Becoming Ben: On making music and remembering Cebu - Weekend

Becoming Ben: On making music and remembering Cebu

By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
Photography: Banawe Corvera

Q & A: Musician Ben Patton unravels from far away

Ben Patton
Ben Patton

BEN Patton’s diversity in music spans from pop, to rock, to theater. Since 2004, the singer-songwriter-producer has released original material in five solo albums, five duo albums (together with Jay Muller), a comic operetta titled “Simply Wonderful”, and has also penned songs for other musicians — including Filipinos whom he met during his five-year stint in Cebu.

Ben first came to Cebu in 2005 — “a very short but memorable trip,” he said, and at that time, hardly knowing that a job offer and five years later, he would soon be calling this city his second home.

In 2007, Ben accepted a job offer as staff composer for Bigfoot Entertainment in Mactan, and later on, with his collaborator, Jay Muller, he formed Muller and Patton Productions, a pop music production company.

For three years, he had written songs for Filipino artists such as Nikki Gil, former Pinoy Dream Academy contestant Bunny Malunda, former Star Factor contestant Morisette Amon, and KC Concepcion — including the latter’s “Not Like the Movies” and “After the End.”

Ben has since returned to the United States and is prepping for his sixth album, “Unbecoming,” which will be released on Dec. 19. Though miles away, he hasn’t forgotten his second home, as he held a benefit concert for Haiyan survivors at the Hickory Hill Community House in Tappan, New York last Nov. 24.

Can you tell us more about your upcoming album “Unbecoming”?

For the last few years I’d only written music for others to sing, including a stage musical, so with “Unbecoming” I wanted to return to performing my own work, my own way, in my own flawed voice. It’s an old-school heavy rock album, with the focus on attitude, not on prettiness. I dedicate the album to the memory of my good friend Samantha Tornilla, a brilliant, beautiful Cebuana, who died this year, at 25.

WRITING FOR THE PHILIPPINE EAR. Ben Patton has written songs for Filipino artists such as Nikki Gil, former Pinoy Dream Academy contestant Bunny Malunda, former Star Factor contestant Morisette Amon, and KC Concepcion.
WRITING FOR THE PHILIPPINE EAR. Ben Patton has written songs for Filipino artists such as Nikki Gil, former Pinoy Dream Academy contestant Bunny Malunda, former Star Factor contestant Morisette Amon, and KC Concepcion.

How was your experience in working on this album? Who were the people you collaborated with?

I played pretty much every instrument on the album myself, overdubbing, so it was very solitary. The album art, however, was done by a photographer from Cebu, Banawe Corvera, whose work was a definite inspiration to me. I think photography and music are very sympathetic art forms.

If you had to pick one song from this album to perform, what would it be and why?

There’s a song called “All The Way Down” that I really enjoy playing. This has been a rough year for me, and that song just boils down all my frustration into one short ferocious rock song—with a sense of humor.

ALBUM COMING. Having returned to the United States, Ben Patton is prepping for his sixth album, “Unbecoming,” which will be released on Dec. 19. The album art was done by Cebu photographer Banawe Corvera.
ALBUM COMING. Having returned to the United States, Ben Patton is prepping for his sixth album, “Unbecoming,” which will be released on Dec. 19. The album art was done by Cebu photographer Banawe Corvera.

As a songwriter, what fuels your creativity?

That’s a good question. I have no idea. But I never seem to run out of the fuel — whatever it is.

What were your earliest experiences of playing instruments and penning songs?

My parents are both musicians and I’ve been writing music since I was 11.

What advice would you give to budding musicians who want to pursue their craft?

My advice to a budding musician is just to stick to it, and don’t be afraid to make terrible noise. You need to make a lot of terrible noise to get to the beautiful noise.

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