Ben Auld’s album Lemongrass is out now. Here’s a DeClunk Q & A with Ben.

Could you describe your surroundings please, so that we can all sit
snug during the Q & A.

I’m currently sitting on my sofa in my flat, the sun’s just going down so the room has a lovely glow to it.

When did you know that you wanted to perform and record? Were
you encouraged or were you told to ‘get a proper job’?

Initially I learnt to play just to fit in. My friends would hang out in the music rooms at school during breaks. It took a little while before I saw it as something I could use to stand out rather than blend in. I don’t think I was ever encouraged (or disencouraged) from making music, but I’ve never sought it out as a career. I could never afford to make it a full time thing so I’ve always worked and slotted it in around that. I don’t think that it has to be at odds with a ‘normal’ job, in fact they can support each other quite well. 

Can you remember the first song that you wrote? What was it
called? What was it about? Was it any good?

I don’t think there was a definite point I could say my first song happened. A few years back I started recording like 15-30 second clips on audacity that were mostly just guitars or a crappy keyboard. At some point I added vocals to a few, but they weren’t longer than a minute and never really had a point. I wrote the song Lemongrass a little while later and it was the first time it felt like I’d made a song. It had lyrics I’d actually thought about and it was longer than a minute. It was a pretty fundamental point in my songwriting where I realised I could actually maybe make a record! So I thought it was apt to name it after it too.

What did you grow up listening to?

Hmm I think the first CD I ever bought was Employment by Kaiser Chiefs which actually I still love to bits. I had a lot of silly stuff like Weird Al on my iPod too. My dad would always have Planet Rock radio on or have the same Rush or Boston CDs in the car. I think the classic rock stuff stuck with me a lot but the music I connected to most growing up was blues-y stuff like The White Stripes.

The album Lemongrass is out this month. Can you tell us a little
about it? When were the songs written? Is there a theme running
through the album?

So I worked on this record from about late 2017 to 2021. I originally just had a Tascam 244 cassette recorder and did a few tracks on that. I did Lemongrass and Try Again on that. I moved to Bristol and went through a few more different machines. I had a reel to reel for a while and did a few more tracks on that. Finally I got my hands on a Tascam 388 and I finished it up on that. I probably killed about 4 tape machines making this thing, I’ve got a graveyard of them I carry across whenever I move house. The songs are pretty personal but kinda cryptic or ambiguous enough that hopefully people can imprint their own perspectives onto them. A lot of it is about growing up, which can suck at times but there’s always these flashes of joy that you look back on. So the songs are a bit sad at times but also nostalgic and sentimental about those fonder moments that often you only appreciate once they’ve passed.

Are there other plans for 2022? A tour? A holiday in the sun? A gig in

I’d love a gig in Carlisle! Haven’t got many concrete plans, just a few gigs booked for my hometown Norwich. If we get accepted for some festivals that’d be really neat, but I’m just happy to have the record out! 

Have you other talents that we don’t know about? You know, keepie
uppies, juggling, knitting, that sort of random thing?

Ha, well I’m not sure. I found out I’m pretty good at suspended sock wrestling if that counts?

Our army of researchers reckon that you are in Bristol. So, where
would you take us if we pop down for the weekend? You are the
Entertainments Committee.

Ah well it’d have to be a wander around North St, St Nick’s market and Stokes Croft. There’s some great independent shops and food in those areas. We’d have to check into Rough Trade I expect. Then a stroll around Ashton Court would be a wholesome Sunday afternoon activity.

Any bands/artists that you suggest we have a listen to?

So many! Some I’ve been enjoying especially lately are Katy Kirby, Sam Evian and my labelmate Lady Dan.

Thanks Ben, for taking the time for DeClunk. We look forward to
hearing the album Lemongrass.

Thanks! It’s been fun.

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