According to the ever-trusty Wikipedia, “Amaranthus is a cosmopolitan genus of annual or short-lived perennial plants collectively known as amaranths. Some amaranth species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, pseudocereals, and ornamental plants. Amaranth varies in flower, leaf, and stem color with a range of striking pigments from the spectrum of maroon to crimson and can grow longitudinally from 1 to 2.5 metres (3 to 8 feet) tall with a cylindrical, succulent, fibrous stem that is hollow with grooves and bracteoles when mature.”
There’s your brief botanical lesson for the day.
“Amaranth Moonlight” also happens to be the latest single from the minds and fingers of Nashville’s Old Sea Brigade and the UK’s Luke Sital-Singh. It is part of the duo’s new EP, All The Ways You Sing In The Dark, which was released earlier this year.
The song, rich with West Coast pop soul and lush guitar tones, showcases singer Ben Cramer’s songwriting skills and vocal abilities, and Sital-Singh’s modestly delightful guitar playing.
With a name like Old Sea Brigade, one might conjure images of a quartet of scowling indie rockers taking album photos on the Cliffs of Moher or something of the sort. But alas, Cramer is the sole proprietor of the moniker, with musical accompaniment for live shows and recordings along the way.
Old Sea Brigade’s debut self-titled EP was released in January 2016, and kicked off what would be and is a successful solo tenure for Cramer, who has been steeped in the music world in various facets for many years. Cramer spent the following year touring the United States and Europe, including support shows for Joseph, Julien Baker, and Benjamin Francis Leftwich. His music has been described as indie folk with “a sense of Southern-gothic”.
Old Sea Brigade released his debut album Ode to a Friend in January 2019. His music has been featured in notable TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us, Nashville, and more.
We had the chance to ask Ben some questions about the new EP, his connection with Sital-Singh, what other botanicals he’s into, and much more.
So where did you grow up, and what got you into playing and writing music?
I grew up in Atlanta, GA. I got really into punk bands from an early age, so started a number of bands through my high school and college years.
What drew you to pursue your music career in Nashville as opposed to a different music market city like LA, NYC, maybe Austin, etc.?
Growing up in Atlanta, I always thought of Nashville as just a country music town, so I never really paid much attention to it. After living in Athens, GA, for a while, I moved to NYC to play in a band and work at a few different recording studios. After living in NYC for a few years, my band was on tour and came through Nashville to play a show. We all fell in love with the city, so we decided to pack up and move here. We were really drawn to the local scene here and the pace of life. Also, financially it made way more sense than NYC or LA.
Do you have a specific atmosphere or pastime that aides in your songwriting process, or does it often just happen sporadically?
I like to get up early and go for a run, then sit down with a cup of coffee and write. I find more inspiration in the mornings than evenings for some reason. I also think changing my environment and surroundings really help. Any time I travel, I feel much more inspired to write.
So you recently released your newest EP with Luke Sital-Singh, All The Ways You Sing In The Dark. How did y’all get hooked up together?
A few years back I opened up for Luke on a U.S. tour, then a few months after that tour, I tour-managed for him. I was a terrible tour manager, but we are still pals!
How do you feel Sital-Singh compliments your style and vice versa?
From a vocal standpoint, Luke’s voice can hit octaves I can only dream of, ha.. so when we were writing, no melodies were really off the table. I could cover the low parts and he could cover the high parts. Also working with someone as gifted and talented as Luke makes writing so much more enjoyable.
What were your primary influences and inspirations for this record?
I’d say weed gummies and the Southern California ambiance. There was never much pressure during the writing process, and I think that sort of laid back vibe played a big part in the songs we wrote. We were trying not to overthink things and let lyrics and melodies come as naturally as possible.
Do you feel the pandemic has helped or hurt your creative process?
I don’t think it has done either. It’s given me a time to reflect.
Aside from maybe livestreaming, are there any other “unique” ways you’ve maintained momentum for your music?
I was lucky to have this EP pre-recorded before lockdown, so we were able to release new singles every 6 weeks. I think that really helped tie us over for a while. We had some fun with self-filming music videos for a few of the singles which was challenging, but pretty creatively fulfilling.
What three Nashville establishments can you not live without?
Duke’s Sandwiches, Shelby Park Greenway and Baja Burrito.
What does a dream gig look like for Old Sea Brigade?
Luke opening up for me on tour. JK. Probably playing tambourine or something for Springsteen.
What might fans expect from Old Sea Brigade to close out the year?
More new music!