Five Minutes, Five Questions with Benjamin Jaffe and Dead Horses

Five Minutes, Five Questions with Benjamin Jaffe and Dead Horses


Benjamin Jaffe was “cattle prodded” back into solo work, he jokes. One half of roots/rock duo honeyhoney, Jaffe had the handy outlet of the band to anchor his writing and his work over the last 10 years. But when his partner, Suzanne Santo, struck out on her own, it was time for Jaffe to do the same. Last year’s “Oh, Wild Ocean of Love” was Jaffe’s debut solo album and took the artist to more experimental aural planes than his work in honeyhoney.

The multi-instrumentalist/composer/writer/vocalist joins contemporary indie/folk storytellers Dead Horses on the road as they make a stop at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville May 16.

Here, Jaffe and the duo answer a few questions for What’s Up!

Q. Where did the songs on “Oh, Wild Ocean of Love” come from? Had you written them for honeyhoney, or did you know they’d be better suited to a solo project?

Jaffe: The songs on “OWOoL” were split between some tunes that had been hanging around for years, like “Everlasting Peace,” and the result of a month I gave myself to come up with more material. Most of the record was written or rewritten in that time, but a lot of the ideas had been floating around for awhile, cell phone ghosts that stuck with me. I’d written “Susan the Cat” two years before, but it was too weird for me to be able to get anyone else to sing it.

Q. Did the album give you the chance to explore a different creative landscape from that of the duo?

Jaffe: Of course! I still worked with some collaborators, mostly my friend Howard Feibusch, who is a mastermind. He recorded the record for the most part; I played the instruments. It’s difficult for me to work entirely by myself — high risk of self-destruction. He’s also a very meticulous guy, whereas I can be more like an exploded ketchup packet. It’s important to find people who complement your skills.

Q. How do you feel you’ve evolved as a creator over your career?

Jaffe: OK, tell me if this makes sense: I think people are similar to tuning forks in a couple ways. We’re constantly being struck — emotionally, physically, spiritually — and as a result, we resonate. The resonance is how we express ourselves in the world. How we act, what we do. Most all of us carry around a bunch of bulls**t that dampens that resonance BUT as we shed those bulls**t things (doubt, fear, whatever) we resonate more purely and more musically in the world. I’ve shed a bunch of bulls**t over the years. Still have plenty more to go.

Q. Your 2018 album dealt with some deep personal catharsis — where do you go after that as an artist? Was it easy to move on to the next stories ready to be told?

Sarah Vos: “My Mother the Moon” does deal with some pretty personal stuff — as does so much of my writing. On this record I chose to be a lot more open about it, in both the songs as well as some of the press around the songs. This has proven to be both difficult and rewarding at times. At different points I have found myself wanting to shy away from the story, but when asked about it, I can’t help but be open and honest, and I’m trying to learn to trust that part of myself. As far as stories to come in future work, I think I will continue to write lyrics that are personal, even if they are musings about things going on outside of myself.

Q. Tell me about bringing Ben on the road to open for you? What kind of experience does the curation of Ben Jaffe and Dead Horses create for the show?

Daniel Wolff: This is Ben’s third run with us since our album release tour for “My Mother the Moon” last year, and DH had the pleasure of supporting Ben’s band honeyhoney on tour last summer. Ben’s charismatic performance is that of a narrative, accompanied by carefully selected chords and spiced so lovely with inversions of not-so-familiar jazz chords, which allow his vocal melodies and story within to really be digested personally, note by note, word by word. He’s a captivating performer. He sets a precedent that is demanding of the audience, yet light-hearted enough to keep them in jest. He sets the mood of the room for Dead Horses and some of our heavier topics and lyrics revolving around Sarah’s upbringing and personal intellect. The entire show balances as beautifully as I could imagine with the ensemble of six-string guitar and upright bass.



Benjamin Jaffe

Opening For Dead Horses

WHEN — 8:30 p.m. May 16

WHERE — George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville

COST — $10


Categories: Music