Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"I’ve learned to have fun with my songs": Ben Babylon's Interview in his 18th Birthday

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.

18 Reasons to Choose

18 years old. Ok. So I suggested to Ben to answer 18 short questions about different matters, but with only a few words, and very faster, just what it comes to mind. The pretention is to learn a little bit more of him. We did something similar on 2012 Xmas time. He was just 15 years old and it was so funny. This time, at 18, the questions are not particularly the same, just some. 

Are you ready Ben? So, let's start.

One book?
House of Leaves - by Mark Z. Danielewski

One country?
Texas . . . wait . . . that’s not a country!

One Elton song?
Blues Never Fade Away (Captain and the Kid)

One entertainment?

One food?
Filet Mignon!

One girl?
Of course, I would never cheat!

One fictional character?
Batman, of course!

One monument?
Hmmm….Washington Monument I suppose.

One movie?
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan)

One number?

One pet?
Layla, my beautiful golden retriever (kinda) friend.

One piano player?
Jerry Lee Lewis

One slogan?
Just do it.

One record?
Pet Sounds - The Beach Boys

One venue to play in the future?
Nokia Theater, why not!?

One website?
“Random Article” on wikipedia.org

One wish?

One word?

Happy B-Day, Ben Babylon!!!

"Ben, this is my gift for you, with all of my love. You are a very talented man and one of the most interesting people I've ever met. Have a nice day, man. My best wishes for you, today and always" (Jack Rabbit)

Thanks JonJon for your help

Boopies Wishes

Ben is great. I have met him and his family. They are lovely. Wish him a happy birthday and send him and his family my love (Keith Hayward, UK)

Ben I wish you a wonderful birthday! Let love follow your footsteps everywhere you go. Be happy!!! (Rosemary Fernandes, Brazil)

Happy Birthday, Ben! Have lots of fun on your special day! (Jean M. Goman, US)

Dear Ben, Wishing you a wonderful and happy birthday with much happiness and much continued success! All the best. (Brian Gold, US)

Happy BDay to our golden boy. He deserves all the best in his life. 
(Vera Rio, Brazil)

(Leila Avelar Santiago, Brazil)

Wishing a very happy birthday wish to a very special, talented young man. Happy Birthday, Ben! (Michele Gordon Cohen, US)

Happy Birthday Ben Have a great day (Jeff Teasdale, UK)

Happy Birthday Ben! (JonJon)

Ben. First I would love to wish you a very happy Birthday. Second, I would love to wish you success as you are a very talented young man! (Abby Goldstein Feilich, US)

(Kimberlee Kemble, US)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Second Episode of The Day: Your Fan's Wishes

My birthday wish for Ben would be to be able to one day be able to play the biggest concert venues in the world, and I know one day him and his band will play very big venues. That's my wish for ben. (Ashley Jones, US)

Happy Birthday Ben, It has been amazing to watch you grow into a man and follow your Dads footsteps. I know that he is so proud of you and is guiding you on your Journey as a musician. Each year takes you closer to the dream, so make this Birthday and everyday after count. All the best to you. (Billy Trudel, Singer/Songwriter, US)

Just wish him a wonderful, happy birthday with much continued success (Brian Gold, US)

Happy Birthday Ben! from Debbie Piemonte LATW Boston Style and everyone from LATW. Best wishes on all your musicial endevears. Rock on (Debbie Piemonte, US)

Ben I wish you from the bottom of my heart all the success you deserve! Your talent is one that needs to be seen and heard by many and us who know you will always support you in all your endeavors with lots of love and faith In all you do. Happy Birthday! Love. (Electra Barakos, singer/songwriter, US)

♫♪♫ Well, he was just seventeen
You know what I mean
And the way he sang was way beyond compare
So how could I listen to another (Ooh)
When I heard him singing there. ♫♪♫
HAPPY BD, BB! (Fred Anderson, publicist (with apology to The Beatles))

"Happy birthday, Ben! Meeting you at Berklee and hanging out with you everyday made my summer amazing. Have an amazing day!" (Gillian Redstone, US)

"Can I be a part of this conversation" "no" lol  I'm so glad you didn't take no for an answer. I had such a great time with you this summer and I hope we'll be able to go to Berklee together!! I miss your crazy sense of humor and all the fun times we had with Gillian and David lol.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BENNYBOOP (Gracie Fisher, US)

"Happy Birthday, Ben! We will never forget the time we performed together in LA!"
(Jetset Getset, Band, US)

"Ben, you are an amazing musician. I had a wonderful time performing with you, when I was in LA, and I hope to do it again! I also loved spending time with your mom and Layla! Happy Birthday!" (Kaitlyn Baker, singer/songwriter, US)

My dear Ben, Oh How I remember the day I met you! Bright eyed and bushy tailed! And now...now...Oh MANNNNN! Happy Birthday, Ben! Remember to stop and smell the roses! Much love to you, (Kathryn Keats, singer/songwriter, US)

Happy birthday Ben!! Best of luck with all your new projects!! (Kim Bullard, EJ Band, US)

Happy birthday Ben! Wishing you the best for this new year. You've grown so much as a musician, your family and all of us who loved your dad are so proud of you. Keep on rockin' and have a great birthday! (Isabel Gonzalez, US)

I hope you have a wonderful day and that the year ahead is filled with much love, many wonderful surprises and gives you lasting memories that you will cherish in all the days ahead. Happy Birthday Ben Babylon! (Leila Avelar Santiago, Brazil)

Happy Birthday Ben. Your picture taken in Vegas during the Elton Expo is displayed in the wall in my store Provincia in Provincetown and thousands have seen it this summer I am a huge fan and congrats on your new band project. Cheers!!! (Manny Sousa, US)

'Happy birthday Ben, you've come a long way very quickly. You've inherited a great musical DNA which you're putting to great use with The Episodes. Here's to a great future with them!' (Paul Purcell, Ireland)

A very, very happy birthday to Ben. Have a wonderful day (Ros Dinsdale, US)

Happy Birthday Ben !! We all are so proud to witness your success.Share such important moments in your life it's a privilege for us. Health, success and all the happiness of the world for you! God bless you! (Vera Rio, Brazil)

Special thanks to Fred Anderson for always being there. You are the best.
Pictures courtesy of Fred Anderson, Kathryn Keats and The Babylon family
Ben Babylon's card by Leila Avelar Santiago