Tall Children, also known as Ben Hughes, is a guitarist first and foremost. But he’s added songwriting and singing to his repertoire and started releasing music of his own. His newest single “Be With Me” is out now wherever you listen to music. I got the chance to talk to him about why he goes by the stage name “Tall Children”, what inspired “Be With Me”, how much of that song changed in the studio and so much more. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
First off, why do you go by a stage name rather than your real name? And where did the name “Tall Children” come from?
The name Tall Children literally refers to “growing older but not growing up”. Originally the concept started off as a theme for a TED talk that I did about a year ago. As I began to explore it and the theme grew and grew, the concept became something I really believed in and felt was a statement about the world that we can all relate to. This is true whether you’re a teenager on a council estate or the US President. I began writing music with this idea at the center of it and it just kept bringing an authenticity to the tunes that I never really felt I had before. I loved the idea that it’s not just me who’s growing older and not growing up, but we are all Tall Children in our own way.
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
I first started making music when I was 6 years old. I performed my first gig at the Freshfield Pub in Formby, Liverpool. My ol’ man was a session guitarist and was constantly on the scene so it wasn’t long before I was out there too. I began getting in to sessions with some really big names and from that doing songwriting as well. Music has always been a massive part of my life and the experiences I’ve had have just kept inspiring me to get better and work harder.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
Yes, I’d say my family were extremely supportive of the whole venture but my world really changed when I first met the guitar guru himself, Tommy Emmanuel. It started off as fandom and then eventually morphed in to studying with him and eventually doing tours etc. He was someone who made me see that it was possible, regardless of background, and also he’s one of the most inspiring human beings that gives you the confidence and the drive to want to self-improve.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. So how would you describe your sound without using genre names? What kind of music do you produce?
The music (without using genre names) is black and white with a bit of yellow thrown in there. It’s straight pop with a curve ball. Pop in an interesting way. A guitarist’s take on contemporary pop, incorporating things that feel familiar whilst taking you on a journey that’s not.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
Going straight back to basics, my musical influences undoubtedly include Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and Prince. More contemporary influences definitely include Post Malone, Tame Impala, Daft Punk.
Let’s talk about your latest single, “Be With Me.” What inspired this song?
“Be With Me” is a love song, but not to anyone specifically. It’s about joining in on a train that has already left the station. Since Tall Children came in to being, I’ve taken it on twists and turns that have really got things noticed. This tune is my personal love letter to fans offering them to come and “be with me” on the journey as it’s getting bigger and better all the time. I wanted the music to feature strong rhythmic guitar, funky feel good dance grooves and a massive chorus. I think this has it all!
I always love hearing about the songwriting process, so I was wondering if you could walk me through what that was like for “Be With Me.”
To be honest, the song wrote itself. I began by writing the riff at the very beginning and using that as a means of expanding it. That riff later became the vocal melody for the verses. During that process, I found myself asking “great, now where do we go?” So I started getting in to the headspace of what is most satisfying to sing, satisfying to play and above all else what feels good to bop to. As I said, the theme was already pretty clear to me so the chorus was one of those that just appeared to me whilst ordering an Uber! It’s a difficult one trying to be scientific about explaining it, mostly it’s an instinctual thing.
Are you someone who always has to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with other artists/songwriters for co-writes?
No, I love collaborating with artists, though that’s not to say that’s how I write per se. I often use songs as a means of opening conversations and getting to play with other artists I admire. If I’m writing with particularly talented people, that’s what really makes it exciting for me. I’m not all that interested in writing with people who have nothing to say.
Were there any major changes made to the song once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Yes, there were plenty of changes! Originally, the song was totally in tact almost verbatim as you hear it now just from what I used from my demos. In fact, many of the sounds I produced myself in my own studio feature in the final mix. However, it wasn’t as straightforward in the beginning. I shopped the tune around to a few different producers who all did their thing to it. It wasn’t until I took it to Richard Turvey (Blossoms), who pretty much agreed my demo was exactly the vibe we wanted, that I started to refocus the sound and the structure [so I could] get it back to how I intended it to be originally.
I know you just released this single, but what are your plans for the next couple of months in terms of releasing more new music, whether it be more singles, an EP, or a full length project?
The initial short term plan will feature more singles and more tastes of what the fans are responding to. There’s some absolute killer tracks on the way and I’m super excited to see how people react; I think everyones gonna love it. The long game is of course that it’s a full length project, but we’ll get there when the time is right.
>What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
Probably all the usual stuff that everyone else says, though I honestly tend not to think about that. I find all that industry side of things a distraction from making the music great. Fans and Industry alike can only ever get behind something that’s awesome.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
[I’m] currently nerding about my new Rick Turner guitar (which has it’s own story attached). The look, the feel, the noise… ahhhhhh off to dream land now.