Benjamin Clementine

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Benjamin Clementine
Benjamin Clementine
Benjamin Clementine performing at Haldern Pop 2014
Born Benjamin Sainte-Clementine
(1988-12-07) 7 December 1988 (age 26)
Crystal Palace, London, England
Occupation Poet, singer, songwriter, pianist, composer, musician, arranger
Home town Edmonton, London, Greater London, England
Musical career
Genres Minimal, expressionist, chamber pop, classical, folk, spoken word
Instruments Vocals, piano, keyboard, bass, drums, percussion
Years active 2008–present
Labels Virgin EMI, Barclay
Notable instruments
Steingraeber & Söhne E-272
Steinway D-274
Yamaha C7
Signature Benjamin Clementine signature 2.jpg

Benjamin Sainte-Clementine (French pronunciation: /ˈbɛndʒəmɪn ˈsən ˈkləməntɪn/; born 7 December 1988)[1] is an English musician and songwriter.[2] He grew up in North London before moving to France and subsequently performed on the British television programme Later With Jools Holland.[3] He has been particularly praised for his unique piano playing, charisma on stage and his powerful vocals which is mostly compared to that of Nina Simone and Antony Hegarty[4][5] He is noticeably seen playing on stage entirely in black or dark grey long trench-like woollen coat with no shirt underneath, in bare feet.[6][7]

Biography[edit]

Clementine was born to British parents of Ghanaian descent in Crystal Palace, London,[7] but grew up in Edmonton, in the north of the city. He has cited his musical influences as Erik Satie, Jake Thackray, Antony Hegarty, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, Léo Ferré and Luciano Pavarotti. In 2008, at the age of 19, he had a brief conflict with his long time flatmate and friend,[8] and, looking for somewhere else to live, decided to move to Paris, France,[2] where he spent a number of years homeless and busking mostly playing in bars and hotels to earn a living.[9] He was discovered by an agent by the name of Aysam Rahmania FdP, who introduced him to his friend Mathieu Gazier, later on becoming Clementine's manager for a period of time. In 2012, whilst playing a gig at the Festival de Cannes they met Lionel Bensemoun, a business mogul in France. Through him, they decided to set up the record label Behind so that Clementine could record his music.[9][10] He eventually became popular on the music scene, where he was described as "la révélation anglaise des Francos" ("the English revelation of the "Francofolies" festival").[2] Clementine eventually signed a joint music license contract between Virgin EMI,UK and Barclay, France.

Cornerstone EP[edit]

Clementine's first EP, Cornerstone, was released in June 2013 with three studio tracks.[7] It was re-issued in October 2013 with three additional acoustic tracks recorded for Deezer, a web-based music streaming service.[10] In the same month, he appeared on the BBC television show Later With Jools Holland with a mesmerising performance in a star-studded lined up that included Paul McCartney, Earth, Wind and Fire, Gary Clark, Jr. and the Arctic Monkeys [11] performing the EP's title track.[9][12] The appearance drew strong critical praise, with Paul McCartney encouraging Clementine to continue his musical career.[2] The London Evening Standard′s David Smyth, reviewing a gig at the South Bank Centre, said that Clementine's performance reminded him of Nina Simone, particularly as he had covered her hit "Ain't Got No, I Got Life" in a radically different style.[13]

Clementine announced further tours, both solo and supporting Woodkid with The BBC Concert Orchestra, including an appearance at the O2 Academy in Brixton[14] and at the Rencontres Trans Musicales festival in Rennes, France, where he worked on a special show and performed four nights in a row.[12]

Andy Gill on the Independence album review wrote;

"This debut EP offers a taste of one of 2014’s most promising new talents. With just Benjamin Clementine’s impulsive piano figures accompanying his dark, powerful voice, there’s a soulful solemnity about these searching songs. But there’s also a wealth of imagination at work: “It’s a wonderful life, traversed in tears from the heavens,” he observes in “I Won’t Complain”, surveying the emotional turmoil that renders his heart a “melodrama in fact”; while over flurries of piano, his urgent delivery of “Cornerstone” blends the sensitivity of Antony Hegarty with the wracked passion of Nina Simone, admitting loneliness as his “home, home, home”, but biting off the word to sound like “hope”. A distinctive and impressive new voice."[4]

Glorious You EP[edit]

A second EP, Glorious You, was released on the 25th of August 2014 that consisted of the tracks "Condolence", "Adios", "Edmonton" and "Mathematics".[citation needed]

Music style[edit]

Voice[edit]

Clementine is a spinto tenor.[15] A warm graceful voice with a bright, full timbre that is strong but yet heavy that ranges from approximately the C one octave below middle C (C3) to the D one octave above middle C (D5). His lower range extends two octaves below middle C (C3).[citation needed]

"The 24 year old marries the intimacy of Antony Hegarty with the passion of Aretha Franklin and the intensity of Edith Piaf, delivering his introspective lyrics about integrity and vulnerability with an almost operative soul sensibility that recalls Nina Simone."[15]

Expressionism and Minimal[edit]

Clementine is entirely self-taught musically. Growing up, Clementine had little exposure to music and it was this naivety that now made his singing so confusing to classify. In his teens he had caught Anthony Hegarty performing Hope There's Someone on television; then on the radio he'd heard the avant-garde French composer Erik Satie. Unconsciously, he had married the spirit of these two influences with poetic lyrics to produce his own material, both original and epic. He accompanies on hypnotic piano vamps [15] with mostly minimal instruments ranging from little voice breaths, a brushing of coat for percussions as in his song Edmonton, to a vicious string stride confrontation in his song Adios.[16]

He said;

"I am an expressionist; I sing what I say, I say what I feel and i feel what I play by honesty and none other but honesty. Some will get bored of me, but I invite the patient listener to come forth, feel and most importantly engage with me without asking too many questions. Hopefully by the end of listening they shall get answers not questionable, wether pleasing or not."

[17]

Poetry[edit]

Portrait of Benjamin Clementine 2011

Clementine claims to have been mainly influenced by writers such as William Blake, Carol Ann Duffy and C. S. Lewis[16] He delivers his introspective lyrics about integrity and vulnerability and explores both in everyday experience. One of his frustrations returning to Britain was how little ambition there was in most song lyrics. Having had a spell in France, he realised that most of their artists put a lot of detail into their lyrics. Talking to the Guardian journalist Tim Lewis, he said, "it's very important down there (France) because most of the time they [the audience] pay more attention to what the singer says and what they are trying to express."[16]

He exposes this by writing:

"I am alone in a box of stone
When all is said and done.
As the wind blows to the east from the west,
Unto this bed my tears have its solemn rest."

[1]

"Its a wonderful life, its a wonderful life;
traversed in tears from the heavens.
My heart is a mellow drum a mellow drum in fact;
set alight by echoes of pain twenty-four seven.
I dream, I smile, I walk, I cry."

[2]

Appearances[edit]

On 17 June 2014 Clementine performed three songs live throughout the Burberry Prorsum Menswear Catwalk show[18][19] - the first musician to perform live throughout a Burberry show. An album was scheduled to be released in 2014,[10] but Clementine announced that he will be releasing his second EP called Glorious You, on 25 August 2014.[1]

On 17 July 2014, Clementine performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival.[7][20]

On 5 October 2014, Clementine performed at TedXSalford 2014 in Salford, one of the largest independently organised TedX events in the UK.

On Sunday the 12 of October 2014, Clementine performed and spoke at the Observer Ideas at the Barbican Centre, a festival to share ideas to the public, in a line up that included Edward Snowden, David Simon, creator of the acclaimed HBO series The Wire and multi-award winning musician Tinie Tempah[21]

On Monday the 15th of December 2014, Clementine performed at AssagoForum in Milan, opening the concert of Stromae.

Discography[edit]

EPs[edit]

List of albums, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details
Cornerstone EP
  • Year released: 2013
  • Record label: Behind Records, (BE001, 2013)
  • Details: 12″ vinylLimited edition. Includes 3 tracks/

CD, 2013. Re-issue, includes 6 tracks, including 3 from his Deezer session.

Glorious You EP
  • Year released: 2014
  • Record label: Behind Records, (BE002, 2014)
  • Details: 12″ vinyl, Limited edition. Includes 4 tracks/
  • CD, 2014. Reissue includes 4 tracks, Condolence, Adios, Edmonton, Mathematics

Television appearances[edit]

Year Television show Performing Description
2013 Later... with Jools Holland "Cornerstone" & "Nemesis" Series 43, Episode 6[22]
Ce soir (ou jamais!) "I won't complain" Ce soir (ou jamais!) 2013[23]
2014 Ce soir (ou jamais!) "Nemesis" Ce soir (ou jamais!) 2014[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Benjamin Clementine (official Facebook page)". Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Godwin, Richard (16 December 2013). "Benjamin Clementine: the future sound of London". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Lester, Paul (22 October 2013). "Later ... with Jools Holland: Sir Paul McCartney, Arctic Monkeys and Katy B – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Gill, Andy (2014-01-11). "Album reviews: Lincoln Durham, Boy & Bear, Run The Jewels, Benjamin Clementine, Howe Gelb". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  5. ^ "Festival francês revela novos talentos musicais" (in Portuguese). Radio France Internationale. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Maine, Sammy (14 April 2014). "Review: Benjamin Clementine at Colston Hall". Bristol 24-7. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d Intxausti, Aurora (26 July 2014). "Una estrella salida del metro". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "New artist of the week". The Irish Independent. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c Davet, Stéphane (17 July 2014). "Benjamin Clementine, par la voix du " Je "". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Rosenberg, Becky (28 October 2013). "EP: Cornerstone, Benjamin Clementine". Cambridge Varsity. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  11. ^ "Later With Jools Holland : Episode 6". BBC. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Benjamin Clementine, 24 ans et tout son chant". Le Monde (in French). 5 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Smyth, David (16 December 2013). "Benjamin Clementine, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre – music review". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "Woodkid with The BBC Concert Orchestra + Benjamin Clementine". O2 Academy Brixton. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c "Bright young things: The best new talent in the arts for 2014". The Independent. 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  16. ^ a b c Lewis, Tim (2014-08-09). "Benjamin Clementine: the barefoot troubadour who speaks his mind". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  17. ^ "Benjamin Clementine - About". Facebook. 1988-12-07. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  18. ^ Burberry. "Benjamin Clementine - Live At The Burberry Prorsum Menswear S/S15 Show". YouTube. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  19. ^ London, Bianca (17 June 2014). "Did Pharrell inspire your collection, Christopher? Burberry boss Bailey sends male models down his SS15 runway in soft-brimmed hats loved by the singer (all watched from the front row by Nick Grimshaw, Jourdan Dunn and David Gandy)". Daily Mail. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "Le Montreux Jazz Festival débute ce vendredi 4 juillet !". Jazz Radio (in French). 3 April 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  21. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/media/competition/2014/sep/28/win-ideas-tickets
  22. ^ . BBC. 27 October 2013 with Jools Holland – Series 43, Episode 6 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01k5mxy=Later... with Jools Holland – Series 43, Episode 6. Retrieved 15 August 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ http://www.france2.fr/emissions/ce-soir-ou-jamais/lives/live-benjamin-clementine_149409.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ http://www.france2.fr/emissions/ce-soir-ou-jamais/diffusions/12-12-2014_287579.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]