A Conversation with Musician Ben Eunson

Musician and composer Ben Eunson visited Jake’s Take for “A Conversation.” (Photo courtesy of Effective Immediately PR)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome musician and composer Ben Eunson to Jake’s Take.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Ben traveled to New York City, where he worked up the ranks to become one of the city’s most prominent guitarists. Throughout his career, he worked with a plethora of performers that range from John Legend and Queen Latifah to Dave Chappelle and Sandra Bernhard.  He also had the opportunity to appear at notary festivals such as the Monterey Jazz Festival and the Detroit Jazz Festival.   

In this edition of A Conversation, Ben Eunson revealed how his music industry heroes influenced his work, the lessons he learned from John Legend, and his upcoming album, ACE.

Jacob Elyachar: When did you get interested in music? How did that passion evolve into the desire to pursue a career in the recording industry?

Ben Eunson: I began playing the guitar when I was 10. I played piano and violin before that, but neither interested me like the guitar. I saw Andy Summers playing on TV when I was 9 years old, and something just clicked in my mind. I also heard George Benson, and also Jeff Beck around the same time – I couldn’t believe that you could make all of these different sounds with an electric guitar. So, I got my first guitar just after my 10th birthday, an acoustic from a little local store. By the time I was 15, I had started working professionally in jazz and rock clubs, and everything grew from there. 

Jacob Elyachar: Who are your music heroes? How did their work influence your career?

Ben Eunson: Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were early heroes of mine – I think their influence is deeply embedded in everything I do musically. In the guitar realm, I would point to Pat Metheny, George Benson, Ralph Towner, Wes Montgomery, Robben Ford, Andy Summers, and so many more. Outside of the guitar realm, Keith Jarrett, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson are just a few of the brilliant Jazz and improvisational minds that have had a significant impact upon me. Also, I must mention Joni Mitchell – especially her albums from the 1980s and early 90s, which I feel are incredibly underrated. 

Ben Eunson accompanied John Legend last year at a taping of an NBC holiday special. (Photo property of NBC & Ben Eunson)

Jacob Elyachar: You have worked as a guitarist for several entertainment industry heavy hitters including Dave Chappelle, John Legend, and Queen Latifah. What were some of the lessons that you learned from them that helped you grow as a musician?

Ben Eunson: Getting to work with so many great artists has taught me a lot about individuality as an artist. Whether it is working with someone like John Legend or working with a noted instrumentalist in the Jazz or Rock worlds, the very best artists have a strong sense of identity and individuality in the music they make, which often leads to their musical style being instantly recognizable. This inherent quality is definitely the main thing I have taken away from working with the greats, and something I strive to achieve myself. 

Jacob Elyachar: What were some of the challenges that you faced throughout your career? How did you overcome those obstacles?

Ben Eunson: Working my way up through the clubs in NYC was a tough challenge when I first began playing here nearly eight years ago, but a fun challenge nonetheless. Releasing new music as an independent artist in this day and age is also challenging on a lot of levels, but is ultimately incredibly rewarding.

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s talk about ACE. How long did it take you to create these impeccable arrangements from conception to recording?

Ben Eunson: I began planning the music for this album in Summer 2017. We hit the studio in September of that year,and continued experimenting with various recording sessions over the course of the next year. By October 2018, we had finished tracking as a band in the studio, and had roughly 30 songs to choose from. Some of the songs were through-composed pieces, and some were completely improvised jams. Myself and my co-producer Michael Perez-Cisneros sorted through all of this material,and narrowed it down to the 10 strongest songs. 

Jacob Elyachar: If you had the opportunity to meet with musicians who are looking to work in other international countries in the music industry, what advice would you share with them?

Ben Eunson: If you have a dream in music, I would say to follow that dream. In my opinion, the only real obstacle is time. It is nearly impossible to predict exactly when everything will happen for you – but with focus, hard work, persistence and patience, anything really is possible. Musicians today face a lot of new challenges that previous generations did not necessarily have to face, but we also have a lot more freedom than ever before. In the end, I think it is wise to play to the strengths of the digital age we live in, while always remaining true to who you are artistically.

For more information about Ben, visit his website! You can also connect with Ben on social media. Visit his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & YouTube channels.

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar