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Making Music with Ben Tenison

After the launch of his second single ‘The Rush’ we caught up with the very talented veteran and Singer/Songwriter Ben Tenison. Ben enlisted into the Australian Army in 2014 within Aviation, then transferred to Artillery until February 2021, when he made the transition from the ADF to focus on song writing.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START AS A SONGWRITER? I had always been interested in music and becoming a singer/songwriter, even when I was really young. I felt a strong connection to music and how it made me feel. One of my earliest memories was finding my Dad’s records and playing “The Police”, which was an amazing eye-opener for me. These experiences have always drawn me back to music. Even at school, I would be writing songs and playing in bands. I felt torn between schoolwork and capturing lyrics when they came to mind, which has always come naturally to me and not something I have ever had to force myself to do.

HOW DID YOU MANAGE THE TRANSITION FROM DEFENCE TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW? It had been a big stepping-stone from a stable lifestyle in the ADF with a job description to being on my own. I was worried about falling on my face and not being able to succeed in anything else. Although I had never started a business before, I was drawn to working for myself, which required a lot of confidence and the ability to back myself. Starting from scratch in business can be really challenging and overwhelming, so it’s important to trust yourself and get support from people and networks that are around you (like Princes Trust Australia).

WHAT SKILLS/LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNED IN THE MILITARY THAT YOU STILL USE REGULARLY?   The most valuable skill I learned in the military was how to show up every day, regardless of whether you feel stressed, overwhelmed, tired or anxious. I have learned to overcome how I feel some days and get on with what I need to do. I have also started new habits and committed to my goals, without letting other things affect my ability to get the job done. I don’t think I would be doing what I do now if I didn’t have the skills to commit and be consistent, even on the hard days.

WHAT IS THE BEST ASPECT OF BEING MUSICIAN? I really love the creativity and open expression of music – it's a world where you can create whatever you want to create. I can make something out of nothing and people interact with it, then they tell me how it impacts them and share it with their friends. Music is a powerful tool for connection, which people listen to and it helps to change their mood and get them ready for daily life.

BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED? Find something that is true to yourself and go after it. When people find the ‘thing’ they love doing, their passion pays off and supports the journey. I had given up on music for a while and decided it was too hard, but it kept coming back to me. But along that journey, people and opportunities come to find you. I feel really happy and grateful to pursue what I love doing. I feel excited and fulfilled by music every day - I’m so glad that I took the leap of faith to make this a reality.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? I’m inspired by a mixture of things, including life experiences from the past and current experiences that impact me. It’s a way for me to explain my interaction with the world around me. It’s not all challenging experiences, but also celebrations and good times. People relate to it differently based on their own life experiences and connection with the lyrics and music.

WHAT IS YOUR STRONGEST PERSONALITY TRAIT? Determination - I feel like I no longer need to work too hard at being focused and determined to do something. I feel capable in showing up, practicing, revising ideas and achieving my goals. This theme has shown up in a lot of personal pursuits, including golf. I have been really consistent with practicing and applying myself to tasks to achieve what I want to achieve.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS? I really had to shift how I feel about criticism and judgement. I learned to be ok with what people say. My ‘people pleasing’ and ‘nice guy’ attributes have made it hard for me to pursue my goals, which is part of receiving feedback. That feeling of needing to have everything ‘perfect’ has been hard for me to shift, but I have learned that creativity is subjective and not everyone will like what I do. When you judge yourself so heavily, it can kill creativity and ultimately, damage the bigger picture that you are trying to achieve.

WHO IS YOUR IDOL? I remember reading The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band (Motley Crue) and being blown away with their lives and the journey that brought them to the top of the music industry. I always felt really inspired by that incredible journey. The triumph through the lows and what you can achieve through music and perseverance. I also enjoy the Arnold Schwarzenegger story. He had a dream of being a bodybuilder and backed himself to compete professionally - with a strong desire to succeed, he wasn’t going to let his circumstances beat him.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU – OTHER PROJECTS? I am currently working on another single that will be released in a couple of months, plus a film clip for ‘Rush’ which was recently released. By mid-year, I am looking to release an EP, which will be my first collaborative body of work, and I am really excited about. I’ve enjoying seeing the opportunities that have come from my work and seeing lots of new ideas come to life. Stay tuned!


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