In the Clive Davis Theater of the Grammy Museum, near the famous Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ben Folds of the alternative rock band, Ben Folds Five, held a short but intimate conversation with Scott Goldman for a lucky audience.
The event was sold out, with many having to sit on folding chairs that were brought in by the ushers. Ben Folds was clearly a popular artist. Scott Goldman came out to introduce the entertainment for the night. He joked about the rough Grammy week and how he was personally responsible for Adele’s singing lesson. He also reminded the room that the entire night would be archived for later viewing at the museum.
Coming out to thunderous applause, Ben Folds took the stage and sat next to Goldman. They kicked things off almost immediately by talking about Folds’ new album, which features the yMusic ensemble and a piano concerto with the Nashville Symphony. Folds was asked how collaborating with an ensemble is different from a rock band. The main difference that he stated was that it was similar in the sense that yMusic were willing to play off page like a typical rock band. Many ensembles don’t share the same willingness and follow strict protocol. One of the most radical things they did on the album together was the exclusion of a bass.
Goldman asked Folds to analyze a previous quote of his:
“I think it’s interesting to put people’s brains and hearts in odd places.”
Folds outright said that he may not feel the same anymore regarding that sentence but tried to break it down for the room. For him it’s important to be off balance with your music. Musicians think they know who they are, but its when they find out other parts of themselves is when they make great music. He compared it to someone who thinks they are well liked because they are a class-clown. In reality, their close friends like them for other reasons such as they are very kind or nice. That’s where the true value lies.
Folds also touched upon an anecdote about him dropping his cell phone in a pool and pop star Ke$ha came up to him in a hoodie and dove in to retrieve it. Following her rescue, she simply told him to drop the phone in a bag of rice. One of the most insightful stories he talked about was the importance of classical music for the younger generation. Classical music teaches kids harmony and how to work together. There isn’t any other time where 85 people will be in sync playing a song.
After talking to Scott, the crowd was allowed to ask a few questions. He was asked if he prefers to create organic original songs or to work as a commissioned composer. He humorously answered that he definitely prefers commissioned because if he has so much experiences where it needs to be a song, then that’s a bad sign about his life.
Once the speaking portion was over, Folds captivated everyone with a few songs off his new album. He hopped on the piano to begin his set. His mastery of the piano was very impressive as he began with “Phone in a Pool.” After two more songs, he took crowd requests. The room filled with shouts as he tried to pluck a title from the pandemonium of voices.
During the first classic song of his, he forgot the words to “The Last Polka” and laughed about it, admitting that he knew this was going to happen. Being in such a small environment, the crowd was very warm and supportive as he picked it back up and resumed the song. He played two more classic requests before finishing the night strong.
Phone in a Pool
Capable of Anything
Not a Fan
The Last Polka
Still Fighting It
One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces