INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Lost Like Alice is a project by Welsh singer-songwriter Ben Parker, who burst onto the scene earlier this year with debut EP, ‘Thread’, which drew much acclaim for its mix of blues, rock and ambient, as well as a pure, emotional vocal delivery.
Having been championed by BBC Introducing in Wales, Ben has decided to keep up the momentum he has generated by working on a second EP, ’20’, coming out early in the new year.
With one of the singles, ‘Headlights’, having already been released, and getting a good reception, Ben explained to me, in-depth, about how he has put together the forthcoming offering, and what can be expected of it, as well as his experiences up to now.
When was the moment you realised you wanted to pursue music as a career?
Initially, it would have come from when I was younger. When I was 11, I started writing and performing and started by playing all over my local music scene. When I was learning to play the guitar, I discovered John Mayer’s album, ‘Continuum’. The album spoke to me on so many different levels, and made me want to write my own songs.
The ability for a track to speak to the audience is something that I have carried with me all along. I think it’s so important to be able to express yourself fully and create a connection to the audience, and I get that from songwriting.
I feel like I have these moments of realisation every time I play live. Being able to play songs that mean the world to me, and to give a little piece of that to people for them to enjoy is the best feeling.
To be able to have an effect on someone’s life in such a profound way, through something I have created, is what makes the journey of developing as an artist worthwhile, and it encourages me to carry on making music and learning about myself.
How did Lost Like Alice come about?
Lost Like Alice started when I was performing regularly with a friend of mine, who was playing percussion alongside me. We started to record some songs that I had written, as a band, which is something I hadn’t done before.
Everything I had ever done up to that point was acoustic and as a solo artist, so it was exciting to be doing something new. Some of those songs we recorded became
We decided to go different ways and focus on other things, so I reverted back to being a solo artist and the name stuck. I found it to be unique and it always encourages a double take when people realise I’m a solo artist as the name would hint at a band.
I’m sure there is some marketing genius in it somewhere, between you and I though, it’s just a really cool name to have!
From where did the name originate?
The idea behind sticking with the Lost Like Alice name as a solo artist, was to have the freedom a band name can carry. I feel like it gives me room to really explore where I want to take the music without being put in a box as just an acoustic singer-songwriter.
If anyone has heard ‘Thread’, they will know the range in styles that I look into as an artist. If you remember when Lukas Graham first came on the scene, so many people thought, “This guy is great!“, only a little while after did people realise it was a band, despite it seeming like a solo artist’s name, so consider it a “reverse Lukas Graham“, which can perhaps be the professional term from here on in?
However, in terms of the actual name itself, I wish I had a really clever story behind it. It’s just something that I scribbled down one night, looked at the next morning and thought it was a really cool name. I feel like it compliments what I’m doing musically, and I like the mystery it creates.
Also, it has given birth to the “reverse Lukas Graham“, which is officially a thing as of this interview!
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
I think that every song is different, and comes about in its own way. Some will be completed from start to finish in a few minutes, whereas others might be left for months, before coming back to finish them. It completely depends. Songs like ‘Headlights’, which comes from a really emotional and pure place, just flows out of me.
Sometimes, I don’t even realise the meaning of the song until much later. I love the fact that, whatever the song might mean to me, it can mean something completely different to someone else, which is a beautiful thing.
Your debut EP, ‘Thread’, came out this summer to good reviews. How did you find the reaction to it?
It was really satisfying and a real sense of achievement. As something that I had put so much into, from the writing, to recording, to emotion, to everything else and then having people wanting to listen to it and take the time to review it and say nice things was amazing.
It made me realise that I’m on the right track, it seemed to be making people happy and feel reflective and that makes me equally happy. I’m very open and honest in my lyrics and each song represents my life in some way, so for people to respond to that in such a positive manner, and tap into what I’m saying or feeling, is incredible.
In January, you will be releasing your second EP, ’20’. How has the recording process been?
It has been very liberating. This whole EP feels like a gift. It was not something that I had planned to do, I had other projects in the works, but the song, ‘Headlights’ just seemed to fall into a track, almost like it had written and produced itself. At that point, I knew I had to run with it.
I was able to create the EP, in its entirety, on my own. Every instrument, every line, the production, everything. I had not made music like that before, and working this way really inspired me.
The concept for the EP came from a simple question, “What does myself, my ideas and my arrangements, put into a room, sound like?“, and ’20’ is the answer to that. I do like to start from scratch whenever I have a new project, I don’t want to repeat things that I have already done. It keeps the process exciting for me, and allows inspiration to flow.
And what can be expected of it?
Well, ’20’ is a very organic and thought-provoking EP. My aim is to always make my material thought-provoking, but this EP just feels a little more personal.
As an example, the photo being used for ‘Headlights’ was found in an old photo album that my grandad shot and put together himself when he first moved to Australia, and I have many more of these being used in the promotion stage
of the EP.
It feels like this sense of nostalgia and capturing a moment has been portrayed throughout the EP. Without overdoing it in terms of sounds, and just keeping the sound palette slightly stripped back, there is a sense that people can take their own interpretation from the music which has allowed the songs, lyrics and emotion to really come through.
I wouldn’t say it is your conventional acoustic project though. There are a lot of different genres found throughout ’20’, with the whole process of creating the EP being as refreshing as anything I have done. There are hints of blues, country, folk and all sorts going on in equal measure.
I really got to explore as a songwriter with this one, and I think you can hear that in the songs. It is a project that is unique in every aspect, and I hope everyone finds as much pride in it as I have.
You supported JP Cooper, who is perhaps best known for collaborating with Jonas Blue on the track ‘Perfect Strangers’. How was that as an experience?
It’s definitely something that I won’t ever forget. It was in this really cool art gallery in Colwyn Bay, and I was invited down by someone who had organised the event.
You could hear a pin drop. Crowds like that are really intimidating. Just because you’ll hear musicians saying, “I wish people would listen to me“, but when you have someone’s full attention, it’s scary.
Still to this day, it’s one of the best gigs that I have ever done, and I am so grateful to have been given such an incredible opportunity. To be able to play on the same lineup as JP Cooper was such an amazing thing as a 14 year old, and he’s a very nice guy.
Later this month, you will be playing at The Goose in Manchester. How is the live experience for you?
Playing live is my favourite part of all. It’s where a song really becomes a song, you can’t hide emotion, and it really is all performed and left on that stage. I love being able to connect with people through my music, and enjoy seeing the effect that can have on others.
I have a lot of really cool opportunities coming up in 2018, which I will announce in the new year. The gigs are always a lot of fun, and I recommend to anyone reading to come down to one, it’s a great laugh and I always appreciate every individual that wishes to come out to see me.
What is your long-term aim?
Honestly, as cliché as it will sound, I just want to make music. To be able to perform my own songs to a room of people, release new music, and see it making a positive change in people’s lives, as well as to keep exploring where I want to go next. That’s enough for me.
The scale of where this goes is not as important as the journey it takes to get there, and the people that I can influence along the way. I would obviously love to play a couple of festivals, support some more fantastic artists, and if I can get the “reverse Lukas Graham” theory into the dictionary, then we are all winning, I suppose!
At the end of the day, I’m able to do this full-time, and I’m incredibly grateful for that, so in a way, it allows me to continually learn about myself and those around me, fans included. It allows me to connect with like minded people who promote music with meaning like yourselves, so for the moment, I will say that is enough.
’20’, THE SECOND EP FROM LOST LIKE ALICE, WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 12.
FURTHER INFO CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THESE SITES:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: lostlikealiceofficial.com