Benjamin Franklin
Gig Seeker Pro

Benjamin Franklin

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"'Gimme Wings' raises singer-songwriter's profile"


Sixteen years ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote a song entitled "Feel Like a
Bird." The lead song and the title of his first album, released June
17, is "Gimme Wings." "I guess that suggests I haven't got very far," he
jokes. In fact he's come quite a distance, but with still a way to go.

Benjamin Franklin says of his songs that however deep and meaningful
the words, the chorus must be catchy.

"My dream is to be a songwriter first and foremost," he explains. "With
a wife and baby, I've given myself another year to go halfway to living
off my music. It's doable. I just have to work very hard and not to miss
out on a single opportunity."

Both Ben's parents gave up musical ambitions to become academics. "Into
folk and country, my American father went to Germany to study
psychology. My German mother wanted to be a concert flutist; now she teaches

Born in Berlin and raised in Germany and America, Ben arrived in Japan
six years ago and says he is now home. "This is not to say we might not
live elsewhere, but I feel grounded here."

Being good at languages helps, he thinks; after all, fluency is the key
to success in any culture. "I was bilingual in English and German from
childhood, then added French at school, some Spanish at college and did
a crash course in classical Greek." At university in London, he majored
in English literature and linguistics.

He traveled. Worked as a sound engineer for six months. Then got a job
teaching at an arts and media school in Islington, north London. "It
had been a regular school but closed down for being too violent. Within a
month of reopening, with state-of-the-art facilities, it was trashed." Within
three months, three out of 10 teachers had quit. To his credit, Ben
stuck it out for one year.

"Thinking it would give me a sense of security, I started studying a
hardcore martial art taught by a Chinese guy who had trained the
Chinese military. But of course meeting aggression with aggression is not the
answer. I learned a lot about nonviolent restraint, about holding kids
(who were freaking out) firmly but safely, and getting them to calm down."

But the level of frustration was high. "It's the structure of
victimization that's hard to break." Also, while unafraid on a physical level, it was
hard to remain uninvolved. So when he saw a newspaper ad -- "English
school in Japan hiring teachers" -- he thought, "Wow, check it out."

He had always wanted to come to here. A friend in high school had been
into haiku and noh. Also, Ben had studied judo as a kid. "But that's how
naive I was. I came thinking everyone was into martial arts."

The English school job lasted four months. "It wasn't bad, just not for
me. Instead I moved into teaching at elementary school level -- far more
enjoyable." The security enabled him to concentrate the other 50
percent of his time on his music, because all through the years he had been
writing songs, with a current catalog of some 120. "Am I singer? By default. I
like singing my songs, but most of all I like getting other people to sing

He likes being onstage, though. And he can most certainly hold a tune,
as "Gimme Wings" proves over and over, with 10 original songs, backed by
Waddy on guitar, Tetsuya Heike on sax and coproducer Masa Fukui on keys and
beats. "Right now the album's not being released through any official
channel, because I want to keep full rights to my songs. My first
artists agency set me up with a deal with Daiki and EMI, but the contract they
wanted me to sign was out of the question."

Ben and his producer made a counterproposal, saying, Can't we

"With a family to support, they were breaking my back. Really, only a
very naive and desperate person would have agreed to such terms."

He got his first break when he was approached by 79.0 Tama Lakeside FM
to front a radio program. "That was in December 2005." Then in April this
year, Studio Cueve made its own move, suggesting they add a home page
and a blog and start podcasting.

The result is Ben's Network (with the album track "Spring" as its theme
tune), broadcast every Monday night at 10:30 and cohosted with Miki
"It's a 30-minute talk show, featuring guest international artists. We
go down memory lane, analyze lyrics, get up close and personal, you know .

Ben also works as a professional singer and has written songs for
companies such as Kirin Beer, Pioneer and Seabreeze. The title track "Gimme
Wings" is the theme song for "A Mini Cooper Travel Video." "Just starting out,
I'm actively seeking other commercial tieups. It's a lot of legwork, but
I'm very determined."

All his songs, he says, are "supercatchy." It's important that melodies
stick. However deep and meaningful the words ("and some of the lyrics
are not so easy to grasp"), a chorus must be simple a - JAPAN TIMES - Saturday, Aug. 5, 2006


Album "Gimme Wings" released June 17th 2006

available at



Feeling a bit camera shy


Tatsuya Ishii, D.A.I.-san, Momoko Suzuki - in the world's 2nd-biggest market for recorded music, these names are equivalent to the likes of Sting, Aerosmith, George Michael, and Madonna in the U.S. and Europe.

And Benjamin Franklin has had the pleasure of working with all of them. Performing live on stage, and appearing on radio shows, songwriting and producing music with these stars is slowly but surely exposing Benjamin Franklin and his talent to a wide range of Japanese listeners.

A communicator as much as a performer, he finds himself at home in Japan and with the Japanese language. He has his own radio show in Tokyo (, and is appearing on Ishii's prime time show on Tokyo FM every week. ( - - > "SPECIAL EDITION")

And now, he has just released an album - to much acclaim from the people who he has worked with, and from the Japanese public. "Gimme Wings" - produced and released independently by Benjamin Franklin, Masa Fukui & Tetsuya Heike.

His influences include a wide range of artists & songwriters, from Jack Johnson to Sting to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, James Blunt, Sean Garrett, Tracy Chapman, & the Black Eyed Peas - right across the board.

That adds to the cross-culture feel of the tracks on the album - from gregarious to melancholy, tongue-in-cheek rude to sweet romantic, pick your flavor.

Hasn't this hot property grabbed the attention of the majors? Well it has, but Ben Franklin & Co. have also been looking to America and Europe, and with a whole new range of worldwide opportunities developing with alternative media, indies, branding, and various commercial deals ("Gimme Wings" on a MINI Cooper travel video & a new track, "Till the Dawn", set to be on a CNN commercial) - why tie yourself down?

This sense of independence, of freedom, of fresh vitality shines through in the music.

On stage in Tokyo weekly, at venues ranging from The Rock Factory to Tokyo Tower, from malls to restaurants to MTV's cafe studio, live and on the radio, Benjamin Franklin is creating a buzz.

And always mindful of the business side of things, Benjamin Franklin is actively pursuing commercial/ branding/ sponsorship deals - and maybe a label, if the right offer comes along.

Benjamin Franklin grew up in Germany and the U.S., the son of a German mother and an American father. He has also lived in England and Central America, and now in Japan.