Friday, February 3, 2023

Sarah’s Hotspot: Single Release: “Little Pilot” By Boxcar Ben

Indie-folker Boxcar Ben’s latest single is about self exploration, inner-healing, and sounds like “a sunset in a song.”

Known for his trademark blue hair and Bon Iver-esque voice, the Hamiltonian indie-rocker Ben Allan, or Boxcar Ben, has released his second single of 2022 after the somber and reflective “Ghosts of Yesterday.” Previously recognized for his folk-heavy styles, the singer-songwriter is transitioning to a broader, more inclusive descriptor in alt-rock.

“Lately I’ve been saying indie or alt-rock, I feel like alternative opens up a wider umbrella than some other conventional genre restrictions,” said Ben. “I’ve been wanting to explore more areas of songwriting, and I think that alt sort of suggests that.”

Photo credits: Ballad Creative

Allan was raised on classic rock and 80s dance music, but once he started developing his own sense of taste, he became a self-described ‘”lifelong grunge addict.”

“Many of my musical explorations stemmed from 90s music,” said Ben. “I went through a ton of phases as a listener and dove down some pretty deep rabbit holes exploring the history of where the music I love comes from. Music is the grand influence though, the sonic exploration is a dragon to chase.”

“Little Pilot” was originally a much longer track, which was born in Parry Sound.

“I’d sort of left it on the back burner of songs that I’d tinker with now and then, but kind of kept it on the low until recently when it felt right to record it,” said Ben. “I started the recording process alongside the same timeline as “Ghosts of Yesterday,” upon meeting Kristen Prince back in 2021 I pitched her the idea of working on something together.”

The single was quite the slow burn, taking around 15 months to fully complete.

“Production stretched just over a year and a month,” said Ben. “I’m indulging in taking my time I suppose, I think the results were worth the wait.”

The chorus of “Little Pilot” calls for reconnection with the artist’s higher self.

“I’ve been doing a lot of self exploration and inner healing in hopes of understanding life more, and the moments that things seem to lock into place are when I trust or believe in myself being able to face the challenge,” said Ben. “Even if that higher self is simply the most “you” version of you, the one who is observing your thoughts is the pilot I’m sort of talking about. The story that unfolds within the verses of the song is a little bit about life itself, and our growth and development through the different levels of ascending consciousness, told in a whimsical tale of evolution in some fashion. I always liked how Dave Grohl described Cobain’s lyricism like he was writing lullabies, I think I kept that in mind here.”

Photo credits: Hendrie Photo

The single’s drums, bass, guitar and vocals were done in Boxcar Ben’s studio: the ‘Allan Dream Factory.’

“Kristen recorded her parts and sent them to me, and I put the final composition together and finalized the mix and master of the track in early October of this year,” said Ben. “I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect collaboration to be honest, Kristen was patient with my sort of unconventional process and we had a lot of fun working together. Managed to pull off a very successful single release show on the 18th that really showcased how well Kristen and my musical styles blended together, there might already be whispers of more performances together.”

Allan hopes his listeners take a good vibe away from “Little Pilot,” as a few people have described the single as a “sunset in a song.”

“Lyrically I always try to leave that up to the listener, and if something connects with something within them then that’s pretty special,” said Ben. “I think it says a lot about me in some ways, the last lyric at the end is, “I’m just a little man you can hear it in my screams, Lamenting only thoughts of you I’m running in my dreams,” that lyric came in a time of my life when I was wishing I could just run from my problems, run to the better life I thought was waiting for me out there. I understand now that’s not always a solution, but it’s a strong emotion I think a lot of us go through.”

Fans interested in hearing Boxcar Ben live can catch him at his next performance on Friday, December 9 at the Corktown Pub beginning at 9:30pm. Tickets are available online.

“I think coming out to live shows is probably the best way to connect with a musician,” said Ben. “Streaming recordings is always appreciated and a great free way you can support artists, you can find my music on pretty much any streaming platform you use to listen to your music. The third option is direct from the source! is the home to all of my music, art, bio, merch, social links, videos and all that fun jazzy jazz!”

Sarah Jessica Rintjema
Sarah Jessica Rintjema
Sarah Jessica Rintjema (she/her) is a music and arts journalist and live music photographer based in Hamilton, Ontario, and working within the GTHA. Besides running a Canadian arts promotional blog titled Sarah's Hotspot where she interviews local artists about recent single, album, and music video releases, Sarah Jessica hosts a podcast called HOTSHOTS where she dives deep into industry issues with local artists, which inspired her weekly radio show on Mohawk College's 101.5 The Hawk every Tuesday at 7PM, called HOTSHOTS On Air. You can contact Sarah Jessica through email, Instagram, or through the contact form on her website. Profile photo by Christopher Arndt.

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