Benjamin Bailey: ‘Superpower? Flight. The traffic is killing me’

Australian singer-songwriter, Benjamin Bailey tells all in our Q&A

(Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday)
(Photo: James Bianchi/Mediatoday)

Benjamin Bailey is an Australian singer-songwriter, self-produced independent artist, frontman to blues-rock trio Vinyl Paradise, and guitarist to Ira Losco and Matthew James. He recently released his debut EP ‘Better Days’, which is the culmination of six months of work.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I pick up my guitar. Make ginger tea. Play guitar. Listen to a new album. Get inspired. In that order, pretty much every morning.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Your attitude is a million times more valuable than your talent. Also, look both ways before crossing the road. That has saved my life on many occasions.

What do you never leave the house without?

The keys. How else do I get back in?

Pick three words that describe yourself

Motivated. Enthusiastic. Grounded.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

The relationships I’ve formed over the past few years are easily my greatest achievement. I am extremely fortunate to have met the incredible people who are now part of my life, and who constantly enable me to realise my dreams. Also, I currently have a four-game winning streak in Monopoly.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Typing stupid messages into smartphones in tech-shops.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

One big lesson is that people that overuse the word ‘should’ rarely know what they are talking about.

Property and cars aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Am I being audited?

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

That the coolest thing you can be is yourself, and that no-one is going to like you for pretending to be otherwise.

Who’s your inspiration?

Anyone that has had great success by doing things differently to others.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Not being able to perform on stage due to COVID-19 has been a huge challenge. I think it has been a big challenge for every musician, actor, dancer, and performer; we live for performing in front of an audience.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be doing?

If I weren’t a musician, I would probably have gravitated to some other form of performing art. Perhaps acting. I like the attention, it seems.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would love to have dinner with Robin Williams. He was so creative, so wild, so prolific 100% of the time, it would be amazing to sit down with him and figure out how his mind worked. He seemed to operate in a different dimension to everyone else, and that sort of talent is once-in-a-generation.

What’s your worst habit?

Automatically answering serious questions with silly answers. It’s a disease, I swear.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

A silly drunk for the first few drinks, and then a vomiting one. In fact, I ultimately decided to stop altogether, and now enjoy being the permanent designated driver.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Frankly, I’d be offended if they didn’t offer me the part first.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I can’t stand when people act with total disregard for others. Stuff like cutting in line, not saying ‘thank you’ when I hold the door open for them. It’s the little things, but they are a huge indicator of one’s personality.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ by Tiny Tim.

What is your most treasured material possession?

The collection of cards, pictures, and letters my friends made for me when I left Australia. Oh, and my guitar. 

What is your earliest memory?

I remember being in a high-chair, squishing all of my food into the tray in front of me, and my parents having to clean it up. Luckily, my table manners have improved a little since.

When did you last cry, and why?

Yesterday. I absolutely destroyed my toe when I accidentally slammed it into the leg of my dining table.

Who would you most like to meet?

I would love to meet Kevin Parker from Tame Impala. His approach is so unique, it’d be interesting to sit in on a session with him and just watch how he goes about writing and recording a song. I would have used Kevin for the ‘dinner with any person’ question, but he was busy.

What’s your favourite food?

Indian. Hands down.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Recently found this guy on Instagram called George Collins. He’s a talented bloke and uploads some quality material on his profile, both covers and originals.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I’d go back and meet Mozart, and bring an electric guitar.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m not reading anything at the moment, outside of user manuals for music-making equipment.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Flight. The traffic is killing me.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Release a hit album and tour it.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I really got into artists like Tame Impala, Mac DeMarco, FKJ, and Louis Baker recently. I also like listening to albums in their entirety, and recommend others do the same. If you’re interested, check out ‘Lonerism’, ‘Salad Days’, ‘French Kiwi Juice’, and ‘Open’ by those artists respectively; you won’t regret it.