INTERVIEW BY: Lindsey Hernandez
PHOTO BY: Mitch Demmler
If you’ve caught a Benroberts. set at any of the local shows, chances are you remember their energy—it’s pretty infectious. That was one of the many reasons which prompted me to sit down with Ben and try to see what he’s all about. He’s putting his own twist on coming-of-age music, uniquely relatable to everyone born in the last couple of decades or anyone looking to be transported back to their teenage years. To catch up with Ben you can find him on Instagram and Spotify, so keep an eye out for what he has coming up (see his next show at PhilaMOCA on 12/4)!
Lindsey: Okay, first off, what’s the deal with the floss picks?
*Chorus of “Ohhhhh” and a faint “The fans gotta know!” in the background*
Ben: Oh, it’s a fixation. I believe it’s from when I was younger. I loved the feeling of when a tooth was falling out, so it recreates that feeling. It’s pretty nostalgic—oh, coming of age!
Lindsey: Nostalgia, okay. We’re tying this back to music now. Your music is very focused around coming-of-age experiences. What’s your main inspiration behind that?
Ben: My dad played a lot of music that’s similar to mine which inspires me. I listened to that as a kid and it was brought up into my writing. I also like to do a lot of samples. Some of the summer sounds in Yardley are very nostalgic to me.
Lindsey: You have to have a favorite coming-of-age movie.
Ben: Moonrise Kingdom. It’s a banger.
Lindsey: That’s such a good one. Alright, how long did it take to learn how to sing and play the drums at the same time?
Ben: I’ve been playing drums for a while now—since around 6th grade. I couldn’t play guitar and drum at the same time so I figured I’d drum and sing at the same time. It was hard to get used to. With practice it took a couple years.
Lindsey: Your cover of “Freaks” by Surf Curse always gets such a huge crowd reaction. What was the idea behind choosing that song to cover?
Ben: Alright, “Freaks,” again because it’s very nostalgic to me. I’ve been listening to that song for the past three years now and it’s always held a very special place in my heart—it feels like you’re a kid again—so I wanted to bring that to a live audience. And of course the riff, everyone knows it. It’s a very well-known song to everyone so it gets a good reaction and that makes it fun to play.
Lindsey: What are some big and local artists you listen to?
Ben: Okay, big artists. Top three: Black Marble, Current Joys, and Drake. I love Drake.
Lindsey: Thoughts on the new Drake album?
Ben: It’s bad. It’s bad and Donda is better. Okay, top three small artists: Johnny Dynamite and the Bloodsuckers, Knuckle Deep, and—
*Jason in the background: Buttered Roll! (follow @buttered.roll on instagram)*
Ben: And Buttered Roll!
Lindsey: What are some artists you like that we wouldn’t expect?
Ben: Drake, Kanye, Playboi Carti. Charlie XCX is probably up there. I usually put it on and people are just like, “what?”
Lindsey: Do you have guilty pleasure music? The type where it’s like, “No one can know I listen to this.”
Ben: Oh, for sure. I listen to a lot of pop music in the car, and a lot of pop-punk/emo stuff. My Chemical Romance, Panic! At the Disco, and Fall Out Boy’s first album is one of my favorites.
Lindsey: What about music makes you passionate?
Ben: I like playing a song live and seeing a reaction from the crowd, or when I’m in the crowd and a band makes me have a reaction. I think that’s the most beautiful thing ever. I’d also say when I’m listening to a song and it makes me feel nostalgic, which also roots back to the way I write.
Lindsey: When does writing come the easiest to you? Could it be like a time of day or a situation?
Ben: Oh, definitely night time and also after shows is something I’ve noticed. Every time I go to a local show, I’ll go home and I’m like, “oh, that was so cool. They did this and they did that.” Then I’ll go in and try to write a song using certain things I saw or heard. I also noticed when I moved into my basement last winter—I slept on the couch and had my whole recording studio on the floor—the amount of music I wrote in those few months that winter, I haven’t even made in the past six months.
Lindsey: What influences your writing the most?
Ben: Nostalgia, experiences. I like to relive a moment in a song. In my room I have a wall with a bunch of old polaroid pictures of certain days. When I’m writing a song I like to think, “okay, if I was right there, would this song fit the moment right now?” I’ll try to make songs that would fit a moment in time.
Lindsey: What are some of your goals? Where do you want music to take you?
Ben: I want to be able to play music for a big crowd, instead of just making music for my friend group. I want other people to hear my music and make an impact like that rather than just locally. Wait, I’ll build off that. Some goals—this is how you make them come true, you write them down—I want to be able to play a show in the next year or two where people are singing along, where people are going to shows for the music specifically. I want to open for a band or do a mini tour at some point while I’m still in college.
Lindsey: How about in the meantime? Any new music or things coming up?
Ben: I’ve been making demo CD’s and selling them at shows for a couple bucks. I think I’m gonna make one really long demo album of just songs I’ve been recording, some from when I started on my phone—I recorded a bunch on GarageBand—all the way to songs I’ve recorded now that I really like as demos. Some of them were recorded in parking lots or in fields over the summer. I wanna do a collection of music and hopefully after that I’ll do more professional recordings like I’ve been doing. I’ll probably release a couple more singles over the next couple months too.