Ben Arthur

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Interview by Mark Bayross

How different was making the new album EDIBLE DARLING from your previous albums?

Having the support–logistical, financial and otherwise–of the label helped everything go a lot smoother and quicker.

Has releasing it on Bardic Records rather than your own Chicken Butter label made a difference?

It’s been a huge difference–as between throwing a bullet and shooting it. Bardic has very ably taken over what I was muddling around with in a very amateurish way.

You claim Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Pink Floyd as influences. In what way? Musically it’s not too apparent!

Well, those are some of the bands I listened to when I was a kid. Probably it’s best if you don’t wear your influences too much on your sleeve, really. At the same time, though, it’s important to recognize that you’re standing on the shoulders of giants.

You also say that you are fascinated by the underlying contradictions in people’s motivations. Does that extend to yourself, and, if so, what are the contradictions in you?

Hmm…cool question. I think, like most people, I run into paradox and irony pretty much on a daily basis. I’ll decline to bore you with the details of my own personal struggles…

Should we take the dark subject matter of your songs at face value or did you intend a sense of tongue-in-cheek playfulness to songs like KEEP ME AROUND?

Well, listeners can take the music any way they hear it…each person’s experience of art is so individual. Certainly though I wrote that song with a pretty light heart.

You have shared a stage with the likes of Tori Amos, Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin – what has been the highlight of your career so far?

I did have a pretty good time at a gig I played down in Alabama the other day. Oh, and I had a really great time playing a show in Doncaster last year.

You had only just arrived in New York when 9/11 happened. What are your thoughts on that day and the effect it had on your song writing?

I think 9/11 affected everyone, both in the city and the rest of the world. And I think most artists, particularly in NYC, have in one way or another felt the tragedy’s influence in their work. I’ve always felt Wilco’s ‘Jesus, etc.’ Is one of the most moving post-9/11 works.

“The older I get, the more I realise / the best I can hope for is compromise”: In what areas are you having to compromise? Is this a statement about the way the record industry treats musicians nowadays?

In the song I was talking about frustration and sexual compromises, not industry or artistic compromises.

What other artists / bands are you listening to right now?

Amelia, Rachel Yamagata, Parker Paul, Ollabelle, Vienna Teng.

What else influences your song writing?

Novels, poetry, movies, friends. Almost anything.

The album is out in July; what are your plans after that?

In July and August I’m touring in the US with Vienna Teng, Abra Moore and Teitur. After that, rumour is I’m coming back across the pond to do a bunch of dates in the UK. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.