Hi Ben. Nice you are here and happy b-day, first of all. Seems a long time when you had 12 years old and you wrote that wonderful and impressive song as a tribute to your father, the late Guy Babylon: "Goodbye Superman" touched so many hearts while you proved you could write great songs. You are so young, you are forming yourself to develop a music career.But in the other hand, you have your experience: no one could say he openend for Leon Russell, Ambrosia, Kenny Cetera or Macy Gray. I had the honour to have a taste of some of your songs and they were really amazing. But we want to learn more from you. So we really appreciate your kindness in being here, with your fans, at your fantastic date. So let's start simply with... What were you doing this last year?
Miquel! So nice to talk with you again. I’ve been very busy this past year. At the beginning of the year I joined a band called The Sposato Brothers Band, and I have been working with them a lot this whole year. At first I joined as a keyboardist, but I immediately started writing songs with them. We recorded a few of the songs, and we are finishing them up right now and I really hope to release them soon. I am now the musical director of the band and we are playing all around the Malibu and Los Angeles area. Besides that, I’ve been working a lot with Alex Arnaout in the studio — writing songs, recording them, producing them. Unfortunately, my band The Episodes broke up, but Alex and I have continued to work closely and we really have a lot of cool things cooking in the studio. Brian Schwartz has been coming over too and putting some guitar on the songs — it’s really been a lot of fun.
First we had Ben Babylon Band. "Contradiction" and a fantastic EP were released: "Further Interpretations of Real Life" with my favourite, the fantastic "Burning Man" in there. I remember seeing you playing live at The 2013 Elton John Expo with John Mahon and Davey Johnstone debuting this song. That was an amazing moment in your career. What those incredible musicians adviced to you?
The 2014 Elton John Expo was one of the coolest experiences musically for me. Even if I didn’t play at it, it still would have been an awesome experience. The band and I had a great time playing with John and Davey, they are insane musicians. John and I opened the show with a piano/percussion arrangement of “Song for Guy” by Elton John, and although that song has no relationship to my dad at all, it was an emotional experience for everybody nonetheless. We transitioned that song into “Burning Man,” my tribute to Bob Birch, which was really cool to play with John. Then Davey came up and rocked “Contradiction” with us — that was surreal!
Ben, here we have the fantastic Ros Dinsdale, from our Facebook group. She would love to ask you her question: Would you like to become a member of the Elton John Band, making an occasional guest appearance (like Ray Cooper does) at somewhere like Caesars, Las Vegas?
No, never! . . . . just kidding!!!!! Are you kidding!? It would be a DREAM to play with the Elton John Band — what a connection that would give me to my father. In 2010, Rock Nation did an Elton John tribute concert, and I had to learn all my dad’s keyboard parts which was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. Davey, John and Nigel all came and played with us too. Of course, actually playing with Elton John would be crazy.
Then we had The Episodes, an alternative rock band. To the occasion Matt Still produced two singles, “Never Stop" and "Jack's Hit" with good results. But since now an album it is not materialized. Any plans to go ahead with The Episodes?
That was awesome — working with Matt Still. He is genius behind the mixing board — a great producer. Those songs turned out great, and there’s one more he did with us that I will probably put out at some point. However, The Episodes broke up in September and it doesn’t seem there are many plans in the future with them. However, the band members and I still keep a close relationship. Especially Alex Arnaout and I — we are working all the time in the studio writing and recording songs.
How your music has evolved in the past 5 years? And how your growing up has inspired your music?
I think I’ve definitely matured in my songwriting and lyric-writing. But I’ve also allowed myself to become immature — with songs like “Never Stop” and “Jack’s Hit.” I’ve learned to have fun with my songs — not everything has to be so serious! I’ve also finally been able to collaborate with other songwriters, which was always hard for me in the past. I am constantly evolving, and I will continue to improve myself.
Now it's turn to introduce the wonderful Vickie Peek, from our group too: Do you have any specific goals that you want to achieve in your musical career within the next few years?
No specific goals, really. As of now, my plan is to pursue an education in music (production, orchestration, business) and see where that takes me. I am also writing a lot, and a lot of those songs are getting recorded — so we’ll see! I’m also trying to produce music as well right now, which I’m having a lot of fun doing.
Very busy indeeed!!! I saw a picture of you in front a black piano, with the sentence "recording at Woodshed in Malibu", so what it came inmediatily in my head was: he is preparing something big... Anything you could share about those sessions?
Now THAT’S a cool studio! The Woodshed was an awesome experience. There I was actually recording piano on a few songs for the Sposato Brothers Band. They also had a cool celesta there, so I recorded that as well.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
Of course! When there’s no story, it’s just boring — in my opinion. I always try to keep my songs interesting.
And my last invited is from our group too. He's JonJon: What artists shaped or impacted you the most musically and why?
Well, of course Elton first. He was the first music I ever heard really and the first idol I could ever look up to. From there I was turned on to Ben Folds who really changed the way the way I played the piano and the way I wrote. I also like Jellyfish, Sting and The Police, Stevie Wonder, Thelonious Monk, and Herbie Hancock.
Which type of music are you listening today? What do you prefer?
Recently, interestingly enough, I’ve been listing to a lot of funk music! Can’t get enough of the FUNK! Also I’ve been listening to a ton of old Motown, classic soul and R&B too. As for new music, I really like Tame Impala, Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus.
Music industry changes so much today. Radio doesn't play rock songs so much, it seems all is very pop and dance. Digital age changes everything. It seems so difficult to move in this world and to get own products out. What's your experience? How do you manage to do that?
The music industry is crazy. But what I’m finding funny is that the “popular” music right now — the music you see performed on the Grammys and what-not (Niki Minaj, Iggy what’s-her-face, Miley, etc) — isn’t really . . . popular. People aren’t actually listening to that music, as far as I know. A lot of people listen to it as a joke, but none of it is really . . . respected. People right now are actually are listening to some of the best music, in my opinion. At least people my age right now have great taste in music — but none of it really goes “mainstream.” It seems that the mainstream artists that you see on TV all the time aren’t REALLY famous, they are just pushed so hard by the record labels. They are putting so much money into them, so much energy — of course they are gonna be in the spotlight. But nobody is actually listening to them. People right now are really into finding “hidden gems,” small independent bands that are making great music.
Are you going to see concerts, to see live shows? Which one you could recommend for its spectacularity? Some you haven't been and you thought you would love to be there (even in the past)?
All the time! I recently saw Snarky Puppy, an AMAZING fusion band that is getting a lot of attention right now. They played amazingly — the talent is incredible. Michael League, the bassist and the writer/arranger of most of the music, was up there playing so nonchalantly, while Cory Henry, one of the most amazing keyboardists right now, was up there looking like a god. One of the best concerts I have seen in a while. I also saw Ben Folds twice in the past year. The first time was at the Hollywood Bowl. He played with a huge orchestra and . . . well . . . it sucked. Obviously the music was great, he was great, the orchestra was great. But I hate the Hollywood Bowl. It’s so quiet . . . so boring. So later I saw him play at The Greek Theatre with yMusic. THAT was an amazing show. I wanted to see Sufjan Stevens but I couldn’t make it, and I wish I could have seen Sigur Ros but it didn’t work out. I love going to concerts all the time though!
Great!!! Apart from music, what other interests do you have now?
Nothing much, really. Everything I do has to do with music nowadays. All different parts of music — performing, recording, producing, writing. But pretty much doing music all the time. Of course I love to hang out with my friends all the time — and that’s what I like to do in my free time.
Now you have 18 years old. When you see world today, you could see a complicated panorama: refugees going up and down finding a prosperous future, wars on different countries, fanatic terrorism, ... in the other hand, progress with medecine, solidarism throughout the world fighting for causes, ... which degree of concern you have about global future?
I will try to do all I can to make the world a better place — either through music or other means.
Oh, how will you spend your birthday time?
I’m going to Disneyland!
Funny! Well, what have I forgotten to ask?
You’ve pretty much covered it all Miquel! Nice to talk to you again! Always a pleasure.
Hahaha we almost did. Thanks so much by heart for sharing your time in that special date. Hope you are enjoying so much for BDay. We will be following your music career as we are doing, we are pretty excited about your projects, and we wish you all the success you deserve: that's plenty success. Thanks for your kindness Ben. God Blessed You.