When Chordblossom came into existence, it was always our aim to shine a spotlight on the artists and bands that make up the music scene in Northern Ireland. We’ve been doing it for over ten years now and one of our favourite methods is our Introducing feature.
Put the kettle on, curl up on your sofa and and join us for a quickfire Q&A with some of our favourite new musicians. Who knows, maybe you’ll even discover your new favourite artists.
This iteration of Introducing features the musical talents of Ben Flavelle-Cobain who just released his debut EP electric//emotion.
You’ve just released a new EP. How did it come about and what does it mean to you?
So aye, I’m just about to put out my debut release on September 8th. It’s a 3 track EP called electric//emotion. It came about at the beginning of the pandemic when I got in touch with my producer friend Peter Brien, I told him I had a bunch of tunes that I’d been sitting on and I really wanted to get them down but I needed his help. He was so great, we tried a bunch of stuff and the tunes that worked the best are on this record.
I didn’t have a band together so he really enabled me to get the bones of the tracks down and he believed in my performances which I really needed. The songs on this record are kind of therapy songs, I wrote the 2 main tracks “Ack Well” and “Friends” as a way of self soothing. I guess I was pissed off at people I loved and also grieving. They just appeared naturally, I’m not a sit down and write every day kind of guy. But yeah because of the emotional side of this record it really means a lot to have it out of my system and in the world.
Also to have worked with everyone else on this record is an absolute honour. Jake Holmes played drums on 2 tracks and absolutely nailed it. There is also very special appearances from Saxophonist Meilana Gillard, Vocalist, Célia Tiab and Producer Brién.
Have you any more releases or studio time lined up for later in the year?
I may have one kinda instrumental fusion collaboration thing I wanna drop… The electric//emotion stuff took a real long time to come into the world like some of that music is 4+ years in the making so I’m taking a little break to get back into the present and just play.
I play a lot of fretless bass for a living and it’s a real passion too. I’m doing a lot of jazz and blues stuff and working with songwriters so that’s what I’m at for the rest of the year. In the new year though, I have intentions of cutting a couple more tracks with a live band in Belfast.
Tell us about your song writing process.
I’m not a write everyday person, not yet anyway. I spend a lot of my time just playing, studying and gigging and hanging out with my lovely girlfriend Steph. Eventually in a moment the muse will come out either with the guitar or at the piano. Usually the sound triggers some kind of emotional response and I’ll start singing and developing as I go. The bones of it will usually be there in one sitting then it’ll go round in my head a million times and I might chop and change things after. I write poetry occasionally but rarely put it to music.
Who were your favourite artists/bands growing up? Have your influences changed over time?
My favourite local songwriters are Joshua Burnside and Donal Scullion. I listened to Kaidi Tatham’s new album “Don’t rush the process” and it’s funky as hell. Brién and Célia Tiab’s work is super cool. There’s also a sick noise rock band called Stratford Rise comin’ outa Bangor that just put out a new single.
With the NI Music Prize round the corner, what’s been your favourite album and single released this year?
I don’t believe in music prizes though. None of it’s any better than the rest. It just is… I mean there’s stuff that doesn’t appeal to me but that doesn’t make it good or bad. I’m actually out of touch these days, I really need to get out to some shows and hear what’s going on but it’s hard when I’m gigging weekends.
If you weren’t a musician, what line of work would we find you in?
If I wasn’t a musician I guess I’d be a drummer or something…
If you could collaborate with one artist or band from NI, who would it be and why?
Hmmm… Probably Van or Paul Brady ahaha. Van cause he’s from my neck of the woods, we share influences and I love his singing. Paul Brady cause he wrote The Island, the first time I heard that song and it completely stopped me in my tracks, I was only wee. It wasn’t him singing it though it was some old pintman in the pub but it’s travelled with me and I can always find something new in it.
It is intensely difficult to be successful in the music industry. What does NI need to do to invest in/develop to boost your chances?
I guess the most important thing to invest in is the working class so they have enough money to go out and hear live music and keep the scene alive. It’s hard these days. I’m lucky to be able to go out and play every week and pay my rent, I don’t want any more success than that. I’d like to see some kind of funded gig in town with no cover charge and a budget for young people to cut their teeth playing original music.
What does success look like for you?
Just someone enjoying themselves or being moved by something I’m part of. Just to be doing what I do and making ends meet is a huge privilege and I take it pretty seriously. I couldn’t ask for more.
You’re going out on tour and can have anything you want on your rider, what would we find on yours?
Pastie supper and a red BPM please.
Where and when can we next catch you live?
I have no immediate plans to gig my own music right now but I’ll be sure to let you know. I’ve just started a new residency at The Empire in Belfast with the Chris Taplin Blues Band every Thursday, I’ll be playing with Joshua Burnside at the Ulster Hall on December 23rd and there are some Jazz gigs coming up too. I’m busy on the bass ! You can follow me on Instagram and keep up to date with my music.
If you enjoyed this feature and fancy discovering some more new artists, we suggest you jump on over to our archive of Introducing pieces.
If you are a band or musician based in Northern Ireland interested in taking part in our Introducing feature, we recommend submitting new music to us via our Contact page and if we enjoy it, you’ll no doubt hear from us.