X Factor UK 2014 winner Ben Haenow, has recently released the uplifting single “If You’re Lonely”, with the proceeds going towards the mental health charity Mind.
Ben has kindly taken the time to speak with Fierce & Fabulous Revolution about his latest single. Find out what he had to say below.
Hey Ben, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Can you start by telling the readers a little bit about yourself?
Ben: Thanks for having me! My name is Ben Haenow, I’m a singer-songwriter and I was the winner of The X Factor in 2014.
When did you first discover your passion for music?
Ben: My dad is a big fan of music, mainly old rock and roll and that’s where I first found a love for music. The sound of Led Zeppelin blasting out a speaker had me hooked from a young age, and I later went on to start a band with my brother. I haven’t looked back since.
Have you always known that music was a career that you wanted to pursue?
Ben: It was always a hobby and a pipe dream really. It’s what I have always wanted to do full time but it’s not the most practical career with so many places offering bands and young musicians to play for ‘exposure’… which is criminal really! You can’t pay your bills with exposure… so I never really thought I would be doing what I am now and making music for a living but it is a dream come true.
Many readers will remember you winning the X Factor UK in 2014, how did the idea to enter the contest come together?
Ben: It was actually a friend of mine, Alfie, a mate I worked with who filled in the application. I didn’t know I’d been entered until I got an email through so I owe a lot to him. I would never have entered anything like that, mainly because it wasn’t on my radar as a rock and blues singer. I didn’t think it would have been what the show or audience were looking for… but having won I guess I was wrong about that.
How would you describe your experience of taking part in the show?
Ben: Surreal, and incredible. It was such an amazing experience and it’s been such an incredible platform. I got to sing with Ed Sheeran, Queen, and off the back of it all released a song with Kelly Clarkson. And so many other amazing experiences and opportunities during and after the show. I’m very thankful for the whole experience.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to apply for the X Factor or similar TV talent competitions?
Ben: It’s a lot tougher than it looks and quite a gruelling experience at points. You live it 24 hours a day and you’re there all the time. It’s not just the bits people see on TV. I’m not sure if the show is going to continue as they didn’t do anything this year but it was great for me and made my dreams come true so I’d say go for it!
You have recently released the brand new single “If You’re Lonely”, with the proceeds being donated to the charity Mind. How did the idea to create this single come together?
Ben: Friends of mine have had first-hand experience with Mind and the support and help that they offer. I’ve seen how this has changed their lives and mental well-being for the better so the charity is close to my heart in that way. It was a song I wrote a little while ago but I’d never really thought to release it, but with all the recent events in the world and mental health issues affecting more people than ever it seemed very relevant. I wanted to get the song out there to try and spread some positivity.
How would you describe the creative process behind this song compared to your previous releases?
Ben: It was the same I guess, my second album was all self-written and the songwriting process was much the same as most that I’ve experienced either with big record companies or independent writers.
But it felt like less pressure not being on a major label or having to deliver something in a certain timescale. It’s a lot more relaxed in general with my releases, and I had a lot more creative control over everything.
What does this song personally mean to you?
Ben: It feels great to be able to put something out there which might help others. A lot of songwriting as much as it comes from the passion and love for music, can sometimes be for your own career and chart positions. It’s been amazing to have the response from people about the message in the song and people who say it has helped them through when they felt down. I’m very proud to be part of something that feels special and hope it does some good for the charity and anyone who hears it.
If listeners could take away one message from the song, what would you like it to be?
Ben: I’d like people to feel some comfort from the song and to realise that whatever it is they are struggling with or dealing with that they are not alone. I’d like to think it may help someone feel comfortable enough to speak out about their own problems and ask for help if they need it. Also for people to check in on their friends and loved ones, it could be just what that someone is waiting for and it could provide more help than you think.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you about pursuing a career within the music industry?
Ben: A good friend of mine and someone I’ve been writing with a lot recently has given me lots of great advice. There are lots of things you can’t control in this industry but you have total control over your product and your marketing. So the one thing I believe in is to write from the heart… don’t try and write stuff that you’re not feeling or thinking. Don’t try to be something you’re not, because people can see straight through it. The best songs and ones that resonate most with people are all songs that speak a certain truth and if you’re trying to be something you’re not then how can you expect people to relate or believe it. So as cheesy as it sounds, it’s about staying true to yourself with your songs and your music.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Fierce & Fabulous Revolution?
Ben: Thanks to everybody for the support and I hope everyone is staying well, both mentally and physically, in the crazy and uncertain times we’re all in. If you haven’t heard the charity single, please go and give it a listen as it’s all helping such a great cause!! See you all at a show soon when all of this is over. Big love xx
You can check out “If You’re Lonely” on Spotify below & download by clicking here.