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Benbo

Written By Stu Huggett

Tris Taylor first came to our notice as guitarist in Hastings “indie glam” band The Black Tulips. When they split, he recorded a gentle solo album under the name Benbo, ‘It’s A Long Road... And I Need Someone To Hold My Hand’, in a songwriting deal with Cooking Vinyl. Last year, he instigated Benbo’s “project #AIEEE”, an ambitious attempt to record and release a new collaborative song every week. Now dividing his time between Hastings and Brixton, Tris plans to set up an “alternative music industry structure” under the banner ‘Operation Get. People. Heard.’

Stu Huggett: What happened with ‘It’s A Long Road...’?

Tris Taylor: Cooking Vinyl were great, they gave me some money and left me in complete control. The album was finished mid-2011, and I thought I could leave it to them to get a label and release sorted but that wasn’t the case. I’m a perpetual state of unknowing about what to do with it. Maybe I should put it on iTunes.

SH: What inspired ‘project #AIEEE’?

TT: Once the Benbo album was finished, and nothing was happening with it, I started to re-evaluate everything. Is it worth continuing in music? Do I ever want to put myself through that again? So in 2012 I decided to publish one drawing a day, just to see if I could actually stick to something regular. And for the first time in my life it turned out I could.
For 2013, I wanted to get back to music, and I thought about doing a new song every week but that seemed like it would get repetitive pretty quickly. Then I thought, is it possible to do a new collaboration every week? I like almost every genre of music and I have drives full of ideas, from orchestral to electronic to indie to soul.
I recorded with loads of Hastings and St Leonards people, including Pablo, Red Crayon Spider, Tide Mark, binarymax, Southerner, Otti Albietz, goldBach, Cat Pavek, CHAPMAN, Desire Line, Neotropic, Malt Jones, Gr3n and Oli Spleen. But a lot of the people I've still never met, in Cape Town, Detroit, New York, Grimsby.

SH: What were the most surprising responses to the project?

TT: I was astonished when the Tide Mark track ‘Voices (In My House)’ got picked up by Conya Records – to have Kenny Dope and Robert Owens comment on the remixes was insane because I love their records. And I was blown away when Gilles Peterson picked up on Pablo’s 'Feels Like' and played it on 6Music and his worldwide show.

SH: What are your plans now?

TT: I met so many amazing artists last year and what I want to do is service their work, and mine, properly. I’d like to be part of an alternative music industry infrastructure, one that doesn't prioritise the straight white male, that doesn't stereotype and exploit everybody in pursuit of money and that is honest with artists and respects their work. This isn’t a one-year project, it's for the long term and it's about respecting the incredible work that people are doing, both politically and musically.

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