1/ So First Off - Tell Us your Name, City and Country and what you currently do for a living?
My name is Ben Young, just moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Spent the first half of my life in California, from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego. Spent the last half of my life in the South, from Georgia to Virginia. I currently lead a national contact center for one of the largest parking companies in the world.
2/ Is This Something You Always Wanted To Do? What Do You Enjoy About It?
This is my passion. I’ve always been a behind the scenes entertainer (went to film school to be a director), and both my parents are college professors, so teaching is also in my blood. Curating gives me the ability to educate and hip people to new music AND provides them with entertainment in the process.
3/ Tell Us About Your First Musical Memory - Why Do You Think You Remember It?
I feel privileged to grow up in the Bay Area, a musically and culturally rich scene. I’m Biracial (moms is Black and pops is white), so music diversity was amplified in our house. My Dad fronted a Christian rock band, initiating me as a roadie preschooler. My Mom dabbled in everything from the kalimba to the sax, and they each had an extensive record collection. I would wake up on a Saturday and hear the jazz of Coltrane or the soul of Marvin Gaye or the funk of Morris Day & The Time or the rock of early U2 or the songwriting of James Taylor.
4/ Who Did You Make Your First Mixtape / Playlist For - What Was The Result - Did They Dig It?
In the 80’s, my sister and I would record songs off the hip hop radio stations (it became a skill to get the beginning and ends of songs before the DJ cut in). I would use those “raw” tapes to create themed mixes, and even mess around with pause tape mixing. Funny enough, I never made mixtapes for other people, but somehow I developed a rep as the music expert, assigned control of the aux cord at house parties.
5/ What Made You Go Online And Search About Music Curation?
Jobless and on severance at the time, I thought, “what would I do for a living if earning money was not a concern?” Instantly went towards my passions, writing and listening to music. Curating is the perfect blend of those, and a quick Google search led me into the arms of musicto.
6/ Tell us about the name of your Playlist - where did that come from?
I didn't actually quit my last job (Music To Get Laid Off To doesn’t have quite the same ring), and while going through that period of self-pity and introspection, I listened to music differently. I was looking for songs that do all those corny things that music does: provides comfort, encouragement, inspiration. I had to skip around to different playlists to find the right songs for the moment. I figured if I was looking for that particular mix, there must be a population out there in the same boat.
7/ What does a track have to have to make it onto your list, is there something special that you look for?
First, it has to relate in some way (directly or indirectly) to the theme of quitting / restarting / self-care, etc. After that, I look for something I can put on repeat, and if I can get through it three times without getting tired of it, it's a keeper. It needs to be both interesting and an enjoyable listen, which is harder to find than you'd think.
8/ What can an artist do in their track submission to your list to ensure that you'll listen to their track?
I listen to almost every submission that comes in. It’s speed dating; I give most tracks 30 seconds before making a call to continue or move on. That being said, if the write up shows no effort, I will match that lack of effort and delete it immediately.
9/ We know - these change all the time - but as of this week - what are your all time top 5 favorite tracks.
This question gives me anxiety - it's like picking something to eat from The Cheesecake Factory: too many options. These 5 songs carry a high sentimental value and still sound as fresh as the first time I heard them:
You Got Me - The Roots ft. Erykah Badu
What's On Your Mind - Eric B. & Rakim
Elevators (Me & You) - Outkast
Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys
Blasphemy - 2Pac
10/ And finally - which Music to Curator should we interview next?
Sonya Alexander from Music to Dance Barefoot in the Grass. Her playlist takes me back to my Dad spinning his LPs on the turntable and sounds like she lives a fascinating life.