Date of Interview: November 21, 2016
Name: Ben Usie
Location: Washington, DC
If you were an underwater creature what would you be?
Ooo. Is there a clown fish? I think I would be that. I think my spirit animal in the dry world is a rodeo clown and so… you know. It’s not about humor, well, rodeo clowns make jokes but they also like… it’s an old word of clown to me, maybe jester, they’re there to cause chaos but also in this questioning way of is it enjoyable or is it not, kind of way. And the rodeo clowns are the only ones getting real close to the bulls. They’re like stunt people and clowns ::laughs::.
Is it the danger that appeals to you?
No, I’m not even good with danger all the time. I don’t know what it is, maybe that they were the only ones at the rodeo with microphones besides the dude with the horse. It’s this weird mix of power and subversion maybe. Yeah, I used to go to the rodeo; it used to be in town for my birthday for several years in a row. So my dad would always get tickets to the rodeo and I remember knowing that the rodeo clown was like, THE job to have. I’m from south Louisiana and culture is a real thing and I would see Cajun clowns. There’s this type of person who is a Cajun clown that has a lot of the same attributes as a rodeo clown.
What are you passionate about?
Definitely music and art. Culture that brings people together but can also be subversive in like, trying to promote change without people always realizing it. Both creating it and viewing it. I love to be a creator and I feel like that is my drive in life but I love to be a viewer too. I don’t know where I would be today without all of the art that I’ve consumed.
When did these passions start?
Super young but in different ways. I don’t know. It’s hard to say exactly. So my parents were super young when they had me, so I was like a festival baby but not like festivals in the music festival sense but like, a Cajun street festival. So it is music and food and booze, right. So at a young age I saw people dancing in the streets, but then later, movies and TV and radio totally owned my attention. I didn’t know I was learning from it for a while.
What was one of the original movies or songs that stuck you?
If I remember, that is the question. The Black Crows, She Only Talks to Angels. That was the one, that was my first cassette too, I remember having an emotional connection to the music that made me feel, like it was mine to feel.
What is something you’re afraid of for the world?
So many things right now. Um, I’m afraid that we won’t get to the place where people are free to be themselves. And embrace their own cultures and embrace their own uniqueness.