Photography: John Johnson / @John.Johno

The acoustic singer-songwriter underscores his creative inspiration and the importance of music and the arts.

Have you always wanted to create music? How did you get into it?  
I got into listening to different music from a young age, every Christmas and birthday I would ask my family to get me Pink Floyd and Beatles albums. I would spend my paper round money on CDs by artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I started playing when I was around 10/11 years old after my dad got me guitar lessons.

If you had to describe your music/style in a sentence, what would you say? 
My music is a melting pot of various styles and influences, including country, folk, blues, pop and reggae. I listen to different styles of music and like to keep it fresh for myself and for the listener.

What do you think is the overriding influence on your songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture of all of these?
The songs can be influenced by anything, whether it be a certain emotion, a story, or conversations I’ve had. It can be dreams, nightmares or real-life affairs.

Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially inspired you? 
I remember the first time I got one of them old MP3 players for Christmas, I uploaded Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix onto it and listened to it through headphones for the first time and it completely blew my head clean off!

“Music and arts are a crucial part of all our lives, crucial on a physical and emotional level” Ben Burke

Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what makes it special?
I loved playing in the Olympia last year as part of a BOSS Night. It is the second biggest venue in the city behind the arena, the building is amazing inside and there is so much history in there.

Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform? What does it say about you?
My latest single The Life I Left Behind it is pretty relevant to my life right now it is about moving on to better things and pushing through difficult times in general, whatever they may be. If I’m feeling down or negative, this song gives me hope, and I hope it can inspire others when they listen to it.

If you could support any artist in the future, who would it be?
The Rolling Stones because they still put on a boss show and I’ve always wanted to be fly on the wall in their dressing room.

Why is music important to you?
Music isn’t just important to me; it is important to everyone. Even If you don’t know it, music and arts are a crucial part of all our lives, crucial on a physical and emotional level. To the number-crunching Tory politicians trying to do away with the arts and music it is one of life’s great natural mediums accessible to everybody. I think it will be impossible to oppress.

The Life I Left Behind is out now via Nifty Records.


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