Here at City Dweller we’re getting quite a collection of talented and driven people for our ‘Leeds Own’ editorial, and this month there is no exception… Rachel chats to 20 year old singer/song writer Ben Lancaster, to talk inspirations, aspirations, and of course his thoughts on our wonderful city.
This month’s Leeds Own subject, 20 year old singer/song writer Ben Lancaster, was spotted by the City Dweller crew whilst partying at the Masquerade for Macmillan Ball, held at the Marriott Hotel, Leeds. His acoustic set of quirky covers and original songs had everyone up dancing, and here at the magazine we could tell it would only be a matter of time until word gets around of Ben’s talents. Wanting to find out more about the guy with the guitar I met up with Ben to talk inspirations, aspirations, and of course his thoughts on our wonderful city.
What initially got you into music?
My parents noticed at a young age that I could sing so they encouraged it from then, I used to do singing competitions and things like that on holidays. I began playing the piano at 9 and then when teachers at my high school (Morley High School) discovered I could play they nurtured my interest in music. When I was 15 all my friends played the guitar and I felt left out so I began learning that too.
What did you study at school?
In 6th form I did Performance Studies, Music A Level, History and Law. I am really into Musical Theatre, as well as singing, which was covered well by the dance and drama on the Performance Studies course. I am now in my final year at Renaissance Arts which is a dance and musical theatre college based at the Yorkshire Dance Centre and Northern Ballet in Leeds, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend, it is great studying there because I can work on both my passions of singing/ song writing and musical theatre.
How did you get into gigging?
I began singing in a band when I was 15, then I did my first solo gig at 18. I started off doing parties and weddings and then went onto bars. Around Leeds I’ve played at places such as The Wardrobe, The Bierkeller, and Around the World in 80 Beers.
What sort of music do you play at your gigs?
At gigs I tend to mainly play covers and judge what to play from the crowd. I like to do a mix of current songs that are in the top 40, and an Ed Sheeran track always goes down well. I also like to do abstract covers that you wouldn’t expect to be played acoustically such as Britney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby’, also depending on the situation I like to throw in an original track of my own when I can.
Where do you get your inspiration for your music?
I am inspired by the likes of Ed Sheeran and Lewis Watson, I especially appreciate Ed’s earlier stuff before he became massive, you can see so much progression in his music, I feel I can relate to where he began from. I also have a bit of a Grime guilty pleasure with the likes of Skepta. My music taste is pretty varied, if you had a look on my ITunes you’d see its very mixed.
What are your plans for the future?
As I am in my final year at Renaissance it is time to start auditioning for up and coming roles in musical theatre productions. I am in the studio in October with Jiimi Naylor from The Pigeon Detectives to record my own tracks. I also work with The Music Study which support young artists so they are helping me with my future prospects. I will continue to do my gigging and I want to keep both my singing/song writing and musical theatre interests going, I enjoy them equally so have no preference to go for one over the other.
What are your thoughts on Leeds as a city?
I love Leeds so much and feel grateful to have grown up here. It is always expanding, there is a new place opening every week and there’s so much to do, I look at it as the capital of the North.
Where do you tend to go out around Leeds?
As a student there’s something on every night, I go to Tiger Tiger on Tuesdays a lot and most nights usually end up in Prsym, bar wise I also really like Smokestack, Fibre and The Wardrobe.
There is no doubt that he’s one to watch!