Ben Cardilli : The tracks were influenced by experiences (Interview)

His songs remind me of tequila at sundown over campfire. His vocals have that smooth but powerful range reminiscent of Brandon Boyd and Robert Smith. His chord choices are also worth noting due to their visual and atmospheric moments.

From the opening title track, you know right away that you are in for an amazing performances both both in the vocal and instrumental departments. Dear Reader is unabashedly ingratiating with its  interesting intro. The vocal harmonies  ebb and flow during the whole track. I find myself singing to the line “How is it that we believe we are the protagonist,”. His poetic gift is showcased in all the tracks in this album.

Toolbox has that foreboding intro that  dissolves into a sad crooning that shifts into  into cosmic intensity that can only come from the heart.  In Silence is embellished with ambient sounds and  catchy melodies. He makes use of  breathless falsetto here as it changes into another powerhouse of vocal excursion.

The Shield is a radio friendly track that introduces a glockenspiel. End Scene is  a  favorite because in here, he sings beautifully and sadly that the music itself becomes very personal .It is like an emotion you want to convey for a long time but couldn’t find a right way to do. Then comes Ben and he set it into a song.

He joins us today to talk about his EP Seen it All.


With Chris See Hoye, Max Cardilli and Mike Carlucci.

1. After listening to  Love + What Army – Side A and Seen it All, a listener has already and idea about your distinctive style. But the two releases are different in terms of melodies and composition styles. I find Seen it All as something that is more catchy and goes down smoothly like fine wine. Is it intentional on your part?

Love and What Army was generally recorded while written over a few months following a cross Canada tour with my former band Red October (www.facebook.com/redoctobermusic). Perspectives about music and life changed for me during that month in a few ways and the 5/10 songs that remain online from the Love and What Army “collection” (never liked calling it an album because it was never mastered) were more of a personal experiment than a “release.” Seen It All however consists of both songs that had been played live for years and a few new tracks that were influenced by experiences and tastes that were developed while working with other diverse Montreal artists. Basically, the songs off this record either had time to air out for live audiences or other critical ears before being recorded, helping me to smooth out transitions and structuring.

2.You have a terrific vocal range. How did you hone your voice to be such an emotive instrument?

As the prepubescent vocalist of my very first band back in 2002, 90’s melodic rock/grunge bands like Incubus, Our Lady Peace, Big Wreck, and STP heavily influenced me for the greater part of my career. Further acquiring tastes for almost every genre of music across the board, analyzing how audiences react and identify to the vocal styling and theatricality affiliated with each, I found the universal truth behind lasting music within the evidence of an artist’s actual experience with the lyrical content. Discovering folk singers like Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne as well as heavier acts like He Is Legend and Thrice, to which technique and pitch perfection came secondary to conveying the emotions inspiring the music, I realized why American Idol winners never make it a month into their fame. Control is cold and the songs should sing themselves.

3. I have to admit you pinned down songs for Seen it All that threaten to win fandom even to less opened ears. What’s your approach to writing songs?

In my personal experience, songs are usually written in small aesthetically similar batches, the best ones either falling together quickly or lingering in production for months until that missing ingredient catches up to the train. I always found it worth starting with a rich and involved chord voicing as part of a mildly suspenseful progression. Sonic tension and release has got to be the best representation of our daily lives, as they’d have us dance between anxiety and bliss. From this type of tonal skeleton, its easier to pick out a melody that perfectly outlines these shifts, one that usually comes with the lyrics built in, slipping right off the tongue of the subconscious. The words are either purposely about something that needed to be sorted out in my head or are about concerns that I will deal with later. The amount of times I’ve written something about nothing, only for the song to end up developing into a photograph of my (then) future, like a Jetsons Polaroid, are countless. As long as I can connect with a song while I perform it and know in which direction it is to be sung, I think an audience can follow my lyrical gaze into their own horizon.

4. Your hometown of Montreal is booming with talents! What’s the musical climate over there these days?

My thoughts on Montreal’s music scene have always been the same. Its one of the best places in North America to design one’s sound due to the amount of diverse cultures; all sharing close quarters and influencing each other’s art substantially. Even attempts at the same radio dribble out of Montreal will more often than not be fused with original elements or overly cultured tones, granting it access to the carpool lane on the road to success. What only the smarter bands have done so far, however, is been able to appreciate their city’s creative fountain while acknowledging the limitations such a place imposes on marketing opportunities. With almost every second person playing in a band, over 20 venues across the city operating on any given night, and countless sharing fandom, it’s hard to chip off more than a handful of nightwalkers to stay and listen to your performance. One must be a lord of the social networks to maintain a local fan-base and MUST MUST MUST tour (take sound elsewhere). Otherwise the scene has been great! Like I said, I love all genres and as I play and record my indie/folk/rock, I’m able to jam in a Hip Hop collective and an indie/rock band (both making big moves) as well as various electronic and metal bands with friends and family.

5. What are your plans for the album in terms of the launching and promotion?

Seen It All was originally meant to be a fundraiser record towards the proper release of a full-length record called Wax & Feathers that I’ve been working on for over a year now. Due to distractions and sidetracks, it hasn’t been finished yet although many of the songs have already found their way into my live set (ex: Not I, Wax & Feathers, The Pest). Since the sounds for this release are much more dense with instruments and tones recorded back before crucial lessons were learned in audio manipulation, it will take me the next few months to clean up my work, finish tracking and mix for mastering, but I’m excited to get down into it. Until then I have a semi-live tracked 3 song Ep to drop at the end of this month, introducing the full band sound in the meantime.

6.What can we expect from you musically this year?

Aside from “Wax and Feathers”, I’ll be releasing an ep with a new collective called The Honest Family (coalition of various Montreal based artists spearheaded by local rap legend David Hodges), A slew of experimental electro/folk recordings with local glitch artist Ambulate, more fun loving indie pop demos/videos from my GF/BF group, Jack is Jill, and inevitably more filthy sludge tracks with my cousin Laurence in A Fine Film (2 man metal mayhem). Add supporting other artists like Nash live on electric guitar/vocals at prestigious festivals around Canada and I’d say my summer is chalk full of sweat and splendor!

7. Let’s say you win a hundred thousand dollars in a lottery today, what will you do with the money?

I’d have to quit everything I have going on with work/remaining attempts at school and invest all my time into getting my recordings even closer to the way the songs sound in my head. Part of the money would advance my very small collection of recording equipment, as the rest would be invested in publicity and management of what I’m able to produce with it. If the figure were bigger I would donate a portion to some well deserving local charities, but it only might be enough to kick-start a career in the music business. Sadly, I’ve seen people spend more without even breaking in. If life were like that eh?

You can buy and download the latest EP here: http://bencardilli.bandcamp.com/

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