Interview: With Our Nation in Turmoil, Ben Wylen’s “Skinny Jeans” Calls for Change

Ben Wylen’s timely new single “Skinny Jeans” is his way of boldly speaking out against the appalling unfairness in our world today.

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To say it is a crazy time to be alive would be an understatement. From a global pandemic and raging forest fires to social unrest and a huge political election underway, there is so much weighing on our shoulders. Ben Wylen, like many of us, feels that heavy burden we as a society bear. Understanding the ingrained systemic inequalities that so many people of color are forced to confront, Wylen understands just how important the fight for justice really is. His latest captivating single “Skinny Jeans” details that very notion as it explores our current political landscape and the efforts of so many young people standing up for what they believe in.

Skinny Jeans – Ben Wylen

Fervently singing in the chorus, “We’re all soldiers marching endlessly. In long hair and skinny jeans. Young and fearless, repeating history. For the world we want to see. “ There is something so powerful in the fact that generations have pursued the same battle for racial justice and though we are still fighting that fight we will never give up. Being a strong single advocating a need for change, “Skinny Jeans” is the ideal anthem for those out fighting each day to make the world a better place. Though it speaks of all the awful darkness in the world, the song also provides hope. The potent track underlines that what we do really does count and even with small steps we can make a big difference.

Atwood Magazine spoke with Ben Wylen, discussing racial injustice, fake news, musical inspirations, and more.

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Listen: “Skinny Jeans” – Ben Wylen


Atwood Magazine: Your new single ‘’Skinny Jeans’’ is a socially aware track highlighting all the awful social inequalities we have been facing and those that have powerfully chosen to stand up and fight. You say it is sad that we still have to march in the streets for issues our parents were fighting for 50 plus years ago, but it has shown the younger generation’s true resilience. What have you seen come out of all this immense tragedy and injustice that has really inspired you the most?

Ben Wylen: I think what the most inspiring thing I have seen is the amount of non-oppressed people who are marching in the streets just because it is the right thing to do. What I mean is, during the height of the protests after the murder of George Floyd, I marched in the street with people of all races and ethnicities. It was heartwarming to see these people, like myself, standing up for justice even though they were not black. It reminds me of that Ben Franklin quote, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

Your song also touches on how many politicians talk a big talk, but fail to take action when it comes down to it. What changes would you like to see in our political system and how can our leaders strive to do better?

Ben Wylen: I would like to see our politicians have constructive debate about climate solutions rather than arguing about whether climate change is really happening. I would like to see our congress take action on gun violence. Mass shooting after mass shooting, politicians send a few kind words and then do nothing. It’s pitiful. They are failing to do their most important job, which is to keep the public safe! I would like to see politicians elected who are interested in creating positive change!

The track is sung with so much passion and builds into an elevated chorus bursting with raw emotion. What was the process like when constructing the song?

Ben Wylen: The song was written during a writing trip I took to London. While I was writing the song, I wanted to have this old school kind of folk guitar strumming as a nod to the socially conscious songs that have come before it. The original demo was just guitar and vocals. When it came time to produce the song, I actually recorded and produced it in my living room during quarantine. I felt that adding the piano and atmospherics in the chorus really made the chorus hit in a more visceral and emotional way.

Watch: “Skinny Jeans” – Ben Wylen

The lyrics for ‘’Skinny Jeans’’ are so gripping and force us to look at the prejudice and dishonesty we as a society are currently witnessing. What allowed you to write such moving lyrics in such a real and candid fashion?

Ben Wylen: When it comes to lyrics it is always hard for me to determine where they come from. I wrote this song with a friend of mine and we were just talking about the world and its problems and it just sort of came out naturally. After it was written, I had a few days to sit on it and I realized it needed some work. In a moment of honest inspiration the line, “The scientists’ words won’t be believed, got so many deniers stealing truth like thieves,” came into my head. That really tied the whole song together for me.

Speaking of the lyrics, there is a line as you mentioned, ‘’the scientists’ words won’t be believed. Got so many deniers, stealing truth like thieves.’’ With so many conspiracy theories circulating and fake news spreading, what do you do to try and separate the lies from the sincerity of the situations we are facing in the world today?

Ben Wylen: This is a great question! The key for me is getting news from a lot of different sources. A lot of people scroll on social media and they see some headlines and believe them blindly. In this day and age, it is easy to fall into that trap. If you really want to be informed I would start by reading the newspaper. The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post are all examples of papers with slightly different angles but they all operate on the same set of facts. Alternatively, I can watch Fox News and CNN and it is like I’m living in two different universes. So, don’t be afraid to watch them all and make informed choices!

100% of the proceeds from the streams and downloads from the song will be donated to Sunrise Movement, a group committed to the fight against climate change and creating well-paid jobs in the process. What drew you to this organization and what can others do to make a difference?

Ben Wylen: The key for me in choosing the Sunrise Movement, in particular, is that it is youth-led. The Sunrise Movement is about this generation of young people taking action for their own future! I immediately identified with their message and I was massively inspired by their important work!

Ben Wylen © 2020

On the topic of Sunrise Movement, your upcoming video for the track uses footage from that group and other brave protestors showcasing a united desire for change. What sparked this vision for your visuals?

Ben Wylen: I think I really wanted to show the parallel between my parents’ generation and this generation.  I tried to use visuals that encompassed this idea.  I also wanted to showcase the bravery of young people today! We are fearless and we will not stop until we manifest a better world. The credit for this video really lies with Olly Starkey, however. Olly heard my vision and made it a reality and his work speaks for itself in my opinion. He is a real talent!

You recorded a 12-track album with prominent producer Danton Supple {Coldplay, U2} and will be releasing one song every month up until the album is released. What has your experience been like working with such a legendary figure in the industry?

Ben Wylen: Honestly it was incredibly strange at first. I remember referencing songs like “Fix You,” and Danton saying things like “oh yea I remember recording that one, we used this same mic we are using now.” Those moments really made the seven-year-old in me explode with excitement. Once we actually started working together though, it became this incredible collaboration. Danton and I are both all about the art and how we can express it and it was a real joy to work with someone that could understand my vision and help bring it to life!

You previously were a member of the notable indie rock outfit Foxtrax. What has the transition been like branching out into a solo career?

Ben Wylen: At first it was hard. I spent several years being “Ben from Foxtrax.” When I left it was like I had to recreate my identity and that was quite a bizarre experience. But, that transitional time was incredibly creative for me. I had all these heightened emotions from leaving the band and it really gave me a lot of ammunition for songwriting.

Ben Wylen © 2020

Talking about evolving, do you foresee any other further musical transitions in your future?

Ben Wylen: I think I will continue to evolve musically for my entire career. I think I feel settled on being a solo artist, but I hope I get the chance to work with lots of different producers as I mature as an artist. Having said that, if John Mayer and Ed Sheeran want to form a band modeled after the Travelling Wilburys, I am in!

Are there any artists or musicians you grew up listening to that have helped shape your musical journey?

Ben Wylen: Honestly the list of artists that have inspired me is endless. Here is a shortlist of the greats who have made me who I am! Bear in mind there are others! Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, John Mayer, Coldplay, and The Rolling Stones are all huge influences.

Lastly, mentioning other artists, are there any you have been digging recently that you can share with our readers?

Ben Wylen: Modern artists that I really dig currently include Maggie Rogers, Bon Iver, Hozier, and Leon. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though.  In truth, I am a music fanatic and I am constantly listening to music and finding inspiration in it!

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