Focus: Benedict Hawkin | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Who are you and where are you from? 
I’m Benny from Northumberland. I’ve lived in Leeds for the past two years, but most of my musical life has been spent in Newcastle upon Tyne, where I lived for seven years. 

What is it you do? 
Mainly make music. I’m a guitarist first, a singer second, and a producer third. I write a bit, read a bit—though not nearly as much as I should—work a 9-to-5, rep for my trade union, and I’m trying to get better at cooking. I play the odd videogame, and binge-watch the odd crap series (because what else is there to do?). But mainly the music. 

How long have you been doing it? 
Nine years. I’ve released a couple of EPs under my own name and my pseudonym Moon Prince, and I played guitar for the art-rock band Profumo (we’re on indefinite hiatus right now because we’re geographically all over the place). 

Tell us about your music. 
My music could be loosely classified as bedroom-pop; it has rich arrangements in a lo-fi setting. It’s very guitar-heavy: even though I use electronics a fair bit, I’m not a particularly good keyboard player or synthesist, so most of the electronic elements are sampled and manipulated guitars. I don’t mind that, and I’m staunchly in favour of guitar solos. 

I try to make catchy music, and I try to make it a bit psychedelic. It’s still broadly within the singer-songwriter idiom, so it isn’t too mind-melting. It’s psychedelic-lite. ‘I Can’t Believe it’s Not Psychedelic!’ 

My new single ‘Leave it!’ is told from the perspective of a touring musician looking back at their life and the narrative they have created for themself. I recorded it on my laptop, apart from the vocals, which were recorded by Glen Jamieson at The Empty Avocado studio (our old rehearsal space, which used to be a dump, but Glen’s since spruced it up). 

What inspires you? 
Lyrically, I like my own work best when it isn’t too emotional, but still has a bittersweet undercurrent, and I think that’s present in lots of the artists I admire most. Joni Mitchell is my favourite musician; her songs are full of wry, detached observations, but she weaves them together in a way that comes across as so sincere and deeply lucid, even when she’s writing from the perspective of a character. I’d love to be able to do that. A friend once described my lyrics as ‘very Catholic’. I don’t really believe or go to church anymore, but I think I know what they meant.

Sonically I’m influenced by all sorts which I won’t get into; I could drone on for hours. I’ve been exchanging and collating 10 song playlists with a couple of mates each month, which is always inspiring. (here’s what we did in January). I still really miss making a racket with my mates in a squalid practice room. I’m joining a band as soon as this pandemic ends—you can count on that. 

What have you got coming up in the future? 
Leave it! is my first single in ages, and it releases 26th February. I’m part of a musician’s collective & label called Plastic Palace, and I’m putting it out with them. I have an album in the works, produced by myself and my former bandmate Glen Jamieson, and hope to keep things tiding over with a stream of singles till then. Will it be a steady stream? Time will tell! 

I’ll certainly play gigs in Newcastle when independent venues open again, and hopefully I’ll play in Leeds too, but I’m still getting to know the scene here. 

Where can people find out more about you? 
Bandcamp for music, Instagram (@bennyhawkin), for albums I like and shots of me and my girlfriend, and Twitter (@benedicthawkin) for shitposting). 

You can stream my music in all the usual places if you’re unable to buy it, and you can probably find me on other social networks by searching my full name. I think there’s an ill maintained Facebook page floating around somewhere.

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