Multi-talented singer-songwriter, Ben E. Davis, sits down with our team at The Cultural Reset to discuss his latest single, 'Lonely Without You', and his journey from talented young singer to established artist. From his thoughts on discrimination in an oversaturated industry to what he's learned from his peers and mentors throughout his career path, Ben E. Davis shows us the importance of self-awareness and anchoring one's creative career in the joy gained while pursuing it.
Photo: Ben E. Davis
Where/when did your individual creative journey begin?
I’m originally from the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, but have been living in London over the last 5 years. Specifically, I’m from North Hollywood. In the movie Clueless...the liquor store where “Cher” got robbed at...that’s my hood!
Tell us the story of how you became a musician/artist?
I always liked to sing since I was a kid. I grew up watching a TV show called ‘KIDS Incorporated’ that Fergie starred on about a bunch of youngsters who had a band. I watched that show religiously at 5pm every day on the Disney Channel and I dreamed of being in a band myself. Years later that dream came true when I toured internationally with a corporate party band called the LA ALLSTARS.
Tell us about your artistry? What would you say is your mission with your art? And who are your influences (message/music style)?
Great question! So to paraphrase one of my musical mentors Quincy Jones says there are only two types of songs: good songs and bad songs! I want to write and sing the good ones and I hope that there is something in the music or the lyrics that moves the audience.
Can you speak on your process when creating projects? When do you feel most inspired?
Inspiration is a weird thing… you can go to the studio and have a horrible session, go home and a melody pops into your head straight away. I make a lot of voice memos of melodic and lyric ideas that come to me.
Tell us about your latest release ‘Lonely Without You’ what was your artistic process for creating this piece?
Actually ‘Lonely Without You’ was a melody that I originally sang into my phone acapella (without music), I sent it to R0 Bradley my friend and producer and he sent back this cool chopped up rhythm which is now the chorus “lonely lonely lonely”.
Photo: Ben E. Davis
Is there anything about the industry you’d want to change as you progress in your career? Tell us about some experiences you overcame.
Reality singing TV shows! I think they are already on the way out, but I would create a show or bring back a show that MTV first launched called “The Cut” (hosted by Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC and launched the career of singer Anastacia) where it was about finding artists who wrote their own songs not just singers. American Idol and The Voice are cool singing competitions, but they stifle creativity. Some of the best artists have unique voices—not always the best voices. It’s all about the song for me!
Have you ever experienced limitations in your career (as a musician) due to being LGBTQ and POC?
Unfortunately, I would have to say yes… I’m over 30 so I remember when it wasn’t so “trendy” to be gay. My friend and fellow LGBT/POC singer David Hernandez (American Idol Season 7) waited until he released his song ‘Beautiful’ which featured same-sex couples before he publicly “came out”. When I was auditioning for Idol and other shows, they would ask you your sexual orientation on the background questionnaire. It felt intrusive and you couldn’t help but think that saying you were gay or listing your male partners would come back to hurt you.
Are there any insufficiencies or injustices in the music industry that you’d like to see rectified?
It’s easy to make music, but to be heard among the noise that is the independent music scene, is not easy. You have to invest in your career - the major labels still control all the top music and artists that come to “fame”. On the other hand, it’s easier to be found because of Spotify and algorithms. It’s like posting a good Grindr picture… you’re gonna get more attention if you’re topless, so fingers crossed good music will trigger the algorithms to share it more!
Photo: Ben E. Davis
What are some upcoming projects you are working on? When can we expect them? Where can we stream them?
I have remixes by Liam Keegan (who has remixed for Sia, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Betty Who) coming out in a month or so along with a remix by a new future bass duo called ORRA. I haven’t yet worked with a gay remixer however I’ve got my eyes and a small crush on Ryan Skyy whom I’d love to collaborate with in the future. An EP is in the works as well, but not sure if we will release it at end of 2021 or next year. Make sure you’re following me on Spotify to be notified by release radar of upcoming releases!
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives looking to break into the music industry?
Love the journey. Set goals, but have no expectations. I’ve been fortunate to have a career as a “singer” for more than half my life. I’ve earned money singing at corporate parties, weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, (fortunately no funerals) and any other kind of celebration including PRIDE in London and Palm Springs. At clubs and bars, I perform my original songs along with covers. I’ve even busked on the streets in London (as have Ed Sheeran and Tones And I) You have to be prepared to do it ALL. The “industry” is constantly changing and if you research people who have “made it” they all have a history of singing or writing songs at a time when people didn’t know their name. I too hope to “make it” one day soon and share my story of all the hard work it took to get there!
Connect with Ben E. Davis:
Stream 'Lonely Without You'