Singer-songwriter Lewis Bennett launches his debut full-band EP at Woodies in Chichester from 7pm on Saturday, August 6– a major achievement after the horror of losing his voice.
“It’s just me playing an acoustic set and then a few DJs… my first gig for about two years. I just lost my voice through gigging and not looking after it enough,” explains Lewis, a former student at Chichester High School for Boys. “It started about three years ago. I was just off Open Mic UK (competition), and I was just overdoing it. My voice was getting more and more rough and more hoarse, and I was not recovering quickly enough. It got to the stage where I was performing and no sound was coming out. It was awful. I didn’t know what was happening. In a gig, I’d try to laugh it off and explain the situation, and people would be sympathetic. I went to see some doctors and did a few tests and they gave me some voice rehabilitation sessions, gentle exercises like blowing through a straw, things like that.”
Another exercise involved imagining he was flipping the top of his head off backwards, a way of trying to open up your throat: “I went about 18 months to that and then singing lessons and just generally trying to do it myself.”
But he realised in the end, a key cause had been the pressure he was putting himself under: “I felt like I had to do music or else I would regret it for the rest of my life, and I was thinking that thought as well as having a blown voice, and it sent me into depressions, and I just realised it wasn’t fun anymore. I just realised I was taking it so seriously.”
And that was the point at which Lewis decided to reintroduce the fun – the point at which things began to pick up: “At that point, everything started easing out. At the moment I stopped practising regularly and stopped singing lessons, I just calmed down and everything fell into place. I have got a different perspective on it all. I am into Buddhism now. I meditate. I take every moment as it comes, and I am now much more trusting of myself. I am being much more careful when I am practising and warming up. I have learnt some valuable lessons, that you give it 100 per cent at a gig but you don’t give it 100 per cent when you are practising, just little techniques like that. Before, my voice was quite growly, quite nasally, throaty, aggressive, which was not a safe way to sing. I am different now, but the big difference is that I don’t live to make music. I wanted to make my living from music. Music was everything. It is not now. I am now a self-employed tradesman. I have got a different perspective. Before, music was my life.”
The new EP is called Back In Style and is available from his Facebook page, Lewis Bennett Official and will also be available on the night: “I have made the EP for myself, and it was great. I have never really had the opportunity before to do a full-band recording, but I was lucky enough to be in a studio where the engineers also played the drums and bass for you.” As a result of it all, Lewis describes himself as currently the happiest he has ever been – particularly as “I’ve managed to bag myself a slot at this year’s Victorious festival on the same day as my idol Noel Gallagher.”
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