Ben Alpine

by the partae
“A poignant one from Ben that gives itself to you” Declan Byrne, triple j Home n’ Hosed Today, Melbourne songwriter and producer Ben Alpine returns with his second single ‘Wendouree’. Arriving on the cusp of springtime, ‘Wendouree’ sees the artist lean into sun-drenched alt-pop, brimming with jangly guitars, effervescent synth bursts and organic electronica samples. Immediately setting the tone with its kaleidoscopic sonic palette, ‘Wendouree’ is an exploration in capturing the momentary joy of the present. With its sound tinged in blissful psychedelia, the undulating nature of the track flows effortlessly between placid verses, cascading instrumental layers and infectious harmonies. Allowing the track to build and unfurl with rippling vibrancy, the track shifts gears towards a sparkling finale before receding into an ambient outro submersed in airy tones and soft textures. Speaking of the track, Ben shares: "The main idea is in the line ‘one moment never meant a thing’, referring to those relationships, experiences or situations in your life that, at one point, meant everything to you and you never wanted to lose them. But times have inevitably changed since then and you hold on to different experiences now, and perhaps you will go through that cycle with the stage of your life you're currently in. I think that can be both sobering and comforting in a way, that nothing in your life is ever going to be the way it is right now, and how our perception of our own memories shifts and changes." Following his well-received debut single ‘All In Your Stride’, ‘Wendouree’ is the next exciting chapter in Ben Alpine’s discography. While sharing the sunshine-laced DNA of its predecessor, the single sees Ben broaden his eclectic range, drawing from an array of inspirations from The Japanese House to Hippo Campus. While synthesising these influences, Ben’s experience in former indie electronica act Echo Mono and numerous SoundCloud production aliases sees him maintain an inward focus in his songwriting approach. With a creative output so far showcasing his colourful alt-pop sensibility through an introspective lens, Ben continues to affirm himself as one to watch closely in 2020.
Where are you currently based?


How did you first start playing music?

I think it was on my 7th birthday that I got a guitar, but I didn’t really latch onto it until I was around 13 and started playing in bands for this holiday program that my mum enrolled me in. I did that program for quite a few years as just an after-school thing and it eventually led to a band called Echo Mono which became more serious and was quite formative for me. Though a few years before joining that band I became interested in electronic music production and downloaded the trial of FL Studio. The trial wouldn’t let you open project files that you saved, so my workaround was to not turn off my computer until I finished the song I was working on. I did that for about 6 months and finished a lot of my first music.

What’s been happening recently and how has your Covid experience been so far?

I’ve just been trying to take it easy really, as my iso experience has luckily been pretty smooth. It’s forced me to slow down quite a lot, which has been good because I think I was about to completely burn myself out trying to prepare a live show if this didn’t happen. Right now I feel pretty eager to knuckle down and pump out some new material as i’ve been thinking about where I want to take this project.

Your new single ‘Wendouree’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting?

You know I’m still not really sure! The main rhythm guitar part is really old, from an Echo Mono song that was never finished. I think at that time I was just getting into the band Hippo Campus and their song ‘Violet’, the riff sounds sort of similar to that I think. Apart from that though the song is completely different to the old version, and I don’t really know what influenced it. I just knew that I wanted to write somewhat atmospheric, alt-pop music that had a sentimental undertone. That’s where Wendouree and All In Your Stride came from.

How did you go about writing Wendouree?

It started from that old Echo Mono song as mentioned, but I literally just took that riff out and wrote a new song around it. I wrote the demo on Ableton wherever I was, I remember writing on the V/Line train a lot, and never really finishing the lyrics, and then rewriting them right before recording them for the final production.

Where and when did you record and who with?

After I had written the demo and a bunch of others, I brought them all to my friend and ex-bandmate Marc Scollo in around April of 2019. We mapped out what we were working on and brought in a few other friends to track all the instruments. So the entire project was recorded in Melbourne just at Marc’s parents’ house. It was never a requirement but it was pretty important to me that no-one involved in the project was much of a professional. We were all students with part-time jobs living with our parents.

What programs/instruments did you use?

I produced the demo out of Ableton, and a few of the elements from the demo made the final production. We then recorded all the live instrumentation, and then I polished all the synths (which are all sequenced) before dropping them into Marc’s Pro Tools session. I had a crack at trying to record all the synths on analog equipment at MESS (Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio) but I pretty quickly realised it wasn’t working trying to fit the analog gear into these already polished songs, especially considering I wasn’t very familiar with that equipment. Producing in the box was what I was familiar with so I opted for that, but hardware really interests me, so hopefully for another day.

How did you approach the recording process and what did you find most challenging and rewarding?

I’d say our approach was quite straight-forward; finish the demo/composition, re-record the instruments/vocals, produce the synths, then mix the whole lot. For this song especially though it was quite back-and-forth as we kept adding to and changing things that we had already done in an attempt to ‘get it to work’. The most challenging and most rewarding thing would’ve been the arrangement. Marc and I were never really convinced that we were going to be able to pull off the track, but I conveniently provided no other options so we just had to commit to it. I’m really happy with it now though and it seems that the song’s twists and turns are what excites people.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Not a huge amount! My listening has been quite scattered recently, and mostly ambient music.

What do you like to do away from music?

I really like snow skiing, but haven’t been able to do that this year. Recently I’ve been getting into video games again which I feel like I haven’t done properly since I was a kid. I feel pretty eager to finish some more music though so literally just uninstalled some though…

What’s planned for the remainder of 2020 going into 2021?

I won’t say too much but there’s another single coming very soon! And I’m very excited about the music I’m working on now and will hopefully release in 2021.

Favourite food and place to hangout?

Fried chicken burgers are great. And there’s this cool spot up on Mount Dandenong (in Melbourne) that’s great to take people and see the whole city, it’s one of those cliche things where you see how small your life is.

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