An American composer, producer and songwriter, Ben Lovett has traveled the world through his music. Possessing a love of film, Lovett displays his versatility soundtracking motion pictures in addition to his solo career. His most recent project, Lovers & Friends, has him teaming up with other songwriters to create a single song, while meeting for the first time on a blind date.
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Chris Remmers: Where did you grow up and how did that influenced you to do what you’re doing now?
Ben Lovett: I grew up in a small town in Georgia. There was always this mystery about the world that laid outside the boundaries of this small town. Just ask anybody who grows up in that environment, which is most of us. Most people grow up in smaller towns than in big cities, there’s so much more of those. You have this kind of desire to travel, explore and see things beyond what you grew up around. I think that where I grew up and the fact that I spent the first 18 years of my life there really laid the foundation for a lot of exploring and traveling that I did in the next stage of my life.
Photo courtesy | Tony Crescibene
CR: Can you say that traveling around has influenced you at all or in any way?
BL: For sure. I’ve recorded in a lot of different places and performed in a lot of different places and different cities. All those different cities and countries have a certain kind of energy to them and you end up soaking up the influence of that energy and it makes its way into the art that you’re making. Sometimes it’s not in a way that’s so tangible that you can point at and maybe describe exactly how or when. You sit back and compare our songs written or recorded in New Orleans verses one down in Atlanta, verses down in Los Angeles or New York. You can feel some bit of those places in those recordings.
CR: Absolutely. My whole life I’d consider myself a music guy. Whenever I travel I listen to the radio station and I’m like, “Wow, this would never be play where I’m from.” It’s a cool thing to be able to experience that different musical culture.
BL: One thing that makes me think of is that, is since in LA a lot, I’m always reminded that one of the best things about the radio there is that there’s a dedicated station that plays nothing by gospel music, then there’s another radio station that plays nothing but jazz all day. It’s just weird to find that. You don’t really get that everywhere, where there’s public radio that just plays one of those two formats in particular. If and when you’re in the mood for that you just flip the dial there you have it.
Photo courtesy | Ed Coyle
CR: So, out of all the places you’ve been which place in the United States would you say had the best crowd atmosphere?
BL: I think Atlanta. I’ve had some really great shows and performances in Atlanta. I’ve also had this project where I created these really big, large scale, ambitious music video/short film projects for different songs that I’ve done. I’ve filmed those in different places, in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and North Carolina. So, even in addition to just performing, trying to pull off a sort of community-based labor of love, trying to draw a lot of people out to participate in this large art project that you’re filming. I had great results with that and a lot of enthusiasm in Atlanta, in addition to having to go to great shows there. Part of this is being from Georgia, it’s great to go back. For me it feels a little bit like a home town, a lot of energy and a homecoming every time. It’s always nice to make it back there.
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CR: What about outside of the US? Is there anything that stands out?
BL: I love Berlin. Berlin just has an indescribably vibrant and unique atmosphere that I haven’t really found something similar to in another city — European, American or anything. There’s just something about the history of that city and where they’re at in the sort of rebirth of the identity of that city over the last ten years. It’s just a unique and interesting place to be, specifically for a creative individual. It’s one of the most diverse cities I’ve ever been to for multi-cultural ethnicity. It’s just a huge melting pot of cultures and thank God most of them speak English. There’d be nine people, from nine different countries, and they’d all natively speak another language. So, at least they all had a little bit of English in common, otherwise I just would have been lost.
Photo courtesy | Mariano Mantel
CR: That’s one thing about the US, Americans go other places and we really most of the time, unless your Hispanic or from another culture, only speak English. For people around the world English is their second language.
BL: The first thing I would always mention or learn how to say in any language of any place I went to is, “I’m sorry, I’m American.” Then they would switch to English, most often.
CR: So, switching the tone here a little bit, onto vacation, when you hear the word “vacation”, what pops into your head?
BL: I guess it would be the opportunity to just be a guy, just an individual person, like Ben from Georgia not Ben Lovett, whatever I am, this music guy. When you have this kind of a lifestyle you have the occupational hazard that you’re always on the clock even if you’re never at work. So vacation is just so rare. I took one last year and I realized that I didn’t know at what point in my whole life I had ever had an actual, legitimate, structured vacation that was just about relaxing and enjoying a break from life as you know it. So, not having anything to do with your identity as a working, creative person or any kind of thing like that.
Photo courtesy | Berit Watkins
CR: Yea, of course. Where did you venture to?
BL: I went to Barbados, just about the end of last summer and spent maybe a week or ten days there. It was great. I had my family there, some of my family members were able to go and I was able to spend time with them. It had just been a while since I had had some kind of trip where it just felt unrelated to any kind of business.
CR: So, would you say that when you are ever thinking about vacation, you’re more of a beach relaxing kind of a guy or more venturing out into a city and seeing the sights?
BL: I think that for me it’s less about a specific location or activity or anything like that. It’s has more to do with the frame of mind, that could be in the mountains, that could be at the beach, that could be in a city. I think it’s much easier to book a ticket, get on a plane and go to a place. It’s much more difficult to actually get into the frame of mind to just focus on being there, being a part of it, turning off and constantly feeling like you should be doing something. It’s kind of an extension of being self-employed. No matter what they do when they’re there, there’s just this constant feeling like you need to be doing something.
Photo courtesy | Giuseppe Milo
CR: Absolutely! I feel it every day. So you seem like a cultured man, you’ve been to your fair share of places, do you have a top three list of destinations that you haven’t been to that you would like to go?
BL: I haven’t been to Italy, anywhere in Italy, so that’s a big one. I haven’t been to Japan and that’s also a big one. If I had to flip a coin or I had to pick between the two to go first, Japan would probably be chosen first. When you grow up in a small town in Southern Georgia, Tokyo is probably the closest thing you’ll ever get to being on the other side of the planet, culturally. I think that part of the world: Hong Kong, Tokyo, there’s just a cultural difference. That’s the most profoundly different experience that I think you might find, at least within the context of a city or a metropolitan area of a country. I would just love to go to both of those places.
Photo courtesy | 流璃
Then third, either of the poles. I’d love to see what that part of the earth looks like. I mean, North or South it doesn’t matter. There are probably very few places I’ve never been, maybe the Amazon or the Sahara. If you’re going to see that degree of expanse of nature and wilderness, just untouched by human hands, until you actually lay your eyes on it, you probably can’t even comprehend what it’s actually like.
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For more on Ben Lovett visit his Lovers & Friends project: