INTERVIEW: Ben Talmi Opens up About His Art of Almost
Synth-rock artist and producer Ben Talmi has pretty much done it all, from composing string arrangements and working with artists such as Manchester Orchestra Tokyo Police Club and Wild Nothing to scoring television and films. Now, Talmi has embarked on yet another journey with the upcoming release of his own full-length album, My Art Of Almost. Self-produced at Virtue and Vice Studio in Brooklyn, My Art Of Almost finds the composer in his element yet again, only this time, creating for himself.
My Art Of Almost drops this month on May 26th, but until then, listeners can get to know Ben Talmi and hear a sneak peek of the album below.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar?
I grew up in Pittsfield Massachusetts in a house where the only music played was classical and opera. I have pretty profound memories of going to Tanglewood and reading along to orchestral scores with my dad as Seiji Ozawa would conduct the Boston Symphony orchestra. Naturally I rebelled against classical music as a teenager and have been playing in rock bands and making records ever since. I played in a band called Art Decade for many years, I’ve done string arrangements for bands like Manchester Orchestra and Tokyo Police Club. I’ve scored a few TV shows and some films, I work out of my recording studio in Brooklyn where I’m currently producing a lot of music for other people and working on the follow up to My Art Of Almost.
You’re just getting ready to release your new full-length album, My Art of Almost later this month. What are you most excited for listeners to hear on it?
The album feels very cohesive to me and I’m very proud of that. There is a song called, “Brighter In The Past” thats built on a pretty complex hocketing cello, flute and clarinet pattern that I’m really proud of. This is sort of where I see things going next.
It’s kind of a cliche question to ask, but the album title has me curious - what is My Art of Almost in reference to? What inspired the title of the album?
My friend Brian Merrill who helped write some lyrics on the album suggested it to me and I had an immediate connection with it. I really feel like it summarizes the whole concept of the album which is repeating the artistic process over and over just to feel like you are coming up short.
When working on the album, did you have any major goals in mind or anything you wanted to experiment that you haven’t done before?
Use the studio as an instrument. I did everything I could to flip every sound on its head but still maintain the strongest songwriting I could. Every song started with a loop or a synth sequence of a chopped up bit of audio. For the next record I’m writing all the lyrics/chords/melodies before I record a note.
Were there any subjects that you wanted to touch on?
The entire record is an ode to my relationship and struggle with the artistic process.
Having written and composed for other artists and been involved in other projects in the past, do you feel more or less pressured when writing simply for yourself? What are the major differences when you sit down to write?
More pressure when writing for myself. If Im doing orchestral arrangements or producing a track for a band, theres often a very clear goal trying to be achieved. When writing for myself there is always the very discouraging process of fishing in the dark until you catch something that feels right.
Were there any big challenges you came across when working on the album?
Shutting out the world, turning off social media, not comparing myself to everyone around me and just trusting my gut. I think everyone struggles with this stuff.
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from My Art of Almost?
It’s important to fall so you can learn to get back up.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
More music is right around the corner.