Interview: Ben Ales

Born in Verona, now based in London, self-described musical troubadour Ben Ales relays the time-stopping powers of romance in his uplifting new single, Here Forever.

Led by Ben’s powerful husky vocals, the track is a dreamy indie-pop number, with layers of harmonies and euphoric strings lifting the listener up into the clouds.

I had a chat with Ben to find out a little more about his musical background, how Here Forever was recorded and why a trip to Cuba encouraged him to pursue life a solo singer-songwriter…

Hey Ben! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m Ben Ales, I’m a musician, singer-songwriter, and troubadour from Verona, Italy. I moved to London in late 2010 and I’ve been stable here since then. Most of my favourite bands and artists have passed through here, so it was a no-brain choice for me!

I originally came with a band, but around 2013 I started a solo project that eventually saw its first release in September 2017 with The Fool – a 13 track album that I was able to release thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Since then I’ve been performing at open mics, showcase nights, venues and busking a lot in London, but also Italy, France, Germany, and Spain – always at low-cost in a perfect ‘troubadour’ style.

I love your new single Here Forever. What inspired you to write the song?

Firstly I must admit, I’m a romantic type of guy and this song was one of those you write in a single night. I still remember that night. I was re-organising the songs for my first album The Fool (which also speaks a lot about love and relationships) and once I’ve got the chords I was looking for, this line came to me. ‘I wish I could stay… here forever’. That’s it, I said.

I was thinking about all those moments I’ve been with someone I’ve liked… the first kiss or the first time you say ‘I love you’, or simply when you find yourself watching the stars with someone you like. There is always a sort of magic about those moments when the time stops completely and suddenly you find yourself experiencing eternity and embracing every single second of it.

Can you tell me a bit about the recording process / who you worked with?

Sure, it was recorded in two different times and locations. Most of the instrumentals were recorded here in London at the Onecat Studio in Brixton with Mark Johnston – a really good friend of mine and talented sound engineer. Plus, more musician friends were invited in London from Italy for this session: Luca Tommasi (drums), Roberto Marangoni (bass) and Mladen Misan (keyboards). It was May 2017.

I then decided not to include the song in The Fool, because I felt something wasn’t quite ready. A year later, while I was touring in north of Italy, I was able to complete the song recording with all the vocals, choir and electric guitar at the UriStudio in Verona – owned by a talented young producer working already with top names in the industry. It was August 2018 – incredible to see how long I’ve waited to finally release the song on the 1st November this year.

It sounds like you had a bit of a musical awakening in Cuba, deciding to pursue a solo project on your return. Why do you think this was?

I was in Havana for two months in 2015 and luckily, as often happens when you’re a musician, I was invited on a couple of music nights they call ‘La Trova’. The name derives from ‘troubadour’, and Cuba has one of the best Latin-American troubadour of all times, Silvio Rodriguez. I would recommend listening to any of his works.

I was already into the acoustic/singer-songwriter scene, but in Havana, probably because I was a foreigner and brought some fresh sounds, I was really appreciated and that gave me the confidence to follow my instinct as a composer. I started to write a lot of songs and slowly dedicated more time to the music.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a musician?

If you have a clear idea of what you want or how you want it to sound, fight for this idea and don’t listen too much to others. Everyone has their own opinion and that’s fine. You’ll never make everyone happy anyway, so why not at least start from you!

What’s coming up next for you? Any live shows we should put in our diaries?

I’m really excited as I have a lot of music coming up, and it will be released soon!

I have an acoustic Blues Live Album EP coming next year, plus I’ve just re-issued a remastered version of The Fool, on Spotify which is a bit more indie-folk/Americana with some psych-rock.

I don’t have any gig now until the next year, as I’m currently working in the studio on new singles, but I often play at showcase nights or open mics around London. If you follow me on Instagram @_ben_ales_ I always post about it.

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