Sounds of Sundance 2018: Benyaro

When we’re not screening films, we’re treating our ears to some of the hippest vocals on the scene. Here, we catch up with this year’s ASCAP Music Café performers for a little chitchat. First up: Ben Musser, front man for the indie punk duo Benyaro.

Describe your sound in three words.
Indie, punk, Americana

What’s your favorite F-word?

Song you can never get out of your head?
“I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas”

Any pre-performance rituals?
Water, starvation, sobriety, some high-fives.

Last thing you ordered at a drive-thru?
A vegetarian burrito. 

One film you want to see at the fest?
‘Wildlife,’ directed by Paul Dano. I used to play some music with Paul long before he was where he is now. Stoked for his success and look forward to viewing his directorial debut. 

Who are you most excited to spot at the fest? Celeb or otherwise.
Dr. Dre or a High West Distillery bartender.

Elevator pitch us your idea for a film that would screen at SFF.
Dark comedy, true story of some musicians who move to Austin, Texas, together in 2002. They live and play (in the garage) in a beautiful old house that many people envy, but right out their back door, on the same property, lives their third-generation, 55-year-old Texan landlord/owner (played by Brian Dennehy), whose got a Class II weapons permit (Uzis, sawed-off shotguns, etc.), seven cats, and was rejected from joining the army when he was younger. He slowly grows addicted to opiates as the young men live out there post-college mid-20s experimenting with music, drugs, women, and ultimately save their landlord’s life more than once. The result is darkly hilarious.

One thing you’d like to change about your industry?
Streaming rates. Spotify, Apple Music, we’re looking at you.

One thing you’d never change about your industry?
I hope that all analog options and the ability to record to tape remain available for as long as possible. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s next for you?
Next is some touring and SXSW, as we continue to promote our new record, One Step Ahead of Your Past. Hopefully, after that, it will be back to scoring for feature films.

The 2018 Sundance ASCAP Music Café is located at the Rich Haines Gallery (751 Main Street, Park City, UT) and is open to all Festival credential holders (21 and older). Benyaro performs on Friday, January 19, at 2:45 p.m.

For the full ASCAP schedule, click here.

photo by: courtesy of the artist