Following the release of his debut album Violent Shiver, the New Orleans singer talks about the responsibilities that come with fame.
You recently brought in a bassist to your two-man formation, why?
It was never really supposed to be just the two of us, but when I started playing shows everything happened really quickly and there just wasn’t enough time to put together a band, so we just hit the road with what we had. I didn’t want to just use session musicians so it was a case of looking for the right person.
You just toured with Jack White, as you approach your own tour do you experience a different set of pressures?
Opening is very relaxed, people aren’t there to see you but at the same time you want to try and win over some new fans. When we’re headlining it’s a way smaller show but there’s more pressure on me. Pressure is good though.
Your influences range from rock to folk and Delta blues, how did you develop such an eclectic style?
When I was younger I was pretty obsessive about researching music. If I liked a band I looked up everyone they sited as an influence. That took me all over the place musically. I got internet around the same time that I got into music so I’d just sit there for eight hours watching everything I could.
You live in New Orleans but are from Florida, did you move there to develop a more authentic sound?
No, I didn’t really know anything about the city before I moved there. I got a job after school and moved to work for a non-profit organisation. I’d be going to community meetings, City Hall meetings, working in community gardens, in schools and rebuilding houses so I got a crash course in the city. Then the music started picking up and I’m sure the city worked its way in.
Do you want to use your music as a political platform?
One of my role models is [novelist and social critic] James Baldwin. He used his art as a platform for activism and to take care of the people that he cared about. It’s something that’s important to me but I haven’t figured out how yet. If you’re an artist of a minority group, what’s your responsibility to use that platform to make changes? I don’t know, but it’s definitely something I want to explore.
Benjamin Booker plays 13 Sept, Ruby Lounge, Manchester
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