In something of a backward nod to the ways of a bygone era, it’s fair to say that Ben Hemming didn’t so much find the blues… as the blues found him.
It was during a particularly troublesome period in his life, stuck in a dead end job, and having watched his girlfriend walk out of his life, that he decided the only option was to seek change. Big change. Leaving all of his emotional baggage behind, he embarked upon a musical pilgrimage around America that eventually would come to define not just his sound, but also his own identity. Picking up an old guitar in a pawn shop along the way, he played his way across the southern states in the tradition of the delta Bluesmen before him. It was Hemming’s way of paying his dues, and of understanding a cultural heritage. Yet in moments of brutal self-reflection, he himself knew that more than anything, this was about escape.
He eventually returned to London with a collection of songs he’d written along the road, which went on to form the basis of his debut album, the aptly titled ‘Broken Man’. He subsequently went on to record three further albums, ‘City of Streets’, ‘The Devil Beside Me’ and ‘Broken Road’ which he self-released to critical acclaim; The Blues Magazine called him ‘A unique musical identity’; Blues Blast Magazine described his songs as being ‘of bleak beauty’ and Americana U.K. placed him firmly at the forefront of the so-called ‘new Blues’ movement.
What first got you into music?
I’ve always been a creative person and music was always the most immediate way I had to express myself. Then later I went on a kind of musical pilgrimage around the states and really found myself as an artist. Since then I’ve never looked back. My biggest challenge now is finding a way to make it work into today’s music industry.
What is your creative process like?
I’m pretty organic when it comes to my writing process. I usually keep a guitar with me, and just pick it up and jam. Then a riff will come to me that I like and I’ll work out a melody. Then it’s just a case of penning the lyrics and at that point, the meaning of the song comes together and really dictates to where I take it from there. It’s really as simple as that.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
On one hand, it’s nearly killed it off, and on the other, it’s totally opened it up for everyone. Before you needed the backing of a record company to build a fanbase, but now you can build one independently with social media. But unfortunately pirating sites like Napster totally devalued recorded music’s worth and people just won’t pay for it anymore. So unless your at the very top of the tree it can be very hard to monetize.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist?
I love the freedom and creativity it affords me I’m totally independent so I work for no one but myself that is a very liberating experience.
What are your plans for any future releases?
At the moment I’ve just released a new single called ‘Holy For A Day’ so I’m busy promoting that. But there will be a new EP out in June so keep your eyes peeled for that on my website: www.benhemming.co.uk
What is the most useless talent you have?
I do a pretty good Donald Duck impression
What was the last thing you dressed up as for fancy dress?
I went to a Halloween party with my mates and we all dressed up as Ghostbusters, we were a hit that’s for sure.
You are a new addition to a crayon box. What color would you be and why?
Black because that’s the only color I seem to wear these days.
What’s your least favorite personality trait you like about yourself?
It might sound odd for someone who performs in front of people but sometimes I think I can be a bit shy or reserved and not be as outgoing as I should or could be.
If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?
Never give up, you’ve got this!
IBBA Top 20 Artist
New single ‘Holy For A Day’ is out now listen here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/benhemming/holy-for-a-day
“A unique musical identity” – The Blues Magazine
“Songs of bleak beauty” – Blues Blast Magazine
“This is a new Blues” – Americana U.K.
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