By: Shayla Lee
If you have ever listened to the Spotify playlists “The Most Beautiful Songs In The World,” “Your Favorite Coffeehouse,” or “Lush & Atmospheric,” chances are your ears have been blessed with Old Sea Brigade’s incredible music. ‘Love Brought Weight’ has over 13 million streams on Spotify and although I’m responsible for about half of those streams, there are about 7 million other people who love that song. We had the chance to chat with Ben Cramer, the man behind Old Sea Brigade, about everything from his favorite lyrics to where he draws inspiration for his beautiful music.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What inspired you to become a musician?
Old Sea Brigade: My names Ben Cramer. I’m 26 and currently live in Nashville, TN. I was born and raised in Atlanta and started playing music when I was about 11. My parents originally forced me to take piano lessons but then I learned the bass guitar to start a Green Day cover band with my friends when we were in 4th grade.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened before?
I would say indie folk / singer-songwriter. I always struggle with answering this question because I think the music varies to a degree from song to song.
Do you have any musical influences?
I grew up a huge Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits fan so I definitely draw a lot of influence from them. I love all different types of music though and find little elements to incorporate into mine.
Do you have a particular lyric you have written that is your favourite?
I think the song “Georgia” has some of my favorite lyrics I’ve written. I wrote that song the summer after high school when I was 18 or 19, and to me, it felt like they were the first lyrics I were really proud of. That song was a bit of a turning point for me as a writer because I think I was starting to find my voice around that time.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music?
As cliché as it sounds, I draw most inspiration through my life experiences and my relationships with my friends, family, and loved ones. I’ve also recently been finding a lot of inspiration through watching movies.
You recently released your EP ‘Songs for the Holidays’ which contain a three covers and an original song ‘Motel 6 and Christmas Eve’. What inspired you to release this EP?
I love holiday music and I wanted to put my on twist on some classic and not so classic holiday songs. As much as I enjoy the holidays, I think there is a certain degree of melancholy that attributes itself to that time of year. I tried to capture that feeling a bit with the songs.
My favourite song of yours is ‘Tidal Wave’. The lyric “If we don’t change we’re stuck in time” hit me like a ton of bricks. Can you tell us more about this song?
Thanks! Glad you enjoy it! “Tidal Wave” was an interesting song for me because it was the first song I wrote and recorded that brought me out of stretch of writers block. There was one week in particular I couldn’t get anything done that I was happy with and then on the Friday afternoon of that week I started playing the chords to “Tidal Wave” on piano then just built the rest of the song around that. I had all the music recorded before I wrote lyrics, and when it came to writing lyrics I think I wrote them in like 10 minutes. That line “If we don’t change, we’re stuck in time” is about just taking small steps to keep yourself moving forward. For me on that day in particular, it sort of reflected the process of forcing myself out of writers block.
Your song ‘Love Brought Weight’ has over 11 million plays on Spotify. To me, (now I may be completely wrong on this), I see this as the struggle of heartbreak. Can you tell us more about this song?
That song was the first OSB song I ever officially recorded. I was so nervous the night before the recording session I didn’t sleep. The song’s about loving someone and knowing it can’t last forever. That feeling of emotionally investing yourself in something or someone and knowing that this can/will hurt you eventually, but also knowing that the fear of it not lasting forever makes your relationships more meaningful.
What songs are you currently listening to?
I’ve been on a bit of a Nick Drake kick recently. Also have been really loving the new record from Slowdive. When I get to perform live with a full band, I always draw a lot of inspiration from shoe gaze bands. Slowdive’s songs “Star Roving” and “Sugar for the Pill” are absolutely incredible in my opinion.
What can we expect from you in the future? I saw on your Instagram that you began recording new music. Hopefully we will see you in Vancouver soon!
I just finished recording my first full-length album so will be releasing that later in 2018. The first single should be coming out sometime this Spring!
Anything we haven’t asked you yet that you want to add?
I have a dog named Teddy, and in fact, he is a very good boy.
We want to thank Ben for doing this interview! The cover photo in this article was provided by Ben and shot by Alysse Gafkjen. Follow along Ben’s musical journey on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you want to feel all the feels listen to his entire collection below 👇.