Benjamin John Power is a leading force in the field of electronic music. He enjoys a celebrated partnership with Andrew Hung under the band name Fuck Buttons and has recently released a solo project album.
Power on his own goes by the name Blanck Mass and his latest collection of tracks, Dumb Flesh, was unleashed upon the world last month. Since the release, Power has been frantically working to keep up with the demands of promotion and touring so I was thrilled when he agreed to answer a few questions for little ol’ me.
But why would FGV wanna talk to a electronic music champion? It just so happens that Benjamin John Power is a dedicated vegan.
Check out what he had to say.
Congratulations on your new collection of music, Dumb Flesh, being unleashed upon the world. How do you ready yourself for sharing art you’ve created? Is it a tough process?
Thanks! You can never really ready yourself for sharing something you’ve worked on for such a long time with world. It’s difficult when you’ve invested so much time, effort and love into something to allow it to become part of such a huge space. It’s no longer as personal, but if your intentions were honest in the first place then nobody can tell you what you have done is wrong. There is no wrong or right in this case.
Blanck Mass is a solo artistic endeavour for you, but you also create with Andrew Hung under the name Fuck Buttons. What are the major differences between fronting a project on your own and being part of a team?
One rule that Andy and I have had from the start with Fuck Buttons, is that for a Fuck Buttons track to be a Fuck Buttons track, we both need to have been a part of it from the moment it is born. We don’t bring ideas from outside the writing space. We’re both together from the moment the first key is pressed. This results in Fuck Buttons not necessarily being about what Andy and I bring to the table as individuals, but how our relationship manifests itself into tangible art. It therefore stands to reason that whatever I work on in my own time is Blanck Mass material.
You started your musical adventures in Bristol. What is unique about the city that helped form your direction and sound?
I have found with my various musical outlets that I strive to steer clear from any idea of ‘geographical location’ within the sound. I’ve never been part of any ‘scene’ as I think to do so is to ‘box in’ one’s potential. I prefer to approach the creative process much more freely, without the shackles of tradition and habit interfering. Saying this, Bristol is a lovely city and certainly helped me on my way when I first started to work in Fuck Buttons. I have moved around a lot during the last ten years, so to say I owed it all to Bristol would be unfair to the other places I have lived.
Can you explain how you came to veganism? Is your choice to identify as a vegan completely connected to ethical concerns?
100% ethical concerns. Although I have to admit that the health benefits I have seen since becoming vegan are a positive and very welcome by product. I had been vegetarian for 12 years prior to becoming a vegan and I wish with every shred of my being that I had done so much, much sooner. We are becoming more aware as a people of the implications of what we are force fed into consuming and my battle lies with our friends that don’t have a voice.
Your work connected to your music takes you around the country and the world. Have you found certain destinations to be more accommodating of vegans?
Without a doubt, some more than others, but the message is growing. I’m sure any vegan understands that you’re going to have a much harder time finding food in say, Spain, than you are going to in London or New York. But touring extensively I have found that there is always a way. I rely on a little forward planning before visiting a city, which usually allows me to explore the cities (something I never used to do). It’s enriching in the fact that there is now another layer to touring which I didn’t have before. It’s easy to become complacent in these situations but veganism has broadened my touring experience.
How about Bristol? If a vegan had only one day in Bristol, where should they eat and what should they order?
‘Cafe Kino’ in Bristol is 100% free of animal ingredients and is run by some lovely artistic types who have been around on the scene for years. Also, my very good friend Tom runs the ‘Maitreya Social’ who change their menu regularly and have amazing vegan options. Tell them I sent you!
Is your art informed by your sense of compassion and justice, or does it exist on a completely separate level?
I think my art is informed by everything I surround myself with, and one to have to be a machine to think otherwise. Be it diet, morals, family and friends, art, quality of life, all of these and many other things have historically shaped some of the most amazing artists and musicians. Often it is hard to pin point exactly which of these factors are more influential than others (especially when operating with largely instrumental music, as is my case) but we are aware of our surroundings and art is largely reactionary.
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