Gold Coast entertainment powerhouse, multi-instrumentalist and all-round nice guy Benny D Williams has recently given back some of the love afforded him by the region with the release of ‘Cities Of Gold’, a conceptually-based album that centres around life in paradise.
After teasing fans with ‘Cleanse Your Soul’ and ‘The Ocean Song’ earlier this year, Benny unleashed ‘Cities Of Gold’ late last month as much as a thank you to the city that sustains his musical career as well as a homage to his past, present and future.
“I released ‘Cleanse Your Soul’ first as the lead single about a month ago then I released ‘The Ocean Song’ as a video and single in one hit,” he said.
“I have always lived on the Gold Coast and this whole album is conceptually based about my experiences and interactions with people and lifestyle here. I am stuck here now raising my kids so I maybe tour once or twice a year around the East Coast but I’m a Gold Coast boy since 1987.”
With the number of concept albums decreasing in recent years and existing projects centred more around a storyline rather than a community, Benny saw the opportunity to create a body of work that encapsulated an exciting new perspective and one which holds even more credence due to the personal nature of its source material.
“That’s one of the things that swayed me,” he said. “Now vinyl is outselling CD I think we’re heading back more to an album kind of thing. A concept album is a start to finish event and no-one is doing that anymore because it’s all singles and playlists and streaming services.
“I’ve always loved concept albums so that’s where I get a lot of inspiration from is that era of music – the indulgent 60’s and 70’s stuff. I just went with it and when I put all the songs together it turned out all of them were about being on the Gold Coast. It wasn’t mapped out as a concept album but it became one along the way.”
Despite the nature of the music being seemingly limited by geographical location, Benny shakes his head when asked if the album is a straight-up formulaic feel-good body of work.
“It’s a pretty eclectic mix,” he countered. “It goes from one side of the coin to the other. There’s a Lenny Kravitz sounding thing on there; there’s a soulful track on there; there’s a world music song; a little bit of electronics and a little bit of psychedelics in places. It’s not pinned down to one genre. We’re not talking about The Black Keys here, that’s for sure (laughs).
“A mate of mine listened to it and said it was really good but he couldn’t pin down where I was going. He said every time he listened to another song it went somewhere else and he found it fascinating that it worked like that.”
As somewhat of a local legend on the Gold Coast, Benny laughs when I suggest this will endear him even more to the locals.
“I value the respect of other musicians and other people incredibly because everyone is struggling on their own path through life,” he acknowledged.
“Life’s not easy and it’s not meant to be. Maybe it would get boring if it was but I have full respect for all my fellow musicians and I don’t feel like there is any competition. Whenever my peers are successful I’m happy for them and I think if I ever touch anyone with my music and they come up and talk to me about it I understand that’s a big thing for someone to do and to talk on that level. I always appreciate it and thank them for saying so because it’s hard to do that. With the feeling and the emotion of music, people can connect on that level and I think we’re losing that a lot these days with screens and the internet and remote working.
“These are all good, essential things, but there are symptoms that come with it and there are negatives that come with these positives. I love communicating with people at gigs and shows and feeling what they’re feeling and hopefully getting what I’m feeling across to them. It’s human connection.”
You can connect with Benny when he hits up the Currumbin RSL for their deck acoustics on Saturday 21 December, and he’s pretty active on socials so hit them up for his upcoming performances around the coast. You can also check out our full review of ‘Cities of Gold’, here.
IMAGE (c) Lamp Photography