In Conversation with Benjamin Marshall

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Benjamin Marshall is an indie-folk artist with catchy hooks and sincere lyrics. Influenced by artists like The Beatles, Jon Foreman, Dr Dog and many more, Benjamin has developed a diverse and vulnerable sound. We had a chance to speak with Benjamin about his track ‘Wrong Together and much more.

Why did you decide to enter the music industry?

Music has always been a part of my life. Whether it was being a part of an emo-punk band from middle school to high school, pursuing electronic music in the college years, or attempting the solo singer-songwriter endeavour in the post-college years (until now). No matter how much I tried to avoid it, music kept stalking me. 

Can you tell us about your track ‘Wrong Together’?

I realised that in this day and age information is infinitely at our fingertips. But, just because we have access to all of this information, it doesn’t mean that the information is correct or that WE are correct.

Learning from experience, I came to realise that there were many situations in which a solution which seemed “correct” ended up either being wildly inaccurate or only part of the story. I made this song ‘Wrong Together’ as a way of acknowledging that most of us human beings are poor predictors of the future. The policies, the laws, the ideas put in place, while often manifested by good intentions, we won’t necessarily know the outcomes of those situations until much later in life. That’s why history is SO important. We can look at what happened in the past, see what worked and what DIDN’T work praying that it won’t be repeated.

The ‘Wrong Together’ idea is to accept that we are OFTEN wrong, but it doesn’t mean we don’t strive to be correct. As difficult as it is, we have to admit when we are wrong or when we have wronged others. The tragedy lies when individuals don’t grow from those experiences continuing to stick to a narrow point of view in the narrative.

What was the recording and writing process like?

I actually recently started pursuing home recording and sending out my tracks to a friend in Nashville, Adam Smith, to mix. I’ve come to realise that the studio can be quite intimidating at times and rushes my creativity. Being able to spend time on a track, take a break for a while and come back to it at a later time has helped me immensely.

My friend, Caitlin Bartholic, helped lay down some strings which ALWAYS can make a song better. She’s an incredible musician. All the other instruments were recorded by myself (guitar, bass, keys, midi programming, djembe, etc)

 

 

What do you hope people take from your music?

A sense of warmth and relatability. There is a plethora of polished, well-produced music out there, and while I often strive for that, I eventually will come to the crossroad of wanting to leave some “human” in there. Some may call it organic. Others might call it warmth. Some might even call it out of tune or imperfect, but the ultimate goal for me is the connection aspect. Without people, we would have no music, so it is my duty to have some communal element of these songs.

What is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?

I would venture to say lyrics. I have ALWAYS loved making melodies, but the older I get, the more I am enjoying the lyrical process. The tough part is being patient in the lyric process. If a melody comes faster than the lyrics, then it can prove tough to finish the song.

Describe your music in three words.

Oh boy. This is a tough question, just like any normal job interview. I remember someone asking me this question in the past. I don’t want to give you a cliche answer, but truly, I’d say communal, simple, love.

Perhaps if this was a different day, or we weren’t going through a pandemic, I could think of something more unique. But this will do.

What do you think is the best way to discover new music?

I always love hearing about music through word-of-mouth. Anytime someone PERSONALLY tells me to listen to music, I am MUCH more persuaded to do so. Otherwise, there is SO much music out there, I get overwhelmed in the process of where to start.

What does the future hold for you?

To be honest, I have no idea and that’s okay. I always make goals to have more fans, listeners, but in reality, I can only live one day at a time, count my blessings, continue to put music out there and see what happens! I personally feel blessed that in the DIY world it is possible to have your music heard around the world. If this were decades ago, this certainly would have been much more difficult for someone like me, unless my popularity was at the level of James Taylor.

What advice do you have for any person planning to become a musician?

Have you ever seen that movie Finding Nemo? I’m sure you have. If not, then you should watch it. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much, but I do remember Dory saying “just keep swimming”. I absolutely love this and adapted my own phrase to say “just keep singing”. 

Rejection, frustration, apathy and any of those negative feelings are all part of the journey. But, if you feel pressed on your heart to create, you can’t get rid of that calling. Creating is part of WHO you are. Just keep singing, keep creating! You don’t have to be a celebrity-calibre musician or even a full-time musician to keep singing and creating. The ability to create is a gift from God that I believe is meant to be used by all of us in some shape or form.

Do you have a message for our readers?

As a musician, it’s always important to evaluate and continue to RE-EVALUATE your heart in the process. I’ve had periods of time where I lose track of my purpose of making music, getting lost in the process of trying to gain more Instagram followers or attract more Spotify listeners. Sure, these are part of the marketing strategy and are needed for promoting your music, but you need to structure your priorities around the purpose of your music, which often is the very creation of your music. Continuing to find that balance of creating versus the business side of things is always a battle. This is how the DIY musician world can prove difficult, but it is still SO worth it.

 

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