It is with utter sadness that I write about the passing of Benjamin Curtis of School of Seven Bells (and Secret Machines, among other bands).
I have a strong desire to write something because I have felt and continue to feel a very deep connection with Ben and his music, professionally, musically, and personally from the first time we had the privilege of having them on the LPR stage during CMJ in 2008. It was the first year LPR was open, our first CMJ, and it was also SVIIB’s first CMJ. They were the big new buzz band that all the venues wanted to book and I was thrilled that LPR was given the opportunity to present them. They killed it and I thought LPR did too. This was a big deal for LPR. (Probably more so for us than for SVIIB!) LPR had already been making waves in the classical, jazz, world, and dance communities, but we were just getting started with presenting rock shows. I was proud to have SVIIB on our stage. They were a part of our story. That was when I first met Ben and first discovered his/their music.
I was mesmerized during the performance. It was hauntingly beautiful and edgy. I was totally hooked. I became a huge fan— sometimes bordering on creepy groupie. I believe I was at all of their NYC plays ever since then.
Ben is one of a handful of people I know who is truly 100% completely consumed by music. Not insignificant, since everyone in my life is pretty much a musician or a part of the industry. It was always an inspiration and learning experience to converse with him. I clearly remember one night out with him, he got very excited when the bar we were at played the Kendrick Lamar album (Good Kid, B.A.A.D City) in its entirety. He gave me a play-by-play of each track, pointing out nuances I never would have picked up on. The thing is, there were probably thousands of albums that could have been put on that Ben would have been just as excited about. He enjoyed the whole process taking place, the listening, the discussing. He cared about music and life deeply. You could immediately feel that spending time with him.
I, along with many people who knew him longer, better, will miss him, but there’s some small solace knowing he will live on through the great music he created while he was here.
RIP Ben. You’re missed dearly.
posted by Justin