Review Fix chats with Brooklyn-based singer Benjamin Cartel, who discusses his upcoming album, Flickering Light, his influences, his favorite spots to play in Brooklyn and his creative process.
Review Fix What music did you grow up with and how did it influence your own music?
Benjamin Cartel: I grew up listening to old ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s pop, punk rock, folk, reggae and jazz music. As a little kid, my older aunts and uncles used to sing and play instruments at family gatherings. Seeing my relatives singing and playing joyfully had a profound influence on me. I thought every family was musical. When I started choosing my own music in grade school I listened to everything by the Beatles. In middle school and high school used to listen to a lot of old records by The Ramones and The Clash and lot of Jazz as well. In college, I started getting deep into what is now considered classic indie rock and hip-hop.
Review Fix: What about your decision to play music for a living?
Cartel: I used to go to all-ages punk rock/hardcore shows in the NYC area since the age of 14. Seeing kids my own age play playing their own music and make records, and tour in their own bands made me think, “I can do this too.” When I performed in bands in High School, I knew I had finally found something that I could do well. It was like discovering you had a secret power that made you a superhero.After having played my first shows at all-age clubs nothing was more exciting to me as playing live music. After playing in bands for years and years, I began to realize there is nothing I can as well as play in a band.And there was nothing I want to do more.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration behind the creation of your forthcoming “Flickering Light ” album?
Cartel: A lot of the music that I grew up listening to is in “Flickering Light.” Songs are inspired music by The Beatles, The Clash, The Stooges, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bob Marley, Velvet Underground, The Replacements, and Sonic Youth. I don’t know if all these influences will be obvious to people who listen to the album, but they are obvious to me.
Review Fix: How has living in Brooklyn shaped your musical creativity?
Cartel: Seeing what different people reflect in their music, hearing different diverse influences, lyric content, etc. If you go out and experience music in Brooklyn – in clubs, theaters, even in the streets and subways, you can’t help but be influenced and inspired. There are so many different ways to approach music Living here gives you opportunities to see this every day. There’s a lot of great music in Brooklyn all the time. When I come across excellent music no matter what genre, I’m inspired. The great thing about Brooklyn is that great musicians from all over the country and all over the world come to perform here all the time. And there is no shortage of great venues as well. The bar is high, it forces performers and writers to be their best.
Review Fix: Do you have a favorite Brooklyn venue to play in?
Cartel: It’s probably more known as a comedy venue these days, but I still love playing at Union Hall. There are an intimacy and coziness of that room that’s not like any other place in Brooklyn. And I have played a lot of great shows there.
Review Fix: Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Cartel: I could tell you It be amazing to work with people like Nile Rogers, Rick Rubin, Gary Louris, Jeff Tweedy, Mick Jones, Johnny Marr, Erika Badu, Radiohead, The Roots, and on and on and maybe it would. I’m sure it will be great to do that. When it comes down to it, the best people to work with are the people who get you, as an artist, and love what you do, and are excited to work with you. If it happens to be all those people, then that’s great.
Review Fix: Who would you like to hear cover one of your songs?
Cartel: Ed Sheehan, Beyonce, Pink, Katy Perry, The Avett Brothers, Erika Badu, Beck, Radiohead, Coldplay, Lady GaGa, Bollywood Stars, K Pop Stars, Japanese Pop Starts, Chinese Pop Stars, Cumbia music artists. Any artist who can bring my music to a wider audience. I am all for that.