When I first heard Ben Tyler's Phoenix LP, I wanted to pick a track to review for the Week in Music section, but didn't know what to choose since they were all so good. Meanwhile Ben agreed to talk (via email) about the LP and here's what I found...
Tim Sparks: Ben, how did you get into the music scene and what made you write your first song?
Ben Tyler: I started playing out with bands when I was 15 in and around the NJ, NYC and Boston areas in a number of clubs. I began writing around the same time as music was always my passion, I wanted to be able to explore my own creativity. My earliest stuff is very primitive by today’s standards.
TS: How long did to take you believe your music was “good enough”?
Ben: By the time I was 19 I really thought my material then was “good enough” and I had some success opening for a number of national acts. Looking back though, I realise the maturity wasn’t there yet and so I took a break from writing for about 10 years. When I started writing again at 33 I started to really believe that I found my voice and my songs were not only good but even great. Sometimes stepping away is the best thing to help you explore and really craft your artistic visions.
TS: Do you write, record and produce all of your own songs?
Ben: I do write all of my own material and while I recorded and produced a few of the tracks on my latest record I couldn’t have done all of it alone. I have two friends that are both great engineers and even better producers. Working together with them really helped to elevate my songs and realise their full potential.
TS: This is your first album, what is you personal favourite song?
Ben: It’s really hard to pick one song because of how personal they all are to me. If I had to pick one though it would probably be On My Way Home. The production elements and visualising the atmosphere in it really captures what I love about indie folk music today. I tend to think I’m a better pop writer than a folk writer but I typically connect more to the folkier songs at an emotional level.
TS: What are your immediate music goals after this release?
Ben: Licensing. To me that’s the most realistic goal at this point. The dreams of fame and fortune are unrealistic especially at 37. But I want my songs to be heard and loved no matter how large or small that following may be. Being able to bring in extra income for my music allows me the opportunity to keep doing it and ultimately - hopefully - start being able to make music full time.
TS: I saw your music on social media, do you feel that is the best way for artists to publicise themselves?
Ben: Social media is key in today’s ever-changing market. It also seems to be the easiest way to reach people. Demographics are also important when you have to consider who is really ingesting the most music today. I think that demographic might be the teenagers to 40-somethings and they are the largest demographic of social media users. Specifically platforms like TikTok and Instagram where there is a clear focus on art. It’s easy to get lost within Facebook for instance considering how ad-heavy and political it’s become.