There isn’t one woman I know who works in entertainment who hasn’t at one time or another felt sexalualised by someone in the industry. The #metoo movement has shone a huge light on this issue but in order for things to change we all need to be aware of what we can do individually to ensure that this isn’t still happening generations from now. There seems to be a lot of awareness about gender equality, but not a lot of action. Talking about these issues is a great start, but the next step is to cultivate change. Let the music speak for itself. True acceptance in diversity is recognising that talent comes in many different packages, all shapes and sizes, races, sexualities, genders and ages. Everyone is self-conscious in some way. We could all learn a lot if we started listening with our ears instead of judging with our eyes.
I had the pleasure to interview Ben Hazlewood. Ben is an anthemic alt-pop artist based in Melbourne. With an artist father and a mother who owned a dance studio, Ben’s creative journey seemed to be written in the stars. After training as a professional dancer in his mother’s studio, Ben felt that music was the path he needed to take. He moved to London and joined a three-piece band called “The Scheme.” After the band disbanded, Hazlewood became a member of Joel Madden’s team on Australia’s inaugural season of The Voice and kicked off his solo music career. With two EPs and an album under his belt, Ben has been hard at work, writing music alongside New Zealand artist, Gin Wigmore. In 2018, he released three songs, included “Months & Miles” which was featured in Billboard. Ben has been hard at work in 2019, releasing two songs + a cover of “Iris” all before May. His new song “Grave Relief” is out now, and is arguably his most personal to date. Ben boasts over 1M views on YouTube, and has been featured in Popdust, Huffington Post, and The Advocate. He is managed by Jono Scarlet for Mint Music.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Ben! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Wellington New Zealand, I am from a large family of four brothers and one sister. My Dad owned his own business and was a singer in a bunch of bands. I grew up listening to Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Janis Joplin. I used to run around as a kid singing whatever I had heard my dad listening too like “Gimme shelter” and “Piece of my heart”.
My Mum was a dance teacher and used to teach from our family home. I was pretty addicted to that world from a young age. Dancing lit a fire inside me and I continued with it into my teens. I’m really lucky to have grown up in an environment that fostered so much creativity.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Performing has always been such a huge part of my life, but It wasn’t until I began writing my own music when I was 14 that I knew I really wanted to pursue a career in music. This path has been filled with high, highs and some low, lows, but the passion I have for it has never faded. It’s been so important for me to have this creative outlet, allowing me to release so many emotions that could have otherwise weighed me down.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
A few years ago, I cut a track with NERVO who are great friends of mine. After the day in the studio I never heard the track again. 3 years later I met them in Vegas at one of their shows and after a few drinks they decided that this sold-out show would be the perfect place to debut the track.
I ended up singing live in front of 4000 people, hoping to God I would remember the lyrics and melody. With some cue’s from Liv and Mim (and some courage from Don Julio) the track went off and it was one of the most adrenaline filled performances ever! The take away from this is, always take the risk, even when facing a 99% chance of failure.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started out I was working in the UK, and being quite Green in the industry I was thrown into several situations with writers and producers. At the time I thought that these were opportunities that everyone in this industry was given. Little did I know that I was in rooms with some extremely accomplished producers and songwriters and at the time I couldn’t acknowledge the gravity of those experiences. I wish I had have known then what I know now so I could have appreciated the moment because I have been working my ass off since then to get back into those rooms with some of those people.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I recently took on the challenge of directing my first film clip; Grave Relief, the song is about my brother’s suicide and the impact that had on our family. Being a subject that was so personal to me and because I wanted my whole family to feature in the clip, I decided to really scale back the production team. I just had a couple of close friends come by, so it was nice to be on set with just family and good friends, to tell the story.
We made a pact as a family that we would only release this clip if we all were comfortable and happy with it. I was prepared to throw it in the trash if it visually didn’t come together with the right tone or message, because I knew this would be a tricky subject to manage tactfully and I wanted it to be genuine.
We feel grateful to have had this opportunity to share our story with others in the hope that it might be healing to someone going through a similar experience.
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
It is essential to have diversity in music and across all mediums, as that is the fairest representation of the market. The public are not all the same, they are individual and unique.
Diversity encourages viewers to be brave, and the less accepting, to become more open and inclusive. Showcasing diversity can battle the stigma that exists, and shine a light on equality and acceptance in all walks of life, opening our eyes and souls to ideas that we otherwise not have been exposed too.
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
There isn’t one woman I know who works in entertainment who hasn’t at one time or another felt sexalualised by someone in the industry. The #metoo movement has shone a huge light on this issue but in order for things to change we all need to be aware of what we can do individually to ensure that this isn’t still happening generations from now.
There seems to be a lot of awareness about gender equality, but not a lot of action. Talking about these issues is a great start, but the next step is to cultivate change.
Let the music speak for itself. True acceptance in diversity is recognising that talent comes in many different packages, all shapes and sizes, races, sexualities, genders and ages. Everyone is self-conscious in some way. We could all learn a lot if we started listening with our ears instead of judging with our eyes.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1.Don’t get too hung up on what other people think, that can really stifle you as an artist and freeze your creative potential. Do you — don’t try and be like any other artist, do it your way. Understanding that not everyone is going to love what you do, so making sure that YOU love it is so important.
2.Take your craft very seriously, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy the journey, the process of creating music and sharing it with fans, performing, these are the highs.
3.There are no ego’s in songwriting except the song itself. As a young songwriter, I definitely had a determination to prove myself in writing sessions. I quickly learned that in order to create a great song even the most talented writers will leave their egos at the door.
4.The energy that it takes being an independent artist; for the majority of my career, I wish someone had told me just how much drive and persistence I would need to keep everything rolling. Although it might have scared me off if they did.
5.I’ve never hidden my sexuality, but I definitely wasn’t as open about it earlier in my career. I wish I had known how accepting my fans would be when I spoke openly. because it’s such a huge part of who I am as an artist. Choosing to have a career in the public eye it’s so important to let people see who you really are. It’s given my music an honesty that as a young artist I was hesitant to un-tap.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
This is not a business for the faint hearted, you have to be willing to put in 110%, and even then there are no guarantees of success. You need to measure success by making realistic goals and reaching them, but never put a cap on what you think you can achieve. Keep the sky as the limit.
Creatives are very susceptible to mental illness so it is so important to make the time to look after yourself and be able to acknowledge when you need a time out.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We have heard it said often, that if we all just choose to be kind, the world would be a better place. My only movement, is to be kind, tolerant, accepting and to embrace the diversity in the world and not push back against it. I’m so inspired by people who challenge the norm and fight for what they believe in. Unfortunately these are often the people who have had to fight the hardest and scream the loudest and sometimes that’s not even enough. These are the people who can change our hearts and minds by being uniquely and unapologetically themselves.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It is hard to just mention one person when there are so many people in my life that have worked tirelessly to support me from my fans, to my friends and family, and my music management team and collaborators.
But of course, undeniably there is a stand out person, my husband; he is a huge inspiration for me, he has been my rock throughout the past few years. He has stood by me and his support and advice has been unwavering. He’s always believed in me even when I lost faith in myself.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Love will confuse the enemy — This is a lesson that reminds me that love will always be the strongest weapon we have. It’s sometimes been hard for me to stay positive in this industry with constant setbacks, criticisms and at times, intolerance. But I’ve learnt that if you can try to fight hate or ignorance with love and acceptance, regardless of the outcome, you will always win.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have breakfast, followed by lunch with Stevie Nicks. I would pry her full of mimosas while convincing her to do a duet with me.