08E12924

Leah Woods

Take 5 : Velshur

Ben Walsh discusses his new single 'Other Side', why he loves living by the sea, and life after lockdown

Australian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ben Walsh is the brains behind Velshur, his pop music project. Walsh is a rare kind of musician these days; his music, his story and his artistic ambitions are refreshingly simple: ‘Really I just want to create music that makes anyone who listens to it feel great,’ he says. ‘Music that’s uplifting, that let’s people be in a room and look at each other and hug each other and go ‘fuck yeah’.

With hugging out of bounds at the moment, live music completely shut down and gigs cancelled, Ben had more time to write and write he did. He’d been writing music for fashion ads and found working outside his comfort zone surprisingly enjoyable. He also missed dancing a lot, so set out to create a song perfect for kitchen discos and after dinner dancing with housemates. Other Side also looks forward to coming out of isolation and the prospect of better days, when we will literally be on the other side of the pandemic and can look back on it and see things differently.

Ben has been described as the busiest Aussie in the music business, having played over 1,500 gigs on his own and with his band. He took the old fashioned route to catching a break, buying a guitar, driving from Byron Bay to Sydney and walking into a country hotel looking for a cleaning job; the manager spotted the guitar and the long sun-bleached hair and offered him a job as cover musician in a bar where within weeks he’d gone from six to sixteen shows a week. He honed his live skills delighting audiences with covers, but felt the urge to create original music though he didn’t really know where to begin.

A meeting with San Francisco based producer James Nagel changed all that; Walsh put together the roughest of demos after a glass of red wine and they worked together to organically shape melody, lyrics and instrumentation into “She Gives Me Love’, an uplifting blues-rock track which felt to Walsh like the validation of his artistic intentions; to create music that people would love.

Ben is now looking forward to getting back to gigging and also to the future with Velshur; he hopes to have an album out by the end of the year and to make music that will be ‘super fun to play live as a band’. 

 

When did you realise that you wanted to be a music artist? What or who has inspired you?

I sort of always just have been very musical. I came from a musical family on my dad’s side. I would play his bass guitar over the music on the ads on TV when I was super young and then my parents also bought me a nylon string acoustic and an electric keyboard as a kid. 

Badass basslines, rhythmic drums and strong melodies get me. Flea, Charlie Puth, ELO, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Khalid are really what I’m listening to and drawing inspiration from at the moment.

Who, living or dead, would you dream of collaborating with?

Paul McCartney – he has written some of the best songs ever written. His bass lines are incredible. His melody’s and progressions hit you like a perfect 5th. I bet he’s got some secret mathematical formulae to find that sweet spot. Or maybe it’s meditation. Whatever it is, there’s something in the way he writes.

Tell us about your single ‘Other Side’ – what is the song about?

I wrote it while walking on the beach when I was feeling a bit lost last year when live music / the way I earn a living was shut down due to lockdowns.

It felt really weird and strange to not know when I would be back at work and if the live industry would recover. 

As I was walking a mantra popped into my head which was “do you see the other side of here” which inspired me to put myself on the other side of this lockdown and think; what would I kick myself for that I didn’t take the opportunity to do right now. Writing music was that. So the phrase really inspired this excited energy in me to get moving and start writing as much as I could to make the most of the downtime before live music opened back up again.

Hopefully this song inspires some of that optimism in my friends in the industry who feel like live music is over! This will pass and it’s going to be bloody brilliant on the dancefloor when it does. We will appreciate music like never before.

Tell us five things you love about the city/town you live in – Byron Bay, Australia – and why……
  • Internationals living/travelling here. Somedays it feels like Brazil, others it can feel like England, America or Europe. I wouldn’t live anywhere else in Australia. The diverse rhythms and music that people bring to the stages here are incredible!
  • A great community, and a lot of live music!
  • Stunning beaches and walks to go on. I like running the lighthouse run in the morning and along Wategoes beach. 
  • When it is too busy in town it’s only 20 minutes into the hinterland and you feel like you are way out west in the country. 
  • There are many great conversations to have in the streets, and anyone will talk to anyone. It can be hilarious, shocking or life changing.
What are you most looking forward to this year?

Writing more pop and dancey stuff with Velshur. I’ve always wanted to write pop – there are so many ways you can take it and so many flavours, so I’m really enjoying making this music, more than ever before. Very excited to get an album done in the next few months. Hopefully some international travel opening up as well. I would like to see my dad and sister who live in Scotland, I was going to move across last year and base myself between the EU & UK so that I could see them more… but obviously that is on hold until I can perform there.

You can find more information about Velshur at...