My name is Ben Glanfield. I’m 14 years old and live on the coast just north of Auckland, in Stanmore Bay. My sister Brody and I recently competed in the National Finals of the 2019 Smokefree Rockquest competition – in the solo/duo section. My sister and I have played music together from a very young age. I started learning the guitar from my dad when I was five, and Brody was seven. We’ve always had a passion for singing, and over the past three years or so, we’ve written and performed many original and cover songs together.
We really enjoy playing and performing as a duo – we’ve played lots of gigs all around Auckland, from music festivals to fundraisers, in pubs and open mic nights. Last year we competed in SFRQ as solo artists, but definitely didn’t succeed nearly as well as we have playing together. Entering as ‘Brody & Ben’ this year was such a bonus. Luckily enough, Brody and I get along really well, so it was fun and easy.
Our drive is to make music that inspires other people or to create some sort of sound that somebody else can relate to and enjoy. We would like people to feel happy when they hear our songs because we are so happy when we write them. Our original music is actually how we made it through to the finals of Rockquest as it is an original music competition.
The finals this year were held at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna, and it was a thrill to be playing at such a major venue. A massive highlight of the whole finals experience was definitely in the lead-up and the awesome experience we were lucky enough to have of recording our own original song at Parachute Studios with Chris Mac! He’s the bassist from Six60, and he added so many cool components to our song, What Lovers Do.
We also watched the School of Rock musical at The Civic with the rest of the finalists. That was a really cool opportunity to get to know all the other bands and duo acts before the final on Saturday, September 14. We became pretty good friends with There’s A Tuesday, who are the duo from Christchurch who ended up winning the Solo/Duo section of the SFRQ competition. Brody and I loved their music, and we’re really excited to hear more from them in the future!
We also went along with the rest of the finalists to the APRA AMCOS office, to talk a bit about the music industry with some really knowledgeable people. That was very helpful as it gave us a really good insight into the music industry, and how it works. We received some very cool advice about our original music, royalties, gigs etc. It got us so excited about releasing our own music one day! Our dream is to hear one of our own songs on the radio.
By the time the finals night came around we were all pretty good friends. Everyone was so nice, full of excitement and so energetic. We had spent a lot of time with the other bands on the day doing soundchecks and rehearsing in the green rooms. We were joined by one of the bands, Seperatekey, and had a bunch of laughs and a lot of fun jamming with them. Playing along with other artists was so much fun, and pretty inspirational for our own sounds and styles to collaborate.
A challenge that my sister and I faced was definitely deciding which songs of ours to play at the final! The pressure of making sure we chose the right songs and making sure that we could demonstrate our different sounds and skills was important to us. After asking for all of our family and friends’ opinions, they were all right in telling us that we should decide, and it was up to us so we could be confident in our own decision. We ended up playing Emotions and What Lovers Do, which is the song Chris Mac had helped us with.
We were really happy with our performance, and although we didn’t manage to win, we were so grateful to have made it into the Smokefree Rockquest National Finals. Reminding ourselves that was a pretty big achievement, we feel incredibly lucky.
The whole experience was a lot more than just playing some music, we got to meet the upcoming artists of NZ! We met some (hopefully) life long friends, who we can’t wait to hear more from and maybe work with one day in the future. We learnt so much about the industry, performing to larger audiences, collaborating with others and overall just getting to enjoy our passion for music and songwriting.