NEW YORK SINGER/SONGWRITER BEN CARROLL RECORDS THE FIRST ALBUM RELEASED ON BLUE CLOUD RECORDS, THE NEWLY FORMED LABEL FROM FOUNDER OF ORCHID CLASSICS
2006 was a good year for Orchid Classics. The plaudits continued to come in for the classical label’s debut release, produced with the Imperial War Museum, London. Then came the release of the next two albums, ‘Blues’ and ‘Paris’, which between them received the Daily Telegraph’s CD of the Week, Classic FM’s CD of the Week, CD of the Month in string music bible The Strad (for each of them), and the label was hailed by Time Out as “showing the way for classical artists”. So an expansion seemed logical, but not just in the same direction. Orchid’s founder, the highly sought after British violinist Matthew Trusler, had long been interested in creating a separate label to release music of other genres, but had waited for the right opportunity to present itself. When he came across Ben Carroll’s MySpace page, it did.
This, though, wasn’t the first time they’d met. As a student, Trusler spent several years studying at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the world's smallest and most elite training ground for classical musicians. “One of my best friends at Curtis was a wonderful violinist who had known and worked with Ben for years, and Ben came and stayed for a weekend. I just remember loving how he sang,” says Matthew. But the two didn’t meet again until brought back together by that most modern of musical phenomena, MySpace. “I was checking out my old friend’s page--and there was Ben. I listened to some tracks on his page and thought, that’s it. That’s what I want for the label.”
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Ben was hard at work on his new, second album with his dad Jon Carroll. Carroll is the son of members of the Grammy-winning Starland Vocal Band, best known for their #1 hit Afternoon Delight in 1976. Ben’s father Jon was his main collaborator on ‘Real Thing’, producing, arranging and performing. And so, Ben Carroll becomes the first artist on the newly formed Blue Cloud Records. For Matthew the step seemed logical. “For me it’s about the quality. I think Ben’s music is original, it’s heartfelt and very touching, it’s deeply committed and it’s performed fantastically. He even has musicians from Curtis playing on the album--and that doesn’t happen very often.” Ben agrees that the collaborations on the record help to make it what it is. He talks with particular fondness of one track, recorded with the violinist who originally introduced him to Trusler. “I was lucky enough to get my old, dear friend, Nick Kendall in the studio for one day with my dad and me to work on 'My Darling True'. I did very little that day. I stepped back and watched my dad and Nick bounce ideas back and forth as they sculpted this gorgeous texture of a track.” Another area of real interest for Trusler was the possibility of bringing someone over from across the world, and introducing their music to the UK. “Ben is building a real career in the US,” he explains, “he doesn’t need my efforts over there. But here, I really think he deserves to be in the stores. It seems crazy in this day and age that there is such a musical gulf between our countries.” Indeed, the similarities between London and New York, the pair’s respective homes, are obvious, and Ben’s surroundings are not wasted on him, as he talks about life in New York City. “New York is an electric lover, she doesn't have patience for dead weight and she seems to enjoy honesty, diversity, economy; I'd like to think that shows up in my writing and playing. I also appreciate the experience of living in the middle of one of the world's greatest art magnets. We're all feeding each other.”
"Real Thing...Yes he is. I’ve seen this handsome and charismatic New Yorker perform with just an acoustic guitar, and he killed. Possessing a clear, sweet voice and a satchel full of catchy folk-pop songs about life and love...It’s a throwback sound, kinda early Nilsson, but more upbeat."
-Dusty Wright, Culture Catch
"The Orchid label holds plenty of surprises yet."
-Time Out London