I have always wanted to be Madonna!
Ben Christophers, spiritual heir to Tim Buckley (yes, truly) talked to Incendiary in the wake of a set of epic gigs, where he verily blew us all away with both the quality of his songwriting and his incredible voice. This guy deserves to be a big star. Read on.
IN; First of all Ben, Incendiary salute the incredible gig you played at
Rotown. At one point even the bar staff had stopped serving in order
to watch you.
BC; Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.
IN; Okay, here goes...
You seem to love playing over here. You even knew some Dutch!
BC; My first ever gig in Holland was at the Paradiso in 1999, I think at a
showcase with a few other bands. I have good memories of Holland
because it was the first place that noticed my music, so I have been
there many times. I have tried learning a little Dutch because I never
learned any language at school, really, (apart from some French) and
felt I should do something about it. Unfortunately it's only enough for
me to order a drink so far, but the amazing thing is most Dutch people
know English so well! I remember ordering a drink with a girl behind
a bar in Amsterdam in Dutch, and I was so proud but she asked if I'd
mind if she could speak English so she could practise too, so we
had this bizaare broken and twisted conversation. I have a long way
IN; At the gig you pushed the music quite hard, sonically. Almost
testing it's elasticity. Is that deliberate?
BC; I think I wanted to see if I could break anything. Sometimes I love
the peace, sometimes I love the violent sounds in my guitar or the
IN; Do you have different approaches to your live and studio work?
BC; It's not intentional, but the songs and performances always change
after they've been recorded, sometimes I wish I could do it all the
otherway round, write the album, tour it, then record... you heard it
IN; You're not scared of using silence as a major dynamic in your
music. Why do you like such delicate, almost crystaline song
BC; The dynamics of a live performance are the best; to bring things right down to nothing
but to have something to hang on to, is what gives music and the
songs breathing space. Or to make it bleed but still feel hypnotic is
vital, when you hear nothing in a room of people it makes the quiet
really shine. Just because you hear nothing or not much doesn't
mean you're void of emotion or understanding; in fact it makes more
IN; I get the feeling that you don't want your work to be pigeon holed
in the singer-songwriter category. Or are we barking up the wrong
BC; If it helps me sell millions of albums and I can buy a new Hoover
and a nice hat you can put me in any pigeon hole you like!
It's so easy to be precious and I am in many ways about what I do,
that's how I protect it; but when you want to make a success, it
doesn't matter what people say. You can't control it anyway. The best
thing any artist can do is keep working and keep Loving It and wanting
great things and wanting to change the world. Pigeon holing can actually
help, although after all I've just said, I agree with your question, ahem!
IN; Your music reminds Incendiary of rarified ecclectic stuff like John
Cale's Music for a New Society, or Robyn Hitchcock,or even
Witthuser and Westrupp. How far off the mark are we?
BC; I don't really know their music that well, although I am in the left of
field, actually I have always wanted to be Madonna! I felt the
mainstream was where I would be, but I don't work in that way. I only
know myself, so I have faith in where my head is at and would feel
out of place if I tried to dance and wear a head mic anyway.
IN; What are your plans next year?
BC; Touring is mainly on the agenda for next year. I'm working on a few
"project guest vocal" things and will be doing some more writing, as well as planning a few trips to America for later in 2005.
IN; Ben, If we don't see you this side of the water before, may we wish you a
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
BC; Thankyou..... Vrolykke Kerst Feest."
Interview : Richard Foster.