Today’s working musicians are often entrepreneurial, dabbling in a variety of projects and even working with eclectic artists and genres. Such is the case with Ben Riley, a 2011 Recording Arts grad and electronica artist, engineer, and DJ.
Riley, based in Nashville, juggles many diverse projects – and that’s just the way he likes it. Since graduating, Riley has worked with musicians in jazz, rock, blues, jam bands, Christian rock, and country.
In his spare time, Riley creates his own music – dubstep and electro house – for his own label, American House Records. Under his label, Riley mixes for other electronic artists, such as the Party Vandals, who recently played the Electric Daisy Festival in Puerto Rico.
His main bread-and-butter gigs are ones he gets as a signed BMI artist and DJ. For instance, he was the host DJ at a BMI-sponsored band competition called The Road to Bonnaroo, and he recently spun records at Nashville’s BMI headquarters for a Kings of Leon press conference.
He doesn’t just stick to electronic music either – not in Nashville. “There’s definitely some blues stuff that I play – I’ll chop it up, and I’ll incorporate it in my electronic music,” says Riley. “I’ve been playing at the Mercy Lounge. BMI will email me, and they’ll book me an event.”
Electronic artists are not that common in Nashville, and that also may be working in Riley’s favor since he’s still somewhat of a novelty.
“It’s not that big,” says Riley. “There’s a lot of rock music, there’s a lot of country, there’s tons of venues – but there’s probably only three or four venues that are geared toward electronic music, and there’s probably only a handful of DJs doing it.”
But Riley is not one to shy away from crossover projects. Lately, he’s been doing electronic mixes of popular country tunes, which have turned out to be popular among country fans.
The idea originated when Riley met country artist Rick Monroe at a dinner party. “We got to talking, and he said, ‘Hey, it would be fun to do a project,’” says Riley. “He kind of recognized how big the electronic industry is right now, so he kind of wanted to tap into that.”
Riley and Monroe did a remix of Monroe’s song, “Just the Same.”
“It’s become his most popular song; it became number one on his artist profile,” says Riley. As a result, Monroe’s country label, MRG Recording, is now featuring Riley on their artist profile page and have asked him to work with more of their country artists.
The song has been so popular, the two artists are donating part of the proceeds to the Safe Haven Family Shelter in Nashville.
He adds, “I’m willing to work on any project with someone [who’s] focused and happy and easy to get along with. I’ll go in any direction.”