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Body Mass Launch New EP - Interview with Ben Hassell

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by Karli Sample (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published July 21st 2021
Want a double album of half-baked ideas? Look elsewhere. We talk to Ben Hassell, more curator than songsmith about a modern classic, Body Mass.

body mass music, body mass ep launch

While there are some contributions from other musicians, Body Mass, seems to be a fairly autonomous project. Was that always the intention?

I much prefer collaboration so to have other people involved either on vocals or another instrument or lyrically was always the intention. However, these songs were at a point that I was happy with so I decided it's time to get them out, and it just so happened that First Kill was the only one with Matt Edge (City Riots).

Why Body Mass? Given that it's essentially a solo project why not just Ben Hassell?

Body Mass was basically an interpretation of 'Ben and Matt' but to make it not sound like a burger joint or ice cream brand I took a phonetic blur of it and Body Mass it was. It seems to fit the collaborative ethos quite well too.

What influences do you hear in it that others may not?

Each song was written at very different times over the past few years but I recall listening to a lot of Massive Attack (Heligoland), Scott Walker, Marika Hackman and I'd say they had an influence on the sounds and style I wanted. I was also trying to improve my acoustic guitar finger style at the time which really morphed into Howl W.

While you've been based in Australia for most of your adult life, there is still a very distinct Englishness to both tone and content, how does dual citizenship inform your writing?

I'm not sure it does, to be honest. It probably did in my early 20s but not so much now. As for content, I'm heavily influenced by British bands and I love the lyrical styles of Neil Hannon, Morrissey and John cooper Clarke to lighten the mood of what could be an excessively moody track, but also love Gareth Liddiards writing for much the same reason. I always use the line 'a gun and a pack of sandwiches' as a benchmark for where I want to be lyrically for songs that start to get a bit too heavy or dark musically and emotionally.

Was/is there a plan to ever have a Body Mass band or live shows?

At some point, I'd love to but fear and proximity to familiar musicians is a bit of an issue at the moment.

Is having fewer of the constraints of a full band and such, a blessing or a curse?

A bit of both, I feel more comfortable in a collaborative setting although it has its hit and miss elements too. Certainly when I have a solid idea the process of recording or playing parts is simple as I know what I want to do but when I have only the seed of an idea, a riff or something, then I can find it very difficult to get it finished or find the right parts to complement it. If this was a release of my half baked ideas it'd be a double album.

Listen to the new Body Mass EP and connect on social media:
Instagram // Spotify // Bandcamp // Apple Music
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