The Moment I Knew: Ben Bronfman of Teachers

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It can be a track, gig, a piece of art or absolutely anything. We’re taking a look at the moments when artists realised they were going to dedicate their lives to music.

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Following the release of Ocean, Grammy nominated polyrhythmic pop band Teachers are back with their latest single Mannequin in Heat. Ben Bronfman, Scottie Redix, Steve Borth II and Matthew Kranz take their music production to new funky tribal-infused soundscapes. We catch up with Ben to find out all about the key moments that sparked his love for music. This is Ben Bronfman's moment.

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Ben Bronfman

Ben Bronfman is the man behind the Kanye West's Monster and New Slaves thus earning his first Grammy nomination. Needless to say that his is one hell of a musical brain and with years of experience in this field, it can be hard to pin down a specific moment in which he decided to dedicate his life to music.

"I think my relationship with music is really a life-long love affair and as with any sort of deeply emotional and all-encompassing, there are peaks and valleys, realisations and what not. So for me, it's kind of a series of important moments.

When I first got into hip hop (Mobb Deep, Onyx, Beasties Boys) and punk (Nirvana and The Clash) I realised that I was completely obsessed with music. I would just spend hours listening and listening and listening. I also remember my relationship with The Smiths a lot, because when I first heard them I really didn't get it. I was like 'what the hell is this' but then as I kept listening I eventually got it and was really taken by it. So that was amazing as well, the feeling of not even really liking something in the beginning and then truly understanding it later. That was big for me. 

When I first went to college and George Bush was 'elected' President I ended up dropping out to work on my band The Exit full time. I think that was a big moment for me. To kind of say, you know what 'fuck all this, I'm gonna go do that...'".


As in anyone's career, ups and downs are to be expected. But when it comes to creative efforts these moments can lead to questioning who you are and what you do as an artist. "After The Exit broke up I had a lot of mixed emotions. We had played over 500 shows and then it was just kind of over. Even though we had done so much I doubted myself and I thought that I should maybe even stop doing music".

Luckily for us, that didn't happen. If that had been the case, our ears would have definitely missed up on epic tracks like Monster and New Slaves as well as Bronfman's future efforts with Teachers. "I think when I got a call from Kanye after he heard an early Teachers demo and asked me to work with him was a really big moment of reaffirmation for me. At that point, I just wasn't sure where my musical journey was going so to get a call like that was really big".


When Yeezus himself calls, all you can do is report for duty. However, creative inspiration comes in many different and especially stimulating forms. "Another amazing moment that sticks out for me was a few years ago at Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, USA. I ended up taking mushrooms and sitting on a stage that wasn't being used at like 2am. At that point, there were probably 3 other stages of music happening, but they were all kinda far away from me. Each style of music was different, one was dance, one was a jam band I think, and one was like a chill house kind of hip hop thing. It sounds odd, but I could hear them all blending together. That moment has left a pretty lasting impact on the way I listen to, interpret and create music".

Of course, there are also more traditionally electrifying musical experiences in Ben's timeline such as seeing Jeff Mills play with a live orchestra. However, it is the combination of all of these moments that keep him dedicated. They all make for a wonderful musical timeline: "I was like 12-17 blasting music in my bedroom forever, 26 when I was driving in my car and got the call from Ye and 24 when I was tripping on mushrooms! What I've done is just try to make music as often as I possibly can".

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Author: Claudia Manca


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