To celebrate the release of BANFF's latest EP, Mt Pleasant, out today, we asked the man behind the music, Benjamin Forbes, to take us through his headspace bringing the record to life covering everything from his dog Scout to new baby Archie. You can also gain further insight into the process through a series of Forbes' journal entries scattered throughout.
Head over to the link here, press play on the EP and read Forbes' thoughts below.
Pettigrew Pt 1
Pettigrew Pt 1 narrates the specific moment I had the first idea for Mt Pleasant. After quitting my job and transforming the garden shed into a fully functioning recording studio, I spent most days trying to conjure up ideas to bring this new EP to life. The problem was that nothing came, over and over again. It had been simple before. Get up, get out, do something else. But this time things were different. I had sunk it all into this. After countless failed attempts, I spent less time doing music, more time doing nothing. I began to try and find comfort in this nothingness, settling in as self doubt and confusion came in waves. But one day, while taking a walk down my street, my dog Scout by my side, the nothingness became somethingness. I began transforming my thoughts into repetitive phrases, kinda like this self talk moment of reassurance.
“Won’t go breaking my back, I’ll keep running on track.” The phrase lingered in my head for hours, before I took the idea to the shed. Pettigrew Pt 1 came to life within the hour.
Learn more about the making of Pettigrew Pt 1 here.
Light On Me
Light On Me was the second track I wrote en route to Mt Pleasant, penned shortly after breaking through a creative block and finding more moments of light and inspiration. Throughout this writing process, I would frequent a local mountain walking track with Scout. We'd spend a lot of time up that mountain taking in our days. It became a place of reflection and inspiration, so I decided to dub it Mt Pleasant - my happy place.
The inspiration behind Light On Me came one day, while sitting on a fallen tree branch overlooking the city, Scout by my side. After months of doubt and hesitation, I felt a warm wave of light roll over me. I had a renewed outlook on this journey and the ideas started flowing. A piano melody came to mind, and as I hummed the melody from our mountainside vantage point I began narrating my thoughts at the time. "I will stand right at the top of the mountain, cast my eyes wide at the top of the day. Pull my heart back to end the commotion, cause man I've found light in these ordinary ways." Light On Me was born.
Learn more about the making of Light On Me here.
Reprise is a chaotic and off-the-cuff scribble of thoughts that came to me about halfway through the writing process on Mt Pleasant. I'd uncovered so much in the early days about myself and my creative process, but a lot of the time I still found myself driving this habitual approach to the whole thing. Probably some subconscious approach to how the past six years of my life working a 9-5. Everything had a structure and a plan, and usually, that plan helped navigate me to some sort of outcome I was looking for. But this was so different. When I wrote Reprise, the track was already there - the melodic ideas, the chords and even the whole vocal melody. I never consciously sat down to write the lyrics, but the moment more so came to me. As I was listening back through the track, I kinda started having this tongue in cheek dig at myself for how naive I’d been at the start of the journey to Mt Pleasant, where I’d often find myself applying the confines of structure and rigidity to the art of songwriting. “My hands are tied, back to the count in,” is the opening line to the song, implying that even when things weren’t really working, my inclination was to hit the red recording dot and get tracking again. The song focuses a lot on the idea of luck. Questioning whether half the shit I was coming up with was a result of sheer luck or some unidentified and unsolved creative mystery that’s stemmed for so long.
The title is a completely literal explanation of the whole vibe of the track: a repetition in thoughts, processes, and sounds.
Learn more about the making of Reprise here.
This track really came from nowhere. A made up word I started kicking around, kinda like kids do to explain things that they feel may not have words to justify. The idea didn’t come from Mt Pleasant, nor the studio, but rather this non-linear space in between. I wrote the track to try and describe the feeling of finding comfort from a place with no comfort. An explanation on what it's like to indulge for a little but, in what can feel like the inevitable hopelessness of a situation. I threw the phrase down as a funny play on words when demoing, but as the idea formed it began to represent something to me that I’d hadn’t been able to explain myself.
Learn more about the making of Adamey at my journal entry here.
For Archie was the last track I wrote and recorded on Mt Pleasant. The foundations of it sat as a diminished D chord progression with a little vocal melody lingering over the top. I didn’t have words for it for months, nor had I taken any time to demo it up and experiment in the shed. It always felt like the kinda track that would find its own way, and it did. Right towards the end of my writing journey, my wife and I were expecting our first baby. We hadn’t chosen a name for him yet, but there were a heap of feels in our household waiting for the little man to be born. I’d returned from the studio in Melbourne in late May. We had a spare day up our sleeve, so decided to throw down the idea and get the bed of the track down. I wasn’t comfortable committing to lyrics and a vocal line for it in the studio, so brought it home with me to sit for a little. When I returned home, Archie was about a week or so off his due date. My wife and I spoke about how we were feeling during that week. Reflection on the pregnancy and our lives as they were over that time. It was a challenging but beautiful year. I had time to fully immerse myself in my songwriting, which came with a lot of highs and lows. Pip put a pause on her own career towards the final stages of her pregnancy to focus on Archie. We had both been thrown into totally different situations and were still finding ways to work through it all.
But out of those chats sparked a lot of positive reflection on my journey with Mt Pleasant. There were really tough days, and really bright ones. And the last few were truly bright.
The moment in conversation felt like a defining one; one that ended this writing period. I went into the shed not long after our chat and penned down some words, which I relayed back to my wife to see whether it captured the sentiment we both shared in our earlier chat. A few days later I rang a friend Graham who lived near by who had helped with a stack of pre-production on the EP. I tracked the first vocal from my shed, before stepping into his studio to see whether I could get a better take. We did. And not long after that session, I had sent the stems back to my producer in Melbourne to finish the mix and lock away the EP.
Previously the track's dummy title was ‘perpetua finis’, just some Latin translation meaning ‘eternal goal’. A kinda never-ending sort of meaning for me, which represented the feelings I had during most of the writing process where I felt I’d never find an end point. But I did. It was in that moment with my wife. I figured one day I’ll share some of these stories for Archie, and there it was. He was born five or so days later. Welcome little man.
Learn more about the making of For Archie here.