Rising artist Ben Steiner (who performs as Seph Cove) has quickly become a favorite over the past couple of years, and now he is proving 2022 will be no exception, having just released his breathtaking new Unsafe Passage EP.
Speaking with Variance just days before the project's release, Steiner calls the new release a "journey through my mind" over the last few years, especially 2019 and 2020.
"Parts of that were not particularly fun, and parts of it were a bit of an emotional rollercoaster," he recalls, speaking with Variance over Zoom from his home in Melbourne, Australia. "And I think for so many of us, 2020 was overwhelming. But I landed on Unsafe Passage because, thinking about the songs, it is a journey through my mind, but not necessarily a safe one. So I guess that's the trigger warning. That it's not all roses. But that's good. It's meant to be open and honest."
For this project, Steiner has teamed up with another Aussie and fellow Variance favorite Tim Bettinson (aka Vancouver Sleep Clinic), who has collaborated with Steiner on his last two projects, including co-writing and producing the new EP as well as multiple songs off his 2021 EP If This Were You.
"We shared the same manager for a while," says Steiner of his connection with Bettinson, which goes back several years. "Neither of us are with the manager anymore, but our friendship just blossomed and we got along really well, and musically, we got along really well. So we recorded my first EP, which I released last year, and that was very much a feeling out process, figuring each other out."
He continues: "This time, though, it was so comfortable. It was easy. And I think that's rare. I really cherish the musical relationship we have formed, but really, as a human being, he is an absolute star."
With this new EP and a general sense of optimism regarding the state of the global pandemic, Steiner is also playing live again, something which couldn't have come at a better time.
"I've played just three shows in the last two years," he explains. "So it's been killer. Live music is just something I've really enjoyed and being able to connect with people in person, face-to-face, and have that almost unspoken conversation, is something I value so much, and it's been really tough not being able to do that."
He is playing several shows this month coinciding the EP's arrival, including a series of intimate performances around Australia.
"Basically, like 20 people get invited to a house," he says. "And it's just such a beautiful experience. I think it's been the best way to engage with people and, especially after the last couple of years, just to be back—it feels really good." ■