Ben Vaughn describes “Dancing in My Mind” (listen below) as “a one-off single. The song felt like it lived in its own bubble because of the environment that we are in now. I didn’t see this as part of a collection. This is almost like an album’s worth of ideas or music in one song for me and it really addresses the life we are living right now and I couldn’t really see any companion pieces for it.”
Vaughn is a multi-instrumentalist, radio personality and songwriter who grew up in South Jersey and currently calls the West Coast his home. Some of his credits include popular TV shows such as “That ’70s Show” and “3rd Rock From the Sun” as well as 12 albums and much more.
He says he wrote “Dancing in My Mind” very quickly “as I was observing lockdown behavior. I was really impressed by how people were dealing with it and how they were escaping into their own minds and being creative and a lot of the things that I saw showing up on social media: expressions of people singing songs or dancing or whatever. I was just really impressed by that and the song came to me really quick and then I decided to shoot a fairly ridiculous video to go along with it — proof that lighting and wardrobe can hide a multitude of sins (laughs).”
The song, he says, “came to me as I was driving through downtown L.A. on a Friday night and I was driving by these dance clubs that usually have long lines in front of them and they were dark. The streets were deserted and the clubs were closed and I thought, ‘Wow.’ I imagined those people who are usually in that line were at home in their apartments with disco balls dancing to music and just waiting this whole thing out and it was a very strong image in my mind. Finding joy during isolation … it just came to me that way. …
“What we’ve been though in the last two years and what people have done to survive this and stay sane is really impressive to me. The interesting thing is that we have no idea what is the right or wrong approach. We have no idea so it is up to the individual and their own comfort zone. You look at some people and you think, ‘Boy, are they going overboard,’ and then you look at others and think, ‘Boy, they need to be more careful.’ (laughs) We don’t know. This thing is so new and it keeps changing and our approach is that we have to … observe and follow what we feel comfortable with. That is one of the strangest things about it: the ambivalence.”
Vaughn says he originally had a lot of plans for 2020. “I was supposed to be doing a very long tour in Spain and playing a bunch of U.S. shows and, BOOM!, everything got cancelled. I didn’t know what to do with my creative energy for a little while … then the songs started coming to me and I have a home studio, I’m a multi-instrumentalist, so I just started recording and I played all of the instruments and the next thing I know, I had a full album that will be coming out in the spring. ‘Dancing in My Mind’ was one of those songs but it just didn’t feel like part of the collection; it was too much on its own to fit into anything.”
The album, The World of Ben Vaughn, is due out in April “and I’m really excited about it,” Vaughn says. “It really is an interesting record and I’m playing all of the instruments myself. I haven’t done a one-man record in a long time and I love working that way.”
What about reproducing it live? Turns out that he reaches back to his East Coast roots to make it happen.
“My band, The Ben Vaughn Quintet, is located in Philadelphia,” he says. “I’m from Jersey, I grew up outside of Camden and used to play City Gardens (in Trenton) all of the time. I loved that club.
“If you tell people you’re from Jersey they immediately think you’re from North Jersey near New York City and right away it’s, ‘Oh, Joisey’ (laughs), and I’m like, ‘No, no, no, it’s more like Jursey or even a “C” ‘ because we have this lazy thing that we do like Jer-Cee. Wurter: “Boil some wurter because I wanna have caufee” (laughs).’ That’s how we speak and I love it because there is a relaxed manner to it, it doesn’t have the hyperactivity that a North Jersey accent has. We have a slower, more laid-back kind of sound to our accent. When I was growing up, there was a lot of farm country down around Pitman, Glassboro, Deptford. It was all farms.”
As was mentioned previously, Vaughn is a radio personality whose program keeps him busy as well. On the program he plays music reminiscent of the old AM radio days where every genre and style are represented (hence, the show’s title).
“The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn” can be heard “on the information super-highway and wherever you find podcasts,” he says, once again with a laugh. “I’m out there. There is a radio station out here in Joshua Tree, Calif., that puts my radio shows up as podcasts so you can download it. I’m on WXPN in Philly and on 28 different stations in the country and if you like a lot of different types of music, you’ll love this show because I’m all over the place.
For more on Vaughn, visit facebook.com/benvaughnmusic.
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