Ben Titus is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and teacher whose primary instruments are bass and clarinet. He’s got a plethora of ensemble credits between Wisconsin and Virginia, ranging from pit orchestras to jazz bands to chamber groups. His debut single on streaming platforms “Someone In Your Life” was released in January 2020.
SLOWEY: How did you get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?
TITUS: Well, I started working with another WMV artist, Marcya Daneille, right before the pandemic. We had known each other from a previous teaching position and kept in touch over the years, and I think she was one of the first artists that started working with Allison. Then Allison asked me if I’d be interested in doing it, and it seemed like a cool opportunity to push myself in a different direction. I hadn’t done a lot of solo stuff and was still getting used to doing duo stuff with Marcya, so it seemed like a really cool opportunity to try something different than what I’d been doing.
SLOWEY: That’s awesome! Marcya was one of the first people I interviewed for the spotlights.
SLOWEY: Tell me about your sole song out on streaming platforms, “Someone In Your Life.”
TITUS: It’s from an album that’s written in my head and half recorded called “Two Years In Review.” Two years back I went through a divorce, my mom and stepdad split up…just lots of life and family turmoil…I just changed jobs…a lot of different things. This album is kind of a chronicle of that, “Someone In Your Life” is I believe track four on the album. It’s a snapshot of that two years and is about some specific events that happened, but it can be applicable to anybody that’s lost somebody in life for whatever reason or circumstance. I would really like to get the rest of this album out; I got that tune out right before the pandemic hit, and then once the pandemic hit, it kind of pumped the brakes on everything. I’ve got the next single more or less ready for mastering, and then I have to get the rest of the darn thing recorded.
SLOWEY: Sure. Well, I get that that stuff takes time, especially with the added layer of the pandemic. You can only do what you have the capacity for in the moment.
TITUS: I’d actually never been happier to have gigs get cancelled because I was directing a musical, playing in a musical, and then playing *and* directing a musical all at the same time and I was getting to that burnout level. I also now have a kid that was not present back then, so that’s been a new adventure as well. Like you said, there’s only so much bandwidth to go around.
SLOWEY: Congrats on the kid!
TITUS: Thank you.
SLOWEY: You’re welcome. Speaking of kids, I saw from your Instagram that you recently worked on “Shrek the Musical.” How’d that go?
TITUS: It went pretty well! I direct the pit orchestras for Slinger and West Bend High Schools, and this one was for West Bend. I try to get as many kids from those schools to audition and be a part of the pit orchestra, and then I kind of hire the adults around them to help support and fill in the holes. I never found a second guitar player so I ended up playing on like nine tunes while conducting. But it came together really nicely, and then this past weekend, I played in a production of “The Addams Family.” For better or for worse, I kind of get around when it comes to playing (laughs).
SLOWEY: I love Shrek.
TITUS: There’s so much good music in it. Really well-written stuff.
SLOWEY: I don’t normally like musicals but I’d totally see that as a musical.
SLOWEY: Today’s International Womens’ Day. Would you like to share how the women in your life inspire you?
TITUS: I mean, my fiancé is probably the strongest woman that I’ve ever met; the stuff that she can manage, especially juggling work and our son while I’m having two tech weeks in the last three weeks, it’s crazy. Also, there’s some amazing female musicians that I marvel at what they’re able to do; I’ve got a bass-playing friend back home in Virginia named Brittany Frompovich who’s overcome so much adversity both as a player and as a teacher, doing things her own way. Ally Hart is somebody here locally that I’ve worked with quite a bit, and watching her songwriting and singing has been really cool. I could go down a really long list.
SLOWEY: For one, shoutout to Allison for being a huge liaison between artists and opportunities. And for just being a rad and fun person to work with. Shoutout to all women making our music and art scene such an amazing and fun place to be a part of.
SLOWEY: My last question is, what are you working on over the next couple months?
TITUS: At this point, the main cover group that I’m working with is getting back into playing; we actually have a gig this Friday. The group’s called Big Spoon; we cover everything from Pink Floyd to 2pac to Metallica to Garth Brooks – oftentimes without segues in between. Then I’m slowly working up some of my solo stuff again; through WMV I just booked a Silverspot Cinema slot in May that I’m excited for. As a teacher, I’m preparing for the MPS Biennial Music Festival that’s down at the Panther Arena every two years; I’m the festival band director and I’ve got five different ensembles’ worth of kids that I’m sending to different groups. And I’m building a house on top of all of that. I’m surviving until June, when hopefully I can move. I’m hoping for a week of calm (laughs).