T.H.E Interview – Ben Cura

ben cura interview

Argentinian neo-classical songwriter and composer Ben Cura recently released his new EP, ‘Extended Play No.1’, out on all streaming platforms on 30th July.

We caught up with Ben Cura, to learn more about how the new EP came about, and the impact of lockdown on his creativity.

Varun – Hi Ben, thanks for taking time out for this interview! How has the past year been for you?

Ben Cura – Hey guys. Thanks for having me. The past year has been an interesting mix of personal and collective psychosis, no? When were the U.S. Capitol riots again? January? Remember the US election coverage in November 2020? The BLM protests? How about the third lockdown here in the U.K. – the Delta variant, more businesses closing, theatres struggling, musicians, actors, filmmakers, writers, either being forced to give up (was it something like 60 percent of musicians quitting in Wales alone?) or massively struggling? Billionaires going to space. The planet either burning up or flooding. So, you know, I’m healthy, my loved ones are healthy, and I’ve got a roof over my head, a working mind, and an active career. I’m privileged.

Varun – Can you introduce yourself to fans around the world?

Ben Cura – I’m an actor, filmmaker, and musician, and if you buy me a pint maybe we can even be friends.

Varun – We’re loving the new ‘Extended Play No.1’ EP! Can you tell us more about how the creative process came about the EP and your motivation to produce something like this?

Ben Cura – Oh thanks. I was just finishing up scoring a feature film – which I can’t tell you anything about just yet – and it somehow felt natural that I would tackle an instrumental E.P. that mixed orchestral, acoustic, and electronic instruments and textures off the back of that. The throughline of the E.P. follows my journey from childhood to – I guess you could call what I’m currently going through adulthood. From being born in Argentina to moving to Italy, France, and other places in the world, until settling in the U.K. (still being a hyperactive, border-hopping bunny, though).

Varun – Musically and otherwise, how has the pandemic affected your creative process and the ability to express yourself as a musician, actor and director?

Ben Cura – So if we take limitations, and restrictions, solely for their value as catalysts for creativity, then the challenges we faced as actors, musicians, writers and directors either forced us to find workarounds, made us question the effectiveness of our processes, allowed us to spend more time fine-tuning our workflows, or simply required us to fill our days with creative work in order to shield our minds and eyes away from the global tragedy we were witnessing from behind the locked windows and doors of our homes. I don’t think anything I personally discovered, after working with and/or talking to my colleagues and friends, deviated much from the creative (and only creative) challenges we all had to face during this time.

Varun – Can you tell us more about the idea behind selling your tracks as NFTs? Do you believe NFTs are the future for artists?

Ben Cura – I started experimenting with NFTs earlier in the year. I have sold pieces, both visual, audiovisual, video, and musical, on platforms like Foundation, Rarible and OpenSea. At the moment, the currently established marketplaces really benefit visual arts the most. We have a built-in habit when it comes to browsing visual marketplaces, swiping up and down by way of social media layouts like those of Instagram and TikTok or YouTube, that benefits quick-decision making and discovery of visuals before anything else.

Discovering new music is somewhat a different exercise, and it happens by way of recommendations, articles, algorithmic suggestions, and sometimes, sheer luck – which in itself, only really happens when a platform is built for quick discovery and streaming of music tracks. As such, I don’t believe anyone has yet cracked a way for people to properly use a non-fungible token smart-contract to its fullest potential when it comes to music (or in fact video, or film). I know there are decentralised music streaming platforms out there, and I even gave some a try myself, but I can’t say their offerings are that attractive for artists, or well thought-out, just yet.

That said, I have and continue to experiment and offer music NFTs using the currently existing marketplaces, and leveraging the smart-contract and metadata technology already baked into the programming of most utility tokens (primarily ETH but also TZ and others).

For example, I have released a 1/1 NFT of the E.P. on Foundation on the same day the E.P. came out on streaming. The NFT comes with an embedded sync usage license, which allows the buyer to use all 6 tracks of the E.P. as soundtrack in a variety of projects of their choosing, including film, tv, video, vlog, podcasts etc. It’s currently available over on http://foundation.app/bencura

I do believe the potential of NFTs when it comes to proving ownership, and reducing the friction of exchange, is immense, and is on par to that of (different but not all) cryptocurrencies’ potential. We had the issue of Ethereum’s proof of work vs. proof of stake and their varying energy requirements. That is about to be – or already has been – fixed by the time this interview comes out. Nobody in the cryptocurrency space, who believes in it in the long term, is stupid enough to not take the varying environmental impact of computational power into consideration, and indeed, lowering it, as most currencies are currently doing, to an absolute minimum. It’s extremely early days for the decentralised space, and things will look very different in 10 years. There is definitely a lot of potential.

Varun – Can you tell us more about Ben, the actor and director?

Ben Cura – Oh man that’s an entirely different conversation to be had another time. Acting and directing are my bread and butter. Music is the occasional slice of parma ham I put on the bread and butter. Writing is a glass of water. I need them all, and they are all part of the same thing. This metaphor is falling apart. But I’m sticking to it. I’m probably just hungry.

Varun – What is next for you on the music front?

Ben Cura – I like to keep my cards close to my chest. So… watch this space.


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