BENJAMIN TORRENS - INTERVIEW
How do you go about constructing a song and what inspires you?
I guess I'm lucky in the sense that I'll be writing songs constantly with or without an instrument. I can be walking around and just making things up in my head or sometimes more intentionally sitting down to write poetry. Which is probably why I may come across so distant and in my own world a lot of the time. Songs come in all forms. Some take 30 mins to write, others can take weeks to form and to finish. On average, I probably write a song almost every day. I think consistency and perseverance are key to actually finishing songs. Starting songs can be easy it's the seeing them through that takes time and effort. Usually though I'll just sit down and start playing around with an instrument and then just either come up with a melody then and there or introduce some pre-made poetry. I really love having no structure or expectation of how something SHOULD sound but to just step out in risk and see where it takes you.
What do you enjoy most, writing the music or playing it live?
I would definitely say writing. Writing music for me is like a whole different world. It's an intimate and vulnerable process. I would honestly write and make music if no one ever listened to it. Don't get me wrong I do also love playing my music to people and seeing how and where it takes them. Getting feedback from friends or family, someone saying they are going through something I went through in the writing process and that the song has helped them. That's an amazing feeling. But I just love creating. I get a buzz from knowing that there are no limits to what could be made. That anything I make will be totally unique, because all of us were made uniquely and individually so anything we bring won't have been done before. And that excites me. It's like getting a blank piece of paper in front of you and just becoming excited by the prospect of what's going to happen to it. You could burn it, or throw it, or paint on it, or turn it into a swan, or whatever. I just love that first feeling where you sit and go, 'right, let’s see what happens now'. Most of the time I have no idea. I kind of just go with what comes naturally.
Where and when was the best gig you've played?
I suppose the best (my favourite) gig that I've played was when I first got into music at about 17/18. I played with my two friends James and Ellie who are both lovely people as well as musicians. I loved the gig because It was in a cafe/bar/pub run by family friends and everyone there was someone I knew. It was the first time I had really been affirmed in any sort of musical ability. People going 'oh he can actually play'. I think that night really encouraged me to take music more seriously, rather than just having it as a side thing I enjoyed from time to time.
We love your debut EP Starling Assemblies; can you tell us a little bit about the EP and its name?
The EP was made as a natural response I guess to what was going around me, whether that was people, nature, my faith or my emotions. I think we all creatively cope and respond to these in our own unique way. Some respond in sport, others in poetry, others fashion etc. So in that sense the EP wasn't made with an intention other than just to release what was pent up inside and also to just enjoy doing something I love, that brings me joy, and to have fun. The name "Starling Assemblies" actually came from a singular moment where I was in London surrounded by all these grey buildings with grey windows and grey faces. I was going through a very low moment at the time suffering with mental health and I just needed to get away somewhere. I went to the back of this building where I was staying, opened the doors and suddenly there were fields upon fields of autumnal sunset colour. And to my delight there was a murmuration (flock) of starlings dancing in front of me. I was immediately encouraged and felt like God had put them there specifically for that moment, for me. I liked the word 'assemblies' because it was different and also melodically fitted better than murmuration. Obviously.
Where can we see you over the forthcoming Summer months?
Working haha. Most of the time I'll be working. Whether thats as a barista striving away to get the best most hipster latte art ever or as a gardener planting and seeing stuff grow. But in regard to my music, I'll be going to a few festivals with CDS and friends. I'm also looking forward to spending a week back home in Bournemouth. Playing on my mum’s piano and sitting with my banjo in the beach hut. Theres a church across the road from where I live as well that I have a key to. So hopefully I'll be able to go in there late at night and record some stuff. I might have a couple of musical friends staying as well so would be great to collaborate with them and see what happens.
What's your favourite thing about British Summer?
Funnily enough, and probably controversially, I love the inconsistency of the weather. I love that one day it will be 'sunny and hot' and then the next it could be cold and rainy. I'm one of those weird people that goes outside when it's raining rather than staying inside. I also love that whenever it's sunny in England at about 5-10pm the whole atmosphere changes and suddenly my breathing space is taking up by the smell of newly bought BBQ's. That makes me laugh. Although I probably do the exact same thing.
Do you have a favourite UK beach?
Yes definitely, I grew up in and around the ocean. It plays a big part in my life. The sound, the colours, the space and perspective it offers are unparalleled. I would have to say my favourite beach (specifically) is around Boscombe Pier, not because it is the most aesthetically pleasing, but just because it offers the most memories. I've surfed there, played beach volleyball tournaments there, worked there and written songs there. My family also own a beach hut 5 minute walks away which used to be my place of refuge. It offered escapism from the world and from whatever I was going through, and the sound of the ocean would calm and ease my soul. It's a lovely place. But I guess the whole Jurassic Coast area as well, like Durdle Door, Sandbanks, Hengistbury Head. I also have memories at all of these. I was very lucky to have grown up so close to the ocean.
Benjamin wears the Dark Grey Cotton crewneck available here
Check out Benjamin's website here
Photographer: Jake Balston