SoundCloud Heroes are inspirational leaders who bring people together around sound by cultivating and engaging unique communities.
If you missed it, we’re introducing our newest SoundCloud Heroes this week! Say hey to Ben Zastrow, aka Ben Z, a hip hop artist, passionate about social justice. You can certainly hear it in his rhymes and flows. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, he has collaborated with hundreds of SoundClouders around the world. His latest collaboration resulted in a full-length album with a SoundCloud producer named Dejection based in Darmstadt, Germany. Listen to the story of how their album Liquid Reflections came to be here.
Name: Ben Zastrow, Ben-Z
SoundCloud: Ben Z Music
Location: Madison, WI
What do you do?
I am an artist, sound engineer, and change agent. I use my passion for dope lyrics combined with my love of all things audio to create a better world. For years I did after school hip hop workshops with youth of all ages to promote critical and creative thinking as well as help them find positive and creative outlets. This desire to create a better community and world shows itself in my personal music and extensive collaborations as well. My craft is my passion and also my access to the world as an ambassador of hope, peace, truth, and solid lyricism.
How do you use SoundCloud in your life?
Like a fiend! SoundCloud is a portal that takes me all around the world!
I have collaborated with hundreds of people on SoundCloud in the last 2 years. Some of these have been massive projects that have required hundred of “private” tracks and sets to be shared among all collaborators until the project is complete. I’ve also done simple collaborations by posting tons of hip hop acapellas up for free download. It seems like I get 2-3 collaborations sent to me every week by people who have scooped up some of my ‘pellas here on SoundCloud.
Other ways I have used SoundCloud include: organizing a national youth mixtape, posting my professional music, helping artists that have hired me as an engineer set up pages for their tracks, and even more!
Overcome poverty, war, disease…but more practically I’d love to see people in and around Madison connect with each other across genres, styles, and skill levels to create collaborative works. To do this, I will plan local meetups. Hopefully local connections will foster a stronger Madison SoundCloud community. With this local foundation, I would then hope to connect Madison ‘Clouders with global users on collaborative works as well. If enough material is generated, I’d love to compile it into a free downloadable album.
What is your favorite place in the city and why?
The east side/Isthmus is where it’s at! I love the lakes, the miles and miles of bike paths and bike lanes, the local and independent everything! (Beer, coffee, food, businesses, music), I also love the fact that the Isthmus’ vibe rests at an equilibrium between busy and placid. There is always something going on, but it’s never overwhelming.
What is your favorite sound and why?
Anything constant and calming. One of my first memories of life is falling asleep to the sound of an oscillating fan in my room on hot summer nights when I was 3. The sound of a steady wind in the trees, a refrigerator’s compressor, or the synchronized ticking of multiple clocks all around an empty house will all take me back to my earliest memories.