8 Aug 2020
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Ben Hazlewood - Interview with Ben Hazlewood

28 Jul 2020 // An interview by Mike Alexander

Ben Hazlewood is yet another Kiwi who counts Australia as his home. The Wellington-bred songwriter, a former winner of MTV’s The Freshman music video competition, has performed at New York and London Fashion weeks, has been nominated for an LGBTI Music Award in Australia and, despite the disruptions of Covid 19 still managed to recently release his debut album Bloodline. Mike Alexander spoke to him about his career.

You might now be considered "world famous in Papakowhai". Do you have a favourite memory of the place?

Ha ha, doubt it! I remember always wanting to leave and travel/explore the world. Now, looking back, I can see how lucky I was to grow up in such a loving and safe environment. I have so many great memories from the past but also now. My husband and I were married at my family home in Papakowhai so it will always have a special place in my heart.

What inspired you to become a musician? Did you have an epiphany of sorts?

I started writing music when I was 14, after the passing of my older brother. It was my only way of making sense of all that I was feeling. It has been my catharsis ever since.

What was a teenage Ben Hazlewood listening to?

I grew up listening to the many amazing musicians my dad was into. Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie and The Rolling Stones. But once I got my mini disk player I was ripping stuff from lime wire. Was mainly into The Kooks, Foo Fighters, Radiohead and The Libertines. 

What age were you when you headed to London and why was "London calling"?

I moved to London originally to be part of a boy band when I was 17. It was weird and fell apart pretty quickly.

The highlight of your three years in the British capital was?

Once I had formed my own band we worked extensively with Wayne Hector, who is an incredible songwriter, and I spent a day in the studio writing and producing a track with Steve Mac.  Haven’t been able to get back into a room with those two since! Ha, ha

Why did you relocate to Australia and not just come back home?

After living in London, I felt like going home to Wellington wasn’t exciting enough, so I moved to Melbourne to see what I could get into here.

Has Australia been the land of opportunity for you and, if so, in what way?

There have been some fun times in Australia. But I think the most opportunity for me and my music to date has been in the US.

You have performed at some pretty high-brow fashion shows – New York and London Fashion Week – does that make you a dedicated follower of fashion?

Those events were amazing. I love fashion. I am inspired by the visual artistry of it. Audio and visual to me go hand in hand.

You are four EPs and now an album into your career. Does writing songs come naturally?

On good days - yes. On bad days - no. I think there are always moments that I have to grab hold of. Sometimes I can be on a roll for a month, then nothing for ages. It's all about timing and everything that’s happening in my world. There is no rhyme or reason to it.

Of all the songs on your debut album Bloodline, is there one in particular that holds more meaning for you than the others?

They are all special to me. but if I had to choose one, I would say The Way You Do because it reminds me of home and my family.

Is there a story behind the title of the album?

The concept for Bloodline was that this album is a reflection of everything I have been through to be where I am now. How every moment has added to or changed the direction of my life. This album, to me personally, is viewed as an “Arrival” of self.

I gather you are based in Melbourne.  Did the Covid 19 lockdown in Victoria impact on the production and release of the album?

Yea, Miss Coronavirus definitely threw a spanner in the works, but thanks to my amazing team we have still been able to release as planned. I’m currently in Byron Bay, working away in a studio here. I'm very lucky to still be able to create at the moment. Without it I think I would go insane!

Given that touring is problematic at the moment, how much more difficult is it to get the word out about Bloodline?

It wasn’t the typical album release, but still we have been able to get it out there and I am so grateful for all my fans showing me love for this album through so many online platforms.

If you could choose any artist to cover one of your songs, what would it be, who would it be and why?

I would love to hear Stevie Nicks sing ANYTHING of mine!

 

About Ben Hazlewood

Ben Hazlewood is the rare artist with a voice dynamic enough to captivate almost completely on its own.

As an anthemic alt-pop artist, raised on artists like Jim Morrison, David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, and Janis Joplin, his music channels an outrageous vocal strength and an emotive soul filled force. a force matched only by his magnetic stage presence and glam-rock-inspired fashion sensibilities.

His debut album Bloodline is the culmination of years of hard work. A journey that started near Wellington, New Zealand, then ventured to London for three years, where Ben fronted a rock band, before relocating to Australia, where Ben now calls Melbourne home.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ben Hazlewood

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