KSC alumnus prepares for debut on Halloween night
Zach Benton graduated from Keene State College in the Spring of 2010 and is now getting ready for his first album release.
The album is called, “Fall In,” which is named after one of the songs on the album. “I tried out other titles,” Benton said, “I wanted to make sure it was one that hadn’t been used before.”
Benton explained the inspiration for his songs had a lot to do with relationships, break-ups and overall growing up. “Some of the songs were written a while ago,” he commented.
“I think the common theme of this CD is trying to get through rough times,” Benton explained, “trying to be optimistic when it’s hard to be optimistic.”
According to Benton, the most exciting factor of the release for this album is that it is his first full album. “I’m excited for people to hear it,” he mentioned, “I want people to see what I’m capable of doing.”
Benton runs the “Acoustic Thursday’s” at Fritz on Main Street. “Ninety percent of the time, it’s my acoustic guitar and me,” Benton stated. He has been performing for ten years and said he waited a long time for something like this.
“I’ve been carrying the songs around but I wanted to present them in a professional way,” Benton added, “I can’t do all the instruments live, I’m not a millipede!”
Alyson Galipeau graduated from KSC in 2010 with Benton. She is a music teacher for a middle/high school for grades 6-12 in Winchendon, Massachusetts. Galipeau explained her singing began in the fifth grade chorus, but really took off in high school.
By college, she declared it her major. Galipeau accompanied Benton on one of the tracks on the album. “I love singing jazz,” Galipeau said, “that is one of the reasons Zach asked me because it needed to have a jazz vocalist.”
Galipeau described her changes to Benton’s song as only minor nuances, “minor melody changes and little pronunciation things,” she added.
Working with Benton was a reward for Galipeau, as she described. “I think he got it [Benton’s album] exactly the way he wanted it. I don’t think he has ever had that before,” she remarked.
“He mixed and mixed and mastered and re-mastered to get it how he really wanted it. He didn’t compromise anything.” According to Benton, the first step in an album process is the song writing.
“Performing those first drafts live can help you see what works and what doesn’t,” Benton said.
He said that he continued to rewrite the songs while performing them. “You can sculpt the song better that way,” Benton noted.
Once the feel for the writing part is complete, Benton said, demos for the songs are then constructed. “You can try new things when recording demos,” Benton mentioned, which then helps set the song list for the entire album.
“Once you pick the songs, you need to make a commitment to finish the project,” the musician added.
Ben Rodgers owns Loud Suns Studio in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. He works with a lot of different people, “the more populated areas, the studio’s focus [is] on one type of music,” he said. “In this area, I need to diversify. I like it [be]cause it’s a new experience.”
Rodgers was the co-producer and engineer for Benton’s album. According to Rodgers, he has been co-producing and engineering for over ten years now. “Music has been my passion since I was young,” Rodgers said.
He explained that there are many interpretations to his title, “I don’t consider myself a producer. I just work with the musicians.”
An engineer, he stated, is someone who handles the technical side of the recording while the musician goes into the studio with their main focus being the performance.
Rodgers added they also provide critical listening. He explained that Benton and he worked together for a few years. “I let him develop the songs,” he clarified.
“I let him sit, then take them further or back a step if it wasn’t working.” Rodgers added that hanging out with the tracks could give it the feel you want.
“I recorded my EP [extended play] with Ben Rodgers so I went to him with the demos and went for the long haul,” Benton said. The official in-studio process with Rodgers began back in October or November of 2012. “Recording takes concentration,” Benton continued, “It might not seem like you accomplished a lot at the end of the day but it’s definitely worth it.”
After the initial recording of all the instruments, Benton explained the next step is to listen to the tracks back and fix the kink. “I try and think, do I like this now, [and] will I like this five, ten, even twenty years from now?” Benton thought aloud, “it doesn’t turn into something that is going to sound great until about half-way through.”
The third-to-last step, Benton described, is mixing. This step, he said, makes everything sound good together. “You want to make sure things like the piano or vocals aren’t louder than the rest,” Benton said. The mixing process then leads into mastering.
Mastering, according to Benton, is when one sends out their music to someone who has never heard it before. They then listen to the album to make sure the songs fit together.
The last step, Benton described, in this process is the marketing aspect.
“It’s really important if you want people to hear it and get it out there,” Benton stated. He said a good way he markets his work is by performing.
“By performing it, you can work on your craft while being an advertisement at the same time,” Benton explained.
Benton described his future aspirations to be a full-time professional musician. “I don’t really want to be famous,” Benton clarified. “I don’t want to lose my grip on the craft I have on music to become a celebrity. You depend on people’s approval and there’s no where to grow.”
The release show for Benton’s album is Halloween night at Fritz on Main Street. According to Benton, the opening act will hit the stage at 6:30 p.m. and he will be quick to follow around 7:30 p.m. His album will be sold at the release for five dollars and will also be available on iTunes and Amazon.
Haley Erdbrink can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org