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Judge for Ben Cyllus

Nashville, TN
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Portrait of Ben Cyllus
When you listen to the music of Ben Cyllus you can hear the influences of the geographic trail he has left behind - the organic surroundings of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where he was raised, the spirit of Texas where he played in a series of bands with his brothers, and the straight-forward honesty of the city of Detroit where he has lived for the past ten years and where he recently recorded his full-length debut "Cinnamon Matinee"

Using the songbooks of his folk and rock heroes, Ben taught himself to play guitar in his teens and quickly realized that he had something in common with those who inspired him. "My favorite artists have been masters of the song itself", he says, "the structure, the melody, the lyric and how it all comes together".
How that all comes together for Ben Cyllus can be heard on the independently released "Cinnamon Matinee" which was recorded at Detroit's famed White Room Studio - known for its organic vibe and impressive array of vintage recording gear. The 13 song debut features elegant and powerful arrangements that are brought to life with solid grooves, deftly layered instrumentation and lyrics that take seemingly familiar imagery and common phrases and turn them on end, providing a range of new perspectives. The result is a collection of songs that is immediately enticing and exudes a charming, casual confidence. Ben characterizes it as a record that "doesn't feel like a posed picture, or something that took a long time to assemble. It's more like a candid snapshot of a moment in time".
Most of the record's songs are the result of a prolific relationship with songwriting partner and guitarist John Howard. Over the past twelve months the two have written over 40 songs. "John creates chord structures that are very inviting, with hooks and twists that are really seductive". Working with that foundation, Ben then conjures beautiful melodies and crafts engaging lyrics that add a new dimension. "We're aware of the mechanics of writing songs", Ben says, "but we don't over-think it too much. We're big believers in staying true to the initial inspiration".
Ben performs frequently - as a duo with Howard, and as a full band, most often in support of national touring artists. "We love performing the songs from the record in a live situation. We're excited to get more people exposed to the record, and we're anxious to get back in the studio and capture the next round of songs".