Meet artist Ben Diamond, one of the U.K.’s newest imports whose making a splash on this side of the Pond. Born in 1993 in the picturesque town of Kent in South East England, Ben stayed active in various bands and started freestyling with friends at a young age. But it wasn’t until he broke away on his own that his passion for music began. Eventually, Ben went on to release his own music, putting out a 5-track EP on Bandcamp under the name BenAddict. That EP got the attention of a few music heavyweights, including U.K. hip-hop star Dirty Dike, who, after listening to Ben's EP, encouraged fans on his Facebook to listen to the then-unknown artist. A few weeks later, Ben’s phone rang and it was L.A.-based producer Nicholas “Aqua” McCarrell, who is known for his work with Jay-Z, and the rest is, as they say, history!
We got a chance to catch up Ben about his upcoming album, what inspires him, and why U.K. artists have such a hard time making it big in the U.S.
YH: You released your first EP on Bandcamp. Why do you think more upcoming artists are looking at different ways to release music rather than through a record label?
BD: Less and less artists are getting record deals these days since hardly anyone buys music anymore. Artists have to find new ways to promote their music independently and Bandcamp is one of the ways I chose to do that.
YH: How has your music changed since you formed a friendship with Aqua?
BD: Before meeting Aqua, my head was deep in the underground scene; none of the tracks I'd thrown together had hooks, and Aqua felt I could do more. I've been singing since a kid and decided to give it a go. Apart from the singing side of things, my trips to Los Angeles and the times that Aqua and I spent out there have definitely contributed to my lyrical content and beat choice; it’s hard to rap on depressed samples when you’re chilling in the sunshine!
YH: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Was it something you always dreamed of?
BD: I used to dream of it as a youngster but lost my passion as a teen; when I started it back up again, I knew instantly that I wanted to do this.
YH: What projects are you working on right now?
BD: I've just finished working on another record with Aqua, which I'm looking forward to sharing with everyone at some point soon. It really sums up my times in Los Angeles and will definitely be worth a listen.
YH: Who are some of your favorite artists you are listening to right now?
BD: I'm really into Erykah Badu at the moment. Her voice is just so smooth and soulful, and the beat choice is dope. I’ve also been listening to Oddisee a lot, I love the way he chops his samples, and his flow’s nice too.
YH: 10 years from now, what do you want your career to look like?
BD: I would love to be an established artist both in the U.K. and U.S. — touring, recording, and collaborating with someone unimaginable. I hope to also bridge the gap between the two countries with my own experiences. I feel there is a lot of talent in the U.K. that America would love, but it just stays undiscovered. That would be amazing.
YH: Why do you think it has been so hard for artists from the U.K. to cross over to the U.S.?
BD: It's a pretty long way for either party to go. With the way the Internet has impacted on the music business, I feel an artist needs a big buzz over here for you guys to even catch drift of, and even then it's a big leap and such a big country to try and impress. However, America is an incredible place to have a following, and that is priceless.