Reservoir writer Jamie Hartman surprised and delighted fans when he announced via social media that he was returning to the musical project that first put him on the map, Ben’s Brother. Originally a quintent based out of London, Ben’s Brother became known for its emotive brand of acoustic pop rock, earning the group an Ivor Novello nomination for “Let Me Out” in 2008. As the band’s frontman, Jamie Hartman has picked up the reigns nearly a decade later to bring new music from the project to market, beginning with its sweet and soulful current single, “Honeybee”, officially released tomorrow. Below, Jamie Hartman and the Creative executive who signed him, Reservoir/Reverb Music Managing Director Annette Barrett, share what it’s like to bring Ben’s Brother back to the masses.
It’s been over six years since the last official Ben’s Brother EP, seven since the last album, and nine since the release that put the band on the map, Beta Male Fairytales. What incentivized you to revisit the project now?
Jamie: Honestly? I miss touring and playing live with the guys. It’s been too long. And when you start wishing for things in your head and your heart, sometimes the music shows up to make that happen. At least, I hope it does!
What was it like to return to your own project after so many years spent working closely on sounds and concepts for artists like Rag’N’Bone Man, James Bay, and Conrad Sewell, to name just a few? Did your numerous collaborations affect how you wrote for Ben’s Brother this time around?
Jamie: My Ben’s Brother records have always felt very personal, as you’d expect. When I’m writing with and for other artists, I just try to be the channel for what they want to say and bring ideas for how they say it.
Overall, what can fans expect from the latest incarnation of Ben’s Brother? New sounds and subject matter? Familiar ones?
Jamie: Definitely a mixture of new sounds on songs like “Honeybee” and “The Trick”, and some more familiar territory with other tunes. Hopefully a good blend, with an emphasis on great songs.
What made “Honeybee” stand out as the perfect single to use to reintroduce Ben’s Brother?
Jamie: For my part, I’d say I just love the overall soul in it. It feels more positive than some of the previous records. A return to my Sam Cooke and Otis Redding musical influences, rather than the U.K. indie rock influences of Radiohead and other bands.
Annette: Jamie’s vocals on this song are fantastic—back to his Sam Cooke and Otis Redding soulful influences, as he mentions. It’s perhaps not classic Ben’s Brother in that it’s more upbeat; however, it’s still very distinctive and melodic. I think it brings Ben’s Brother into 2016.
Annette, you signed Jamie to a publishing deal with Reverb Music in 2002. How did you meet him?
Annette: I met Jamie through his then-manager Christian Ulf Hansen, who thought I would like Jamie’s songs. The rest is history!
How has Jamie evolved as a songwriter since the early Ben’s Brother days?
Annette: Jamie has grown and evolved as a songwriter immensely over the years. His willingness to take direction, work on new projects, and versatility have propelled him into a sought-after, A-list songwriter.
What is it about Jamie’s songwriting that makes you believe in him now the way you did back when you first signed him?
Annette: Jamie’s unerring talent. That’s never changed.
How do you describe your creative dynamic with one another today?
Jamie: Annette is my music business guru and the person I most admire, respect, and love in this game. She’s the don! Plus she puts up with my more idiosyncratic moments…like sending out interesting business emails when I’m drunk!
Annette: Jamie is a dream songwriter and artist. He is consistent and emotive, with great versatility an amazing talent. We have enjoyed a great deal of success together, and I believe there’s so much more to come. And, of course, I am his consigliere!
Can you offer us a tease of what’s next following the release of the new Ben’s Brother EP? Is a tour in the works?
Jamie: Yes! A tour is in the works for the U.K. in February 2017. We’re working on it at the moment. And a full album hopefully in the Summer.
Preview and pre-order “Honeybee” by Ben’s Brother on iTunes.