I started this blog with one daughter, kept it up with the other, to spend time together doing something we enjoyed.
However, things change and people evolve. My daughters are older, busier, and not as interested in writing.
From now on this blog will be mostly mom with occasional contributions from my daughters and maybe even my husband.
Nothing else will change. We'll still focus on sharing fun places to go, fun things to do, and more, and we would  still love to hear your views too

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Saturday Special - An Interview with Ben Rauch, Actor, Producer and Award-Winning Songwriter

American Songwriting Award-Winner, Ben Rauch (BR) teamed up with several Broadway and Television stars to release a video of his new single Stay at Home. Proceeds from sales of the song will go directly to the Frontline Family Fund, an organization that provides direct financial support and educational scholarships to the children of healthcare workers who have died because of Covid 19. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Ben.

 How long have you been writing songs?

BR:I wrote my first song, I was 7 years old. It was like four lines. I [really] started writing when I was 13 or 14 years old. I recorded for the first time when I was 16 or 17 years old.

 Why did you decide to write this song?

BR: You know at the start of this whole thing, I think we all didn’t know how long we were gonna be in quarantine. Then, it’s like a month into it, I’m starting to think what am I going to do here? How can I be creative? I started to write this [I kept] coming up with more and more ideas.

I thought about people that are really out there fighting for us. I mean I’m just out of work. I still have my family. It puts stuff it in perspective. [Some kids] parents were out there working, and then they lost their lives trying to help us.

How did you come up with the idea for the video?

BR: It’s a very difficult time for everyone. Everybody is out of work. I thought how can this just bring happiness to people’s lives because we have to laugh somehow. Then, I thought if I’m telling people to stay home and I’m traveling all over the world with a baguette, eating a baguette in front of the Eiffel Tower. I started brainstorming these images and looking them up online. It’s funny if I’m just like traveling all over the world.

 How did you get the other actors in the video involved with the project?

BR:[I didn’t]want just like background pictures. [I thought] it would be funny if other people were involved with this. You know I am a musical theater guy so I see things in chorus. I see the way other actors are reacting to what’s going on and how they can interact. I started thinking of friends of mine who I have worked with like Rachel York and Christine Pedi. I started calling around and I sang all the parts myself on the original demo. It was a big undertaking doing this.

 What was putting the whole thing together like?

BR:[I thought] how can I do this? How can I shoot this in my apartment? I started looking fora green screen. I had never lit my own stuff. I had to buy lights. I got these lights. And, I thought how can I use this. I don’t want just like background pictures. It was a big undertaking. I usually have a cameraman. I am learning how to light stuff. I’ve never lit my own stuff. I am always on a set where there’s like three or four people lighting it. That was a big learning curve. I orchestrated the whole thing myself except for the guitar. I played all the instruments.

It was a labor of love. It’s not just like making a Zoom video but making it a piece of art and also helping people. 

How did you get it all to blend together so seamlessly without actually being in the same room when you were filming?

BR: It was an interesting thing to do usually you’re in a room like in a choir giving everyone cutoffs so I had  to have [a] clear vision for everybody. I [had] to tell them beforehand, we are all going to cut off on this beat. I had to be really specific with that, and this is the choreography for each beat and coming up with that and having to have that vision beforehand. Usually, in the rehearsal process, you come up with stuff in the spur of the moment. It’s a process I had never done before. I prefer to be interactive with people.

It really shows artists determination because there’s been so much creativity, unfortunately coming from pain, because we can’t be in a community performing together and rehearsing together.

 What are some of the other things that you’ve done?

BR:I have this Christmas song called Jersey Christmas that’s been out for three years. I’m on 101.5 with Steve Trevelise every year.

What have you been doing during the pandemic?

BR: I teach music. I teach a lot of Broadway people. I teach kids piano and voice as well online. I have other works and other videos in preproduction. I’ve been writing, and I have this album coming out

I directed and acted in two different virtual plays. It was so interesting. Some people are in California, some people are in England, some people are in France with their family, [all] performing and rehearsing online [together], it’s been good in that respect.

I’ve been keeping busy and now I can shoot more stuff with my green screen. I think I’m going to shoot more things like that. Especially now, I can go anywhere in the world with it.

I  [also] have two videos coming out [of Jersey Christmas] with a kids choir and then an adult choir version of it for like community theaters and churches. The kids' version is like for high schools and middle schools. I’ve been rehearsing that. We’re editing that so those are coming out in the next two weeks.

 When is your album coming out?

BR: It keeps on getting delayed because I was going to do it in the Spring and then Covid [hit]. I really want to perform this stuff live.  

 What kind of music is on the album?

BR: It’s all like pop-rock comedy. It’s called Tales from the Turnpike because I’m from New Jersey. I actually finished singing the last song which is like a tribute song to New Jersey called Tales from New Jersey. Everything else is done. Emily Lazar, who was actually nominated for three Grammys this year. she’s the first female to win a Grammy for mastering, she mastered the whole album. I am really proud that I got to work with her.  

 Did you have any jobs that were postponed or canceled by Covid?

BR: I was supposed to do this play Off-Broadway. I was supposed to do Brecht on Brecht. I was musical directing and arranging and acting in it. We were supposed to go to Japan on top of that and that was canceled. We are still going to do it. It’s still in the works when this whole thing ends.  

 What is your favorite thing about this period of time ?

BR: I can control my productivity myself. A lot of time as actors we’re waiting for the next audition or waiting for a contract to open up. [During this time] I can control how much I’m putting myself out there.

 What do you miss the most because of Covid?

BR: I miss a lot of things. I just miss more than anything actually sitting and talking to another human being. That’s what I miss the most honestly. I realize how much we really need each other as people. As Human beings, we need other human beings  

 What do you miss creatively?

BR: I miss playing for somebody and following them. I trained myself how to do it, and I’m not using that skill. I miss playing with a band live and acting with another human being face to face. Getting spit on as an actor, I miss getting spit on, to actually be able to have that luxury to breathe in each other’s face. I think everybody misses that I don’t think we realize how much we miss that. Humans beings really need each other.  

 What are you most looking forward to doing professionally once things go back to more normal?

BR: I keep on having these thoughts of just like being in an audition room. Most actors don’t like to audition. I don’t think anyone really really likes it, but just being there and having opportunities and being with creative people, artists whatever that entails.

I want to tour and get my music out. I like the interaction. There are people who every time they play their music, it’s exactly like it is on the album, but [with others] it evolves. They change it a little. The instrumentation gets better. They realize that they could do something different or better with it now 20 years later, 10 years later, 5 years later and I miss that. I miss that as an artist. I miss being able to make a new choice and grow and hear other people react to it.  

 Do you have any advice for other artists about how to get through this time period?

BR: Surround yourself with loving accepting people. People who are negative or shaming toward you divorce yourself from them. Surround yourself with good people. Seek out the good people if you don't have them. 

Train and learn and get on board for the journey. Take care of yourself, who you are as a person. 

We thank Ben for taking the time to speak with us. Stay at Home is now available for purchase on music platforms including iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, and more. See the video, below:

Tune in tomorrow for this week's Sunday Scoop.

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