Award-winning L.A.-based singer-songwriter Ben Abraham is back with a new single! Released three weeks ago, this powerful yet gorgeous tune features a theme of relationships Ben Abraham (who is from Melbourne, Australia) recently talked about the single as well as his musical upbringing and influences Continue to read to find out what aspect of a relationship influenced Abraham to write this song.
Make sure to listen to Ben Abraham’s “War in Your Arms” down below and let me know what you think of the single in the comments!
Please introduce yourself!
Hi I’m Ben!
How did you get into music? How has your musical journey been like?
I was born into a musical family. My parents were pop stars in Indonesia in the 70s and then church musicians by the time I was born so it was in my DNA.
There’s a very long-winded version of this story but the abridged version is something like this: because the music was such a fact of my family life, I was never interested in a career in music until my early 20s when I got a job working with sick kids in the hospital and I realised music could be an amazing way to connect with people.
You have worked with many talented people in the music industry! What is the biggest lesson you learned from them?
That all of us are essentially doing the same thing and success is completely random so just put your head down and make the best work possible.
I’ve got so many incredible friends across the full spectrum of the industry from chart-topping superstars to studio hermits who experiment with post-war synthesizers in darkened rooms. But at the end of the day, we’re all trying to engage with the world through the language of music and that’s the great leveller.
Obviously, some people will make more money in their lifetimes than others but long after we die and civilization evolves, it’s the work we create that will remain or fade away. So make great work! Yet, I really do believe that at some point the difference between the guy painting the Sistine chapel and the guy drawing peasant portraits in the street is opportunity.
Let’s talk about your latest single “‘War In Your Arms”. What is it about?
“War In Your Arms” is about reaching that point in a relationship where you realise that holding onto each other is just causing pain and heartache and it’s time to say enough is enough. This paradox is a central theme in my upcoming album and for me, the song is deeper than just being about a person.
I recently had someone comment that the song resonated with them as they quit a job that was proving to be a toxic environment. I love how that sort of thing happens. You write the song about one thing but people hear it in their own context and its purpose evolves.
How was it producing the single? What the process like?
Ha. The production of this song was a very long process. Initially, it was just a piano/vocal demo. It lived like that for a few years actually and at that stage, I wasn’t sure that the song was for me to sing. In that form, it went to a few different artists including Kelly Clarkson, Calum Scott, and Stanaj.
Around that time I started talking with Atlantic Records about signing with them and the CEO Craig Kallman called me up to personally ask me to keep the song. Having all this expectation around the song proved difficult. I’m not a big fan of feeling pressured. We used it as the calling card to find the producer for my whole album since we figured if someone can crack the code on this song they’ll be able to tackle the rest of the album easily.
It took months. I met some incredible producers too. Had early meetings with Greg Kurstin, Jeff Bhasker, John Hill, Greg Wells. Because I had Kallman as one of my A&Rs there was a pretty big list of heavies. Not all of them seemed that interested if I’m honest haha – which is totally understandable! And, then some really great producers took a swing at the song. I have a playlist of 9 different produced versions, all showcasing the direction each producer would take the song in. Honestly, I would love to work with all of them on things in the future but for this song, nothing quite felt right until I met with James Flannigan.
I remember sending his demo through to my team and instantly we all felt like we were hearing the song for the first time. We booked Barefoot Recording studio in Hollywood (where Stevie Wonder did a bunch of his albums) and smashed it out along with the rest of the album. Once we got into the studio it was just pure joy.
The final piece of the puzzle was getting the choir. Initially the label were skeptical because choirs are expensive and people weren’t sure if we really needed one. I remember taking the songs in to play for Kallman and immediately after that meeting we got the word back “go and get your choir”.
I went to Nashville and recorded the choir in what would be one of my favourite studio experiences ever. You can find clips of it on my instagram.
See. Told you it was a long story.
What part is the heart of the song? Are the vocals, the instrumentations, the harmonies, or something else?
It’s a piano-vocal song. That’s part of the genius of James’ production. There are so many brilliant arrangement tricks happening (small production hooks sprinkled throughout) but ultimately they’re in support of the piano and vocal since they are the emotional and narrative core of the song.
You are releasing an album very soon. The press release mentions that it will be “a selection of songs that speak to the undeniable possibility for rebirth after incredible loss and pain”. Could you explain this further? Was there a reason why this is the album’s theme?
I’m excited to get into this more in the coming months as I get to tell the full story of the album. As I mentioned before, the paradox of love and pain is a key theme. The idea of being caught between places. Every song on the album was written during a time of great upheaval in my life and I’m proud to say that it’s one whole of work and will hopefully be received as such.
I’ve told people the album is a story of transfiguration. Transfiguration means a complete change of form into another, more spiritual state. But more on that later…
What do you want listeners to listen to when listening to your music?
Ha. That’s a great question. Thinking about this new album I hope people can hear the love and care that has gone into it. We (myself along with my producer James Flannigan and engineer Jason Agel) really poured our heart and soul into this music and I really hope you can feel the passion in every note.
What are your future plans?
To tour! My dream is to get to play these songs in beautiful big rooms. Can you even imagine what going to shows is going to feel like post-apocalypse?
Finally, do you have any message for the readers of ai love music?
Thanks so much for reading if you made it this far! And if you ever come to a show please come say hi 🙂
Make sure to check out Ben Abraham at the following sites: