Benjamin John Howard (born 24 April 1987) is an English singer songwriter, musician and composer. His self-released debut EP Games in the Dark (2008) was followed by two more EPs, These Waters (2009) and Old Pine (2010). Signed to Island Records, his debut studio album came in 2011 titled Every Kingdom. The album reached number four on the UK Albums Chart and was certified triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Howard later released two more EPs, Ben Howard Live (2011) and The Burgh Island E.P. (2012).

Ben Howard
Howard playing an electric guitar while singing into a microphone onstage
Howard performing in 2021
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin John Howard
Born (1987-04-24) April 24, 1987 (age 37)
Richmond, London, England
OriginBantham, Devon, England
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
  • composer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • percussion
Years active2008–present

At the 2013 Brit Awards ceremony he received two awards: British Male Solo Artist, and British Breakthrough Act. He performed at 2013 Glastonbury festival on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday 29 June. He released his second studio album, I Forget Where We Were, in October 2014, peaking at number one on the UK Albums Chart.

As of 2017, he is a member of the band A Blaze of Feather with India Bourne, Mickey Smith, Nat Wason, Rich Thomas and Kyle Keegan.[2]

Howard's third studio album, Noonday Dream, was released in June 2018. It debuted at number four on the UK Albums Chart, and received favorable reviews from music critics. His fourth album, Collections from the Whiteout, was released in March 2021.[3] He released his fifth album Is It? in June 2023.[4]

Early life edit

Benjamin John Howard was born on 24 April 1987 in Richmond, south-west London, England,[5] and moved near Totnes, Devon[5] when he was about eight. He was raised by musical parents who exposed him to their favourite records from singer-songwriter artists from the 1960s and 1970s at an early age, such as John Martyn, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Simon & Garfunkel, by whom he was strongly influenced.[6]

Howard began writing songs when he was eleven.[5] In an interview with American Songwriter, he stated that when he was a kid he started playing guitar because he liked to put words together and make stuff up. "I was quite an imaginative little kid I guess. So your standard little love songs turned into your standard adolescent love songs. I think you start getting your own take on things when you're a late teen. That's when everything changes."[7] Besides playing the guitar, Howard also played other instruments as a kid. He easily picked up the drums and contrabass, but after some time he decided to focus on the guitar. After attending King Edward VI Community College and Torquay Boys' Grammar School he began studying Journalism at University College Falmouth. Six months prior to completion of his course, Howard decided to focus on making music full-time, making melodic rootsy folk music, with progressively darker lyrics. His reputation grew around Devon, and soon spread to other areas of the UK. After a month of sold-out dates across Europe and the UK Howard was eventually asked to sign for Island Records.

Due to his association with the town, Howard was chosen in 2014 to appear on the 10 Totnes pound note.[8]

Music career edit

2008–2011: Early releases edit

Before signing to a record label, Howard had already released some material. In 2008 he self-released his debut EP Games in the Dark. His first major release was These Waters, an EP featuring six tracks, including "The Wolves". In 2010, Ben Howard released the Old Pine EP, followed by a number of singles, such as "The Fear" and "Keep Your Head Up". Howard now had enough material to release an album, Every Kingdom, which would feature a number of his previous singles. One of the songs from this album, 'Promise' was used in the first episode of The 100.[9] In 2010, he also started supporting Angus & Julia Stone's concerts in Europe. He also joined them for one live performance of Yellow Brick Road in Paris.[10]

2011–13: Every Kingdom edit

Howard signed to Island Records in 2011, due to the label's history of UK folk singers, including Nick Drake and John Martyn.[11] After singles "Old Pine" and "The Wolves" were released in 2011, Howard recorded his debut album entitled Every Kingdom, which was released on 3 October 2011. He was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Prize.

Howard worked alongside India Bourne, Marcus Wright and Chris Bond to make Every Kingdom, with Bourne playing cello, keyboards, ukulele, bass and contributing vocals and percussion, Bond playing guitars, bass, double bass, drums, percussion, keyboards, accordion, contributing to vocals, and also producing the record, and additional modular-dynamic (MD) synthesisers provided by Wright. He also toured with Bourne and Bond on his 2012 Every Kingdom tour, with support from Willy Mason.

In 2012, Howard launched his music in America with Every Kingdom being released on 3 April 2012, and appearances at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas and a US tour confirmed.[12] His song "Promise" was featured at the end of season 8, episode 12 of TV show House.

In May 2012, Howard performed "The Wolves" on Later... with Jools Holland. He played at Pinkpop in the Netherlands on 26 May and Radio 1's Big Weekend in Hackney on 24 June 2012. He also played at the 2012 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee,[13] the 2012 T in the Park music festival in Scotland, as well as Beach Break Live 2012 in South Wales, Bestival 2012 and Splendour in the Grass 2012. Howard also played a slot at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in October 2012.[14]

In November 2012, Howard released The Burgh Island EP produced by Chris Bond, which featured four new tracks. Once again released to critical acclaim, the EP had a darker, more menacing tone than most of Howard's previous work, with Howard also playing electric guitar, rather than his traditional acoustic. The second track from the EP, "Oats in the Water", was featured in Internment, the 5th episode in Season 4 of AMC's The Walking Dead, in the 1st episode in season 3 of Fox's The Following, and in the release trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. In 2014, the song "Promise" from the album Every Kingdom featured in the USA Network drama, Suits Season 3 Episode 11, "Buried Secrets" along with The CW drama Reign Season 1 Episode 10, "Sacrifice".

In 2013, Ben Howard began collaborating with the musician and filmmaker Mickey Smith, who would become a mainstay co-writer and performer on all of Howard's subsequent albums.[15][16]Smith joined Howard's band for their performance on the main Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival 2013, on Saturday 29 June 2013, which saw them play six tracks from Every Kingdom.

2014: I Forget Where We Were edit

In 2014, Howard headlined the inaugural Somersault Festival, based in North Devon, with other artists such as Jack Johnson.[17]

On 5 August 2014, Howard's first single "End of the Affair" from his second album was played on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 and Danielle Perry's XFM show.

On 18 August 2014 Howard announced the title of his second album, I Forget Where We Were on Zane Lowe's show on Radio 1 whilst releasing the title track from the record at the same time. On 26 October I Forget Where We Were became number 26 in the UK Official Albums Chart. On 6 April 2015, Howard announced a short string of tour dates in the US with English indie folk band Daughter as support. These dates were announced following a string of successful shows in Canada and the US. Howard also played on the Other Stage during Glastonbury Festival 2015.

2018: Noonday Dream edit

On 4 April 2018 it was announced that Howard's third album, titled Noonday Dream, would be released on 1 June 2018. A new single was also released, titled "A Boat To An Island On The Wall". The single debuted on Annie Mac's Radio 1 show with accompanying 2018 UK tour dates announced. A tracklist for the upcoming album was released on his website, along with 2 bonus vinyl-only tracks "Bird On A Wing" and "Interlude".

Together with his band Howard performed two songs from the album, "Nica Libres At Dusk" and "Towing The Line", on Later... with Jools Holland on 15 May 2018.[18]

On 13 September 2018 Ben Howard released 'Another Friday Night/Heavy Summer (featuring Sylvan Esso)/Sister' an EP of three different singles. Shortly after, he went on to release another single 'Heave Ho' in January 2019.

2021: Collections from the Whiteout edit

On 26 January 2021, Ben Howard announced that his fourth album, Collections from the Whiteout, would be released on 26 March 2021.[3] Alongside the announcement, Howard released the single "What A Day". The album was produced by The National and Big Red Machine member Aaron Dessner, recorded over an 18-month period, mostly at Dessner's New York studio Long Pond with additional production in Paris.[19] In promotion of the album, Howard and his band performed it in full at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station for a show that was live-streamed globally on 8 April 2021.[20]

2023: Is It? edit

On 20 April 2023, Howard announced the release date for his fifth album, Is It?, as 16 June 2023. The announcement was accompanied by the single "Couldn't Make It Up". Howard recorded the album over a 10-day period, alongside DJ-producer Nathan Jenkins, at Le Manoir de Léon studios.[21] It explores his experience following two TIAs in March 2022.[22] In support of the record, he embarked upon a 23 date UK and European tour from May to July of 2023. [23]

On 9 January 2024 Howard shared "Rumble Strip", a standalone collaboration with Aaron Dessner which previously had only been available on the vinyl deluxe version of Collections from the Whiteout.

Personal life edit

Howard has been in a relationship with fashion designer Agatha Lintott since 2014.[24] He is an avid surfer[25][26] and a supporter of Liverpool F.C.[27][28]

In 2022, Howard suffered two transient ischaemic attacks, which affected his memory and speech. The experience influenced his 2023 album Is It? and led him to quit smoking.[29]

Guitar style edit

Howard plays guitar left-handed and sometimes plays right-handed guitars upside down (What the Moon Does). He makes extensive use of alternate tunings such as CGCGGC (Old Pine, Everything, The Wolves), DADGAD (In Dreams, There's Your Man) and CGA#GFC (End of the Affair, Esmerelda). He also complements these tunings by using a partial capo for many songs (Further Away, Everything, End of the Affair, Boat to an Island on the Wall) in order to use harmonic or bass notes otherwise unavailable.

He also has a distinctive percussive strumming style, called the "pick and go",[30] and Howard's method of laying the guitar flat on top of his knees and playing it percussively was influenced by contemporary folk songwriter and guitarist John Smith.[31]

Discography edit

Awards and nominations edit

BRIT Awards edit

Howard has won both BRIT Awards for which he has been nominated.[32]

Year Recipient Nomination Result
2013 Himself British Breakthrough Act Won
British Solo Male Artist Won

Mercury Prize edit

Howard has been nominated once for the Mercury Prize.[33]

Year Recipient Nomination Result
2012 Every Kingdom Album of the Year Nominated

Ivor Novello Awards edit

Howard has been nominated three times for the Ivor Novello Awards.[34]

Year Recipient Nomination Result
2013 Every Kingdom Album of the Year Nominated
2015 I Forget Where We Were Best Song Musically and Lyrically Nominated
2019 Nica Libres at Dusk Won

References edit

  1. ^ Hann, Michael (16 October 2014). "Ben Howard: I Forget Where We Were Review – Indie-Folk Singer Finds His Darker Side". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  2. ^ Roisin O'Connor (16 September 2014). "A Blaze of Feather - Meet the people behind the mysterious new band". The Independent. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Skinner, Tom (26 January 2021). "Ben Howard shares new single 'What A Day' and announces fourth album". NME. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  4. ^ Solomon, Kate (16 June 2023). "Ben Howard – Is It? review: Ambient, pleasant and a little dull". i. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  5. ^ a b c Herrmann, Joshi (28 August 2014). "Ben Howard: 'The more attention I got, the less I wanted it'". ES Magazine. Evening Standard: 15.
  6. ^ "Ben Howard interview with Absolute Radio's Pete Donaldson". YouTube. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Ben Howard". American Songwriter. 27 May 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Meet the new faces of local currency". Western Morning News. 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Music from The 100 S1E01". Tunefind.
  10. ^ NettwerkMusic (22 July 2010). "Angus & Julia Stone - Yellow Brick Road [Live in Paris]" – via YouTube.
  11. ^ "Ben Howard - Artists". Island Records. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  12. ^ Stickler, Jon. "Ben Howard Announces Plans for the US". Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival". Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  14. ^ "ACL Music Fest - ACL Interview: Ben Howard: Ben Howard - Music". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  15. ^ "067: Mickey Smith". Looking Sideways. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  16. ^ "A Blaze of Feather - Meet the people behind the mysterious new band (exclusive)". The Independent. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  17. ^ "World acts to support Jack Johnson and Ben Howard at Somersault Festival". Western Morning News. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  18. ^ "BBC Two - Later... with Jools Holland, Series 52, Episode 2, Ben Howard - Nica Libres At Dusk". 20 May 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  19. ^ Dessner, Aaron [@aarondessner] (26 January 2021). "We made this record over 18 months mostly at Long Pond and some in Paris too ....collecting sounds, loose strands and songs and chasing experiments without any pressure as we went. The final days of recording at Long Pond were in early March last year when the European borders were being shut and Ben and his band mate Mickey had to make a run for it early to get home ....thankfully we finished just in time. I couldn't be more proud of it and excited for you all to hear it. Will have a lot more to say about the music and the many friends who contributed to this record but go check out the first song out now at the link in my bio... What A Day..." Retrieved 27 January 2021 – via Instagram.
  20. ^ Kemp, Ella (9 April 2021). "Ben Howard live in Cornwall: a cinematic spin on the virtual gig". NME. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  21. ^ Chick, Stevie (16 June 2023). "'It felt like a falling apart': Ben Howard on returning to music after two strokes". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  22. ^ Dunworth, Liberty (20 April 2023). "Ben Howard announces new album with single 'Couldn't Make It Up'". NME. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  23. ^ "Ben Howard has announced a huge 2023 UK and European tour". 20 March 2023.
  24. ^ Paton, Elizabeth (24 December 2018). "Could Antibad Become the Net-a-Porter of Green Style?". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Would You Rather Be A Surfer Or A Rock Star? These Lucky B*stards Get To Do Both!". Mpora. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  26. ^ "A 'Surf Film' Starring Everybody". Surfline. 11 June 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2024.
  27. ^ "Premier League predictions: Lawro v singer-songwriter & Liverpool fan Ben Howard". BBC Sport. 5 March 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  28. ^ Fleming, Scott (11 June 2019). "The National's Aaron Dessner: 'We plan our tour around LFC games'". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  29. ^ Chick, Stevie (16 June 2023). "'It felt like a falling apart': Ben Howard on returning to music after two strokes". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2023.
  30. ^ TotalGuitar (7 May 2013), Ben Howard explains his 'pick and go' acoustic guitar technique and plays new song (TG241), retrieved 10 February 2017
  31. ^ "Ben Howard talks about John Smith's influence on his guitar style". YouTube. 28 December 2009. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  32. ^ "Ben Howard wins best British breakthrough act and best male solo artist at Brit Awards 2013". The Independent. 20 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  33. ^ Green, Thomas H. (30 October 2012). "Mercury Prize countdown: 9-7. Michael Kiwanuka, Field Music, Ben Howard". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  34. ^ "The Ivor Novello Awards 2013: Winners in full". Digital Spy. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2015.

External links edit