Tabitha Benjamin – AKA the dusky voice of Detour City – is now flying solo with ‘Merlin (Everybody Knows)’. She effectively belongs to that particular realm of D&B and beats where the vocal is not a simple ornament: think Goldie – who she cites as an influence – think people such as Photek and Robert Owens, Dr Meaker, Robert Manos… understated yet effective.
Can you break down who you’ve worked with? I think I first heard you with Dimension’s ‘Digital World’ a few years back.
Early on I did a remix for Bastille’s first ever single ‘Overjoyed’ and I worked on a couple of tracks with Wilkinson ‘Too Close’ and ‘Let Me Be Free’ from his album ‘Lazers Not Included’.
I’ve collaborated with Breakage on his new single ‘Treading Water’ and worked on my EP with David Etherington. Since then I’ve worked with Jakwob, Grades, Guy Sigsworth and Jonas Quant. I’ve also got a single with Embody called ‘One Life’ which will be out in a few weeks.
How long have you been singing?
For my 3rd birthday I got a ‘My First Sony Tape recorder’ – that’s when I started laying down songs. Singing for me is kind of like breathing in and out.
And you are very committed to the work you do…
I do it every day and this has taken my writing to another level.
Is it nerve wracking to work with seasoned producers and musicians? It’s one thing to do it in the bedroom but to do it with people with lots of experience and a special focus, and knowing it will be really heard, eg on radio, well, that is pressure…
Not at all! It’s always a pleasure to work with people who know what they want to do and where they want to go with it.
Tell me about the choice of your artist name… ‘Detour City’ is very evocative.
I am definitely influenced by all different types of art – so yes I wanted to suggest a multi-dimensional project which I was at the centre of but also has many different creative collaborators. I also wanted to create a world which people could step into to experience my music.
Now why did you choose to fly solo with this release?
Being a feature artist – co-writing and singing for more established artists – is such an honour, but I have a very specific vision for my own music and songs and it’s great to have the freedom to explore that.
Tell us about the video and the shoot, where was it done?
The video was shot in the desert in LA. The star of the video is a member of a woman only biker gang – I love motorbikes and that whole Americana aesthetic. I’m a big fan of the film Thelma and Louise so the whole searching for yourself in the desert thing seemed appropriate for ‘Merlin (Everybody Knows)’.
Who influenced you?
The Trip-Hop pioneers like Massive Attack and Portishead have had a big influence on me as well as powerful female artists who’ve carved out their own spaces within music – Bjork, Annie Lennox and more recently Sia. I always go back to classics by the likes of Goldie and Breakage too.
Does this translate to live work? Again, it’s one thing to do a ‘bedroom’ performance but to do it live on stage, to know what to say to a crowd, to do it on tour… it’s hard work.
Performing live is always challenging for sure. I used to be on the acoustic circuit in London so I’ve done my fair share of rowdy gigs! I’m really looking forward to developing the Detour City live act – I currently play with a bass/synth player and a drummer – and taking it to bigger audiences
What can we look forward to next?
I’ll be promoting my new single ‘Merlin (Everybody Knows)’ and the EP of the same title. Breakage’s ‘Treading Water’ – co-written and featuring me (below) – is out at the end of November… and check out the amazing Jakwob remix too! Also look out for my collaboration with Embody called ‘One Life’.