Our very own home grown talent, James Bennett, has ticked yet another box on his to do list, releasing his debut self titled album – which is already hitting the high end of the music charts. James tells FOCUS all about His official album launch andwhat he’s been up to over the past few years since we chatted last …
It’s been nearly three years since we last spoke to you at FOCUS – we can only imagine it’s been an amazing journey to where you are now! Give us a little insight…
Yes, too long! I’ve been playing as many gigs as I can, playing as often as possible. I don’t expect to “make it” sitting at home all day like a lot of people think you can do.
I enjoy going away every weekend, and the booking side of things is kind of fun too! Lining up dates, working out where I want to be, I love surfing and taking photos too, so I’ll often try to coincide my gigs with places I want to surf or take photos. So, it’s cool I can combine my three favourite pastimes and make it work!
Last time we spoke think I’d just released my first EP. I’ve since done another EP, These Walls, a single, Colourful Kites and as of a few weeks ago, my first ever album! I’ve also played at a tonne of great festivals and events!
Tell us about the creative process behind your freshly released self titled album …
The creative process for the album as a whole has many different elements! First there’s the writing of the songs, which can happen whenever (and generally doesn’t last long), the recording is another thing, then comes the mixing and mastering and finally combining it with some kind of “fitting” artwork. Towards the end of this last project, I think my creativity had seen better days; it was all very draining, expensive and tiring, but that’s all part of it, and it’s something I think you get better and better at every time.
As for songwriting in itself and the songs on the album, I don’t think I’ll ever write a group of songs and “intend” them to be for the one album. Every song of mine should stand for itself and most times when I write a song, it’s done in around an hour or so – never any longer!
Since its release only a few weeks ago, your album has been scaling the iTunes charts; you must be stoked!
Yes, it’s very cool to see my first ever album sitting side by side with some of my biggest influences, like Angus & Julia and John Butler!
The best its hit so far was number 11 on the singer songwriter charts on iTunes. Couldn’t be happier!
And you’re holding your official album launch this month in Port Macquarie; where and when?
The “official” launch night will be held on Friday 12th February at Sunset Gallery in Port Macquarie, with two great local support acts, Todd Bourke and Vena Klymo, who are both great friends of mine as well. The cost is $10 at the door, anyone and everyone is welcome, kicking off at around 6:30pm and wrapping up by around 10pm. The venue has limited seating/standing space, so people will need to get there early to avoid standing on the street.
I’ll be doing another show the following night at the Pier, with support from Todd Bourke for anyone who can’t make the Friday.
What is your biggest dream and goal, and have these changed over time?
My biggest dream at the moment would be getting into some bigger festivals and maybe heading overseas. My ultimate goal is to make people feel happy and enjoy the music that I create and also to hopefully inspire others to play or write music like others did for me.
They haven’t changed much, except the festival thing. I love to play at festivals, and I have played quite a few in the last few years, but these days I prefer to play to a small, attentive crowd, where the songs really get a proper listen.
I’ve done festivals where people are just too drunk and wild to really care for the music, which is fine, but at the end of the day that’s not the audience I want to attract.
In saying that, there are smaller festivals that have that intimate vibe that attract the right kind of people, so I guess the goal is just to find the right ones to play at.
I still want to go overseas to play. I did a surf trip to New Zealand earlier this year and sussed out some bars and places to play at, so if I go anywhere overseas to play anytime soon, it would probably be there!
To the last part of the question [my goal] I know I’ve accomplished this to some degree; I’ve had many people tell me they’ve walked down the aisle to some of my music, and I’m always being told stories of my CDs being played on long car trips, so that’s pretty cool as well.
You’ve worked alongside some amazing artists – Ian Moss, Wendy Matthews, to name a couple. What was it like working alongside these iconic storytellers?
Sure, I love it – you learn a lot from being around people who’ve been doing it forever.
The most memorable support shows I played were for Wendy Matthews and her band just over a year ago.
I did about six shows with them and after about the third show, they invited me to hang with them back at their accommodation, where we’d play guitar ‘til an ungodly hour of the morning, hear all their stories of past tours and their opinions on certain things. I’ve got beautiful memories of hanging out with Wendy and her band, and we still keep in touch!
Where can we buy your music and follow you?
All my music is on iTunes, and hard copies are available from my website: www.jamesbennettmusic.com
I always have hard copies to sell at my gigs too!
People can follow me on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/jamesbennettsound
Instagram jamesbennett_ and you can find my videos on YouTube as well.