Interview with Binary Order
Hi Benjamin, what got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Hi. I grew up obsessed with video games, specifically the Sega Mega Drive, and I remember from a really young age absolutely loving the music in games like Sonic, Streets of Rage, Ecco the Dolphin, etc, although I was constantly told that it wasn’t real music. I have a really early memory of being forced to dance in junior school to the song “I am the music man” and saying to myself “I hate music”, which is pretty ironic in retrospect, although I still hate that song now haha.
Nowadays I have no problem telling people why the music in Sonic 3 & Knuckles is some of the best ever written, but yeah it was those games on the Mega Drive that are the first memories I have connecting with music.
Still, if I hadn’t managed to get Binary Order off the ground I probably would still be in the video game industry. I was working in it for roughly 10 years before I stopped. Although it’s an absolute shit show now, I was unfortunate enough to start my career just as “free to play” mobile games, DLC, and season passes were becoming the biggest thing in the industry. It’s sad but I watched an industry I loved and grew up with die from the inside out.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I still game, but not nearly as much as I used to. Nowadays it’s more of an opportunity to listen to music and keep myself occupied while I do. The worst thing about writing music is you can’t actually listen to music while you do it so it’s nice to get a chance to do so.
Other than that I’ve started reading a lot more, as I mentioned games have gone to shit but my other love is cinema and now I only anticipate a movie coming out for the Redlettermedia review. So I started reading in search of new and interesting stories.
A lot of the books I read recently have been very influential on my work already.
How long have you been making music?
I started taking an active interest in popular music around 2000 (when nu-metal was at its height) and I remember from day one wanting to learn an instrument and write music. I instantly found what I was listening to felt like a missing piece of my existence because I was listening to music that I not only liked, but was really speaking to me at that point in my life, and had a huge culture around it. It was validated because of that compared to the video game music I had been interested in up until then.
So throughout my teens, I was trying to write music and be in bands, but they’d always fall apart and by the time I started university, I was writing music on my own – which would eventually become Binary Order. I didn’t really take it seriously as my actual career till later though as I thought it was just a hobby and not something that could support me.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
Right now I am based out of Essex, which is just East of London and I hate it here. The biggest town near me is Romford, and it’s turned into this incredibly depressing, violent, vapid stain of a city. I think being here is definitely a negative influence on me, and the cynicism in my music is partly a result of that.
I go into London fairly often and the vibe there is like a different world, it’s not perfect by any means but I wouldn’t think I failed at life if I ended up there like I would with Romford.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I haven’t yet played live. The dream would be like what NIN did on The Slip tour, with that insane layered light show. Something that incorporates a lot of visual elements and brings the songs alive like that would be amazing – there’s a distinct art style and color palette on Messages from the Deep that would translate to a lighting rig really well.
Outside of that the band HEALTH I think are putting on one of the best live shows going right now. They’re a three-piece that have these very complex and challenging songs but they translate them to an almost stripped-down, raw, and visceral experience. I see them live every single chance I get at this point.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Well since I’m not playing live I suppose the place I’d like to play is literally anywhere at this point haha.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
HEALTH, Lorn, Purity Ring, and NIN just for a chance to see those artists perform. Essentially something that mixes dark electronic music with more intense metal elements would be ideal.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I think if I had the opportunity to talk to my younger self there is a plethora of things I’d say – but in terms of musical advice, I’d say dedicate yourself to it. You’ll be looking for reasons to carry on, reasons to push through, and a need to justify the sacrifice that a life like this leads to so you have to be ready to lose everything and find the ability to still do what you’re doing. Ultimately it’s your dedication and you alone that will be the only thing you’ll have to rely on to find success.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
That’s a tricky question, but from Messages, I’d probably say Violence; mainly because it was a turning point for the writing of Binary Order and this album specifically. It was one of the first songs I wrote for the new album and once I got it right it really cemented the sound for the whole album.
It has all of the things I strive to put in a Binary Order song. It’s aggressive, melodic, full of synths, atmospheric in parts, catchy, and has an epic conclusion. I’m also really proud of my performance in it, from the screams to the low chorus back to the high chorus and the vocal melody parts in the bridge I really pushed to showcase my range.
From my old catalog I’d say My Favourite Pain. It’s a track that’s, unfortunately, let down by awful production (as is most of my previous work) but the core melody in that track, and the atmosphere is something I’m really proud of. Plus the subject matter is something that I’m actually still processing – writing that song was my attempt at laying it to rest but there are some things that you’ll never escape.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
It’s probably My Favourite Pain that was – until the new album – a track that resonated the most with those who heard it. It’s also a lot of fun to sing – the low parts into the final chorus with the octave jump is always fun.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
So my process is I’ll set out to write at least ten songs with every album, and then make notes and get ideas and dedicate them to one of the ten. So say I come up with a guitar part that’s aggressive, that’ll get dedicated to one of the ten tracks that need that. Could be a track that needs a bridge, or a chorus, etc, and I just build and build the songs up that way. Pieces have to be the tempo and scale changed a lot this way but it means nothing gets wasted. It’s more complicated than that but that’s how I start writing anyway.
As for inspiration, I don’t have any other emotional outlet and so my life experiences get funneled into the music. A lot of people will put Tweets out saying how bad their life is, I write a song instead. It’s also a way for me to process things and situations I go through. It’s probably not the healthiest thing to do, but it’s either that or talking to myself at this point.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
Yeah but nothing positive haha. The subjects I touch on are more of a fatalistic observation than anything else, there’s no underlying theme of “coming together to fix our problems” as much as it’s Sarah Connor screaming about a nuclear war in a psych ward.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
So the album is out on the 29th of November and right now everything is building up to the release. It’ll be available everywhere online music usually is. From Spotify to YouTube, it’ll be as a free as I can make it (right now it’s 0.50p on Bandcamp but you can’t offer free pre-orders sadly) and I just hope people find the time to engage with it and let me know what they think.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Yeah, all the usual places, which can be found here - https://linktr.ee/binaryorder - although I’m active on most of them I don’t use Twitter if I can avoid it. My mental health is hanging by a thread as it is.