Mulholland's music is youthful and raw, yet accessibleInstagram/mulholland.jive

Originally of Irish heritage and a great lover of all things Star Wars, Ben Mulholland has used his rich background in music to propel his latest EP Intergalactic into the international music scene. Mulholland’s music is very accessible in terms of jazz, and has a raw energy that refrains from being too free and wild, while maintaining a tantalising youthful energy. Despite being classically trained, Ben started listening to jazz music in his own school years and first got enthusiastic about the genre by listening to Sinatra and some traditional jazz standards. He quips, “There weren’t many 14 year olds listening to Jools Holland and Frank Sinatra — most people were listening to Limp Bizkit”.

“There weren’t many 14 year olds listening to Jools Holland and Frank Sinatra — most people were listening to Limp Bizkit”

Mulholland started trying to work on playing some standards by ear, before taking it to his teacher to tackle properly. By sifting through his parents’ record collection, his own CDs, and a healthy dose of YouTube, Ben started listening to ‘serious jazz’ like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. He continued this jazz performance at university and hasn’t stopped since — becoming a secondary school music teacher. Mulholland’s main sonic influences include Bob Dylan, Snarky Puppy, Muse, Vulfpeck and Jamie Cullum.

When Ben was first appointed as music teacher at his local secondary school in Cambridgeshire, he was asked to set up a jazz band for the more able kids. Accidentally, this became a platform for ‘market testing’ in a way, to see which of his jazz compositions were better received compared to others. Mulholland could then make any amendments based on its reception. “You give them a tune and you very quickly realise if they like it or not”. Incidentally, the perfect setup for a successful business model.

Mulholland would test his jazz compositions on his studentsInstagram/mulholland.jive

While his students aren’t heard on the recorded tracks, you can hear the sounds of Mulholland Jive rising above the music block as students practice his music of their own volition during breaks and lunchtimes. Lots of performances have been done in school. One of the most memorable performances for Mulholland Jive was for Foundry Music. This was an evening where local musicians played their music and Mulholland Jive jammed funk-rock bops for 30 minutes.

“You give them a tune and you very quickly realise if they like it or not”

Mulholland is humble as he speaks with surprise at his successful reception in Australia. “Bad Moon Rising” is currently at number 2 on Banks Radio Australia. The piece conjures the slightly angry and excited emotions that might be pent up from being in lockdown, reflecting a sense of building energy. This energy certainly suits Ben’s class of budding teenage musicians.

Shortlisted for the top 5 of the NMG Awards and nominated for track of the year, Mulholland’s piece “Levitate” is his oldest composition and was released on Spotify and Apple Music both as an ambient piano track and also as a jazz band number. Its beautiful balance between relaxation and subtle momentum makes it a satisfying listen. Yet, its contracting indie style could easily accompany a profound moment in a film score like West Wing.


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Over the summer, Ben went to a recording studio to record a couple of tracks, one of which was “Bad Moon Rising”. There are two others that he is going to put together into a little EP. Ideally, he wants to release it just before the gig in February. Doing this on top of a full time job and being a father, it’s no surprise when he tells me “life is very very busy”. He elaborates that he is “Hoping to release something new soon — details to come! In terms of the future, it would be great to have a full size band playing everything!”, although he apologises in advance for the complex piano part.

Find tickets for the live Mulholland Jive gig coming up on 5th February at Comberton Arts Theatre on Instagram. It’s certainly not to be missed!