Ben Howard calls the music industry a “churning machine”: “It made me quite guarded and suspicious”

The singer-songwriter suffered two mini-strokes last year, which played a pivotal role in shaping his new album, Is It?

Ben Howard has spoken out on the negative impacts of the music industry, calling it a “churning machine” that “didn’t have a hugely positive impact” on him.

Last year, the English singer-songwriter suffered two transient ischaemic attacks – or mini-strokes – aged just 35. He explains in a new interview with The Guardian, that the first time, without warning, he completely lost his ability to speak for an hour. And the same thing happened a month later.

He says that he was still “compos mentis”, but was overwhelmed with the heightened state of all his other senses. “It was an overload of information, like the whole world was pouring in at once. I felt really hypersensitive to everything: the light, and the sound of the trees, and the leaves, and the wind,” he recalls.

And as he explains in the interview, the experiences played a huge role in shaping his fifth album, Is It?, which landed today (16 June).

While the conversation naturally centres largely on the new record, Howard – who first broke into music in 2013 when he won best British male and British breakthrough act at the Brits – remembers how the industry was not always a fun process in the beginning.

“It didn’t have a hugely positive impact on me, if I’m honest,” he says. “Every artist gets put through the same churning machine when it’s at that scale. It was all quite quick and full-on, and it made me quite guarded and suspicious.”

On tackling his recent near-death experiences on the album, Howard says: “People told me they weren’t sure about it, that it made them uncomfortable. And I realised that was the point, and it was OK.”

Ben Howard is currently on tour in Europe. To grab tickets, head to his official website.

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