Ben Sollee

Art is consumed in so many different ways. You could say people don’t stop to appreciate art. On the other hand, people can consume art more quickly. Twitter, videos posted online – how do you utilize that? How do you identify yourself as an individual when you’re sitting at this massive dinner table of the world with everyone on, from Kansas to Dubai?

I’m a husband and a dad. Two thirds of my day is spent being that character. It’s a huge part of my identity and why I pursue things I do. I’m interested in questions my son asks me, like, “Why do animals fight? Why do you have to leave us to go on the road?” Everything he asks gets me thinking. If I’m going to do this, sacrifice time with family and friends, sacrifice resources, I need to think carefully about what I going to say and how I’m going to say it.

The reason I make art is because I get to make a choice about who I am, what I do, and what I put out into the world, the footsteps I leave behind. It’s a cliché for a reason – we all kind of work our own paths through the woods. There are not a lot of paths through the woods for someone who sings, plays the cello, and wants to tour on a human scale and create change in the world. I’m on my own path. It’s pretty awesome.

For every show that we do, anyone that rides public transit, bikes, or walk, we offer them a $5 voucher at the merch table. It gets people using the infrastructure in the area. Hopefully, the venues where we play will lobby city council and say, we need bike paths, sidewalk repair. That stuff affects so many people’s lives.

When we cut off access to certain parts of our cities to people on bikes or in wheelchairs, we’re not only doing economic damage, we’re also doing culture damage. New York is the culture capital of the world because people are running into each other on the street all the time. They are forced to engage in creativity and problem-solving.