems to be a rebirth in 80s influenced synth sounds. How does your music fit in?

I guess there’s a similar thing in terms of wanting to make pop songs, and write melodies and choruses again. I think it’s all about starting somewhere, and when you’re a certain level, start progressing all the time. This is what I do now, but it’s not what I’ll be doing forever.

When can we expect an album?

It’s coming out in April I think. Or May. I have to start remembering dates!

You’re doing a headlining tour as well?

Yeah, around the time the album comes out. Then some festivals and SXSW, which should be good.

What’s been your favourite moment so far? Having your song in Skins?

No, on Hollyoaks! I think I’m just really pleased having the album done. All the other stuff, like the tour and hearing the song on the radio are really good things, but finishing the songs and knowing their good yourself is the best feeling.

Who’s your musical hero?

I guess Joe Meek is someone I would mention a lot, just because of his influence. Your name’s Meek!

Yeah, I have this vain hope that I’m related to him somehow. Was that early 60s era the best time for music?

People didn’t understand so much then, and things weren’t so blatant, and music had these dark undercurrents to it. Especially in Joe Meek’s music, there’s dark sound and a shimmery pop as well.

What’s the first song you ever learned?

On the piano, it would have been ;three blind mice’. But then I had a keyboard book and I learned to play ‘dee dee, dee dee, dee dee dee di do’. Horrible song.

Super Trooper by Abba?

I don’t mind Abba so much, but it’s just so fucking horrible with those keyboard sounds.

And finally, do you have a word of advice for young artists?

Relax.

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