theaussieword.com catches up with local indie Australian singer & songwriter Ben Mitchell.
Tell us how it all started. What had you first interested in music?
Elvis movies or mum’s piano. I can’t remember which came first but both played a part. I loved watching Elvis sing and play and exude charisma, and I loved singing Burt Bacharach, and blues, jazz and tin-pan-alley pop standards while mum played our upright piano.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
Writing songs is a meditation for me and an expression of emotions and feelings that might otherwise not find a constructive outlet if I didn’t write. When I go to produce and record music I’m motivated by simplicity and originality, but I also want to create something a bit addictive.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
I have modest goals: I dream of being Number 1 throughout the world on every chart simultaneously! Apart from that I’d like to keep making a living by writing, recording and performing music.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Defining what success is to you. Yes, I’d love a worldwide Number 1 but maybe success is remembering to be grateful I have the opportunity to do what I love everyday.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Recently a song I wrote went Number 1 on a local Australian radio chart (Amrap Regional), which was cool. Some other highlights have been playing on the same bill as Tony Joe White (who wrote Polk Salad Annie for Elvis), meeting Scotty Moore—Elvis’s first guitarist, and meeting Sir George Martin—The Beatles producer. Moments like those remind me I’m kind of living the dream I had as a kid to mix it with the best.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
Paul Kelly and Neil Finn are two singer-songwriters who last, and keep writing songs that cut to the core. I’m also a big fan of K.D. Lang, and especially love her country-infused stuff. Willie Nelson is a legend too.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
Having released another album or three, have a few more Facebook friends, and looking back on the chart topping duet album I did with Norah Jones, K.D. Lang, Florence (& her Machine), Emiliana Torrini, Katy Perry and Isabella from The Preatures. That’d be a good place to be.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
The music industry is made up of big companies and solo artists, and every permutation in between. In many ways it’s never been easier to get your music out into the world, which also means it’s never been more competitive. I guess that’s why it’s so important to define success in a more humble, less materialistic way. It’s also why you have to be on Twitter! BTW I love Twitter—and Instagram, and am on both @BenMitchellSong
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
At the moment I’m really enjoying listening to Courtney Barnett, The Preatures, Boy & Bear, Vance Joy and Fatty Gets A Stylist. I’m also rediscovering the classics by Cold Chisel, Australian Crawl, The Masters Apprentices and Paul Kelly.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
I have my first national tour coming up in October-December. Going to do my first gigs in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, and a few stops along the way. Can’t wait.
Tell us a bit about your latest record, how would you best describe your music?
If Prince produced a Johnny Cash record in a studio overlooking Waikiki Beach.
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
Always writing tunes and have a new album’s worth ready to go. Oh, and I wasn’t joking about that duet album; love to do a ‘Willie Nelson’ type album of boy/girl duets. Got all the songs for that one ready to go too.
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today?
Love is the answer. Whatever the question.