A few months ago, we caught up with musical project, Jacquie. Two incredible Midwest artists who came together to create a unique sound. “If Kanye West produced Nirvana.” That’s how Benjamin Tarr describes his production style, and when you kick back and put on your best headphones, that’s exactly what you hear. And coming off the heels of their collaborative music, Tarr has officially released his first solo project. So, what did we do? The only thing you can do with a Benjamin Tarr project-we kicked back, put on our best headphones, and fell into a dream of fleeting images about self reflection, love, and loss.
In a pen-pal style interview, we discussed the meaning behind Nurturing A Dream, his own self discovery, and the making of his first solo project. Check it out below.
So with this interview, I’ve decided to do things a little bit different since your album comes out later in the month. Instead of sending you a bunch of random questions in this email, I was hoping that we could just kind of go back and forth.
You can be as detailed as you want. Feel free to ramble, doodle, add pictures, links, speak in non-complete sentences, anything you want.
So first and foremost, it’s been a few months since we last spoke. Aside from the album, what’s been going on with you? Catch us up on life in LA, the music, the fishes on your IG…have you transitioned in to LA vegan diet yet?
Wonderful. Thank you for doing the story on the album! As far as life, I’m taking it a day at a time. Still transitional stages-I don’t know if one ever gets fully comfortable/settled into a big city like LA. Especially being from the Midwest. I don’t mind the occasional discomfort and moments on edge, I think it’s helped me focus on my craft and my art a lot more. Although I am overall a lot more accustomed to the city life, and have struck a rhythm of the day-to-day, there are always moments where I sit back and wonder “where the hell am I?”.
But lots has changed. I’ve found outlets to help sooth my static cases of homesickness. Jacquie and I have recently gotten a fish tank for our apartment, which is very therapeutic. Griffith Park is right near our spot too, so just hiking with my dog Cupid has been a nice escape from music and the city.
I feel like such an LA cliche, but I have been vegan for about 3 years now, even before moving. Jacquie got me on the vegan thing when we met. Indiana was a lot less vegan friendly, so that has probably been the easiest part of the move.
Just reading that has made me feel super at peace. I miss LA hikes a lot more than I thought I would. Does this upcoming album reflect the peace you’ve found? Where do these tracks come from?
I wouldn’t say that the album comes from a found “peace”. Rather, it’s more about the journey of finding it. I haven’t truly found my “peace” yet. Over the last several months I’ve been piecing the album together, everything has felt like a chaotic dream, hopefully leading up to an awakening. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly wake up though and find what I’m looking for. The album isn’t very conceptual in the sense that I have a true message I’m pushing throughout (although of-course, there are several personal narratives in it). In the writing process, I tended to be more abstract. I wanted it to feel more like thoughts. Kind of like a dream— if that makes sense.
While I’ve been settling into a new city and changing many aspects of my life, the songs came from a dangerous level of self-awareness and discovery.
Interesting. Do you have any idea what you’re looking for? I know that peace and happiness looks different for other people. Like, there are some that think that money will solve all their problems. For others, they search for love, sanity, maybe even chaos.
No, I don’t know what I’m looking for. Probably a lot of things. If it isn’t already complicated and confusing enough, I’m looking for whatever will stop me from looking. I feel like that’s probably a part of the 20’s and getting thrown out into the real world. I feel such a longing for acceptance and home that I am willing to take anything, but there’s no certainty. I dropped out of college after my freshman year to pursue my dream in music. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t thought about enrolling back into school. (Education being an example of a path that may lead to fulfillment). I wouldn’t go for music though, I would being going to escape my dream that two years ago I escaped college to pursue. I think that’s the irony of it all and the reason that a dream needs to be nurtured how I suggest in my lyrics. I don’t think there is an answer or a thing that will bring me what I feel I’m missing. It’s just time. I think it might just come with time.
As far as personal narratives, what has been your favorite story to share on this album?
Personal Narratives is tricky. My writing isn’t very story driven. Like, I don’t go into the process often with a specific story I am looking to tell. I will typically just have one line or lyric that I like a lot. One that I know will pave the way for the rest and lead to a story. If I can find that one good line, then the rest usually comes very easily without much revision. For example, there’s a track on the album called “Exception”, where the chorus is “You broke my only rule, but I made an exception for you”. I wasn’t really planning on making it a love song until that line. That song has a very personal narrative though about love and my experience with it. Probably one of the more personal and vulnerable songs on the album.
Forever My Ever has to be my favorite song on the album so far, I got stuck there for awhile. Would you say that Exception is your favorite track?
Thank you! Picking a standout track would be tricky. I had a lot of fun with the production on Murder by the Sun, and it was like the last song I wrote and added to the bunch so it’s still like new and fresh to my ears. Probably my fave if I had to chose one.
How difficult was it making this album, production wise?
This was my first time ever taking on the task of a full length album. I’ve been in many bands since I was young and released several EPs under a lot of projects, but never a true album. And yeah I am still DIY is pretty much every aspect right now. I’ve been writing and performing for a many years now, so I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but I am more secure with that end of the process and have found my voice lyrically overtime. This was my REAL first chance to find my voice sonically with production. I think it’s essential to any up-and-coming artist now that I’ve done it. It is definitely hard not having the extra sets of ears to bounce ideas off of and you get nauseous after listening to the same songs over and over, but honestly it is so fulfilling knowing that I produced them all myself. I am excited to continue to produce and grow, I know I still have things to work on.
I think because I did the entire project on my own independently, (aside from lyrical help from the lovely Jacqueline Victoria on some of the tracks) that’s why it feels so personal and important to me. I have been self-producing demos for my own ears ever since I was 13 but never had the courage to really share them or put in the work to get them worth sharing. Because of that, Nurturing a Dream really feels like a home-run after years of batting practice.
Your first release…I’m so happy for you! Are you nervous? Throw out some of your final thoughts on Nurturing A Dream! How do you feel? Are you screaming from the rooftop at midnight? What does the release date look like for you?
Yes, I’m very nervous but I feel proud of myself and excited for the next album already. I’ll probably go to the beach and swim in the ocean. I love going to the beach anytime I reach a goal and achieve something. Hold my breath under water. Come up to the surface, ready for the next thing. There’s always the next thing. I’m cursed with that work ethic. I never stay still for too long.
You can stream Nurturing A Dream below, with your best headphones, and your favorite notebook because you will be headed down your own sacred path of self discovery after one listen. Check it out.