X Factor winner Ben Haenow plays Brighton

Ben Haenow
Ben Haenow

X Factor winner and platinum-selling singer Ben Haenow strips it all back for an acoustic date at Komedia Studio, Brighton on April 29.

“This is my fourth headline tour,” says Ben. “We did a tour towards the end of last year, and I think it is a selfish thing, maybe, I just wanted to be just myself. We have done big band shows and full band versions, but I wanted to do something a bit different, stripped back. I think it gives people a different level to the songs. Just acoustic guitar and vocals, it just has a different feel, and it gives people a bit more of a chance to listen to the lyrics. It is more intimate. You are closer to the people, and I think it opens it all up a bit. It is a different relationship that you have with them. It almost becomes a bit more of a sing-along feel.”

Ben’s X Factor success is now coming up for five years ago: “It was definitely a game-changer, for sure. Rather than just playing up and down the country, I was playing all over the world and working with some incredible producers. I didn’t know what was going to happen really. It was just such a shock to win.”

But the win quickly brought him a Christmas number one: “It was such an honour to have such an accolade.”

Ben has stayed the course ever since… while other former X Factor winners have fallen by the wayside.

“That’s the tough thing. I had the year with the big label, and I suppose some people might think ‘Oh well, I have had that now and I had a good time’ and then just stop. But that’s not at all what I thought. I was just thinking that it was such a great platform and such a great springboard.”

Ben was determined to use it to move forward as an independent artist: “And that was scary and invigorating at the same time. Scary I guess because of not having a big team behind you, pushing stuff out, creative people behind you. But the good thing (as an independent) is that you are steering the ship. You can do what you want to do. You don’t have to do what someone is telling you, but it is a bit scary.” But he learnt a huge amount through being with the label: “It was a real education.”

He was independent, though, for the release of his second album last year: “It was completely self-produced and self-released. I think I have gone more in the direction of the stuff that I felt more comfortable with, the slightly-more edgy direction rather than the more solid pop.” Ben is currently working on new material, just enjoying the writing process, either by himself or with others: “The point of writing by yourself is that you can take a little bit more time over it. The song can evolve. But writing with other people is a different discipline. You get the input of a different person. It is a different thing, but I enjoy both. But you can’t force it. There are days when you feel more creative and there are days when you struggle to write, but if you are struggling to write and you are working with someone else, you can always bounce ideas off them and get going that way.”

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