Swapping Notes with Ben Wilkins

We sat down with Ottawa based musician Ben Wilkins to find out who his musical influences are, his favourite track on his album, and where he sees himself in five years.

By Giselle San Miguel

Ben Wilkins

Describe your musical background.
I grew up singing constantly, and my parents put me in piano lessons when I was five. I listened to the Beatles a lot on my parents record player and learned to sing everything. At eleven I learned how to play the guitar and the trumpet and began playing in bands at school. Eventually it was my favourite thing to do, and I moved to Montreal to study music at McGill University. I learned a lot about arranging and music theory, but my favourite thing to do was write songs and record them – something that wasn’t part of the curriculum. After school I kept writing and performing and made an album.

Who are your musical influences and why?
I listen to everything but I’m influenced by a lot of music from the 1970’s or older. There’s a romantic quality to those songs that are beautiful and sincere. Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Burt Bacharach, and Paul Simon. Those people make me crazy in all the right ways.

Ben WilkinsWhat kind of advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I’d say if you love what you do, keep developing and keep at it. It takes a lot of patience and self-sacrifice to make it. But hard work, perseverance and a bit of talent will always rise to the top. I’m an optimist and have thought that way for years. Not because I don’t have moments of despair, but because I get better results by being positive.

Which track is your favourite on your self-titled debut album?
That’s a tough question. My songs are like children. I love them all differently and can’t pick a favourite, but I will anyway. Soup for One came out really well, and it’s always fun to play live.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I’d like to have at least two more albums out, and maybe do more collaborating with other artists. I can also see myself with a little studio on a farm somewhere. I’ve been living in cities now for a while and I dream of moving to the country.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Aside from all things music, I enjoy people, cooking, spicy food, the outdoors, exercising, water sports, surfing when I can get near the ocean, conversations that go too late, and too many other things to continue listing.

Ben Wilkins – Through to You

About Ben Wilkins

Ben Wilkins was born and raised in Ontario, and moved to Montreal, Quebec at the age of eighteen to study music at McGill University. He majored in Classical Trumpet and soaked up whatever he could regarding composition, arranging, singing, theory and jazz harmony – spending countless nights sneaking into the piano studios afterhours to write songs.

Ben Wilkin’s self-titled debut album on Milagro Records is in stores across Canada.

Giselle San Miguel is a freelance web designer who has a voracious appetite for reading and manages her own book blog at booknerd.ca. She also enjoys writing, design, movies, and photography.