Ahead of his show on 13 June at Symphony Hall, we recently caught up with Ben Folds to find out what fans can expect from his upcoming live shows, his musical inspirations and who is his favourite member of Boyz II Men...
If you could describe your new album So There in three words, what would they be?
Power chamber rock.
Why did you decide to incorporate classical music into your songs?
As a kid I played in my middle school orchestra. After I began my career as a pop artist, I made sure that my songs were also scored by world class arrangers for orchestras. And for more than a decade I’ve performed with some of the greatest orchestras on the planet. This latest collaboration with the celebrated classical sextet yMusic on my new record has simply been a natural next step in my journey as a musician and as a composer.
It must be a complex process putting together classic and pop music with yMusic, can you talk us through this process?
Our approach from the beginning was to avoid the compulsory and gratuitous. I vowed never to use yMusic as ornamentation. We also weren’t policy driven. CJ Camerieri, Rob Moose and spent about six months arranging, orchestrating and workshopping material, recording with the rest of yMusic when our collective schedules allowed at studios in New York, LA and Nashville. A few hours before we start a recording session, Moose, CJ and me would meet to arrange, print and place charts on stands before the others showed up. Collaborative decisions were then made by the whole group, scores reprinted and tracks quickly recorded in just one and two takes. I’ve never worked with anyone as telepathically as these guys. We all just knew the other would do the right thing when it came down to it.
You’ve worked with so many fantastic artists, from Sara Bareilles to William Shatner, but who was the most interesting to work with?
All the artists I have worked with over the years have brought their own unique musical and artistic perspective to the creative process. I honestly couldn’t single out any one as being a favourite.
Do you have any ideas about who or what genre you’d like to collaborate with next?
I plan on writing more pop piano songs and doing more solo touring, and I do have a few collaborations in the works that I’m exploring. But if I shared more details than that I’d have to kill you.
When you did your Concerto For Piano and Orchestra, you were commissioned by the Nashville Ballet. Do you see yourself collaborating with dancers/theatre makers again in the near future?
I’d like to. In fact, I have an even greater appreciation for how dance can be a great interpretative outlet for my music.
Do you have any other plans while you’re in the UK?
We’re on a tight touring schedule, so I’m afraid my only downtime will either be on a bus or a train getting from one venue to the next.
Can you tell us something people might not know about you?
I have a man crush on Shawn Stockman.