Boppin' to Buku: Interview with Bent Denim

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To continue our coverage of the upcoming festival season, Empty Lighthouse had the chance to talk to Bent Denim, who is set to perform at Buku Music Festival this March in New Orleans.

Bent Denim is a collaborative music project between Ben Littlejohn and Dennis Sager, who live in two totally different cities and exchange music via email.

Tracks are swapped via email from Nashville to New Orleans, and vice versa, creating an exceptionally unique musical outcome for the duo. Learn more about what Bent Denim's all about!

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: How did you first get your start in music?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Dennis and I used to take guitar lessons from the same guy, Marc Solomon, while growing up in Dallas and he kinda paired us together to form a band of sorts.

This is an extension of that despite the fact that I am not in 6th grade anymore.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: I'm the youngest in a family where all kids took classical piano lessons, soooo I started taking piano lessons.

My best-friend since age 5 grew up on Ben's blocks, so we've known each other forever.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: Who are your musical influences?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Everything since I started actually consuming music on my own but Dennis and I both had pretty unhealthy Elliott Smith obsessions at a younger age.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: Elliott Smith all of the time! Ben and I talk about Richard Buckner and Sparklehorse often.

Why? is a huge influence too in terms of words and how to play the keyboard.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: Who do you listen to in your spare time, other hobbies, etc?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Other than reading and eating I've been listening to a lot of Title Fight, Teen Suicide, and some buddies of ours named Pope who just came out with a great EP.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: Yup lots of Title Fight and Joyce Manor and Pope! I listen to a lot of rap and really anything with words that hold my attention.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What has been your most memorable experience while touring?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Being surprised when people are actually listening and having a good time.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: We toured with a sweet band from Chicago called Bummer, they had like 4 skateboards in their U-Haul, I have the fondest memories of skateboarding around at ridiculous hours and locations etc.

I miss my Bummer bros.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What is the craziest thing you've seen a fan do to get into a show / on stage, etc.?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Pay a $15 cover charge.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What advice would you give to other young people looking to succeed in the industry?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Don't wait for something to happen and don't be an asshole.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: Write good songs.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: When you hit a creativity block, what re-inspires you?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Fiction
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: Since we started this project last March, I haven't had time to hit a creativity block. I'm not financially stable enough to have the leisure time to reach that point.

The spare hours of the week I have to sit in front of a computer and microphone never feel long enough.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: How do you manage your time between your music and personal life?
BENT DENIM // BEN: I don't really to be completely honest. It's music or no music but very little interplay and the distinctions are not healthy.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: I struggle with it as well. I work full time, play in multiple bands, have serious girlfriend etc. etc.

Everything kinda ends up bleeding into each other. If I didn't have a job that let me take time off to tour then I'd find another one that did and so forth.

Music is the main priority in my life, so everything else I do in life revolves around it in some way at least.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What are your upcoming plans in regards to more touring, releases and producing new music?
BENT DENIM // BEN: We have an EP coming out soon.

Other than that hopefully a lot of really badass touring this summer and seeing more of the country.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: We have a ton of music ready to release so hopefully something like a double LP. And lots of touring and friend-making around the country.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: If stranded on an island, what 3 things would you want to have with you?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Infinite Jest (would finally have time to read it), The Brothers Karamazov (would also finally have time to read it), and probably an animal of some sorts that is friendly and a good hang.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: I'm gonna take the realists strategy and bring a book on surviving on said desert island, a Swiss army knife, and a friend!

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: What are you most excited about the upcoming festival season?
BENT DENIM // BEN: I am super excited to have SXSW and BUKU on back to back weekends. Should be a lot of fun traveling and playing. And probably the food.

Both Austin and New Orleans have better food than Nashville.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: We grew up going to SXSW so being a showcase artist has always been a daydream.

I'm just excited for all the contacts/friends we'll make. And I want to hang out with Danny Brown.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: Any further plans for your trip to New Orleans while there for BUKU?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Parasols in the Irish Channel and il Posto in Uptown.

So I guess just food that I crave when I'm gone.
BENT DENIM // DENNIS: I live here so probably just get a few good practices.

But there'll be lots of friends in town for BUKU, so definitely lots of running around town saying hi.

EMPTY LIGHTHOUSE: Anything else you would like to add?
BENT DENIM // BEN: Thanks for taking the time to interview us!

For further information on how you can attend Buku Music Festival to see Bent Denim perform among many other talented artists, visit, and to take a listen to Bent Denim, visit - see ya in NOLA!