‘It’s not about bigwigs and the consumer, it’s a compromise’

Ben Hall
Ben Hall

With six albums already under his belt, 23-year-old musician and artist Ben Hall has been a busy man.

And yet the former LRGS and QES pupil, who has just finished a degree in illustration at Brighton University, said sometimes he does not feel like he is contributing much to society.

“It’s not a massive problem, but I don’t drive a car, and I’ve no plans to buy a house because that would be impossible,” he said.

“Sometimes it feels like you’re floating about, not necessarily contributing anything.”

It’s a big issue for twentysomethings grappling with what the future might hold, especially when the dream is one where a weekly wage packet is not guaranteed, but surely there’s still some leeway for musical expression?

Ben moved back to Lancaster in July, and has been working on new music with his band Two For Joy, with Charlie and Joe Kondras, and his more recent project, Mr Ben and the Bens.

He said: “Most people feel begrudged to go back to their home town, but I’m really excited about it.

“Trying to get into the scene in places like London is tricky, but here you’re immediately part of the scene and there’s a great network of people. On my course I came up with this character, Mr Ben, it’s a play on the 1960s Mr Ben, and I ended up making a kids TV film about.

“It’s loosely an alter ego based on myself. He’s a nervous guy. I love big band stuff, and Mr Ben and The Bens was born out of a recording project I did in my bedroom. I just started chipping away and recording albums. The band has a rotating cast of instruments, a trombone, an omnichord, piano, synth, violin and guitars and I’ve done six albums all released on Bandcamp.

“It’s a pay what you want system, and allows you to break free of the restrictions of the music industry.

“It’s not about bigwigs and the consumer, it’s a compromise. Anyone can record nowadays. The lyrics are trying to explore what it’s like to be in your formative years and not necessarily conforming to the system.”

Ben will have an exhibition of his work including prints, paintings and ceramics at The Music Room in Sun Square tomorrow, Friday March 4, from 5pm. He’s then performing with Stephen Hudson and the Fiat Pandas in Glasgow on March 5, and joins The Lovely Eggs on the Sheffield date of their upcoming tour in April.