BROOKE BENTHAM – someone’s got to pay the bills

Foto-© Lauren Maccabee

Die britische Songwriterin Brooke Bentham hat sich in den letzten Jahren zu einer spannenden Newcomerin in UK entwickelt, was sowohl mit ihrer außergewöhnlichen Stimme, als auch mit der für ihr junges Alter doch sehr aufgeräumten Weisheit zusammenhängt. Aber besonders mit ihren Lyrics, die so entwaffnend und emotional sind, dass Bentham schnell mit Sharon Van Etten oder Angel Olsen verglichen wurde. Den beiden EPs aus 2017 folgt nun endlich das Debütalbum Everyday Nothing, in dem die Wahl-Londonerin aufzeigt wie es jungen Menschen heutzutage geht, wenn man eine kreative Laufbahn einzuschlagen versucht und daneben mit zwei Jobs versucht über die Runden zu kommen. Bevor Bentham am 23. März von präsentiert im Privatclub Berlin spielt, haben wir mit ihr via Mail über ihr Debüt, ihren Werdegang, ihren Produzenten Bill Ryder-Jones und vieles mehr geredet – unser Interview!


Name: Brooke Bentham
Founding year: 2015
Location: South Shields
Album: Everyday Nothing


What is your first memory of a contact with music? And when did you start to play music?
My first memory with music was my Dad playing music like Bob Dylan and Phil Collins really loudly in the car. I decided to teach myself guitar when I was 13, and started singing lessons when I was 15.

Which was the first band / musician that really struck an impression on you, why and what did you think about them at the time?
Bon Iver. They were the first band to teach me that music can take you to another world. It felt like a place that only I lived in. None of my friends at school listened to them, it felt like my respite. I think the first time I heard Bon Iver, Bon Iver is one of the most prominent memories that I have. It’s a perfect album.

How would you describe your music and which influences do you have?
It kind of changes all the time. My album is kind of soft rock pop I guess. I listen to a lot of 90’s alt-rock bands like Mazzy Star, Pavement and Sparklehorse. Red House Painters were a big influence for the album. I think my personality shines through on the album though because they’re not all super slow sad songs. I can’t help but be influenced by pop melodies.

You are always being referred to your ability for intense reflections and that it feels like that you already lived 100 lives. How do you feel about that, why would you think are you already that wise in that young age and what themes are you interested in writing about?
I don’t know to be honest. I don’t think of myself as wise haha. I think maybe because I’m thinking about situations and writing that down whereas people who aren’t writers may not do that at my age? I grew up with three older brothers and my parents worked away so I think I’ve always been a little bit beyond my years.

You released two EPs in 2017 and now three years later you are finally releasing your debut record – so what happened in the meantime and how does it now feel for you to finally have a finished record ready for release?
A lot of umming and ahhing on making a record I guess. It took me a year and a half to write the album. I totally fell out of love with making music before I started working with Bill. I think probably because I wasn’t actively doing many gigs, releasing music.. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’m thrilled that I’ve got an album now though. It feels like the industry has really changed in those two years I didn’t release anything. It feels kind of bittersweet being a new artist in such a constantly changing world. I’m just happy that I know in myself that I made this record that I’m proud of. That’s enough I think.

How did you make the way out of the practice space to sign a label deal? Which were the steps and how does the time feel for you looking backwards?
I didn’t even have a practise space back then. I was just working in my bedroom. I released a single with my friend Chris through his label Trellis Records and my now label AllPoints got in touch off the back of that. I can’t even tell you how time feels anymore. It’s been like 4 years since I started working with a label and it’s taken that long to produce an album. I don’t know, you can never really tell can you. I try not to think about time too much.

Can you describe a bit the production process of Everyday Nothing, how, when and where it came into life, what was the best/what the worst moment during production and what is the most told anecdote of that time?
It came to life from August 2018 to May 2019. I would go to Bill’s studio in West Kirby (the wirral, Liverpool) for intermittent days and weeks to work on the album. It all just blends into one really. I have fond memories of writing Telling Lies with Bill. I went to his in the space during christmas and new year. It was very low pressure. I just really loved that time of kind of writing new and exciting music, but also just hanging out. The worst moment was probably just collectively trying to record Keep It Near. I hated it for so long. One day I told Bill I wanted to scrap it, and it was really tormenting me. We were both kind of down that day. I think making a record is work. It can be fun, but it’s still work. It was just the two of us for probably altogether like 2 months every single day working on it.

Is there a certain time of day, mood or situation you need to be in to write music? What works best for you?
I don’t think so. I’ve learnt that I’m rubbish at writing for wide open spaces of time. For example, tell me to go away for a week and write. I’ll bring you the same song 6 times over. I kind of need to keep busy and then write on my days off so that it keeps things fresh.

Perform for You is one of our favorite songs of your debut – can you let us know what it is about, how it came into existence and if there is a story behind the song?
I read this book about power dynamics in relationships. It got me thinking, and I wanted to tell a story of loving someone that you shouldn’t, even when they don’t love you back. Kind of devoting yourself and so much of your time to something that is bound to be doomed.

YouTube video

For the record you did work with Bill Ryder-Jones as producer – why did you choose to work with him and what influence to the record did he have? How is his working routing?
I chose to work with Bill initially as my label recommended him and I thought he was charming. As soon I started working with him, I fell in love with his writing and his guitar playing. His work routine was quite refreshing. 9-5 unlike most producers. I think that should be the norm to be honest. Work doesn’t need to go on until 2am. I’ve worked with people before who work as late as possible, start super early. You’re basically a zombie. I like working, having an evening to settle your ears then starting again the next day with fresh minds and ears.

Bill is also full of praise of your songwriting and compares you to the likes of Alex Turner besides others – how does this feel for you?
I was very flattered. I obviously don’t believe it, but for Bill to even work with me is quite a privilege. I know we’re good friends now, but it still makes me happy that he wants to continue working with me. I’m just very grateful to him. I know that he hasn’t really done anything like my album before so I was a little worried going into it, but he was great.

In your bio it’s said that you needed to do two jobs to earn a living – would you say that this experience was good for your development as musician and helping to form you or would you think that this kept you away from following your dreams?
I think it’s been good for me. The longer I work the jobs, the more draining it gets. I do think though that they’re good distractions for me when it comes to writing. It means I write way more than I would. I haven’t really come across them as keeping me away from my dreams just yet.

How is the situation now for you? Still working jobs besides music and how much time does the music part – with all the social media duties and such – consume?
Still working the jobs. Someone’s got to pay the bills. Music is very time consuming but I have no other option.

You’re one of the most interesting newcomers from UK at the moment – which other newcomer bands/artists would you suggest to give a listen to?
Thank you. I really like Katy J Pearson, Imogen and Grace Lightman.

What should we know and what shouldn’t we know about you?
No idea. You should know that I’m touring next month, and you shouldn’t know that I’m writing this interview whilst I’m at work.

What are you doing when you’re not doing music?

What was the last record you brought?
I bought Devendra Banhart’s Ape in Pink Marble.

What did you learn in 2019?
Time doesn’t wait for anybody, it might not happen so find a job you enjoy.

Which song makes you dance every time?
Destroyer – It Just Doesn’t Happen

What would your Bedroomdisco look like?
Timothee Chalamet

Brooke Bentham live:
23.03. Privatclub, Berlin

YouTube video


Bedroomdisco-Gründer, Redaktions-Chef, Hans in allen Gassen, Golden Leaves Festival Booker, Sammler, Fanboy, Exil-Darmstädter Wahl-Hamburger & happy kid, stuck with the heart of a sad punk - spreading love for great music since '08!

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