Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Questions & Answers: Zach Benton

Check out my interview with Zach Benton aka "#1 Soul Crooner".  
He's a cool dude from New England and the ultimate DIY artist.  His current project is an EP called, "Mister Roberts' Epiphany".  

KS: Where are you from? 
ZB: I'm from the great state of New Hampshire!

KS: Can you share a few details about your background?
ZB: I'm 24 years old, and I've been writing and recording songs since I was 12. I've been playing guitar and performing for 11 years. I opened for the Beach Boys in 2000.

KS: When & how did you recognize your passion for music?
ZB: I recognized it at a young age; I was influenced by Michael Jackson's Thriller album, despite the fact that it was released before I was born. I saw music as a way to be able to be yourself in a format that people recognized. I first became serious about it at age 12. I was a school reject and needed an outlet. Two years later, I was writing and performing, and was one of the most popular kids in school.
I was also dissatisfied with the music the radio was giving; I felt most of it was very mediocre around 2001, when I started focusing on writing songs. I didn't like what I heard, so I wanted to write something I would like. Mainstream music did get better between 2002 and 2004, but overall it hasn't appealed much to me recently. Albums that did pique my interest at that time were Maroon 5's "Songs About Jane" and Outkast's "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below." Once I realized people still wanted great music, I felt it was worth delivering what I had.

KS: Who's your biggest musical influence?
ZB: My biggest musical influence is Stevie Wonder. He is one man who wrote and recorded the bulk of his great work alone; not only that, but his melodies are great and he isn't afraid to go places in music that many fear to tread, like strange chord progressions and melodic intervals. He also has a wonderful voice! He makes music an adventure. He's my hero. Other influences of mine include Sly Stone, Outkast, Cee Lo Green, Prince, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson (pre-1984), and Maroon 5 (on their first album). Its all about being true to yourself, while giving great music and a great show.

KS: What inspires you the most? 
ZB: Spirituality and inner peace inspire me the most; they also produce the best songs from me. Songs about simplicity and being in tune with the Divine are my favorites to write. That's about imparting spiritual knowledge in a way that makes you bob your head to the rhythm. I am obsessed with timeless themes for songs: love, spirituality, peace, and having a good time.

KS: Can you list 3 interesting facts about you?
ZB: Here are the three interesting facts:
a) I don't smoke, drink, or do any drugs. I feel it would hold me back if I did, and I also feel it gives me an advantage over the competition. Andre 3000 went teetotal from Outkast's ATLiens (1996) on up, and he's one of musicians that I respect most. The Beatles also went dry while writing much of the White Album (1968), which shows on the album, because the songs were great!
b) I believe there's a Divine Spark within everyone.
c) I don't want to be a rock star or a celebrity.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
ZB: In ten years, I see myself still recording and writing, and loving every minute of it. I don't get to perform often, but I hope within the next ten years, I'll be performing at least twice a week for appreciative audiences. I don't want to be a "star" or a "celebrity," because fame is something that causes major ups and downs. The constant search for approval in celebrity lives scares me. I would rather avoid the urge to "stay on top." I'd rather be myself and be happy, than be depressed and a star. I do want listeners and a fanbase though! Just not celebrity worship. The worship of celebrities sickens and scares me.

KS: What do you want to tell your fans?
ZB: I want to tell my fans that they are great! It means a lot to a musician and artist to have any support, and I hope that they all keep listening, and pass my music on! Its there to spread joy and the love of life. Anybody can become a new fan by checking out my music at http://zachbenton.bandcamp.com/.

- Kia Sleet

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