We recently introduced you to Bentley Jones, a man with an incredible musical history. We’ve since had the opportunity to speak to him.
EP: What’s the Bentley Jones story?
Haha! “The Bentley Jones story” – sounds like a Lifetime movie! I guess I’m just a regular guy who’s had a bit of an irregular life. I pursued music full-time when I was 17 and since then I’ve travelled around the world experiencing life through my music. Now I’m back home in the UK ready to share everything I’ve learnt starting with “The Prequel” EP followed by my first ever UK album.
EP: You’ve been a massive hit in Japan – how did that come about?
Through curiosity I guess! After collaborating with Japanese artists on various projects I grew an appreciation of Japanese music and J-pop as well as a passion and interest in the culture. So I made some calls to the Japanese majors and ended up with offers from 3 of them. In the end I picked EMI Universal, signed the deal and had to learn the language fast to record my first album!
EP: You’ve been described as a songsmith – what is the songwriting process for you?
First I begin with the idea – or the lump of clay. This idea can be anything from a full chorus hook to just a rhythm – and everything in between. This normally triggers what I call my “Nutty Professor mode”. It’s this very intense, almost maniacal mode in which I operate in the studio when I become creative. I then mould the lump of clay, sculpting it, adding parts and making adjustments as I go along until it resembles a song.
A couple of my friends and family have caught me in Nutty Professor mode; they’ve said they find it scary and confusing!
EP: What’s the secret to songwriting success? Is it an individual thing? Can you just *know* something is going to work?
I think it’ll be different for each individual writer. I feel for me it’s a combination of things. Knowing how to construct a mood using the composition, then taking that concept further using the soundscape and arrangement. Being adaptable is very important, especially working on projects for other people. But at the same time a strong sense of self is also very important. At all times you want your work to sound like you, not like somebody else. I consider my work my audible signature.
EP: Talk us through ‘The Prequel’.
“The Prequel” is almost exactly what it says on the tin! We wanted to introduce UK listeners to some of my previous work so it’s a compilation of a few of my best songs – as well as one new one for my existing fans. It is literally ‘the prequel’ to my first album for the UK which is obviously the main event and will be arriving shortly afterwards.
EP: You’ve taken on board new influences in your music for ‘The Prequel’. How important is it to you to change things up every so often?
Very important. Like I said before, it’s crucial for you to be adaptable especially if you intend to stay relevant. Music will always move in trends and while I strive to avoid following trends wherever possible, I still try to incorporate them into my ‘signature’ to continue creating new ideas.
EP: Who has been the biggest musical influence on your life and why? And non-musical?
Musically I would probably say Ayumi Hamasaki, perhaps not so much these days and it seems she’s not trying new ideas as much as she used to. I’ve always been inspired by her journey, and that once she made a dent on the industry she tried other styles including rock which at one point was her favourite genre. Also the fact that she took on so much creative control to everything she does and her meticulous attention to detail.
Non-musically I’d have to say my Mom – not very rock and roll I know! She has always been so strong and resilient even in the face of adversity. And she’s achieved a lot with her life also.
EP: Advice for anyone getting into the music industry right now?
First, think long and hard because you’re about to enter a crippled and cut throat industry that still hasn’t managed to recover from the internet boom. That means you’re going to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to achieve any level of success. Next get a lawyer, or at least learn the basics of music law – you’ll be surprised how invaluable this skill will be. Finally, consider breaking conformity to claim your own place and following – sometimes to get industry people’s attention you have to prove that you don’t actually need them first!
EP: Where will you be in 5 years?
In a big house somewhere in the world with my other half and 2 enormous huskies still being creative in some way. Happiness is key.
EP: What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview but nobody ever does?
Great question. Haha! I think I’ve already been asked every question I can think of to be honest… as I’m sure you can imagine from doing interviews in Japan. I love random and weird questions, so how about something like “if you could time travel, where would you go and why?”. I’d probably go to the future, or the 70s – for some reason I’m instinctively drawn to that era. I have no idea why.