Ben Abraham is an LA-based Australian singer/songwriter with a soul-catching voice and talent for poetry in the form of songs. He’s worked with some huge names in the industry like Kesha and Ben Platt and has many awards under his belt for his incredible singer/songwriter abilities.
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Recently, he’s released an astonishing and goosebumps-inducing ode in the form of his new single ‘Requiem.’ This song is an ear-worm tune that we find ourselves singing and bouncing around to as we do everyday tasks. We never get tired of the smooth vocals and the soft guitar that Ben has blessed us with in the new song. It’s one of those tunes that adds a dose of serotonin to your day when you need a little bit of a pick-me-up. Check it out below!
Now that you’ve heard the song, you can imagine how excited we were when presented with the opportunity to chat with him – not only about his new single but also about his life and his upcoming album! We could not be more excited for this interview – so without further ado, let’s get right down to it!
Your new track ‘Requiem’ is an ode to a loss of innocence, and the word requiem itself means “an act or token of remembrance”… Is this a recurring theme of your upcoming album?
Nice question. I guess all art is an act of remembrance in some way. I always knew going into this album that I wanted it to be in two halves to symbolize life and the afterlife; I think that idea of changing from one state into another is the main recurring theme and ‘Requiem’ is definitely a key part of that story. The loss of innocence and the idea of dying as a way to cross into something new is really fascinating to me. And when I reflect on the years that this album covers in my life, I feel like I died many deaths in the process of becoming who I am today.
What else can we expect from the new project and how does it feel to be releasing your sophomore album?
I don’t know why I’m finding these hard to answer but you’re getting typed responses that have taken me a while to ponder haha.
It feels exciting to be putting the new album out. I often forget that it’s my second — I guess because it’s been so long since Sirens and I feel like such a different person now. I’m excited because I think people will see I have a much steadier hand as an artist and songwriter this time around. It’s a really cohesive body of work that tells a very specific story and I hope that people get around that. I like to think my longtime listeners might also be surprised by some of the writing and production choices on the album. I really put my heart and soul on the line for this one!
We are in love with the mellow, relaxing tone of ‘Requiem.’ Your vocals are so smooth and intoxicating, who are some of your biggest musical inspirations that have influenced your unique sound?
Hey, thanks! I think my three big influences (especially for this album) have been Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, and Donny Hathaway. Looking at how they’ve all influenced my vocals, I love Peter’s raspiness in his voice and how he allows for imperfections – he just lets his voice tell the story and doesn’t get in the way with overperforming the singing.
I think Kate is incredible in the way she uses her voice as an instrument and not just as a singer. Her background vocals are often unusual and idiosyncratic and always in service of the narrative of the song. And she isn’t afraid of leaning into different characters and tones of her voice. Sometimes she’s wailing, sometimes she’s gentle, sometimes ferocious – always so compelling. There’s a song on the album where I go into a full-bodied scream on the track. That’s straight up a Kate-inspired moment. She makes me want to put my body on the line in service of the song if that makes sense.
And Donny is just the master of soul for me. I find the way he sings immediately heartbreaking and compelling. His voice was a once in a generation – and there really hasn’t been another singer like him since. Even if you’re not a spiritual person, I think when he sings you can’t really deny there’s something more than just the sound of his voice that you’re hearing. Every vocal performance from him was tapping into something bigger than himself.
You have collaborated with some seriously amazing artists like Kesha, Sara Bareilles, Demi Lovato, and Ben Platt — what is the process like for creating music for another artist or musician versus for your own projects? What other artist that you haven’t worked with yet would you love to pen a tune for?
I’ve found it equal parts exhausting and exhilarating, to be honest. I’m pretty precious with my own work so it was definitely a process learning how not to be a control freak in collaborating with other people. I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who share such similar musical instincts with me so there has been great trust there.
Having said all that, my favorite way to write is to spend time getting to know another artist and find out what they’re trying to say in a song. I love taking the time to get to know their musical instincts and their influences, so we can make something that feels honest and true to them. The songs with Kesha, Ben P, Wafia, and The Chicks are all examples of that.
As for future dream collaborators – I wouldn’t be writing for them but it would be a dream to get to work with Gaga or Chris Martin someday. I think they’re both incredible writers.
You initially wanted to be a screenwriter, correct? What made you change career paths to become a singer-songwriter instead? Are you still passionate about screenwriting and would you still screen write if given the opportunity?
Honestly, music is so much easier haha. And on reflection, I’m obviously just so much more natural at it.
My dream was definitely to be a screenwriter and eventually direct some of my own films, but I found when I was studying I spent the entire time unsure if I was even good at writing. I used to look around the room at some of my classmates and think “Well that person clearly isn’t as good as they think they are,” and then I’d spiral wondering if I was also being delusional about my own talent.
I remember one time I had a one-on-one session with my film tutor to go over notes for a feature script I had finished, and he looked over his glasses at me and said “It’s just not very…interesting – is it?” The funniest part is he was right and I knew it.
I think film is hard because the process from script to screen is so complicated that you could have a film get released and still not know if you’re any good. Like if a film bombs that could be because of a bad director, or an out of touch producer, or the studio got in and changed things – basically you can get to the end of a years-long process and still look around the room thinking “Am I actually any good at this?”
In contrast, my first ever gig playing music, I looked around a room full of people who sat in silence while I sang and applauded at the end of every song with genuine enthusiasm. I remember at the time thinking “Oh this is going to go WAY better for me” haha.
Funnily, I still love film and tv much more than music (I’m not actually much of a music fan…) and I would love to think somewhere down the road I’ll get to make something.
We could definitely hear ‘Requiem’ playing in a movie or television! If you ever were to write your own movie or tv show, would you use your own songs as a part of the soundtrack for it?
Ha, that’s actually how I wrote some of my first songs – imagining the soundtrack for scripts I was writing. I think I would write for a movie or tv show if the music was part of the narrative world, but I see them as such different mediums I don’t know if I’d want to write the soundtrack for my own script.
We love songs and albums that are written about life experiences that we can all relate to. Do you have any advice for your fans that have helped you overcome obstacles in the past?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is one of the oldest clichés – that time heals all things. Learning to see my path through life as a circle rather than a straight line has been hugely helpful for me. Rather than feeling ahead or behind, I’ve learned that life is about going around and around through the same circumstances and situations and growing a little every time you come back through. There’s no rush, no race, no need to panic if you feel like you’re drifting or missing out on things. It’s amazing how many of life’s opportunities come back around.
You’re from Melbourne, Australia, a place on our travel bucket list! What was it like growing up there? How long have you been splitting your time between there and LA and how do the two cities differ?
Ugh, Melbourne is the best! It doesn’t have the weather or geography that Sydney has so it’s not as visually spectacular – but it’s filled with creative people, and it’s small enough to feel manageable whilst not feeling isolating.
I’ve been going back and forth for the last ten years, though I just recently moved my base to LA. It’s been an adjustment for sure but luckily I’ve been able to find the parts of LA that feel like Melbourne.
What are 5 songs that you can’t get enough of right now?
Haha oh boy. See this is where I run into trouble as a non-music fan. I wasn’t kidding when I said I don’t really listen to music (unless you count binaural beats that I listen to at bedtime)
Can I list TV shows instead? Too late I’m gonna do it.
1. The White Lotus is my favorite thing to watch right now. Mike White, who wrote it, is one of my favorite screenwriters and everything I love about him is on full display in this show. The cast is incredible. It’s like great theatre. I could write essays about how much I love this show.
2. Rick & Morty is also dense and brilliant and always exciting to watch – definitely some of the smartest comedy and sharpest writing on TV right now.
3. Don’t judge me for this, but I’ve become a very late and extreme convert to Survivor. I had never seen it and only just jumped in about two months ago. I started with Season 1 and am now up to Season 27. I love it so much and finally understand my weird friends who wear Survivor outfits and host Survivor parties with each season.
4. Speaking of late-to-the-party, I also watched Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time during the lockdown, and my god it’s flawless. Easily on my list of favorite TV shows of all time. I liked it so much I watched the whole series three times during lockdown.
5. And since I play by my own rules, Madi Diaz’s song ‘New Person, Old Place’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.
There you have it, honey poppers! Thanks so much for chatting with us, Ben! We can’t wait to hear what else you have in store for us this year!
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Featured Image Source: Danielle Levitt/Edit by Afnan Acharki-The Honey POP Design Team