Known for his heart-wrenching lyrics and unapologetic candour, Melbourne-based singer songwriter Benjamin Trillado combines the story-telling elements of folk with the gritty angst of indie-rock. Following the release of his successful debut single ‘Glue’ and 2019 follow-up ‘First Kiss’, Benjamin is back with yet another melodic stunner on his new track ‘Worth’. We had a chat with the man behind the ethereal sounds.
Hi Benjamin, congrats on the new single ‘Worth’! Can you tell us a bit about the making of this one? What sparked you to write this song?
Thank you!! It’s funny because with ‘Worth’ I didn’t sit down knowing what I wanted to write about. I was just messing about on guitar and thought I came up with a cool guitar riff. The first verse was the first piece of writing I attached to the riff and I was stuck on that for a while. During this time, feelings of self-doubt were resurfacing and one day I finally came back to the song and the rest of the lyrics just poured out of me. It was honestly like the song just wrote itself.
And how would you describe your sound?
Brutally honest self-aware songs from a sad boi and his guitar.
You’ve said that ‘Worth’ is about “understanding your own self-value and accepting that you deserve a place in this world.” and that it acts as “a love letter to the LGBTQIA+ community and goes out to anyone who needs a reminder to love and accept themselves for who they truly are.” – Who were some of your biggest queer inspirations when it came to embracing your authentic self and sharing it with the world?
Growing up I honestly didn’t know many queer people in the mainstream media, let alone any queer asian people. I think that’s why it’s so important for me to embrace myself and share it with the world. I know that there is a lack of queer asian representation in the media and I want to be a part of that change. I was a kid that spent a lot of time on the internet so Youtube was actually the first place where I saw queer people and their coming out stories. I distinctly remember when Troye Sivan was a youtuber and he posted his ‘Coming Out’ video in 2013. After watching that, I went on a spiral and just kept watching those types of videos. The more and more people I saw embracing themselves made me want to do that too.
And what about musically? Who inspires your sound and music taste?
It’s constantly changing. One minute I’ll be listening to Ariana Grande and the next I’ll be listening to Janis Ian. I grew up on a lot of pop and r&b but as I got older I started listening to a lot more indie folk and indie rock. Artists like Lucy Dacus, Julia Jacklin and Angie McMahon inspire me and influence a lot of my writing today.
With everything that’s currently happening in the world right now, this song feels like a beautiful hug for the queer community and a great cathartic release perhaps for yourself. How have you found yourself adapting to social distancing/self-isolation measures, and do you have any tips for anyone who may be going through sexuality or identity struggles during what can be such a lonely time?
That is so sweet, thank you! Yeah, it’s a very strange time and I can understand how the social distancing/self-isolation measures can be difficult for so many. It was pretty daunting in the beginning, because for me I was gigging quite regularly, and all of a sudden this had to stop. In a way, having the time to myself has given me a second to pause and appreciate the simple things in life. However, I’ve often felt very unmotivated and anxious about how I’ll be able to move forward with my career if I’m unable to do shows. I realised there is so much I can do and there are so many ways I could be productive; like working on my single release, my online presence and musical skills. It’s kind of like taking a slight detour. In the end you’re still gonna get to your destination, you just might have to do things a bit differently to get there.
For anyone that is struggling with their sexuality or identity, it’s important to understand that you are not alone and for me, talking to someone helps. I understand that some people may not be ready to have that conversation with friends and family or it may be unsafe for them to do so. In that case there are organisations like Qlife that provide a place for anyone to anonymously speak to someone about a range of issues including sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. I’ve attached some links below that might be helpful to some.
Beyond Blue Online Chat: https://online.beyondblue.org.au/
Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service: https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/
Covid-19 Support: https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/covid-19
Do you miss live shows and do you have any plans for upcoming virtual / online performances?
I miss them so much! The stage is my happy place and I can’t wait to get back on it. But for now I have some pretty cool virtual gigs that I’ll be doing:
WORTH VIRTUAL HOME TOUR DATES –
Performances live on my Instagram: @benjamintrillado
FRIDAY – 17.07.20 – My Bedroom – 8pm AEST
FRIDAY – 24.07.20 – My Bathroom – 8pm AEST
FRIDAY – 31.07.20 – My Kitchen – 8pm AEST
THURSDAY – 30.07.20 – Real Songwriters Of Melbourne Live
via Instagram: @rsomelbourne
How else can listeners support you and your music during this time?
Bandcamp is probably the best way. Through Bandcamp you can set a price for how much you would like to pay for the track, anything is appreciated! Also just by streaming my music!
You started playing music at a very young age after picking up your Dad’s guitar and falling in love with it instantly. Is your family quite musical? Do you ever create music or perform together?
My dad taught himself to play guitar and my whole family is not ashamed to jump on karaoke at any given moment. We don’t really create music or perform together but oftentimes one of us will break out into song while doing the dishes or folding laundry. It must be the Filipino in us.
In a perfect world who would you most like to play a gig / tour / collaborate with?
Damien Rice. He is such an amazing writer and performer. He also just seems like the humblest guy ever. He’d be an absolute dream to work with!
And finally, what’s the first thing you’ll be doing once isolation is completely lifted?
Go to a pub, have a pint, watch live music, and hug all my friends.
Take a listen to Benjamin Trillado’s new single ‘Worth‘ below!