INTERVIEW: Brooke Bentham | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The music industry works in mysterious ways. Brilliant artists can spend years languishing in obscurity; a non-entity like Ed Sheeran can become omnipresent beige wallpaper. Talented new songwriter Brooke Bentham however has rightfully been gaining plaudits for her work, and with the release of her debut EP The Room Swayed this month, you can expect the acclaim to grow wider.

Having already garnered comparisons to artists including Angel Olsen and The War on Drugs on the back of the material released so far, it’s clear than Bentham is rapidly winning plenty of fans and keen observers for her work. She’s careful not to let this influence her work ethic though, stating, “I had no idea. My favourite song on the EP hasn’t even been released yet, so it’s pretty great to see people sharing the songs already and enjoying them. I never write for the sake of writing a hit so it didn’t impact my process at all, I just want people to resonate with the music.”

For The Room Swayed, Bentham enlisted in-demand producer Ben Baptie, known for his work with acts like Daughter. Discussing the experience, Bentham says, “He was recommended to me and I met up with him. We were both really excited about the songs, but I didn’t know it would go as well as it did. Studying popular music at university, I’ve had so many people talk about how studios are unnatural, but it just really depends on who you’re with and where. I had one of the greatest weeks ever recording this EP. Ben & I both had the same vision and the whole week was just easy and fun. We’d live track for hours and not get bored.”

We also get into talking about her influences, about which Bentham admits, “it’s always changing. Most of the time I don’t sound anything like my influences, which is funny. I’m influenced by a lot of alt rock, like Yo La Tengo and Mazzy Star. A couple of months ago I was introduced to Mitski, who is amazing. I don’t know where the songs that I write come from! I guess it would be completely different if it was just me and a guitar.”

Instead, rather than just her and her guitar, on The Room Swayed she utilises grand, ambitious arrangements with sweeping dynamics. “It just feels like that’s where the song should go. My Dad used to make his own CDs – never full albums – of one hit wonders with massive atmospheres. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up with that, and it’s just inside me somewhere. I probably get a lot of it from Bon Iver and his self-titled album too: a lot of that is soft whilst building to this huge ending/chorus.”

Alongside the release of The Room Swayed, Bentham has a busy summer live schedule in place, with her launch gig at Surf Café Tynemouth on Saturday 17th June followed by a festival run that includes an appearance at Green Man. Having had to balance her growing career with university studies up until now, Bentham tells me, “I’m really looking forward to having more time for my music. Although I’m studying popular music, it’s kind of contrived and I can’t write freely for that course. I’ve really enjoyed my time there, but I’m definitely ready to finish.”

The Room Swayed is released by All Points on Friday 9th June. Brooke Bentham plays Surf Café Tynemouth on Saturday 17th June.

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