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Jane Hello Heroes: Collaborations

Hello Heroes is a guest blog series by the SoundCloud Heroes. Heroes Ben Z and Monica collaborated to share this post on…collaborations! Have any tips or suggestions about collaborations, add them in the comments!

What unites 20 million users from around the world, each with their own personalities, backgrounds, and languages? It is the one language we all know and speak: sound. Before any of us even knew a language, we used sound to communicate and make sense of our world. We became adept at giving sounds meaning and using them to express our needs and desires, including the desire for connectedness.

We are still using sound for that same purpose to create connections on SoundCloud. Within seconds, we can send our sounds to the far ends of the Earth and receive an immediate response in return. This makes collaborations possible and enjoyable, and that is why those of us in the SoundCloud Heroes program have been so enthusiastic about collaborating with you!


We’d like to share a few of our recent collaborations and the lessons we’ve taken from them with you. We hope that they both inspire and assist you in beginning your own collaborative adventures!

Two of my latest collaborations have taken place with two very different people from two very different places: Iran and Japan. The first is with EleWara from Tokyo, Japan. The second is with SoundClouder Mashoud Tehrani from Iran.

Ben Z.

I have collaborated with over a hundred people using SoundCloud! It is amazing what you can do when you intentionally reach out to others. Recently, I finished a full-length album with producer and fellow SoundClouder Dejection, who lives in Darmstadt, Germany. We used SoundCloud’s amazing features to connect, share files, find guest artists, and fulfill our desire to connect with people globally. Here is a sample from that project and the process by which we connected to create an album together.

Currently, I am in the process of creating a collaborative hip hop song meant to inspire youth around the world. This track is a collaboration between myself, Chicago emcee Roberto Rivera, and Ugandan emcee/b-boy Abramz. All three of us have a passion for engaging, inspiring, and encouraging youth through hip hop.

We hope that reading and hearing about our experiences inspires you to link up with other SoundClouders and collaborate! So go identify potential collaborators and build a creative bridge that spans hundreds or thousands of miles. If you missed the August collaborations theme A Road Trip of Sounds, there’s still time to submit and yours can be featured.

Jane Meet Washington, DC SoundCloud Hero: Benjamin Dauer

SoundCloud Heroes are inspirational leaders who bring people together around sound by cultivating and engaging unique communities.

If you’ve missed it, we introduced our newest SoundCloud Heroes this past week! We’ve got three remaining brilliant folks to introduce today. Benjamin Dauer is the SoundCloud Hero for Washington, DC. Experimental musician, senior interactive designer at NPR and an active member of the Disquiet Junto group, Benjamin believes the community has the power and creativity to bring awareness to issues that impact all of us via sound.

Quick Facts:
Name: Benjamin Dauer
SoundCloud: Benjamin Dauer
Location: Washington, DC

What do you do? How do you use SoundCloud in your life?
By day, I am a Senior Interaction Designer at NPR where I help shape how audiences experience NPR in the digital realm. Most recently I designed the NPR Music iPad app and latest version of our Chrome App, the NPR infinite player. By night and weekend, I am an experimental musician and composer where I like to explore the boundaries of modern music through experimentation and play. I primarily use SoundCloud to distribute my music and interact with the community – through commenting, discussions, and collaboration. Most recently I’ve been active in a SoundCloud Group called the “Disquiet Junto” – which is described as a collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Essentially, each Thursday a new Junto project is announced and the participants have until the following Monday at 11:59PM to submit their completed track. It’s been incredibly challenging, rewarding, and inspiring.

What is the collaboration idea that you would like to accomplish with the SoundCloud community?
In an effort to further raise awareness about White Nose Syndrome and Colony Collapse Disorder, two diseases that are devastating bat and bee populations, I would like to solicit the SoundCloud community to submit their responses as to why pollinators are important to them.

I can imagine a project where from across the globe contribute your own unique voices through storytelling, interviews, music, poetry, and field recordings. This project could help to educate others about the connections between what the pollinators do and your everyday lives. This collection could stand as a force emphasizing the global impact that these creatures have on our lives. I can imagine taking these collected sounds out into the communities and sharing them with others through live performance and/or preserving them at the Library of Congress. I can imagine including the lovely chattering clicks of bats and the soothing hum of bees as part of this composition.

I can imagine all of this with the help of you guys out there in the SoundCloud community. I look forward to working with you soon!

What is your favorite place in the city and why?
I love the city ,but I also love nature. So for me, one of my favorite parts of DC would have to be the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal rail-to-trail, which is located along the north bank of the Potomac River. It originates in Georgetown, can be accessed easily from the National Mall as well as Rock Creek Park, and runs nearly 185 miles to Cumberland, MD. DC on the whole is the best of both worlds for me -the hustle & bustle of a city, but with quick, easy access to nature. I get lots of really great field recordings from both.

What is your favorite sound and why?
This is a very difficult question for me to answer. I can hear music in most anything – including perceived silence. I love the sound of waves washing ashore. I love the sound of wind rustling leaves. I love the sound of a heartbeat. I love the sound of birds and insects. I love the sound of multiple languages being spoken on my morning bus ride. I love the rhythm of footsteps on concrete. Do you sense a theme here? I love sound.

Where else can we find you on the web?

Jane Meet Madison, WI SoundCloud Hero: Ben Zastrow

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.

Quick Facts:
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!

What is the collaboration idea that you would like to accomplish with the SoundCloud community?

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.

Where else can we find you on the web?