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Faces of Greenwich: Ben Stein is studying to be a musician

January 22, 2018 GMT

Ben Stein

J: How old are you?

B: I’m 23.

J: And you live in the area?

B: I do. I live in Riverside, right behind Eastern Middle School.

J: How long have you been working here (at Green and Tonic)?

B: So, I’m in school. I started working here about a year and a half ago but I decided to go back to music school, so I was off this for four months and I’m just back during the break.

J: What are you studying?

B: I study studio composition. It’s music for the recording studio.

J: Where do you study?

B: SUNY Purchase … I love that place.

J: Yeah, it really has a cool eclectic feeling to it.

B: Yeah, artists everywhere.

J: When did you start studying there?

B: This is my first semester, so I just started studying there in August. I ran away from my old school after studying classical composition there, so it’s pretty different. I’m trying to be a recording artist-slash-performing artist for my life’s work, and that’s not really what was happening at my old school.

J: Classical then, is not the music you like —

B: Well, I like it, but it’s not really the music that I make. I can force myself to make it, which I did for years. Now I just do me and my guitar, with folk, punk, rock, prog rock, pop, indie, whatever you like to call it: I like to write poetry and I like to sing, and I play guitar.

J: Oh cool. Do you have a Soundcloud or a Facebook?

B: I have all of those things. Queencabbage.com. I’m Queen Cabbage. On stage I’m Queen Cabbage, in the venue I’m Queen Cabbage, right now I’m Ben (laughs).

J: That’s a tricky thing to be going into right now — or ever. Music is tough.

B: Yeah, live music is kind of on the decline. People aren’t really willing to pay for music anymore, copies of records or shows, really. So I’m working for free for a long time basically. So that’s kind of why I have to make smoothies and stuff like that.

J: Right, that makes sense. But you’re putting your all into it and that’s fantastic.

B: Thank you.

J: For artists or anyone who has a passion like that, you have to do something on the side or something you don’t quite like as much to get by.

B: Luckily, this is a good place. It’s a great company … Luckily I have great parents who will feed me if I’m starving!

J: So when you graduated from school, from high school, what did you do?

B: I went straight to Pomona College. It’s a great school, like one of the best in the country, but it certainly wasn’t for me. I ended up being absolutely miserable there. Even though it’s literally on the Forbes list, No. 1 is Pomona, No. 2 is Yale. On paper that would have been such a great idea. But everyone was studying bio or econ, and I’m an artist. There weren’t any artists there — but at Purchase, you look to your right and there are 10 people who do what I do and understand when I talk about music in-depth … I feel at home. And it’s so much more important to do that than it is to just go to a top-ranked college.