Talking with Benjamin Race about His New Single/Music Video “Take You Home,” ft. Ellison Kendrick

UK-based neo-soul producer Benjamin Race recently released his single/music video, “Take You Home,” an infectious R&B bop featuring Race’s friend and frequent collaborator, Ellison Kendrick.

Raised by a musician father, Race grew up in and around the soul music scene. Picking up the bass at 11 years old, he eventually took lessons with session bassists Jon Bower (The Real Thing/ Dexys Midnight Runners) and Julian Crampton (The Pasadenas, Incognito, Tony Momerelle, Dave Lee).

Attending art school, Race flexed his affinity for multiple art forms, including music, photography, and videography, elevating his interests toward the high-level thinking of production and directing.

Stepping into the studio for his first solo cuts, he crafted soulful tracks under the moniker HD, collaborating with a host of talents, including Ellison Kendrick (Joss Stone), Dennis Bettis (Grammy-nominated, songwriter to Luther Vandross, Charlie Wilson, and Boys II Men) and Teisha Marie.

Now stepping back onto the scene as his fullest, most transparent self, Race is pushing his productions to a whole new level. The video for “Take You Home” invites listeners to join vocalist Ellison Kendrick in exploring his stomping grounds on Ocean Drive in the Art Deco District of Miami.

CelebMix spoke with Benjamin Race to discover the inspiration for “Take You Home” and how he connected with Ellison Kendrick.

What inspired your new single/music video, “Take You Home?”

A few bars of some chords on the Rhodes is how it all started (as it often does!).

A groove, baseline, horn arrangement, and vocals came later. So, a big thank you to my co-writers Ellison Kendrick and Ernie Mckone who helped make the track. Plus, musicians Bryan Corbett (trumpet/horn arrangement), Luke Shingler (sax), and Matt Keane (Rhodes solo).

Who directed the video and where was it shot?

I actually filmed the video in South Beach, Miami around the iconic areas of Ocean Drive and the Art Deco District with its swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, and iconic architecture. Ellison Kendrick, the featured singer, actually lives there. It’s funny because when we worked together a few years back on a song called ‘Can’t Explain,’ he flew over from the USA to London to film the music video and when it came to choosing the location for the music video for ‘Take You Home,’ it seemed like a good idea to travel to him – not that I really needed an excuse to film in Miami, of course. Plus, Ellison is no stranger to the camera in Miami as he featured with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in the most recent ‘Bad Boys’ film also shot in Miami.

How, where, and when did you connect with Ellison Kendrick?

It was quite surreal. It was July 2017 and as I uploaded a track on social media that I was in the middle of mixing in the studio, he contacted me on Instagram about singing on it. When I checked out his voice and credentials – working with Joss Stone and Betty Wright – it was of course a no-brainer! The rest is history. As music is truly universal and with today’s connectivity through technology, the world becomes a smaller place – enabling musicians, listeners, and collaborators to connect with each other.

How did you get started in music?

My father is a soul musician which inspired me to pick up the bass guitar at 11 years old. My love of music started with old soul, by listening to classic Stax, Motown, and Fame/Muscle Shoals tracks. I was born in ‘83 and I’m turning 40 next month. In high school, I was more interested in listening to artists and bassists like Tower of Power (Francis Rocco Prestia), The Brand New Heavies (Andrew Levy), Jamiroquai (Stuart Zender), Lynden David Hall, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and Nathan East.

Where are you from?

I was born in the East of England, UK. I studied at Norwich School of Art & Design and lived mainly in Norwich City Centre but have recently moved to rural Suffolk close to Woodbridge. where I am lucky enough to have a music studio in the garden, that was constructed last year which is a really great creative space to be inspired and work in.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

I would say so, yes, but bigger than that I think there are so many things that impact your sound as a musician, songwriter, or producer beyond the obvious things like musical influences. The soundscape and sounds/nature of where you live, your mindset, your surroundings – this could be your working environment/ creative space, the people you hang out with.

All these seemingly small and insignificant pieces of what makes you ‘you,’ contribute to a unique overall perspective and approach to music. In short, I always create the music I want to create. I have a great affinity for ‘80s-inspired soul music. I think that’s partly to do with growing up in this decade, and the nostalgia for it, coupled with my love of old soul music.

Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?

I’ve spoken a little about some of my influences about what got me started in music as a teenager but it’s really worth mentioning some music producers that I have a great affinity for that have certainly influenced me directly and indirectly and that’s Jimmy Jam/ Terry Lewis, David Foster, Trevor Horn, and Quincy Jones.

Ironically, I have reached out to both David Foster and Jimmy Jam and had some great advice from both. David Foster is inspirational for his supreme confidence and for being one of the most successful songwriters and producers in the history of modern music.

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have had 40+ Top 10 hits in the USA and have produced artists I love, such as Janet Jackson, Alexander O’Neal, and The S.O.S Band. I suppose I was certainly aware of the music and songs before I later became more interested and inspired by the producers behind the scenes.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?

I would say I am more inspired by how music makes you feel, especially with soul music. As the old saying goes, people won’t remember what you said, or what you did but how you made them feel, this is also true for music. I suppose in some ways it’s very simple; creating melodies people remember, chords that make you feel and a rhythm that makes people move.

What can you share about your writing process?

I would say inspiration comes a lot of the time from sounds. As an example, as I am a big nostalgia fan of the 1980s, you can imagine my studio is full of vintage 1980s synthesizers and drum machines! I am a big fan of mixing the old analogue gear with the new in terms of technology. There is a feeling that if we recover the technology of the time, it is possible to recapture the music of the time.

Initial ideas are usually created on a great ‘80s electric piano sound or on my Rhodes. Then next would be to create a great drum groove and work around these foundations. When the music is there, I can then work with singers/vocal arrangers on finding a vocal/lyrics.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

I am a big fan of Tristan Thompson /Diamond Cafe! A great talent with some great soul cuts. Check him out!

How do you define success?

Certainly not financial gain, but a consistent fruition and completion of my goals. I am always about learning and bettering myself, every day. Being happy and content is the obvious ultimate goal and mindset of course. I also think that in terms of music, success is about bettering yourself as a musician, songwriter, producer, and mix engineer, and the journey that these creative paths take you on.

If you are just doing music for the big round of applause at the end, you are doing it for the wrong reasons and are only taking not giving.

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs? New material?

I have just released my new single, ‘Take You Home,’ which has a great buzz about at the moment. Only yesterday it made it onto the ‘Abbey Road Cuts Official Spotify Playlist’ alongside artists like the Beatles, Brian May, Tom Misch, Texas, and Sister Sledge. Next on from that, there is another single in the works for early 2024, but that is for another interview… stay tuned! 

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