By: Anand Harsh
Ben Davis has stumbled upon something special. The east coaster turned midwesterner turned Denver-ite has taken the electro-soul model and flipped it on its ear by snatching samples, not from old R&B 45's, but from Americana, folk, and bluegrass acts of today and yesteryear. The Vibe Street sound, best described as grass-hop, has captivated fans from coast-to-coast, and built up an appetite for his forthcoming She Makes Me Feel EP, which will be released December 5th.
Today, we premiere "Something From Outer Space," which strikes at the heart of electro-blues territory, taking ol' Buddy Guy for a spin with some pounding bass. The darker, bluesier feel of this cut is more indicative of the new EP, which has fans of vintage Pretty Lights licking their lips.
Davis kindly took the time to talk to me before the album drops this Friday.
When you're at a loud show, and someone asks you to explain what "grass-hop" is, what's the quickest and most effective way you can do that?
Electro-hiphop-bluegrass. Most peoples' eyes widen after that short description.
From the sounds of it, your newest EP strays away from that pure grass-hop aesthetic, and explores the darker sounds of electro-soul. Was that a conscious effort on your part, or is that just what came out when you sat down to write?
Definitely a conscious decision... I had released an album and an EP this year with a huge grass-hop focus - so I knew I had some room to explore some different sounds without losing my overall emphasis on that style. I've had some opportunities to play late night sets at festivals this past summer, and I wanted to create some more music that could really fit that nighttime vibe. With an artist like Pretty Lights as my greatest inspiration, I've always wanted to be able to bring the mood from dark to cheerful, from funky to feelsy and back and forth. This EP gave me an opportunity to really explore the deeper, darker aspects of my emotions and I couldn't be happier with the 5 new songs that came out of that journey.
Speaking of your process, are you able to dedicate a block of your day to producing, or is it more that inspiration has to strike for you to get into the studio?
I definitely need to be struck by inspiration... If I wake up and know today is not an inspirational day, I don't waste my time. I'll drive into the mountains, walk around outside, hit the slopes or play some golf (depending on the weather, but in Denver I've been able to do both on the same day)...
This EP really got off the ground the day after I saw STS9 at Red Rocks in the beginning of September. I had a 2-day pass, but I left night one feeling so inspired that I unloaded my night 2 ticket and spent the entire day working on "Take Care," the first track I started on the EP. I had such a vivid picture in my mind of what I wanted this project to sound like, and I knew I had to ride that inertia and start creating it instead of just going out and having fun another night.
With the new EP, is there a particular message you're trying to convey, or a unifying thread that holds all the tracks together?
There is a message. This project for me is about a personal journey - one to which I think many people will in some way be able to relate. It's about going from feeling nothing for anyone to feeling everything for someone, pouring out every ounce of emotion and getting absolutely nothing back in return. It's about the struggle and vulnerability that results from stepping out on that limb. But, most importantly, it's about taking only pure positivity and inspiration from the whole experience. It's about not being weighed down and distracted by how the universe should be, but rather, finding the beauty in the way the universe is and adding to that beauty as an individual within it.
Are there any artists you're hoping to work with or tour with in 2015? I can imagine your sound is perfect for adding live instrumentation right on top.
Right now Vibe Street will continue to be mainly a solo project - but my dream of "Vibe Street and the Future-Folk Band" is something that is always on my mind. My buddy Greg from out here in Denver has been jamming on the drums with me a couple days a week for a while now... and I am continually in talks with Samuel Wexler, who joined me on fiddle for a few awesome sets this past summer/fall. Expect them to be out in Kentucky for Paradise Music Festival next summer (one of my 3 sets will likely be a live band set).
Otherwise, my mission is to take advantage of any and all opportunities to spread the music I have already made and improve my ability to make music moving forward. I want to revamp my live set to make it more of a performance than simply a presentation of my music - so that will be where I direct a lot of my attention this winter. I know I will be a much more confident and well rounded musician once I take that step and I'm looking forward to the process.