Man At Work: Ben Sollee
Ben Sollee may have found the key to controlling his own destiny.
The classically trained musician now avoids the planes, trains and automobiles grind of tours. Instead, he packs his cello in “a really good case” and bikes to his gigs. As he geared up to promote of his release Inclusions this past May, Sollee says success is all about attitude.
“Randomly, I thought I’d try it,” he says of biking. “I was not even in pretty good shape. [Before the tour], I had ridden maybe eight miles [consecutively]. What I learned is that endurance riding is less about training and more about doing.”
The same can arguably be said about the way Sollee approaches music. While his grade school friends might have been learning guitar in the hopes of becoming the next Eddie Van Halen, Sollee chose the cello because it wasn’t mainstream.
“I loved the goofy sound,” he says. “My whole family was really into R&B and my grandfather was a fiddler; and they were sort of puzzled I’d chosen to learn to play it. That was the dichotomy—I’d do my [classical music] studies and then come home and play R&B. Those two things had a nice, dissident rub to them.”
Now on tour with multi-instrumentalist Phoebe Hunt and drummer Jordon Ellis, Sollee is playing music that celebrates the unexpected and his collaborations with DJ 2nd Nature and DL Jones are the bedrock of his latest music.
“[They taught me about] hip-hop and post-production, the things I knew the least about,” says Sollee, noting that he spent about 100 hours working with 2nd Nature and Jones. “We came up with lots of ideas and I took it all back to the studio.”
Armed with knowledge about layering, live sampling and more, Sollee and his bandmates built the songs for the album and fine-tuned them for concerts.
“Jordan has grown an extra two arms and Phoebe is doing a lot of live sampling,” says Sollee laughing. “We’re taking those [hip-hop] sounds and harmonizing among ourselves. We’re creating a really big sound with just three musicians.”
The Howlin’ Brothers take to the Relix rooftop and share a song they wrote with Warren Haynes.
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Here’s another song from Crystal Bowersox’s new record All That For This, live at Relix.
WYATT share a song in the famed Relix boiler room.
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Australia’s Alpine recently made their NYC debut at the Relix office with this song from their new album A is for Alpine.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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