An interview with Benjamin Antell by William Lynch 2001

"I'm a jungle musician
dangling in the creepers of electronic gear".

An interview with Benjamin Antell by: William Lynch 1-08-19
(This interview may be quoted freely, in part or as a whole . As long as it is not misused)

photo: M. Waegar

WL: You've made quiet a few records, how come they're so hard to find?
BENJAMIN: I haven't had major distribution lately.
WL: Do you sell records from your site
BENJAMIN: Yes, luckily, Riverside records in Stockholm are releasing "Box Americana" RRCD109, and IMG in New York, "Up 4 oxygen" a 65 min's remix CD with 4 new tracks it should be out now.
WL: Isn't it hard to work from there?
BENJAMIN: Painful, it really is "the end of the world". Thank God for the Internet.
WL: Is the Internet important to you?
BENJAMIN: Yeah, all the contacts I've had these past years have been through my site.
WL. I saw your video on MTV in London, how did that come about?
BENJAMIN: After I put out "In the bag", I realized that I needed to get a video out there.
So I shot one on an 8mm film camera.
After that a friend of mine Roland Wiik at Vediamo in Vasa, made an edit for me.
Later when another friend of mine saw the edit he agreed to make a digital version for me.
Riverside Records told me to send it to MTV, which I did and it was on the air about 5 days later.
WL: You seem to be a Jack of all trades
BENJAMIN: That's me
WL: Will you be releasing any new videos?
BENJAMIN: Yeah, Don-Martin of Antell Software is just now putting the final touches
to a few 3D videos for "Up 4 oxygen" and "Box Americana".
WL: How come you get so much airplay around the world?
BENJAMIN: I don't know, radio stations write to me and ask for CD records and videos.
WL: What's your main instrument?
BENJAMIN: That would be guitar.
WL: Do you play many other instruments?
BENJAMIN: Yeah, but not neccessarily in an orthodox fashion.
WL: I've listened to some of your records, how come they're all different?
BENJAMIN: I'd get bored repeating myself, so far I think I've managed to stay away from that.
WL: Do you like all the styles you represent?
BENJAMIN: I would never record something that I didn't like.
WL: How do you compose a song?
BENJAMIN: It all depends, lately I've written the lyrics first and then the music.
This way seems to work best for me.
WL: Do you have a clear picture in your head, what the finished song will be like?
BENJAMIN: Not often, I just record and see where the song will take me.
WL: Isn't it hard for other musicians to play with you then?
BENJAMIN: No, I think they like the freedom. If they don't have an idea, I'll give them one.
WL: Do you record in your own studio?
BENJAMIN: Yes, most of the time. Although Box Americana was recorded at home and also in the US.
I also did some outdoor stuff in London, outside Abbey Rd.
A few guitars and a synth were recorded at Red Velvet in Helsinki, by Kalle Sinkkonen.
Oh yeah, some drum tracks were recorded at Aim Studios in Korsnäs.
The acoustic sets on "God in my garage II" were recorded at Test Music.
WL: What did you record in the US?
BENJAMIN: A friend luthier Eric Aceto, played some violin and did some backing vocals with engineer
Walter Strauss (who also sings) and vocalist Sonya Hicks at Salmon Creek Studio in New York.
Eric also recorded some violin at Chad Crumb's studio in Ithaca.
I also recorded some static in Hollywood, while I was there working on a few projects.
WL: You seem to know a lot of people.
BENJAMIN: yeah, I partly grew up in Sweden and Australia. I like big city folk
just as much as I enjoy the quiet of the countryside.
WL: Was it hard to move?
BENJAMIN: Yes and no, I've gone to 20 schools which was a bit tough.
The good thing about moving around was that I've met people from all over the globe,
and shared their music. One of the most important things was the languages I learned.
WL: You must have seen a lot.
BENJAMIN: I went around the world by ship.
WL: Who are your main influences?
BENJAMIN: I really can't say, the audience has to decide that. I don't have any idols,
I like a song here and there. I never listen to other peoples music when I record.
I rarely listen to records or radio in Finland, I'm too busy recording, painting and writing.
Besides Finnish music is very strange, I don't understand it at all.
WL: Don't you like other musicians?
BENJAMIN: Sure, before -86 I used to listen to records by
The Beatles, The Kinks, Philip Glass, B.B. King, Anton Karas, Zappa, Witold Lutoslawski, Bing Crosby,
Les Paul&Mary Ford, Keith Jarret "Facing you", The Cream, T Rex, Phil Keaggy,
Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clark, The Golden Gate Quartet, Santana, ethnic music, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Karn, Ronnie Ehrs etc.
WL: Who is Ronnie Ehrs?
BENJAMIN: A friend of min who makes 3 music, it sounds kind of african.
WL: I've seen a film cover with Madonna, that you've made.
Do you make covers for other artists?
BENJAMIN:Rarely, I used to be a designer for many years. Now I only design
if I have the time, and I only do things I like. I only make a few record covers per year for other artists
WL: What are you up to now?
BENJAMIN: I'm recording 50 new songs.
WL: 50?
BENJAMIN:Yeah, I'm very productive as usual.
WL: You also do instrumentals.
BENJAMIN: Yeah, I like to build landscapes with my music.
Actually what I really like to do mostly is soundtrack type of music.
WL: When you record, in which order do you record the instruments?
BENJAMIN: It's different most of the time. I'm a bad organizer.
Mostly I record a guitar and lead vocals to a click track or loop, then drums and bass.
The rest is totally random.
WL: I've noticed some pretty strange sounds on some of your records, can you comment?
BENJAMIN: The thing I like most about music, is to come up with new sounds.
I spend a lot of time trying to do something original. My guitar often ends up sounding like something else.
WL: What kind of synths do you have?
BENJAMIN:My favourite synths are analog like the Jupiter 6, Korg MS-20,
Oberheim Expander, Hohner Clavinet D6, MKS-80, MKS-20, EML 101 etc,
but I do have some digital ones also. I also like the Akai S-900 and 950 samplers
WL: Do you do a lot of backing vocals yourself?
BENJAMIN: Yeah, I sing 3 or 4 harmonies and sometimes I thicken the tracks with vocoders etc.
WL: Are you an electronics expert?
BENJAMIN: I'm a jungle musician dangling in the creepers of electronic gear.
WL: What do you record on?
BENJAMIN: "Box Americana" was recorded on Adat, ProTools24
and some was recorded directly to the Mac's hard drive.
"In the bag" was recorded on my Otari 16 track, 2" and believe it or not a Fostex 8-track reel to reel.
WL: What type of microphones do you use?
BENJAMIN: Mostly tube microphones, like the U47, Neumann CMV 563's, KM54's etc.
WL: Those are impressive microphones.
BENJAMIN: Without them I'd be pretty lost, they are very important to the recordings.
WL: What kind of guitar do you play?
BENJAMIN: Mostly Fender Stratocasters, but also the Gibson L-6 and my old -68 Telecaster.
WL: What kind of tunings do you use?
BENJAMIN: All kinds really, mostly standard or open E.
WL: What's the guitar on Electica3 by n'soul records?
BENJAMIN: That's my old 70's Electronics Straighter, a Japanese custom Fender Stratocaster copy.
It has on-board fx like an auto-wah, a phaser and distortion.
WL: How did you end up on the CD?
BENJAMIN: They asked me if I wanted to be on it
WL: What kind of amps do you use?
BENJAMIN: In the studio I use a Marshall JMP-1 pre-amp straight into the console,
and a Peavey backstage 110. If I go on the road I use a 2x50W Marshall power amp
and a Roland 4x10 custom stereo cabinet. I'm also a pedal freak.
WL: What type of recording console and tape recorder do you have in your studio?
BENJAMIN: I have a Soundcraft 6000 studio console and a Yamaha custom 40 channel thing.
I also have an Otari MTR90 2" tape recorder, an Adat and the Mac G4.
WL: Where did you learn to record?
BENJAMIN: Mostly by doing it. I've also attended lectures by engineers like
Alan Parsons (Pink Floyd), Bruce Swedien (M. Jackson) and many more.
WL: Where do you get you inspiration from?
BENJAMIN: Well I would not be a creative person, if I hadn't met God personally.
WL: You've met God?
BENJAMIN: Yeah, when I was 21 I met God and it changed my life completely.
He gave me a reason to go on living.
WL: How can you say that you have met Him?
BENJAMIN: After searching for God under a summer vacation,
I took 5 weeks off from everything and really tried to see if I could get "in touch".
He aswered my prayers and plugged me into His "power grid".
I have nothing on earth to refer to, so I can't explain it clearly.
I can only say that I've met God just as plainly as I've met any other man,
He actually touched me physically. I'm sure it can happen to anyone.
WL: So that's why many of your lyrics are about spiritual things?
BENJAMIN: Yes, and music and art has always been the natural major part of my life.
WL: What denomination do you subscribe to?
BENJAMIN: I don't feel like I belong to any one denomination, I just try to follow the teachings of Christ.
Tradition means almost nothing to me. I'm not saying it's a bad thing.
WL: Are most of your friends Christians?
BENJAMIN: No, not at all. Most of my friends are secular musicians and painters.
Most of them respect my faith, just as I respect them.
WL: What do you wish for in your music career.
BENJAMIN: I wish I could get a good recording/publishing deal,
WL: Do you write music for others?
BENJAMIN: Yes, since I write in all kinds of styles.
WL: What are your immediate plans?
BENJAMIN: To record the 50 new songs plus a lot of instrumentals I have lying around.
I'd also like to hold an art exhibition in Stockholm, New York and perhaps in Denmark in the near future.
WL: Are any dates set?
BENJAMIN: I'm open to suggestions.


Benny Antell, Ben Antell, Benjamin Antell