You may know Gideon Bensen as guitarist of The Preatures, but he’s now coming into his own as a solo artist, too. With the release of his solo debut EP Cold Cold Heart, Bensen is set to both surprise and satisfy his fanbase, showing off a new, immersive sound a remarkable step away from his typical output.
We chatted to Gideon about the origin of his EP, why he felt the need to pursue music as a solo artist, releasing music under his very own label, and channeling inspiration from hip-hop beatmaking.
What have you been up to this morning?
Not much! Just doing a couple of errands and now I’m on my way to a rehearsal for my solo stuff because we have some shows coming up.
Has it been how you expected it to sound live?
Yeah definitely. At the core of it there is a lot going on in the track. We are taking what we can, and what makes sense to put in a live environment to make it sound live and raw. That seems to be what’s working, I wanted it to sound like a band anyway. There will be five of us on the stage so it should be good.
So what instruments have you got involved? Any sarps?
There is a sax up there! Also a couple of analogue synths and your standard guitar, bass and drums. Yeah it’s been fun putting it together.
How was working with saxes and synths after doing guitar rock for so long?
It was a little strange, but once it was there it made sense. Initially it was a bit strange but now it’s all good.
You’re releasing the EP under your own name and label. Is that more nerve-wracking?
I think it’s just the same to be honest. I’m not really putting that much pressure on myself because it is what it is. It’s just what I did during a period of time. That’s where my head was at and now that’s coming out. Sure, it’s a first release on my own label, but some people may find it amazing and others just won’t be into it. It’s out of my control really. It’s a bit different to a band, because then you share it with five other people so there is that added weight to it. Who knows what will happen, but I enjoyed making it and had fun doing it. It was an outlet for me and still is an outlet for me which is really good. The label thing is a different kettle of fish. At the moment the label roster is just me, but down the track we will see how we go!
What kind of bands would you sign to your label, what style would you be after?
Probably keeping with what I have already done, so sort of that soul vibe. But I guess it would all just depend on what it was. So like, I haven’t thought much about it, but I’m trying to listen out and see what’s out there. I think just with time some things will happen naturally. I might do a compilation or a small release or whatever, so I just think those things will happen with time. I’m more concerned about getting my own solo stuff up and running at the moment though so people can hear it and get an idea of what it is all about.
Why did you choose to release All New Low first before Talk Talk? All New Low is very different to The Preatures, was it to sort of change the preconception of how your own music could sound?
I put All New Low out because it was my favourite track, so I wanted to start with that one. But it is very different because it’s something I have never done before and I really liked the way it came out. I kind of thought it would be a good place to start, it was different to the other songs on there. Inevitably when you’re playing in a band and you’ve been in that band for five or six years, it’s going to rub off on you. The lyrics tie everything together but I thought Talk Talk was pretty punchy from the get go – straight out of the gate.
How would you describe the other two tracks on the EP?
More of that soul kind of vibe I guess. There is one that is a bit more ballad like with a slower tempo, and then there is another poppy one, so I guess people will have to listen to them and make up their own mind about how it works for them. I always find it hard to explain, but there is a real mix about them.
Where did the soul influence come from?
I’ve always loved new wave bands and that entire 80’s kind of scene. I guess the guitar sounds that I lean on are very much taken from that. I’ve always been a fan growing up, and I’ve tried to combine it with what I’ve been listening to on the radio and what I’m buying. Some people might not get it, but it’s hard to explain what’s happening.
What were you listening to when you were recording this material?
I listened to D’Angelo quite a bit and lots of hip-hop stuff. So Flying Lotus and all that kind of vibe. I was really interested in how beatmaking happened and what went into hip-hop and all. I decided to try my hand at it in a kind of naive and amateur way. I’m just trying to fuse all the different sounds I like together to see how it all goes.