Five Questions With… Benjamin Dakota Rogers
The Ontario folk songsmith releases a new album next week. Here he discusses its creation, his favourite songs, and an ongoing love affair with the fiddle.
By Jason Schneider
Benjamin Dakota Rogers makes his return to the folk world with a new album called Better By Now, set for release on April 5. The collection strips his sound down to its core, emphasizing the raw human experience that's delivered here with the honesty and grit of a farm boy’s hands.
Hailing from the tiny town of Scotland in rural Ontario, Rogers funnels his penchant for starry nights and nostalgia into songs that blend a myriad of influences within roots, blues and country music.
Rogers found a passion and purpose in folk after inheriting his great-grandfather’s violin at the tender age of seven. From budding musician to an inspiring performer, his love of creating meaningful music has driven him to redefine the familiar.
Rogers launches Better By Now at Hugh’s Room Live in Toronto on April 6. For more info, go to benjamindakotarogers.com.
What makes Better By Now different from your past work?
It's been almost three years since I put out my last album Whisky And Pine. That came out when I was 19. I was always on a minimal budget but we made that work with what we had and some cool things came of that, but this is the first record I got to take my time on. The songs were written with more purpose, and everything was thought out. Working with [producer] Dan Hosh was a great experience because we got to take the time to find the right gear and instruments and feel for each song and I hope it shows when you listen to the record.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
I love how "Pretty Girls" came together. I'd wanted to sing with Meg Contini since I first saw her perform with The O'Pears and I was just thrilled that we were finally able to make that work. The simplicity of the song captured the feeling I was going for with the old heartbroken campfire vibe. "Home" is the first spoken word song I've written that felt completely right to me. I've been writing spoken word songs for a few years now and have always been grasping to try and figure out what I wanted to say with them and in "Home" it all just came together naturally. It was like a mini-breakthrough song for me.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
It's been a journey going from being a fiddle player to singer-songwriter, but I'm pleased with where I am as an artist right now. I still love the fiddle; it's this incredibly moving instrument. But the power to tell stories has inspired me to continue evolving as a singer-songwriter. This new direction just happened organically, and it feels right.
What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?
The main change is having a great team working with me now. I have management and booking support in a few different territories. Any independent musician knows how invaluable a good team is.
What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?
I had some incredible teachers I would always look up to. I used to look forward to my fiddle lessons every other week in Kitchener. My dad and I would hop in the car after school, and we would do the hour drive, usually stopping for some snacks along the way. I still miss those Thursday lessons and the long rides with my father.