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It’s hard to call an artist ‘emerging’ when last year they played a show in front of 30,000 people. However, one of our ‘Ones To Watch’ artist Ben Kidson is having a change in direction for 2024.  We sat down for a very enjoyable cuppa the alternative rocker to talk through new influences, the power of TikTok and his upcoming EP, “If you’re wondering how I am, I haven’t been great”.

How did you first get into music?

My mum and my grandma are both musical. My mum was in musical theatre for 20 years as a dancer in the West End so I grew up around music. I like grew up with my sister who is also a dancer, my mum was a dancer. I remember trying to dance to music, but failing. 

How did you get into the guitar? Was there a guitar in the house when you were growing up? 

My grandma was a ragtime piano player so actually we grew up playing the piano… I would have been four or five and I started really listening to Granny playing. She was phenomenal. I was eight when I got a Spanish guitar. It was a diverse array of influences in a house where learnt Spanish guitar, with dancers, from an Irishman. 

What is your creative process when making music?

I think if you’re going to be a songwriter you have to treat it like a full-time job. You need to sit down and do every day. So I try to make sure that I’m in the studio by nine, and I will always stay there until seven. But more often than the not the best stuff comes to you at the worst time. You’ll be sat on a plane or something thinking how the hell am I going to to record this? 

Until very recently I was always a melody first guy when it came to the process of writing songs.  One of my influences is Kurt Cobain, who always said that melody came first and the lyrics are the last thing that you write. But since the beginning of this year I’ve been trying to write more poetic songs. It’s easier said the done, but I’ve been influenced by a lot by like two artists. I love the new Olivia Rodrigo album. And there’s another singer called Devon Again and she just writes poetry and sings over it with really cool beats which I’ve been trying to do with with punk rock sounds. There’s this weird combination going on underground I found on TikTok which is like drum & bass with punk rock and I’ve been trying to like recreate that.

How do you record and produce your music?

I have a shed in my garden. I like to call it a studio, but everybody else calls it a shed. That’s where I write every day, find beats, play the guitar, and make demos. At the moment, I’m working with a really talented producer called Cashybear, who lives out in Twickenham. So I make around six demos a week and I send them to him and he’s like, “Ben I’m with my kid right now.” .He’s lovely about it but I must be so annoying. He’ll help me pick out the ones that work best and we’ll tease them all on TikTok and see the ones that get the most engagement. We can then pull at the thread and see how much further we can take it. Social media has been really good for testing out new material.  I still love testing out new music on an audience, say at your new music Monday (New Moon) night, but on TikTok it will go out to large, diverse crowd who aren’t necessarily all based in London.  

What are your plans for the year ahead?

Last year was a bit of whirlwind. I was signed to a label. I played my first show to 30,000 people, which was wild! It was absolutely amazing. And then it sort’ve came crumbling down. I can’t go into it too much but I’m back on my own. I’m teasing new stuff on TikTok and I’ve been preparing for my next EP, which at the moment is called If you’re wondering how I am, I haven’t been great. That’s the opening line from one of the songs, Oh No. So, you know, happy jaunty stuff! I’ve got a couple of other new songs. I’m not sure of the title for this one but I think it’s going to be called Panic Attack. I’m quite prone to them. If I’m on public transport I get quite claustrophobic. Even on a bus (never mind a tube) I suddenly feel very trapped. So I have these steps that I walk through to calm me down; so I turned that into a song! That will be one for the singles. Another one will be I Barely Go Out Anymore which is sort of a breakup song. I put it on TikTok, and Instagram reels on YouTube and, for the first time, strangers were messaging me saying like, “hey, can you send me that?” or Can I just get the demo of that?” So feeling I’m feeling really positive about this year.