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The power of music can be wondrous, much like the tumultuous journey of love. Today, singer-songwriter Benedict Cork releases his debut album, "Notes on a Hopeless Romance." Ben, a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, invites his listeners on a five-year emotional odyssey, delving into the highs and lows of his romantic escapades. Mirroring life itself, the album's narrative isn't linear; Ben traverses various genres, from gospel and electronic to dance, stepping out of his comfort zone of emotional ballads on the piano to embrace bold beats. Just listen to "Reasons I Loved You (I Can’t Think of One)".

"Notes on a Hopeless Romance" serves as a reminder that one isn't alone in the often precarious pursuit of love. It highlights the lessons embedded within each relationship, whether brief or enduring. Ben possesses a unique gift, weaving a sense of being heard and embraced throughout this album. The journey it embarks you on is both empowering and groove-inducing. Maisie Daniels, our editor-in-chief, chatted with this emerging superstar. They delved deeply into the creation of this exquisite body of work, dedicated to queer love, along with Ben's upcoming European tour and more.

It's fitting that Ben graces the front of F Word's debut digital cover. Frolicking around a local London park with a frisbee in hand, Ben exudes a palpable sense of joy and vitality, embodying the essence of spring. This season serves as a poignant motif throughout - symbolising Ben's blossoming into the man he is today, finding validation within himself. We hope you enjoy this celebration of life, love, and self-discovery.

Maisie Daniels: Thank you for being our F Word digital cover star! It’s been a week or so since we had you running around a London park - did you enjoy the shoot? I love the energy you put into it!

Benedict Cork: Thanks for having me! I’m so excited. I loved it! It was just such a nice bunch of people and, you know what, sometimes those days can be a little bit jam-packed but because everyone was so high-energy and good vibes, I just loved it. I got home and I did sleep for like 10 hours [laughs] but it was great!

MD: [Laughs] I’m not surprised! It was a very action-packed shoot. Your debut album ‘Notes on a Hopeless Romance’ is releasing on the 10th May, not long to wait! Congratulations, this is a huge achievement, putting an album together. Can you talk us through the album's ethos?

BC: The album is basically about me being a massive, hopeless romantic. It’s not dedicated to one particular relationship. It’s about all the relationships of the last five years that I’ve been writing and singing about. It’s dedicated to queer love, all the different aspects of it. It’s not a linear story through the album but all the songs are about different sides of dating. It was really fun to put together.

Ben wears full look DANIEL W. FLETCHER; shoes CONVERSE

MD: As someone who has dated a lot in the last few years, I can really resonate with the album. I found it really healing and comforting to hear your stories and the journey you’ve been on…

BC: Thank you for listening! I’m really glad that you felt that, because that’s exactly what I wanted people to feel. I wanted it to be for people who have been in a similar position to me where they’re looking for love and it’s madly confusing, but also really fun and messy. I wanted to capture all the different parts of that, and I’m really glad you liked it.

MD: When did you begin making the album?

BC: I had a gig literally two years ago. It was April 2022 at Omeara in London. I stood on stage and I knew in my head that I wanted to make an album next, but I hadn’t made any solid plans. I was like, do you know what, fuck it, I’m just going to say it because if I say it out loud, into the crowd, then I have to do it. It was like a promise to myself. So, I played a new song and was like 'this might be a song on my debut album’ and it was just a really nice feeling.

So yeah, two years in the making. I spent about a year writing it, as well as taking a few songs I had written before that and then spent the whole of last year putting it together; recording it, making all the visuals and yeah I’ve been slowly drip-feeding it since October.

Ben wears suit MARK FAST; scarf TIMOTHY LI; shoes STYLIST'S OWN

MD: It’s so atmospheric, I feel like we are healing with you as the album goes. Would you say it was healing for you?

BC: Yeah, for sure. I’ve also been really lucky that I’ve made it with loads of friends. Justin, who produced half of the record, I’ve known for maybe three or four years now and we’re just really good mates. It made the whole recording process so easy, fun and safe. His partner Emilie did all the visuals, so that’s been really lovely as well. It really feels like a team effort. Also Dane and Paul, the other producers, and the company that has been putting it out; they’ve all just been really good people. I’m really lucky that I’ve had such a positive experience because I know making an album these days can be a bit tricky. It’s such a single moment culture with TikTok etc., so I’m really glad that I was able to make this project and put it out into the world. I appreciate that that’s a privileged position to be in.

MD: How does it feel from when you started writing the album to you being at the end of the process? Do you feel like you’ve changed as a person?

BC: Yeah, for sure! There’s always this weird, sort of… ‘mourning’ sounds really dramatic but, a sort of mourning period before a release where I’ve been acting a little odd. I’ve been feeling a little odd the last couple of weeks because some of these songs are now two, three, even four years old and I’m definitely not in the same place as I was when I was writing them. But, it’s really nice to have these snapshots of those times and look back and think “ahh that’s exactly how I was feeling October 2022 and I’m glad that’s down as a record”. But then, and a lot of artist friends say this as well, it’s really odd when you’ve been sitting on those songs for a couple of years. Then they’re finally coming out and you’re almost reliving it with everybody else. 

I just saw a little review that came out today of the album and I was reading it though like “oh yeah, that is what that’s about, I didn’t even remember that”. So I’m hoping that on Friday, I will be able to re-live all of those experiences with everybody else as they’re listening to it for the first time.

Ben wears shirt + trousers DANIEL W. FLETCHER; jewellery SONDOR; shoes GOLDSMITH VINTAGE 

MD: I can understand the funny feeling. I guess this is the moment for the world to share their own interpretations. And it must be cool to retrospectively see your growth, and you’ll always have that.

BC: Yeah! It’s really nice to look back on everything from the last five years. It is like a diary.

MD: I love the use of voices when those popped their head out on the opening track “Sanctuary” my hair stood on end! It’s a fantastic opener, setting the scene for the rest of the album. What made you want to explore this?

BC: I grew up singing in choirs and I’ve always loved voices coming together. Even people who don’t sing. When a crowd of people scream at the football or scream at a gig, I love it. There’s something really magical about it. ‘Sanctuary’ I wrote with a band called Tors and it was all about feeling really safe with someone. It felt really nice to open the album with it as I want people to feel safe with me when listening to it. We tried it out at a couple of live shows a few years ago and it was the song we always opened with. After we did that a few times, I knew the album needed to open with it as well. I want it to feel like a big warm hug.

MD: “Reasons I loved you (I can’t think of one)” is such a bold, brash and ballsy track, which is quite in contrast to many of your other songs “Nice Guy” for instance. Can you talk us through why you wanted to create this?

BC: Yeah, that one’s really fun to sing. I love being behind the piano and singing emotional stuff, but it’s also really fun to take myself out of that comfort zone and do something quite brash and in your face. I’ve always tried to be as respectful as possible towards the guy that it’s about. I wrote probably fifteen or twenty songs about how beautiful that relationship had been and how it had been a really amicable split. I was really grateful that it had gone that way. But I’m also allowed to write a song like this that gives me the chance to be angry and angsty because that’s all part of a break-up. This song was actually written four years ago now and it’s always sat on my hard drive. When I was piecing the album together, it really felt like it had a spot there.

MD: It definitely has a spot. I was properly rooting for you when I listened to that one [laughs].

BC: You drag him! [Laughs].

Ben wears vest + shorts TIMOTHY LI; cardigan SAMSOE SAMSOE; shoes DIEMME

MD: The album is a hotpot of genres such as gospel, electronic, ballads full of soul and sentiment - was this purposeful from the beginning or did this evolve as the album went on?

BC: Yeah, more the second one. It was definitely more about playing around in the studio. Some of these songs were really basic demos; just piano and vocal. Some I’d written at home. Some with other people. Then I took them into the studio to produce up the album and I didn’t know how I wanted them to sound. So then it was just fun! It was like being a kid in a candy store. Being like “let’s pick up this instrument” and “let’s throw this at it!” I got some friends to sing on the songs and some other friends to play guitar and drums. We had a lot of fun with it. I knew I wanted the album to be a different sound. I knew I wanted to challenge myself sonically and come out of my comfort zone a little bit, but I didn’t know exactly how.

MD: If this album was a soundtrack to a film or show which one would it be and why?

BC: Ooo it’s a thinker! Good question. The obvious one is ‘Call Me By Your Name’ but I feel like there’s a better answer to that because that one is also quite sad. And I feel like the album is a little more hopeful.

Oooh, there’s a TV show called Fellow Travellers. It came out last year and it’s beautiful. It’s very sad but it’s also very joyful. It’s about these four gay guys across a few decades and it follows their relationships; how they travel in and out of each other’s lives. How it was illegal to be gay. It’s a really beautifully shot and scripted series. I watched it at the end of last year and I felt super deeply - I haven’t felt that much watching something in a long while. I feel like some of these songs could fit into different moments of their lives. So yeah, Fellow Travellers.

MD: Great answer, I’ll have to watch it. Your latest single ‘Beauty Queen’, navigates themes of isolation and the desire to connect with an audience as an artist. You wrote that in lockdown?

BC: Yeah! I wrote that in 2020 and it was about two things. I was here in my flat on my own and hadn’t seen anyone I knew for like three months (like everybody else). My only way of communicating with the outside world was through my phone. In some ways I was really grateful for that because I could phone my family in Australia, or speak to my mum and dad on the other side of the country. That was amazing. But I also just missed human connection, and shows, and having people sing back lyrics and those kind of human things. I also, funnily enough, had been single for a couple of years, and wanted to be because I’d just come out of a relationship and wanted a bit of time to get to know myself But then around the beginning of 2020 I was like “you know what, I’m really ready to date again and dive into that”. Then obviously BAM, lockdown, and you couldn’t. So I was also missing that side of human connection. I love going on dates with people and hearing their life stories, going for a long walk, chilling. So this song was about two things in one. I was missing that validation of dating and how weird online validation can be, whilst also recognising that that could be quite a negative thing and how you want to find that within yourself.

MD: Speaking of human connection and sharing that with others, you enter your European tour soon! So you must be quite excited?

BC: Yeah! That’s my favourite part of the job. Playing live is the cherry on the cake. I’m really excited to play the songs, as they are on the album, with the band. Also the album will have been out for about two weeks before the tour starts, so I’m hoping by that point people will have gotten to know the songs a little bit. Hopefully we will be able to sing stuff together. It’s my favourite thing!

MD: Is there a track on the album that’s closest to you, and why?

BC: It kind of changes each day. It depends what mood I’m in. When I’ve gone for my morning run and I’ve got my coffee and I’m feeling sassy, it’s probably “Nice Guy”. But when I’m feeling pensive and a bit angsty, and in my feelings, it’s probably “Until We Fuck it Up.” That one’s really fun to sing because I say “fuck” about thirty times. Then there’s the closing song which is called “I Know He’ll Be Gone In a Little While”. Even though that title, and the song, are a little sad, it’s also saying that I’m accepting that, and that’s okay. And that the next person I might be with, I might not be with them for a lifetime, you can be with them for one year, two years, two months, and that’s still a beautiful thing because you can learn a lot from that. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.

MD: What are you hoping people will take away from the album the most?

BC: Ohh, good question. I hope that people feel hopeful listening to it. I would love people to feel comforted when they listen to it - a bit like you said when you mentioned you were in a similar position, dating-wise. And I want people to feel like they’re not alone and that this is as confusing and chaotic as anyone else experiences. I’d also love for people to just dance to it because I’ve never really had that before. I’ve always done more melancholic music and this is a step-up in terms of tempo and rhythm. Especially at the live shows. I just want people to really be able to move and have a good time!

MD: If the album was a temperature, a taste, and a colour what would it be?

BC: I feel like temperature and colour go hand-in-hand because the whole album artwork is this warm orange colour. I want it to feel like that, spring-summery, kind of warm, and like a big hug! What was the middle one?

MD: Taste - orange?

BC: [Laughs] no, I want to do like a cocktail! I want it to taste like a mixture of an Aperol Spritz on a sunny day, and you’re outside on a balcony, and a Negroni late at night by the fire.

MD: Ooooh sounds delightful. Great answers!

BC: And both orange drinks, funnily enough!

Ben wears suit DANIEL W. FLETCHER; jewellery SONDOR; shoes GOLDSMITH VINTAGE

MD: Can we talk about your praise from the one and only, Sir Elton John who singled you out as “sensational” and “a name to look out for”… how did that make you feel?

BC: That was nuts! Really nuts. I remember sitting on the end of my bed - I was living in Finsbury Park at the time with five other people - and I cried [laughs] because Elton John is like, Elton John, you know?! And what’s amazing about him is he could just chill now. He’s retired from touring, he’s achieved so much. But he spends so much of his time and energy supporting new music. He said that, and played a song of mine on his radio show, and it was my first release. This was, I think, five years ago now, and to have that … I mean I’ve basically used that on every press release for the last five years [laughs] and it’s been amazing. I’m forever indebted to him for that. Such a little moment.

MD: What’s your favourite F-word? I feel like I might know the answer…

BC: [Laughs] I mean, obviously, as I just said there’s the song called ‘Until We Fuck It Up” and I love saying fuck! I also, I get that, especially when I’m in America, that people don’t love swearing as much. But, it’s just so fun. And it really gets your point across. So fuck. Fuck is such a good word.


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