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TALKING ROOTS WITH BENNY WALKER

Photography by Cindy Power

Growing up in regional Victoria, what was the music scene like? How does it compare now to Melbourne?
There was pretty much no one playing original music. Both my Grandfathers were in bands as well as my Dad. There were a lot of cover bands that have been thinned out by DJs. It’s growing now though, especially the last few years. It’s great seeing original stuff in my home town.

Where did your love of blues and roots come from?
I think I found my way back to older blues from listening to what Eric Clapton was doing. I was obsessed with him as a kid.

What drew you to acoustic playing?
It’s something about the vibration of an acoustic guitar against your body. On top of that when you sing you create more vibrations and when the notes complement each other it’s an unexplainable feeling.

How do you connect with your live audience? Is there anything you need to improve on/change?
When everything is going right: the right venue, the right audience and I’m on my game — it feels really effortless. The banter between songs is a lot more natural and my performance is too. I learn something from every single show and am continually trying to better myself and hopefully that will create more of those “everything going right” nights.

How did you first get recognised and respected as a musician?
I’m not really sure. You have to earn respect through hard work. I’ll just continue working towards my own goals and people can make up their own mind about how they feel about me.

You’re signed independently. What are the biggest benefits of being an independent artist?
Complete creative freedom.

You have a strong social media presence. To what extent do you agree that social media plays a huge part in an artist’s success and popularity?
It’s great for interacting with and keeping your audience in the know about what’s coming up etc. But, I don’t think it will give you success. You can use social media to get it out there but if the quality of what you’re doing isn’t there then it won’t matter.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face as a musician?
Making a sustainable career out of it. I believe that if you can pay the bills doing something you love, then that’s success.

What is the best advice you can provide to other independent artists?
Work hard at your craft and be open to learning from those who have been there. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do what they do, but someone else’s perspective can help you articulate your own vision a little better.

Keep up to date with Benny via www.bennywalkermusic.com

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