You might have heard of Neon Feather, since he's done remixes with TobyMac, Mandisa, Jordan Feliz, We Are Messengers and many more artists. But, who's the mastermind behind Neon Feather? That would be the extremely talented programmer/EDM artist, Ben Thompson. Ben not only produces remixes but has been branching out into some solo projects that feature artists on vocals, like Chris Cron and Matty Mullins. His most recent release, "Safe," recently went to radio and features Chris Cron on vocals.
I got to connect with Ben, and we talked about that song, and what 2020 looks like for Neon Feather.
How did you get started?
My brother and I got into music at a young age. My dad taught me some guitar when I was 11, and I really fell in love with that, and played in some local bands. When I was 14, my aunt introduced me to GarageBand on her MacBook, and I just fell in love with that, and was really captivated by the endless possibilities of electronic music. At that point, I was very rudimentary, and I messed around with loops and had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it so much. Over the years I kept doing that, and it slowly grew into more of a knowledge of how to really make electronic music. I had a high school band where I wrote a lot of electronic stuff and did a lot of programming. We stopped doing that around college and took a six-month breather.
Right around that time I had an acquaintance with a band that was more successful than I was. They had a remix competition, and I told them, "Hey, I'm going to enter your contest, but I'm going to make up an alias for it so that you don't know that it's me." So I made up the name Neon Feather for that. I entered that contest, and they ended up taking my remix. They had no idea that it was me.
I just kept entering remix competitions under the name Neon Feather, and one thing led to another, and it just started to snowball into meeting people, and opportunity, and all that. It's been walking through the open doors one step at a time.
What is the inspiration behind your recent radio single, "Safe?"
That song came about in a different way than most of my songs. Usually I'm in the room, writing the song. But with this song, it actually was a song that I didn't write. Chris Cron and another guy wrote it. I was already friends with Chris from our song "Between U and Me." He released "Safe" with his worship band, and I heard it, and thought it had so much potential. I loved it so much. So I asked my label, and I hit him up about it and said, "I would love to kind of adopt this song."
I started over with it, and we sort of reimagined it.
Chris says that the heart behind the song is that our safety in God is not one that leads us into complacency, resting in our comfort zone. But the kind of safety that you feel like when you're going skydiving. You count on the apparatus. It's the kind of safety that drives you and leads you to take bigger risks because you know that you can trust God.
What's your favorite remix that you've done?
I really like the Urban Rescue one that I did that's called "Take Me Back." Also, I keep coming back to this one I did for Mandisa called "Back To You." There's something about the drop in that, that has so much life. It's kind of unique. I keep coming back to it, sourcing it for inspiration. It's a fun one. I really felt good about that one.
Are there any artists that you hope to collaborate with in the future?
Oh yeah, always! It's something that drives me so much to keep going further and the excitement of the idea of the next collaboration around the corner. Collaborating with lesser-known artists is always really exciting. It's always fun to find a voice that not many people have heard, and bring it to life. I would love to do something with Switchfoot, and I still want to put something out with Leeland. We've written some stuff together, but never released it. So at some point I really want to do something with Leeland.
Last year you joined for KING & COUNTRY on their Christmas tour. What was it like touring with them as a new artist?
It was great! It was such a dream experience. It was so far beyond anything I've done before in terms of scale, and overall professional-grade, how many shows that we were doing, and all that. I had never done anything like that, so it was a huge trial by fire for me. It was like jumping into the deep end. The band was so gracious, and all their crew was the best to work with, because they expected me to bring my "A" game. They really helped me get more efficient with my setup and tear down. They made me feel like I had friends there and, for whatever reason, were invested in me beyond what was expected of them, which meant a lot. There's no reason for them to care that much, but they were awesome. It was a great experience.
Do you have any new music planned for the new decade?
Oh yeah, for sure! I can't stop talking to my wife about how excited I am for 2020. There's so much music that I'm working on, and I feel like it's reaching out in so many different directions. I feel like I'm in a really great place where I have a home for almost any type of music I feel like making. Whether I feel like making more radio-friendly CCM stuff, or if I want to make a straight-up dance party, or I want to do a remix, or if I want to make music for film and television. There are so many different avenues and pathways for my music right now. I'm working on a lot of stuff with Chris Cron, keeping that collaboration going. And also I'm pursuing more solo Neon Feather stuff.
How can we be praying for you?
On a professional level you can be praying for focus and clarity, because of all the different options of avenues that I can go within my music. 2020 is brimming with potential, and sometimes that potential can quench itself, because I am so focused on all the possibilities that I freeze up and don't commit to one or two pathways. I just stand there stunned by all my options, then I don't commit as hard as I should to any one option. So pray that the Lord will give me peace with the direction that He has for me.
Grace Chaves is a fan of all things Christian music, and is one of NRT's youngest writers. She's homeschooled, and loves concerts, Jesus, and songwriting.
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