Writer – Justin Howard @Jthnomad
Subject – Ben de la Cour @cobradunlee
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
― Victor Hugo
When I first heard the ‘Midnight in Havana’ album by musician Ben de la Cour, I was mesmerized by its haunting lyrical quality. I was so captured by Ben’s vocals, I kept the album on replay for hours. At the end of which I became obsessed with getting to know the man behind the voice. After tracking down Ben somewhere in the Midwest, where he is currently on tour, I had the chance to connect up with him.
Ben is one of the rare individuals who is truly a child of the world. He has lived in Havana, Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New Orleans before finally settling in Nashville. During his adventures abroad, he has worked as an amateur boxer, bartender, and agricultural worker to make ends meet. All these experiences have lent his songs a beautiful paradox of being hard, yet possessing a vulnerability throughout.
The whole imagery of ’Midnight in Havana’ songs puts me in mind of the song by Bob Dylan, “Man In The Long Black Coat.” They possess an addictive quality that gets under your skin and leaves you with a vaguely uneasy feeling, like you have just relived a moment you can never quite recall. “Anybody Like You” is by far the most romantic song on the album. It’s about the refreshing quality of new love, how it inspires hope and makes you want to be a better person. My favorite track is “Down That Road,” – the very first time I listened to it, it captured me the same way “St. Teresa” by Joan Obsorne did. Basically you listen to it once, you don’t catch all the words and you want to, so you put it on replay. Twenty minutes later you wonder where all that time went…
I can’t begin to predict how Ben’s music will affect you, but I do suggest having a glass of wine nearby to indulge in while listening.
Midnight in Havana / Artist Ben de la Cour
Justin Howard : Did you want to become a singer when you were young?
Ben de la Cour : Well, not so much a singer. I wanted to be Jimi Hendrix. It didn’t take me long to figure out that wasn’t going to be on the cards and so singing just kind of became something I started doing more, a necessary evil I guess. I’ve always loved writing songs. I enjoy singing now but it took me a long time to be okay with my voice, which I think is the case with most singers.
Justin Howard : What inspired you to get into music?
Ben de la Cour : My parents’ record collection. They were always into cool music and my dad was always playing guitar around the house.
Justin Howard : What’s your philosophy about the ART of Music?
Ben de la Cour : I think the art comes in where the inspiration ends.
Justin Howard : What do you enjoy most about creating music?
Ben de la Cour : Everything. Even the frustrating aspects of it. Most of the creative process consists of constantly agonizing over trivial things that nobody but you would ever notice, like whether to put an “s” at the end of a word.
Justin Howard : As a musician what is the most challenging part of your job?
Ben de la Cour : I would say probably the constant self-loathing and crippling doubt that haunts you from the moment you open your eyes at the crack of noon until you finally manage to drink yourself unconscious at the end of the day.
Justin Howard : Can you describe your musical style?
Ben de la Cour : Good natured, yet pessimistic.
Justin Howard : What’s your favorite song? Why?
Ben de la Cour : Desperados Under the Eaves by Warren Zevon.
Justin Howard : Are you influenced by any musicians or art?
Ben de la Cour : Yes. All of it. Even the awful ones. Especially the awful ones. I was once told “if you can’t set a good example, then at least you can be a terrible warning” and I think that holds true for art too.
Justin Howard : How do you intend people to feel when hearing your songs?
Ben de la Cour : Philanthropic. Preferably with me as the beneficiary.
Justin Howard : What do you wish people would understand about creating music in today’s world?
Ben de la Cour : How essentially unglamorous it is.
Justin Howard : Anything we should keep our eyes open for in the future?
Ben de la Cour : Yes, my new album “Midnight in Havana” is out on now. The album is available on iTunes. I’m will be on tour in the midwest for most of May. I just got selected as a Kerrville New Folk Finalist, so I’ll be in Texas a the end of the month too.