Ben Bennett


Benjamin Bennett has worked as an improvising percussionist for 10 years, touring North America and Europe as a soloist, in various ensembles, and ad-hoc collaborations. He developed a unique approach to percussion which took the lineage of free-jazz, free-improvisation, Berlin reductionism, and extended technique playing as its foundation. In searching for an expanded sonic palette, and more fluid movement between various techniques, he distilled the drumset into a small collection of drumheads, stretched membranes, and other objects which offered a wide variety of unconventional sounds from very few materials, which could be rearranged into different combinations during a performance. This aesthetic development also translated to a practical advantage, in that this setup was small enough to fit into a backpack, freeing him from using a car to transport heavy percussion gear. He began touring by bus and bicycle, even completing a 7-day, 7-show bicycle tour through New England.

Continuing on this path of aesthetic and practical dematerialization, or doing more with less, he has found ways to extend his performance practice into movement, voice, and video. While these newer outgrowths are a result of a radical and perhaps esoteric interpretation of the history of music, they have proven to be readable and accessible outside of the sphere of music.

In 2014, Bennett began a YouTube series entitled "Sitting and Smiling", in which he sits cross-legged on the floor, smiling directly at the camera without moving, for four hours at a time. It can be viewed live, and is recorded for playback. His channel went viral in January of 2015, creating an internet/media buzz and getting coverage from The Atlantic, VICE, Gawker, TechTimes, and other outlets. It was live-streamed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and has received more than 11 million views worldwide.

Benjamin tours actively from his home base in Philadelphia, where he also continues his internet-based performances.