Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life are very pleased to bring you an interview with Ben Hayes. The man behind the solo project Oceanica and who many may know as part of Enochian Theory.
Oceanica’s debut album ‘OneDark’ was released on October 25th 2019 and you can read our review of that record here.
1. Hi Ben. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little bit about your musical history?
Hey Carl. Cheers for allowing me the chance to do this! I’ll try not to bore anyone!
Well, I started playing drums when I was 8 and then moved onto guitar and bass in my early teens to help write my own songs, then came piano and synth…and the rest is history! I’ve been in a few bands over the years, ranging from grunge to technical death metal to live drum & bass, which have all helped develop my musical interests.
I’ve been lucky enough to be signed to record labels, tour playing my own music and win awards in multiple genres. I love writing so many different styles of music these days, as it keeps things fresh. Except country music…that s**t can be set on fire…Ha ha!
2. Can you describe just what Oceanica is?
Well, it’s me!
…or rather an extension of me in this particular style of music, which in this instance happens to be progressive rock/metal/soundtrack-esque stuff. It’s also me pushing myself, on my own, to achieve something that I wanted to do for a while, which was to write an album (or in this case, a trilogy of albums) on my own and play all the instruments myself.
I just wanted to see if I could do it to beat that self-defeatist voice that runs around my head.
I have done it, so it’s now onto the next challenge!
3. What made you want to do something other than Enochian Theory?
Well, I’ve always run projects in tandem with Enochian Theory, it was just that E.T got picked up by a label and got out there further… because we worked hard to achieve our goals.
I originally started Oceanica back in 2013, but ended up ditching a load of material because I just wasn’t in the right headspace to complete it and let that negative voice of self-doubt cripple me. I think that once E.T finally went on ‘hiatus’ a couple of years back, that gave me the chance to sit and think about I really wanted to get from music now that I was nearing the grand age of 40.
I mean… what was making me feel low? Was it even music at fault? Why had I not written or released anything for 6 years when I was previously prolific!?
Music used to be my reason to get up each day and my way to expel my demons, but somewhere along the line I forgot this and I twisted it into a something it wasn’t. I realised that I was very sad, drinking too much and I had a bit of a breakdown, if I’m honest.
So, I took some time out and just stopped to work on myself. I needed to love myself again and accept it’s ok to not be ok. This break allowed me to focus and find myself again, which allowed that fire of creativity inside to grow again…which led to Oceanica being given the birth it deserved after a number of false starts.
I fell back back in love with music again because I remembered that I shouldn’t place such pressure on myself to do anything and just do what I want because it all doesn’t matter!
4. Why was a solo project the way to go for you?
For the above mentioned ramble!
…and because I wanted to see if I could do it…for myself.
I also found that waiting for other people to work on things got to me. When I focus in something, I hit it hard and I guess I demand the same to get things done.
5. What inspired OneDark?
A breakdown, a recovery and receiving the love of a good person that allowed me to love myself again. Because, as Ru Paul says, if you can’t love yourself …how can you love somebody else! I look at this all as a deep cleansing of myself.
6. Are you happy with how it turned out?
Yeah. I have to be, because I did it all myself! Can’t blame anyone else now can I. Ha ha! I guess I just feel that it was a ridiculous undertaking for one guy and I’m just glad I got it done! I also feel that just letting go of any expectation and just doing music for music’s sake was so freeing.
I did it on a low budget and just used all the tools I owned personally, so that’s another reason to like it.
7. How have you found the responses to it from fans and critics?
It’s been incredible for a low level artist like myself. I’ve had nothing but excellent reviews, with 10/10, 9/10 and 8/10 ratings…or 5/5 and 4.5/5 ratings…which is mind blowing. I didn’t expect anyone to like it!
Prog magazine gave it a very positive review and I’ve got further press scheduled across the world. People who have bought the album or seen the first video have given excellent feedback too.
I guess what means the most is when people reach out to me and say that the music has inspired them to, say, pick up the guitar again or has been helping them through a tough patch in their life. One gentleman had some lyrics from the album tattooed on his arm because they resonated with him so.
That’s the BEST kinds of review I can ever get. Connection with other human beings on an emotional level. I really cannot ask for more.
8. Do you have a particular track you adore the most from the album?
Errrmmm, I guess I like them all for different reasons. It also depends on what’s going on in my life at that moment. Recently, my favourite has been the final track, ‘The Oblivion Tree’, because I’ve just released a cinematic video for it. If anyone is interested in viewing it, they can watch it here:
9. Or maybe a track that you would play someone to give them a taste of what Oceanica is?
It would depend on the person, the time, their likes and a number of other factors!
10. Is this a ‘one and done’ or are we going to see more from Oceanica in the future?
There’s 3 albums to come in this current incarnation of Oceanica, which will complete the, what I call, the ‘Numbers and Shade’ trilogy.
We’ve got the more proggy rock/metal of ‘OneDark’, then it’s onto ‘TwoLight’, which is acoustic/piano/choral and then the trilogy is complete with ‘ThreeGrey’, which is a large cinematic piece that is a journey…which I hope will be accompanied by a visual project.