Interview With Ben Wilkins Singing “Day To Day” feat. Bonnie Pointer

Ben Wilkins All From HelloListen to this track by singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and arranger and producer with an ear for detail Ben Wilkins. It’s “Day To Day”, a track as featured off of his newest record All From Hello, his follow up to 2011’s self-titled début.

Like that début, this song and the rest of the record is lushly arranged with a slight nod to eras gone by. With this song, we get a special treat; none other than Bonnie Pointer formerly of The Pointer Sisters and a solo artist in her own right singing with Ben on a decidedly R&B-influenced song that shimmers with positivity. Mixed into that are hints of the shades of grey which can characterize the course of a life, with certainty and doubt constantly in flux; the pleasure and the pain from the heavens, yet falling down the drain, too. Ben recorded the new songs in his one-time base city of Montreal, embracing new textures, and yet with no less of an emphasis on intricate arrangements that hold a balance of their own; for all of their intricacy, they still allow the songs to breathe, and to get stuck in the heads of listeners. That’s always been one of Wilkins’ strengths. Yet this new record isn’t a case of more of the same.

I got a chance to talk to Ben via email about the new record, the business of writing a follow-up, and about a shift in sonic vocabulary that involved analogue synthesizers and an archaeological expedition to the record store on the hunt for mythical 12-inch R&B singles.

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Ben Wilkins Plays “Through To You”

Here’s a clip of Burt-Bacharach-Brian-Wilson-Carole-King-Todd-Rundgren classic pop inheritor, and singer-songwriter from Montreal Ben Wilkins. It’s the video for his new single “Through To You” a tune featured on last year’s Back Of My Head EP , and now a shining gem on a full-length debut record of gems, 2011’s Ben Wilkins.

Formally trained in music at Montreal’s McGill University, and the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Wilkins built up his skills in playing music for the sheer fun of it by developing a solid base of composition, singing, harmonic theory, and some arranger’s chops into the mix. A love of AM radio singles of decades past endured all the while.

As a result, his approach to arranging and recording involves a seriously sumptuous and lushly-realized sound that pulls from orchestral pop traditions which gelled and became immortal at the end of the ’60s. But, here we’re reminded that just because a sound is closely associated with an era, it doesn’t mean it’s stuck there. As such, what we’ve got here is the kind of thoroughly enjoyable contemporary pop record that we’re always complaining never gets made anymore. The decade in which it was made doesn’t really matter.

This is classic pop.

After receiving a preview copy of the record, I spoke with Ben via email about the making of this song,  the video ,the album, about the spirit of classic pop, and the elusive idea that music may or may not be the universal language. Read more