We had the pleasure of conversing with the talented Ben Freeman. In this exclusive interview, Ben shares insights into his musical journey, delving into the intricacies of his creative process and the transformative impact of Groover on his path to musical notoriety.
Daniel Flores, the editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone Argentina, found my work through Groover.Ben Freeman
Hello Ben! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your music: Who is Ben Freeman?
I’m a queer singer-songwriter and producer originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, currently living in Brooklyn, NY. I sing about the big hurts and quiet joys of being alive: my music is soulful, introspective, and musically adventurous. I put out my first project, an EP called Providence, in 2015; my next project was my self-produced album Quiet Fury, released over the course of 2020-2022; and this summer I’ve put out three songs, “Long Distance,” “Curiosity,” and “Baby Mine,” that evolve my music in a pop-focused direction while preserving the intimacy and warmth that has always been my signature.
You have released 3 singles this year so far. Can you tell us more about them and the plans you have for your next releases?
“Long Distance,” “Curiosity,” and “Baby Mine” are each throwbacks to a different era of heartbroken soul, mixed with a contemporary sensibility. “Long Distance” is my second collaboration with my friend Nora Rothman; it’a a song about feeling close to and far from someone at the same time. It’s got these fun, washed-out backing vocals and a groovy chorus. “Curiosity” is pure old-school soul, written after I ran into an ex-boyfriend unexpectedly on Grindr; Daniel Flores, the editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone Argentina, who found my work through Groover, noted that it “evolves…from laidback trad soul to sixties grand smart lushy pop,” specifically (and correctly!) citing Brian Wilson as an influence. And “Baby Mine” is, as my friend put it, “80s R&B sex music” with a melancholy twist. I produced each of these with a collaborator named Jackson Hoffman; we took my demo arrangements and refined them together, which leaves me feeling like the production is a true synthesis of our minds. I’ve promoted them through targeted press and playlisting, including through Groover, which has helped me make enormous inroads in my streaming numbers. I’m looking forward to continuing this focused promotion work with my next releases. I’m planning to put out some acoustic versions of old songs of mine while ramping up for some more retro-inspired pop in 2024.
What do you think would be the best conditions to discover your music?
Historically my music was designed to be listened to in a focused, through-listening way, so with Providence and Quiet Fury I’d recommend that approach. With the songs that have come out this year and will come out next year, I’m thinking of them as songs ideal for casual lounging and grooving with a group of close friends vibe. They’re dancey but mellow at the same time 🙂
How did you come to create your project and take it seriously?
I turned in 30 just as the pandemic began in 2020. I had also just graduated from a three year master’s program that left me feeling drained and confused about my future. Something about that confluence of events forced me to confront my own mortality, really for the first time in earnest, and I recognized that if I was lucky enough to make it to old age and hadn’t tried prioritizing my music I would really regret it. I’m grateful, among all the terrible things that came into our lives collectively, for this very valuable shift in perspective that helped me take my music seriously. I enrolled in some Studio classes (then learnmonthly.com) to learn production in Logic, and from there I was off to the races making Quiet Fury.
How did you first hear about Groover and what convinced you to use the platform?
I learned about Groover while in the promotion process for Quiet Fury; up to that point, the mystery of how anyone outside your close circle of friends ever finds your music was…well, mysterious to me. I think I first learned about Groover through some of the Instagram posts; I appreciated the candor and friendly tone of the advice Groover was offering to self-released musicians and clicked through to learn more.
Did it help?
Absolutely. Some of my best playlist placements (as well as the amazing opportunity to be featured in Rolling Stone Argentina!) have come through Groover, and it’s such an easy platform to use.
Daniel, Editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone Argentina, really enjoyed your work and decided to include you in the physical edition of the legendary magazine in Argentina. How was your reaction to his feedback and what it means to you to be able to contact professionals like him?
I was flabbergasted to learn that the actual Editor-in-Chief of Rolling Stone Argentina was saying anything to me about my music — and that his words were so thoughtful, sincere, and detailed. It’s my first time appearing in print, and it has definitely expanded my conception of what’s possible for me in my music career. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.
What advice would you give to artists just starting a music project?
You have the power — and the responsibility to your own well-being — to define your own metrics of success. It can feel really overwhelming to look at people who are further along in the tangible sense of followers/streaming numbers/etc. and wonder, “Why does no one seem to care about me?” I believe the people that care about each of us and the music we make are in fact out there — let’s not rob ourselves of the opportunity to find them and connect deeply with them by accepting other people’s arbitrary standards of success without questioning them.
Any final words?
I’m just feeling grateful to share who I am in my own words and to repay some of the gratitude for the amazing opportunities that Groover has helped bring into my life. Thanks, Thiago and Groover!