27 Sep 2023

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Channeled - Channeled Interview

06 Nov 2020 // An interview by Investigator

Channeled have been crazy busy this pandemic year with song releases and multiple gigs between and after lockdowns (kindly supporting my band Investigator at The Thirsty in Auckland). Their sophomore album is out November 27th with the lead single I Can't Quite Put My Finger On It already in ear holes. Adrian Drew from Muzic.net.nz thought it was high time he caught up with the man behind the band, Ben Ruegg.

Hey Ben, I'm loving your first single I Can't Quite Put My Finger On It. I see you're doing a kind of waterfall release for this album, with a new track out each fortnight. Where did that idea come from?

Hi Adrian! Yeah, well we kinda discussed how people listen to music now. We are all still album people in the band, that being that when an artist releases an album we all want to spend time with it. The placement of tracks, the order they run etc...that matters to us. On our new album, we spent time deciding where tracks sit too. But we also discussed that others listen to singles and won't want to listen to the whole album. We did initially decide to do a waterfall but then have now turned back to releasing just two tracks from the new lot and that's it. The rest will come out together on November 27th. .

Originally starting off as a solo project, now a rockin' four piece, give us a little background on how Channeled came to be what it is today.

I was playing shows by myself with a backing track of all the other instruments save for guitar and my lead vocal. I enjoyed it but ultimately it didn't have the energy of a band. I had been in bands before with success coming from Anything But Federal back in 2008, but now closing in on my 40s and having a family and job, I didn't know whether I was able to have so many band practices as we did back then. Luckily, I found a group of musicians that have been able to take the music, learn it and then perform it without it taking up a lot of our valuable time with our family. We all share the same vision and when we get up on stage together we all feel something that just brings us closer. I'm so grateful to have such wonderful musicians bringing this project to life the way I always wanted it to.

Where does each band member's musical loyalty lie, it is quite diverse or do you find crossover tastes?

Well, funnily enough, three of us are high school music teachers. Matt, Michelle and I all have hugely diverse tastes in music. We all love Snarky Puppy (look them up if you don't know who they are!!!!) and then we just have different tastes. But what we all do well is listen and take notice of what these bands and songwriters are doing. We are always learning and getting inspired by other artists, international and locally. For example, I have been inspired a lot by Aldous Harding this year, but also by Interpol and The Strokes. Especially with this latest bunch of songs, we really just put aside what 'Channeled' is and instead focused on writing music. We always try to bring our influences into the sound. Branden is also very much into anything too. He is the youngest but by no means any less experienced. In fact, his attitude to how we practice and perform is incredible. He is massively influenced by the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl which is perfect for the sort of music we play now. But he also knows when to pull it back.

You've said that listeners should expect something a bit different from the new album. Is it a big departure from your self-titled 2019 release?

Yes. I believe so. There are many tracks on here that when compared to the debut are sonically different. A Conversation With You and Is That Glass? are a couple of examples. I don't want to spoil any names of songs because I really want listeners to just enjoy it the first time. I've been a big fan of records that Brendan O'Brien has produced where everything sounds a lot more organic and raw. A lot of the tracks aren't layered with a lot of vocals. I really want it to translate live because for me live music is the experience I live for. Some of the vocal takes were first one's without any changes, capturing mistakes and imperfections but with my raw authentic emotion coming through. I just want it to sound real.

Matt and I discussed looking at different amp types that aren't so high gain. For example, Where Did It All Go Wrong? sounds quite big and heavy but it's using vintage amps with just some crunch and overdrive, not distortion. I would say go in with an open mind on some of these tracks. Listen to them and think about being in the moment, what I am singing about and what sort of emotion I am trying to capture. If you see us live, you know how much I sing my heart out. I love channeling the feelings and experiencing them on stage. I really feel that a lot of these tracks capture it so well.

I hear some similar themes being lyrically played out. What are your main writing inspirations?

The biggest one for me is just where I am in my life right now. I have made some big changes to my mindset and how I view things. I have cut out parts of it I was so attached to and have since found more peace. The debut is very much about my struggles with life and the decisions I made. This new album is more about accepting those things and moving on. More of a reflection about it than anything else. There is definitely a lot more of a feeling of hope and optimism in the new songs then there was on the first one. I have truly enjoyed writing these lyrics as a lot of them came out very quickly. I think about 4 songs were written in less than two weeks. It was an incredible feeling and one where I listen back to the song now I can really understand what I am talking about. Songwriting is magic to me. I love how songs form from just the smallest of ideas.

There are also songs that have sat around unfinished for months simply because I couldn't feel anything. I have been reading a lot of Deepak Chopra and have been making time to practice meditation more often in order to be present at the moment that we have right now. That's all there is. One of my favourite songs on the album discusses my relationship with mediation and how it has helped me personally to accept things in order to stay aware of the present. After all, we are all made of atoms, which are made up of subatomic particles. And quantum physics has theorised that those particles aren't actually particles. It's fascinating stuff.

Another book that really inspired me lyrically was A Brief History Of Time and while you may not directly notice the relationship between it and my lyrics, it's more that it got me thinking about my life which in turn has allowed for these new songs to come to fruition.

Is there a place you feel more comfortable, studio or stage?

I love both. I love the comfort of the studio in order to write and record new songs but I also feel comfortable on stage getting to perform them. One of the aspects I paid a lot of attention to on this album was making sure that the songs could translate the from the CD to on the stage. And they do. I have had a blast playing these new songs live. We all have.

What can we expect from Channeled this summer and into 2021?

We have a launch show coming up, along with a new music video. Next year I hope we can get another album up and just keep writing new music that we enjoy listening to ourselves. I love that even I don't know what 2021 holds for us. I guess I will find out along with everyone else.

Time for some quick fires...

If 'Channeled' could open for any International Headline Act, who would it be?


What's on your heavy rotate playlist right now?

Music my students introduce me too. Loving Wallows right now!

What's the best & worst gig you've ever played?

Our recent one with Coridian was awesome! One of the best as we won over the crowd who didn't know us. Worst gig.....probably last year when I performed the debut by myself. There was no one there!

What's some advice you could give to other kiwi artists who are just starting out?

Make sure you are writing and performing music because YOU like it. Everything takes time. Stay focused. If you feel something when you write a song I promise you others will too. Stay optimistic. Get out there and prove yourselves like everyone before you did.

Where can we buy/stream your music?

We are on all good streaming platforms and you can find us on iTunes.

Cheers Ben, keep rockin!

Photo Credits:
Top Photo - Andrew Treeby
Remaining Photos - Simon Raymond Watling
Photos are from the Ding Dong Lounge Bands Competition 2020


About Channeled

Channeled is ready to release the new album entitled I Heard Penelope Sing.

The new album is truly a sign of the changes that have taken place in Ben’s life. Just listen to tracks like A Conversation With You, Is That Glass? or I Can’t Quite Put My Finger On It and you will know what we are talking about here. In fact, those who heard the album before it’s release were all surprised with the direction the new music went.

The name of the album is semi-inspired by his love of people not being afraid to sing their hearts out. Music is about the experience; one best shared. It's inspiring to hear others write songs and sing them because they love it. So many of us do this in our own homes.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Channeled


Channeled II (Part One)
Year: 2022
Type: EP
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Year: 2021
Type: EP
I Heard Penelope Sing
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: Album

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