Interview with

Benjamin Finger

Frank Benjamin Finger was educated at Oslo Photo Art School and graduated in Film Science at HIL before he started at the Film and TV Academy (NISS) in Oslo to become a director. Since then he has done several short films, music videos and participated at various photo exhibitions, besides working for television. He is now a freelancer (director/photographer). His debut album “Woods of broccoli” was released on How Is Annie Records (NO) march 2009 followed up by “For you, sleepsleeper” in 2010. Then in 2013 he released “Listen to my nerves hum” on Time Released Sound (US). His new album “The Bet” is being released these days on Watery Starve Press (US). Besides his solo projects he also makes up one half of the electronica duo Beneva vs. Clark Nova. Benjamin has played at various venues and festivals including; Jaeger, Rock Am Sogn, Volumfestivalen, Månefisken, Strange Art Festival, By;Alarm, Mir, Sound of Mu (R.I.P), Institut Francais, Deichmanske bibliotek, Musikkfest 2013/14, Land mark and Teaterhuset Avantgarden.

Facts

Sharing my studio with a cat called Rocky who´s really awesome on drum machines.
Listens to George Michael when I get drunk (so says my girlfriend).
Don´t by shy be yellow!

Questions

What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The biggest inspiration for my music can be found in books. There are a couple of writers I always come back to, among others; Witold Gombrowicz, Julio Cortazar, Boris Vian, William S. Burroughs, Aldous Huxley and Thomas Pynchon. What I like in some of these authors is that they make sentences that transcends our normal way of thinking and seeing things. I´m trying to think of music in the same way, which basically means that you can do anything in terms of styles etc…if you are dedicated enough and open to all kinds of influences.

Some films have also been very inspirational to me; Harold and Maude, Being There, Dead Man, Arizona Dream, Bufallo 66, Paris Texas, House, Lover´s of the Arctic Circle and a bunch of directors like Luis Bunuel, Francois Truffaut, Robert Bresson, Henri-Georges Clouzot etc…basically films that tends to stretch my imagination.

It´s much more difficult to answer when it comes to musical inspirations because I tend to listen to all sorts of music, depending on the day, my mood, what is being suggested to me by friends. But some major influences regarding labels must be early Warp stuff, Kranky, 4AD, Domino, Impulse Records, Rephlex, Touch, Mego, Thrill Jockey, Blue Note, Fat Cat, etc…Impulse Records seems to be the label that I never get tired of. Still can´t get enough of the many albums I´m collecting on vinyl. One inspirational album I´ve been listening to lately is Talk Talk´s Laughing Stock. Also works by Morton Feldman, Elliot Carter, and Glenn Gould. Some music has a tendency to stay with you forever.

How and when did you get into making music?
I often say (in a humorous or serious tone, depending on my mood) that I began making music by a “mistake”. My mother bought me a stationary mac in 2005. I then started to experiment with midi sounds and from there on it kind of developed and grew bigger. I had no idea at that time that I would have a studio filled with instruments a couple of years later. I just purchased a Korg Poly-61 synth from 1982 and it sounds amazing.
But my first meeting with music was through piano and guitar lessons when I was a kid. I was “forced” by my dad who was a musician and therefore it´s understand able that he wanted me to do the same. But I wasn´t any good and could never learn my homework. I was more interested in playing football and watching James Bond films on our shabby VHS player.

What are your 5 favourite albums of all time?
Wow, that´s tough man. Can I choose 10 (in no particular order)?

Arthur Russel – World of Echo (That album transcends you into a beautiful state. It´s a record that should have been obligatory in elementary school. Everyone should hear this music, it´s should be just at as important as your national songs/composers).
Alice Coltrane – Lord of Lords (Otherworldly. This is just about as pretty as anything can get. If I were to define a silly word like “beautiful”, these compositions would be it).
Disco Inferno – Go Pop (Didn´t know what to think or feel the first time I heard this one. So intense, raw and in your face!)
Mr. Bungle – Disco Volante (Really covers so much ground musically, way ahead of it´s time. And great track titles!)
Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas (How perfect can pop get after that statement from Guthrie and Fraser?)

If allowed to pick 10, also:

Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach – Money Jungle (Essential. Just the thought of these three strong personalities in the same room. “Let´s behave folks”).
Butthole Surfers – Locust Abortion Lust (A classic example of what tape-loop experimentation might do to music. Just listen to the track Kuntz. Wow! That´s some far out music for you! And check out that album cover, you´ll never be the same again).
Charles Mingus – Let my children hear music (The title says it all).
Syd Barrett – The Madcup Laughs (We all could need a healthy turpentine dose of Barrett sometimes).
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Vol 2 (An album that have always calmed me down, sheer beauty vs. angst ridden themes).

What do you associate with Berlin?
Several things: Working there as b-photgrapher for TV. Cold War. Nina Hagen. Harald Schumacher as a goalkeeper being kind of aggressive on the field when playing against France in 1982. David Bowie making the “Berlin Trilogy”, Low being a very important record to me. Brand enburger Tor. Techno and a hedonistic nigh-life. The film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders in all of it´s cinematic glory (and because of the great Nick Cave scene “I´m not gonna tell you about a girl”). Also, I have fond memories of playing there in 2009 as Beneva vs. Clark Nova (Project Gestalt), my other band . It was a special atmosphere in Kreuzberg, you could get drunk in bars and play ping pong the whole night! I appreciate that. They know how to throw a good party!

What’s your favourite place in your town?
Sound of Mu (R.I.P) was a great bar, art space and concert venue. Very small and intimate. The only place in Oslo that dared to book all sorts of acts, that means letting anyone have a go at a concert, both established and lesser known band s. It´s shame they are shutting down the place now. My new favourite place must be Paulus Plass, the park.

If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Take shelter…Get naked more often…Become someone…Listen to people…See more friends…Be friendlier….Relax…Believe.

What was the last record you bought?
Drexciya, Journey of the deep sea dweller, part 1. Finally I could get some sleep, having bought the three other ones first. I have almost stopped buying records at the moment, it all became too much of a vinyl issue…Without having the time to listen properly. A Dj-set is much healthier when you miss certain types of albums. I´ve tried to buy all the albums that I like or miss from my childhood but there´s always one album missing. You can´t always Dj what you want.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Someone who would be open to all different forms of expressions. That means basically anyone. Name is not important, (it could happen without seeing or speaking to anyone, a great sound would do, like a great voice on the radio). Anyone that would trigger things in the right direction.

What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
As a spectator; playing with my other Beneva vs. Clark Nova at Spasibar watching Greg Haines nailing the piano before we started playing in 2007. That was pretty intense and very unique. Wasn´t that easy to enter the stage after hand . Also I have some great memories of going to the ATP festival in Camber Sand s and Butlin´s Minehead (UK) seeing so many great live acts like; Vladislav Delay, Slint, A Winged Victory for The Sullen, Omar S, The Brother´s Unconnected, Dirty Beaches, Spectrum, Loop, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Grouper, Terry Riley, The Frogs, Oneohtrix Point Never, Tony Conrad, The Haxan Cloak etc. The list goes on and on… It´s really unfair just to mention some names. Just look at the line-up at ATP from 1999-2013 if you are interested.

As a performer; I would say playing live at Land mark in Bergen after I released “For You, Sleepsleeper” (How Is Annie Records). I love the place (the best club in Norway in my opinion) and they have such devoted sound engineers.

How important is technology to your creative process?
I have to use technology to record a piano motive, a voice, field recordings, synth melodies, a tape loop or a guitar riff. I mostly start out by recording some of the elements mentioned above on a field recorder, just to capture an idea. So technology is important in terms of recording, collecting and manipulating sounds later in the phase.

Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career?
Think my family are more concerned about other things. Like how I should cope with normal life, getting a driver licence, having kids and other things. And to be honest, I don´t feel that much about my career but I appreciate the attention. It seems to be going well and there are many albums coming up and in the making. (Digitalis Recordings later this year and one on Sellout! Records and TRS early 2015). What drives me is pure passion, I´m not composing music to make a quick buck. It´s basically a need to express myself, but this is just one channel out of many.

Our Favourites:  Consonance of fear Woods of Broccoli | Film Outside of you´s
Links:
Soundcloud | Band camp

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