Meet Romeo Walker, a new project from esteemed Perth musician Benjamin Witt
After building an impressive resume both in front of the microphone and behind-the-scenes, Perth's Benjamin Witt emerges with a new name.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a West Australian musician with a resume comparable to Benjamin Witt. Over the last decade, the Perth-based musician has become one of the city's most acclaimed creatives, whether it's as the lead vocalist for early-2010s indie-rock breakthroughs The Chemist, through numerous solo projects that sit either side of the band's few records, or behind-the-scenes working alongside POND, Empire of the Sun, Mei Saraswati, Rabbit Island and others.
He's someone whose distinct touch has become a calling card of Western Australia's musical history; someone whose presence spans across Perth's many cultural breakthroughs, regardless of musical genre or time period. Through a variety of roles, Benjamin Witt was someone central to the 'Big Day Out era' of West Australian indie-rock as much as he was to the Spinning Top-led, psychedelic-leaning explosion that came soon afterwards - a multi-genre, multi-role creative chameleon with his fingers in many artistic pies.
The last few years, however, has seen the musician focus on his own projects, with the newly-minted Romeo Walker being a new solo venture for the musician that encapsulates his last few years of creative growth and evolution. Introducing itself via its debut single Mood, Romeo Walker captures a genre-less and experimental edge to Benjamin Witt's musicality, veering into this alt-indie-pop-electronica blend that's really quite difficult to put a finger on.
One thing that is apparent from the get-go, however, is the beauty that underpins Mood's teasing production and the melodies that swell in and out of the mix; the single - and the Romeo Walker project as a whole - welcoming a reminder of Benjamin Witt's well-documented talents, and how they continue to evolve and build on themselves as the years go on. "Mood is a modal tune and a sonic sketch of a modern mood," he says on the single. "I don’t know why I made it but an orange tree doesn’t know why it makes oranges, it just makes oranges & is indifferent to how its oranges are received."
Mood preludes an entire album's worth of material to come, and a handful of shows that will show how Romeo Walker comes to life on the live stage. One of which shows is the Tone City Recording Studio Christmas Party, which goes down at Fremantle institution Mojo's Bar on December 18th, alongside Siobhan Cotchin, Claudie Joy and long-time Perth indie-rock heavyweights Sugar Army.
In the meantime, take a dive into Mood below, and introduce yourself to the Romeo Walker project underneath:
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Benjamin Witt & my new recording project is called Romeo Walker. I’ve played music in Perth under my own name & in a band called The Chemist when I was in my late teens/early twenties. I have worked creatively with others in Perth music including The Sleepy Jackson, Pond, Mei Saraswati, Phil Stroud, Rabbit Island & many more.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
Some of my favourite music includes Tom Waits, Mulatu Astatke, Beck, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Cornelius and much more. If that gives you any idea? The songs typically deal with the circuits of the mind and the arm wrestle between a nightmare and a dream.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
I typically write alone & imagine the world of the song as a whole, rather than vibe-ing on a riff or a beat or something. I record on pro-tools at home typically but I was bored of that & wanted to achieve better results. So after I made the demos at home, I hooked up with my good friend Sam Ford to record and mix it at Tone City.
Can you tell us a bit about your new single, Mood?
I was going for a sci-fi film noir atmosphere with a beat inspired by Timbaland’s beat for Ludicras - The Potion and Moondog’s percussion work. It’s a descriptive song, not prescriptive, didactic or sermonic. More like a painter or photographer who presents an image & the viewer sees in it what they like.
I had thoughts about political discourse manifesting as entertainment or a form of sport. The commodification of morality & stoking of outrage etc for advertising revenue & the cheap thrills people get when participating in the shallow waters. All that is juxtaposed with a “car crash farm”, the endless tragic events we briefly observe & sigh at before driving on. The title mood is somewhat sardonic given its place within the online vernacular. I don’t usually like to give that much away but I guess I’m in a mood.
What do you have planned for 2022?
I’ll be releasing a full length LP by March. So there should be a few shows here and there. I’ve got some of the fellas from Grevious Bodily Calm to interpret the recordings with me. I’ll also likely be touring a couple of times with a prog metal band as a session guitarist through Australia & Europe.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I want people to be inspired and I want them to find solace in it if they need it.
Where can we find more of your music?
You can look up ROMEO WALKER on Spotify. Some stuff on the gram and Bandcamp.