Next Wave Class Of 2014: Ben Khan

Dali-inspired, future-facing neo-soul...
Ben Khan shot by Liam MF Warwick for Clash

There are only two tracks so far from this deep-thinking, guitar-wielding producer, but sometimes that’s all it takes for you to recognise the alignment of creative planets in a musical mind. The mind in question is Ben Khan’s, and it hosts an artistic galaxy that particularly fascinates Clash.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time,” starts Khan. “The idea is to take what I’ve been doing throughout my life as a songwriter, musician and producer, take all my influences, and really try to express them best in one thing. That’s when the interesting stuff comes out. I don’t want to release one hip-hop track or one R&B track.”

The two tracks Khan has birthed (at the time of writing) amassed an instant online following. ‘Drive (Part 1)’ came first – more of a hypnotic beat than a typical song; a thick bass synth undulates beneath his hushed vocals, creating a sultry neo-soul troposphere. His latest track, ‘Eden’, is a more structured affair and Khan brings his vocals to the fore.

The “deep thinking” he admits to in our interview is present in his lyrics, which mess with “a religious high”, “an all-seeing eye” and “sitting on the edge of time”. Another thick, wobbling synth blends with Khan’s dry blues guitar bursts, as an occasional affected elephant’s trumpet pierces the jam.

With his firm direction comes a zero-tolerance attitude to us tagging his sound or garnering his influences. Instead, he returns our serve with a volleyed Dali quote: “The secret of my influence has always been that it remains a secret.” And he leaves it there.

Dali is someone he’ll admit inspires him; “That’s a beautiful mind right there,” he says. Like Dali, Clash asks if he utilises his Eastern lineage into his work? “It definitely seeps in. The melodies in Middle Eastern music are pretty different. The top lines they write are pretty out there, and recently that started to seep into my actual writing.”

We finish by questioning Khan on his anonymity. Why would an artist be so explicit in using their own name, but seek to guard their face from photography?

“To explain my own anonymity and mystery seems paradoxical. I’m not sure that is of use. I can say that I won’t remain anonymous forever. How are people going to accept me as an artist if they don’t know who the f*ck I am? That’s not what I want… I’m going to leave it there.” 

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WHERE: London

WHAT: A future-facing mix of neo-soul and R&B

GET 3 SONGS: ‘Eden’, ‘Drive (Part 1)’ (above

FACT: Movies affect Ben Khan way more than an album ever could.

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Words: Joe Zadeh
Photo: Liam MF Warwick

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