📷 : Esther Marie Photography
After becoming a regular actor in the TV series Hollyoaks in 2002 until 2005 as Cameron Clark, Ben Gerrard could more recently be seen as Will Scott in ITV’s Emmerdale in 2017. Now having a music career alongside acting, last week Ben released his latest single on download sites which has received great response on social media. Answering our questions recently, we find out about his music career, new single “Perfect” and working alongside John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy in Emmerdale.
Can you tell us about your new single ‘Perfect’?
My new single “Perfect” released on 16th March 2018 is the follow up to my debut solo single “With You” released in October 2017. “Perfect” is overall a bigger sound compared to “With You” which was a much more simple, easy listening acoustic love song. There are a lot more vocal harmonies too which I love. I suppose you could describe it as a Pop/Rock ballad?
What gave you the inspiration to write it?
“Perfect” is essentially about letting that special person in your life know how you feel about them regardless of the ups and downs you may go through together. It’s something that I think a lot of couples either don’t say enough or have trouble saying out loud to each other, especially during the harder times. I try to tell my wife that I think she is perfect every day, just so she knows! I’ve been in bands and involved in music in various forms for many years and writing music is something that I just simply love to do so this is the perfect outlet for me.
Which do you write first, music or lyrics?
I usually come up with a little vocal hook or a phrase and when one sticks, I build on that. If it’s decent enough, it tends to flow really easy. I find the songs I write that take ages to find the next line are the ones that sound like I have tried too hard and aren’t as natural, they don’t flow as well. Once I have a basic verse or chorus, I’ll pick up a guitar or sit at the piano and find the chords to fit. I will keep building the music and then go back to the rough lyrics and work a little on those followed by the melodies and harmonies.
How long does it take from starting to write a song to the end product?
Well, this is interesting! I love recording but I am so busy working and as a father that I rarely have time to just sit down, set aside some time and record so what I started doing is recording in my car! I gig quite a lot so I tend to get to venues really early, get my gear set up and soundcheck, then go back to my car and set my mic’s and recording equipment up. Laptops are brilliant for this! I take a Bass, an Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and a small Keyboard in my boot to the gigs. It’s a case of getting as much recorded as I can while I have the chance so I literally plug in, press record and play. There is very little editing involved as I make sure that I have a good idea of what I want the song to sound like before I have even started. Unfortunately, recording this way means it takes a few weeks to complete but if I stuck all the actual recording hours together I could get a song recorded from start to finish in around ten hours, max! The writing of the song can take a little longer but like I said, if it flows well, the lyrics and melody can be done anywhere between a matter of minutes up to a few hours.
📷 : Esther Marie Photography
Are you working on an album or EP?
That’s something I would like to do and have started to put a few ideas together for this but at present I am testing the water, releasing work on a song by song basis, mainly because of the time restraints and other working commitments.
Will you be taking your music on tour?
This is again something I am working towards. I do gig a LOT but the shows consist largely of covers. I have mountains of old material from songs I have written in previous bands but I don’t see the point in performing those old tunes if they don’t sound anything like the music I am currently making. So, the aim is to get a few more songs done and start booking venues… Watch this space!
Were you a musician or an actor first?
A musician. Although I did Performing Arts and Media Studies in college, I also did Music Technology and Performance and at the time, that was the direction I saw myself going in. During my time at college I signed up with a model agency in Manchester and as well as the few odd modelling jobs I did, I was also an extra on Hollyoaks. That’s where my initial break came from. I was invited to attend an audition for some new characters that were being written in to the show and of the hundreds they must have seen, I was one of the lucky few that got offered a main part! I didn’t know how major it was going to be at the time as the contracts only started off small, one month here, two months there… But the contracts just kept coming until I was finally offered a full year contract to play the part of Cameron Clark. I ended up being there for around five years!
Would you like to star in musicals?
I had the lead role in a musical called “Spinach” a few years ago which had a great run in London. It was quite a small production but received fantastic reviews and it was an amazing experience. I would love to do something like that again or even on a bigger scale. If there is ever a production of “The Greatest Showman”, I’ll be first at the door!
📷 : Esther Marie Photography
What was it like being part of Ashley’s dementia storyline in Emmerdale?
Incredible! I absolutely loved my time on Emmerdale and I will never forget it! Even though it was only a cameo role, it was a fantastic storyline to have been involved in and I still feel proud to this day to have had the pleasure of working there. The number of awards this storyline won really hits home just how important shows like Emmerdale are and how well the stories are told is simply mind-blowing! The audience reaction to Will was incredible too. I didn’t expect it at all! I remember my wife was round at her friends house when my first episode as Will aired and I was ironing at the time. My phone started going berserk, Twitter went into melt down and there were news articles and magazines writing about “Ashley’s Hot Carer”. My wife called and said “have you seen all this??”… It was crazy!
How much did you know about Will’s involvement before getting the role?
If I am honest, very little. We were told before that audition that Will was going to be Ashley’s carer and that he had to be portrayed in a friendly and calming manor. Similar to my introduction to Hollyoaks, I was told that the part would only run for three episodes but thirteen episodes later I was still there and loved every minute of it.
Did you have to do any research before going on set for filming?
Because of the enormity of the story being told, I did my own research into dementia once I knew I had been offered the part. I didn’t have to as the scripts were so well written but I felt that I should hit the ground running and do my best with the part that I had been given. John and Charlotte are incredible and with the performance bar set so high, I wanted to be on par with them.
How was it filming with John Middleton and Charlotte Bellamy?
They are fantastic actors, the top of their game but not only that, they are such warm and lovely people. Honestly, they helped to make my first day on set so easy, they really opened up to me and I immediately felt comfortable. The whole Emmerdale team are so welcoming that the moment you walk into the studio complex you already feel like part of the family. The cast, the entire crew, wardrobe department, makeup etc… They are all such a brilliant and talented bunch.
📷 : Esther Marie Photography
What was it like being back on set of a soap?
It is a magical experience. I genuinely adore everything about the creation of television dramas. I find it so interesting how everybody involved has their own part to play and although it is the actors that the viewers connect with, there are hundreds of people behind the cameras working to make these shows a success. That’s what I love about it. Soaps are huge, magical machines!
Was it a difficult decision leaving Hollyoaks to concentrate on music?
Absolutely but at the time I was young enough and fortunate enough to have the chance to go and do what I wanted to do. Looking back now, I treasure the time I had on Hollyoaks and it’s fair to say that I don’t think I appreciated the role I had at the time. That said, without leaving Hollyoaks I wouldn’t have been through the hugely varied life I have had. I toured in a band made up of my best friends for years and not many people can say they did that!
Would you like to do more soap work?
Without a doubt and that is the dream! The great thing about soaps is that they are all fantastically written and produced. There is always something just around the corner for the characters involved in these shows and as an actor it is brilliant to be able to get your teeth into so many different storylines and to truly be able to make a character 100% your own. It is very hard to do that being a jobbing actor, moving from one place and character to another, waiting on the next audition.
Do you have any acting roles coming up?
I have shot some short films and have been cast in a few commercials this year so far so all in all, I have been very busy. If there are any casting directors reading, I am always available for an audition!
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