Ben Haenow’s phenomenal new album ‘Alive’ gives us a new sensation; something that we’ve never felt before. It gives us the inspiration; everything we need and more!
By bearing his heart and soul, Ben has created an empowering new record that has a timeless quality to it. With each and every song, he showcases his incredible talent as a singer-songwriter.
We recently caught up with Ben in his hometown Croydon. In our exclusive interview, the charming X Factor winner spoke about: releasing his new album independently, unreleased tracks, his favourite lyrics, his upcoming wedding anniversary and much more.
You can read highlights and hear our full interview with Ben Haenow below!
You’ve just released your new album ‘Alive’ – how does it feel to finally have the songs out there?
“It’s incredible. I’ve been waiting for this for quite a while now. Obviously we’ve been out on tour and played some of the songs so we’ve seen some reactions but there’s still some that were previously unreleased. So yeah, I’m buzzing. A bit anxious; but really excited to see what people think.”
As a whole, what message are you hoping to convey with the record?
“Overall, just quite a positive vibe. For me, the whole album is loosely based on my story from The X Factor to now and kind of the ups and downs in between. I think, generally, it has quite a positive message. If people can take away something positive away from it, that’d be super cool.”
The album starts with ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ which is the song that also marked the beginning of your X Factor journey. Was it a conscience decision to have that as the opening track?
“Yeah, it was. As you say, it was my first look on The X Factor. We’ve taken it and done something a bit different with it. I think this album is a bit more about finding my personal style and I think we’ve put a bit of a stamp on it. So yeah, it was a conscience decision to have that as the first track.”
One of our favourite lyrics on the album is ‘though the skies may be dark, we can reach for the stars’ in ‘Getaway’ and we feel that song has a great empowering message. Are are there any lyrics that you’re particularly proud of writing?
“Bless you, thanks for that Mark. I think ‘Getaway’ for me was probably the one lyrically; that and ‘Rising’ are probably the two songs lyrically I’m most proud of. I genuinely can’t sing the second verse of ‘Getaway’; even now I feel like I’m going to well up a bit. Towards the end of recording and stuff, it was quite tense for me and my brother really because we’d spent so much time together and it was a song about not forgetting why you started the process. Every time, it really gets me so ‘Getaway’ is probably my most proud one.”
You and Alex showcase your incredible songwriting abilities on the new album. Is writing for other artists something you’ve considered or something you’re hoping to do in the future?
“Yes, lovely for you to say again. During the songwriting process, you might write a song sometimes and you think it’s a great song or a lovely song but you can’t see yourself singing it. We’ve got quite a few of those that didn’t make the cut on the album. I enjoy writing so I’d love to be able to write for other people and work with other people to write as well. So yeah, I’d love to.”
You posted a snippet of a song a while ago with the lyrics ‘I remember when they promised us the world’ – did you ever complete that track?
“Yeah, that didn’t make the album. Wow man, you’ve done your homework bro. That was the first song I wrote and I think the feedback that Alex gave me from it was that… it was at a time when the lyric was ‘don’t give up’ and ‘don’t back that down’ that sort of vibe. I think that it seemed maybe a desperate thing to be writing about at the time. I really liked the song and I thought it had quite some weight to it. So yeah, you never know, that might rear its ugly head soon. Now that you’ve mentioned that Mark, I’m going to question Alex about that.”
Your voice is sounding better than ever better before on the new album; particularly on the stripped back songs like ‘Time Stands Still’ and ‘Getaway’. Do you think that’s a result of the recording process this time around?
“Thanks man. Yeah, I think so, feeling much more relaxed in the place where I was recording. Also one thing I didn’t get was that when we started recording with The X Factor, we’d go and record the demos for songs. What I didn’t realise was that the demo vocal that I put down on the day was the one that was going to make the cut in the thing. I know that sounds maybe stupid or naive of me but I’d always thought you would record demos all over and then we’d go into one studio and re-record everything with one producer. That didn’t happen. A lot of the vocals that are on the first album, for me, weren’t what I thought were going to be the last take. In some places, I was like I wish I could do that again. This time, we’ve made sure that all of the right takes have gone on. I think being in a more comfortable place to do it, spending a couple of days in a studio with a great producer Jon Maguire and getting to work with the songs in that way was great.”
How’ve you found the process of releasing your new album ‘Alive’ independently? We imagine it’s quite different to doing it with the backing of a huge label.
“Yeah, 100%. As you probably well know, there were a few times when I was saying ‘hey, this single is going to be available here’ and it turns out that it’s not available there. It’s been a real learning curve for me. When you’re with a label, you got all that dealt with. I’m not the most organised person in the world so it wasn’t the easiest thing for me. Now that everything is sorted and this album is out, I’m happy that everything has worked out.”
It’s coming up to your first wedding anniversary – have you got celebrations planned already? Will you and Jess be visiting Italy again anytime soon?
“We absolutely will be mate. We’re going to head back there. It’s actually not long now; we got married on the 29th July so we’ll be heading out to Italy for a couple of days and we’re just going to chill out. It doesn’t feel that long at all. But yeah, it’s going to be great and really romantic I’m sure.”
You’ve only just released your second album so it may be a little early to ask but have you already starting thinking about your third record? Do you have ideas of the direction you want to go in?
“Yeah, I think so. It’s funny because we’ve put out a few of these singles already. The album started life as we were just going to kind of put an EP out there. When we were writing songs, more and more came and we thought ‘why not?’. So, for me and Alex, it’s maybe quite an old album or an album we’ve been sitting on for a while. We’re kind of into writing for the new stuff and exploring the sounds again a bit more really. So yeah, we’re constantly writing stuff.”
What does the rest of 2018 have in store?
“Obviously the album is out so I just want to get out there and play as much live as I can. I’ll be celebrating my year wedding anniversary. Yeah, I dunno, just enjoying life really mate. I think that’s what it has come to. The last couple of years affected me more than I initially thought but I couldn’t be happier now. I think that 2018 really is just a time for me to continue ‘Rising’ as it were.”
If you could leave a message for your fans using as many of your own song titles as possible, what would you say?
Ben: “I’d say… erm… can I ‘Start Again’? Hey ‘Lions’, ‘Give Me Your Love’ and ‘Getaway’ because this ‘Second Hand Heart’ has got something you need… yeah, I mean there’s plenty more songs but none of them are going to make a considerable sentence to be brutally honest.”
CelebMix: “Fair enough, we’ll ‘Forgive & Forget’ that.”
Ben: “Thanks Mark.” (laughs)
The 11-track-record is further proof that Ben Haenow and compelling songwriting are synonymous. With the exception of two covers, Ben co-wrote all of the tracks with his brother Alex and we’d say that they’re his best yet. ‘Getaway’ is particularly powerful.
We may only be in June but we have a strong feeling that ‘Alive’ may become our most played album of the 2018. With another record of this calibre under his belt, Ben Haenow is sure to keep on rising up so high!
Are you loving Ben Haenow’s new album as much as us? Which are your favourite tracks on the record? Let us know over on Twitter @CelebMix!