Dandelions is out now! We caught up with the musician to chat about the album, its short film and so much more.
Image: Jimmy Fontaine.
Rising singer, songwriter and producer EBEN has unveiled his new body of work, Dandelions The five-track release will be accompanied is accompanied by a short film, directed by Evan Hara.
Throughout the collection of songs, EBEN flows between rap-styles vocals and catchy melodies, whilst tell the tale of heartbreak. The musician takes his audience on a sonic and visual journey through the psychological effects of the demise of a relationship.
In the film, we meet EBEN as he returns home, arriving to the scene of his partner in the arms of another man. From there, we follow the musician as he navigates the pain and heartbreak, resulting in one adventurous visual The film was was filmed across three weeks along the West Coast from Portland throughout California, taking on a guerrilla-style format.
Dandelions is out now! Read our interview with EBEN below.
Could you tell us a bit about how you began your musical journey, and your background in music?
A little background about myself. I, I grew up in a musical family. Like my dad played drums, his whole life. My grandpa was a incredibly talented musician. My mom was like, she did ballet and was a dancer. So like performing has always been, you know, an influence like from my parents from a young age. I was a musical theatre kid growing up. Like I wanted to go and do Broadway and you know, moved to New York and go down that whole path. But when I was 15, I went and tried out for American Idol and ended up making it to the top 24. And that was the first time I'd ever been out to LA. Because I was just a small town kid from Cincinnati, Ohio like in the Midwest. So LA is just like a totally different, you know, universe. Right. Like I fell in love. I fell in love right when I first came out to LA when I was 15. So from there, you know, built a little fan base and everything on American Idol and started doing shows and, you know, as I kept doing it, I was like, wow. Like, you know, this could really like turn into something and, you know, fast forward a bunch of years, and they're a bunch of ups and downs. We are here where we are at. So that's a little background about myself and my musical journey.
We’ll get to the film in a minute, but focusing on the EP, you take your listeners through a psychological journey navigating the emotional stages of a breakup across the five tracks. What made you want to thematically explore this idea on the EP?
So when I was making the music and everything like decided the, you know, just the journey that I wanted to take the fans on, you know, I mean, everything that is going on in the EP is, you know, it was everything that I was feeling and what I was going through at the moment. So I wanted to visually do something super, super unique and like something that would really turn heads, you know, something super unexpected. So I called my best, like one of my best friends, Evan. Evan Hara, he was a director of the film and I was like, "yo, like, this is what I wanna do. I want all the music videos to kind of go into each other, like tell this whole story." And we were like, okay. So he came over, we sat down for like six, seven hours in the studio and just hashed out a bunch of different ideas. Like came up with the aesthetic of the video, you know, he came up with like the cyberpunk type of, you know, visual feel of it. From there it just blossomed into what Dandelions is now.
Dandelions kind of defies genre, fusing together sonic threads of pop, hip-hop and rap. How did you arrive at that overall sound that is present on the EP?
I mean, I've always been influenced by hip-hop. Some of my favourite artists, like one of my favourite albums in the whole world is Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper, as well as Birds in the Trap by Travis Scott, Drake, you know? I've always been influenced by hip-hop. So yeah, it just naturally has become part of my music. You can, you can hear it all over the project.
The EP is accompanied by an amazing short film Evan Hara & co-starring Jonah Marais of Why Don’t We. I’m curious to know were you storyboarding and creating the ideas for the film whilst writing and recording or did the entire process of creating a film happen after wards?
I wrote the EP and then from there, once I finished that then explored the film and everything. But yeah, you would think that it's all like happening at one time, which is like still, like, when I think back to it, I'm like, how the hell did we do this? You know? I made the music and the story was there, but the visuals really just make it, it makes so much sense and it's so straightforward and you know, it really, it ties together perfectly. So it really is just like a, meant to be kind of moment, you know?
The visual takes on a guerrilla style approach to filming, what made you guys take that approach?
I mean, that's just how we do it. Like we, you know, it's never been, you know clean cut, this, that, or the other, it's always like, we're coming up with different shots on set, you know, that we didn't even plan for. That's just how Evan rolls. He's incredibly talented at it. Um, Evan and Brandon. My drummer, he coloured the video and was the cinematographer and yeah, that's just the way that they do it and they kill it every freaking time.
What was your most memorable and favourite scene to film from the while project?
Man, being out on, if I'm not mistaken, the name of the beach was Cannon Beach. When we're like running on the sand and there's like mountains rocks in the background, that was one of the most beautiful sunsets and beautiful places I'd ever been in my whole life. It was so, so awesome. As well as the desert, the desert was really cool. And also the pinnacles, there's the part in Dandelions where it's like the big rocks and we're in the space. That place was so cool. We got to explore so many awesome places that I had no idea were literally in our backyard. It's like a three hour drive and you're in the desert and it looks like you're, you know, it's just wild. It's wild.
How important are the visuals to you when it comes to portraying the stories and themes present on the songs ?
I mean, it's just as important as the music is, especially with this Dandelions project, because I wanted to set a new precedent for myself of like, you know, the visuals will be as important as the music is and, you know, the music is my utmost priority, you know what I mean? So it's like, I'm taking both very, very seriously and I want people to see this and be like damn, he's a true artist and has ideas that seem to be impossible to pull off, especially with, you know the budget that we did it on. It looks like a million dollar budget, so that's what I might just go with, you know what I'm saying? But yeah, like it, it's just as important as the music 100%. Especially, now moving forward because we've set the tone, we've set a new standard and you know, I'm like, how are we going to beat this? [Laughs] You know? Cause that's so dope. I just don't know how... I mean we will, but you know, I just got to release it first, you know what I'm saying? And I was going to, I got a release at first and then I can start figuring out what the next situation is going to be. Yeah it's just as important.
Did you face any kind of challenges translating the content within the music to the film aspect?
It took a while to figure that out, especially like how we were going to tell the story. I mean there were so many different versions, options that we had, different song orders, you know, telling different parts of the story in different parts of the video. Eventually we came back to the same thing, which was obviously the order that the songs are in now, and in the way that the movie flows, but that process, it was a lot of trial and error. It was a lot of trial and error and just like asking opinions of other people that we really valued their opinion and they would say something, and we'd be like, "oh shit! You're so right! Like how the hell did we miss that!?" You know what I mean? So we'd go back, like that whole process was so fun. It was super challenging and super exciting. And you know there were points where, we all were just like feeling stuck, you know, just like, 'oh, are we gonna be able to do this?' You know, 'is, is it making sense? Are people gonna get it?' And we worked through all those expected struggles and we came out of the other side, like better than ever. And we have a bad-ass short film and a bad-ass EP.
Focusing on the music side, how did that side of the EP kind of evolve throughout the creative process and was there any songs that didn't make the final cut that might have a life of their own in the future?
Yeah. There's actually this song called My Room, that I wrote during the pandemic and it just, it would have been forced to be like in the project, you know what I mean? It just didn't feel right. But the song is like super dope. That's why I was like, we're not putting it on the EP, like damn it. I've so much music that has been thought of, for past projects, as well as this one that will definitely see the light of day in the future. Absolutely.
If you had to pick one song off the EP to play to someone who had never heard your music to make them an instant fan, which song would it be and why?
Probably Dandelions. Dandelions. It's one of those where it's just the groove is like, it's like a stank face type of like, you just, can't not be like, Ooh, this is so crazy, you know? I would, yeah, definitely be Dandelions and that's not just because the project's called that. Like I actually mean that.
The world of touring has changed over the past 18 months. What are your 2021 touring plans, and what does one of your live shows look like?
Hoping to go out in November. Next year, 100% have things planned, but I'm really trying to get out this year. Like, uh, I'm so tired, not touring. It's just outrageous, you know, and I mean you've got Rolling Loud, Lollapalooza, like things are going, it's like, let's like go, you know? I'm tired of fricking waiting around like... and so are the fans, the fans are tired of waiting around. That's why all the festivals are insanely packed. Like the people want live music, and we want to be with our fans. You know what I mean? So it's like finally, you know, states are letting them actually freaking perform, which is fantastic. You know, it's really, really great. So it's super exciting and exciting for the future. Just as long as the trajectory of things keep going the way they are. Like, you know, hopefully everything will be open super soon, like fully, fully.
I'm in Australia and we had opened up live music again, and everything was pretty much back to normal. We had festivals going, and now we're back in lock down and there's hundreds of cases a day. Week by week our lockdown gets extended, it's not a good time.
We're super nervous that California is going to shut down again. Like, oh my God, we're just our fingers crossed. We're like, we want to like, go get vaccinated because everyone is able to, you know what I mean? Like anyone from the street can go into CVS and get a vaccine. That's like, go get vaccinated so that we can, you know, keep this going and stay safe.
Our Prime Minister, didn't order enough vaccines. So we're just kinda waiting for them. Which is crazy because I had read more than 50% of the US is vaccinated, I think. Is that correct?
Something like that. Something like, and then there's like 50% where, you know, a lot of like anti-vaxxers.
Yeah. And only 15% of Australia is vaccinated, which is so weird. Cause we were so ahead of the world when it came to dealing with COVID.
Yeah, you guys were. Like same with New Zealand. Like you guys, you guys nipped it in the bud like super quickly.
Biggest musical influences?
My biggest musical influences. I'd say like growing up, like Elton John, Hall & Oates. I love Chance the Rapper. Like growing up, I had always been a huge Chance fan. Those are, those are some solid ones right there. Travis Scott as well, like on the hip-hop side of things. I've always loved Maroon 5 as well. They're just, they're just solid. I love Adam Lavigne's voice. His voice is so fire. Yeah. So there's a few.
Probably Kanye West, or to just be in a studio with him. Like, that'd be so crazy. Like that'd be, it'd be fire.
Album that has had the most impact on you? The 1975's their deluxe album from like 2013. The one with like 30 songs on it. That album for sure. 100% that album, it's my favorite, that and Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper. Those are my favorites. I can listen to those all day. Every day. I'll never get tired of them.
Best song of 2021 so far?
Oh man. The best song? I don't even know if there is a best song, cause there's so much good music. That's been... Okay. All right. My favorite song. A song that I love like really love right now is Bazzi’s new record, is really fire. It's called I Like That. I freaking love that song. I can't, you know, it's a dope record. It's like a straight Benny and the Jets, I'm a huge Elton John fan. And right when I heard that song, I was like, oh my God, this is a straight up Benny and the Jets like 2021 version. It's fire. I can't, you know, can't lie. It's dope. I love that record.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
[Laughs] Either Napoleon Dynamite, or Super Bad.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Hannah Montana. Obviously. [Sings] You get the best of both worlds.
First concert you went to?
First concert I ever went to, it was in Cincinnati, Ohio at this famous venue or at least in Cincinnati is famous venue. It's called Bogarts and there was this Christian rapper, his name's Lecrae and he's, he's frigging huge now. And yeah, that was, that was the first concert I'd ever gone to. Wow. Yeah. I haven't thought about that in a long time. Man, that's crazy. [Laughs]
Best concert you have been to?
The best concert, Travis Scott's Astroworld. I saw that, I saw him in Chicago. That was insane as well as like Coachella as a whole, like the last Coachella that there was. I had never experienced anything like that, man, like unreal, so yeah, those two, those two. For sure.
First album you ever bought?
The 1975, like with my own money, you know, I bought that. Yeah, The 1975.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
I mean, I got to go with Backstreet boys, you know, I love the spice girls too, like, cause I would love to have a British accent. That'd be so fire you know?
What is your favourite back street?
My favourite Backstreet... there was... Oh, this was, this is super random I was on tour in Baltimore, we had to stop. My cousin lived there and we found this super like dive bar, like straight up, hole in the wall kind of place. And you literally had to go down like, I thought it was in Europe. Like, it was really weird, cobblestone walkway, literally in this back street. And then it was just kinda like an 'open' sign, with like 'bar' on top of it and we hung out there and everything. Yeah. So I'd say, yeah, I guess that's my favourite backstreet.
The most memorable show you've ever performed?
I will always remember performing at Radio City Music Hall, in New York City. It was an incredibly magical show, a lot of amazing opportunities blossomed from that show and yeah, that was definitely like an amazing turning point like in my life, was that Radio City Music Hall show.
If you could go on tour with any artist, who would it be?
I’d love to tour with The Kid LAROI. I feel like that'd be dope. I love his music. I love his music so far. I'd tour with Ariana Grande too. That'd be fun.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
I feel like my future self should give my past self some advice. Yeah. Stay on this healthy path that I'm on. I'm in a good place mentally. And I have a tendency to waiver from that good place once I'm in that good place, you know? Cause it's like, ‘oh, I'm good.’ Like, let's go back to bad habits, but you know, stay like proactively trying to stay at a good standard. Good path.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When I got into my first musical theatre show, when I was like 11, it was for this show called Once on this Island. With a company called Acting Up in Mason, Ohio. And yeah, that was when I knew I was like, I could be on stage for the rest of my life. Like I loved it.