Ben is one half of TEN FÉ, a London band formed in 2013 by friendship, parties and busking with Leo Duncan. Fresh out of the recording studio in Berlin, I had the pleasure of meeting Ben and Leo in their bedrooms. Ben is born and bread in London, and lives in a flat set amongst the industrial skyline of Hackney Wick. In Ben’s small but perfectly formed den, I snapped away whilst we chatted about their new single Make Me Better, the legend that is Keith Richards and Sticky Fingers.
Tell me how you met Leo and how you started doing music together?
We became mates through playing, we started busking on the tube because we both needed the money, and both loved playing old rock n roll classics, and singing together. It was great because the busking ritual became a really strong thing – to head out, play to people on the carriages, make some money, buy a few beers, and head back to Leo’s old place in west London to hang, listen to music, and talk about the greats. It wasn’t till much later that we started making music together. We’d both been in different bands before. The more time we spent together, we discovered we had a lot in common musically and started making music together.How would you describe Leo?
He’s a heavy dude! He brings energy…to everything, whatever it is, making music, to performing on stage, shooting a video, meeting people, relationships, whatever. I’ve learnt a shit load from him, be fearless, come with love for what you’re doing, and BRING THE VIBE!
Where did you draw inspiration from for the new single, Make Me Better?
A lot’s gone into this one, we worked on it for months the two of us, getting the drums and groove just right, then had to record it three different times in the studio before we finally got it. But it all came from the initial demo that Leo sent over, there were these guitars on it that sounded like they could be a string orchestra, the feel of it had this deep sway to it, and it just sounded really heavy. That’s always directed how we’ve felt about the sound for it… just imagine 20 Indian elephants walking along the beach, and 100 people in white, holding hands, and walking into the sea.
Who are your musical influences?
I listen to a lot of modern music, but I’ll never stop getting deeper and deeper on that old rock n roll music: The Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, they’re the ones I keep close. Keith Richards is my favourite man of all time.
Suppose I don’t need to ask who you’d like to be be for one day?
Yes, Keith, at Nellcote in exile; after spending a night recording in their big house, getting on his speed boat the next morning and heading out, listening to the tapes they’d recorded the night before.
What song do you always find yourself returning to and why?
There’s a lot of old ones. A more recent one is Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar, my favourite track in a long long time. It hit a really deep chord when I first heard it a couple of years ago, felt like it was channeling some really deep stuff; both musically and with the attitude and intent in it. Can never go long without putting that one on.
Other than Leo, who would you most like to sing with?
Erm, some deep harmonising with Kendrick or Frank Ocean.
Out of you and Leo, who is the most good looking?
Well Leo’s got fiery charm…but I get better with age.When did you last cry?
Can feel myself welling up right now just thinking about the first time I heard the Make Me Better demo!
When are you most happiest?
Enjoying the moment and not thinking about what I’ve got to do later.
What does your bedroom mean to you?
Its a rock n roll dream den.Describe your dream bedroom space?
South of France, old mansion, studio set-up, speed boat outside ready for the next morning.
If your bedroom were on fire, what would you save?
My laptop has just about every bit of music we’ve ever worked on, on it, so it would have to come first.
How do you sleep naked or bedclothes?
Me and me undies.