One of the major music influencers of his generation, piano pop sensation Ben Folds returns to WASO, 16 years after his first orchestral concert. Currently keeping busy in quarantine ahead of next week’s sold out performances, we spoke to Ben about creativity and finding inspiration.
What do you love most about performing with WASO?
WASO has a very special place in my development as an artist because it was WASO who talked me into the whole business of playing with orchestras back in 2004. I was a little against the idea, feeling that I didn’t like the possibility of a rock band stepping on the orchestra. We decided we would eliminate the usual rhythm section and make the orchestra the band. A few of the scores that I travel with began with that show. I love the open mindedness and soulfulness of this orchestra. Always good to be back!
Where do you find inspiration when creating music?
God knows. Sometimes my brain just fires that way and I have to get to a piano and pound out the ideas. Other times, nothing. I’ve never found a pattern or a reason. I wish I had.
What have you been up to during your time in quarantine?
Working on a podcast about creativity. Mostly I’m interviewing thinkers of different disciplines - many that you wouldn’t think of as creative, especially in science. My most recent was a primatologist who points out in a book on creativity that humans' evolution and our escape from predators, success, and happiness all comes from ideas and creativity. Then I have to edit, organise, upload, call the next guest, I’ve been busy. The orchestra has dropped my groceries off and run; I haven’t seen anyone, but I’m grateful to have a helping hand.
What can audiences expect from your concerts with WASO?
A lot of songs I made up.
Do you have a favourite sound or instrument in the Orchestra?
I don’t have a favourite anything really. It’s all context. The orchestra is so full of variety of sound, frequency, dynamic…enough to hang yourself with, or make something really great. Give me a quiet moment with a contrabassoon and a very soft gong and somehow that always makes me happy. Or a tuba played higher than you think it can. Pizz strings are automatic fun and the piano ain’t bad.
Ben Folds with WASO
Thursday 28 and Friday 29 January, 7.30pm
Perth Concert Hall