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Meet Ben (Roswell) Salk of The Roswell Universe in SoRo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben (Roswell) Salk.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ben. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I fell in love with music listening to Duke Ellington and Bill Evans CDs on my walkman in middle school here in LA. It meant no one wanted to share an ear of my headphones in class, but I kind of liked having this little world of music that I could escape to alone. I was lucky to have been able to take classical piano lessons as a kid, and it was around that time in middle school that my dad gave me a Real Book and those CDs and encouraged me to dive in.

I had big feelings as a 12 years old, and the pain/joy/anger/exploration/sorrow I was hearing in a lot of those jazz records hit me hard, and it made me want to express those very real feelings through music.

I didn’t play much music in college, and after graduating I came back to LA to work on criminal justice and education reform projects. About three years ago, I decided to take a leap and focus on music. I started working odd jobs and used the rest of my time to dive back into playing and writing music with my friends. I started a band called The Roswell Universe, and we recorded and put out some music last year.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The last three years have been filled with a lot of beautiful struggles. I battle doubt demons at least once a day. But those are (eventually) good because they get me more resilient. Having most days feel like a blank canvas is both a blessing and an insane thing: it can feel very isolating and overwhelming, but when I’m disciplined and do it right, it feels like I’m present and truly living. That’s a feeling I cherish. Then just usual life stuff. I quit my job to have more time to play music, but then of course had to still find work just at weirder hours which can make life crazy. There was a devastating breakup in there that had to do, in part, with me deciding to play music. Not being able to spend time with friend/family because of music. Some of those sacrifices have been tough for sure.

But I’m very very lucky to have close friends and family. We all support and love each other heavy. That juice definitely helps me get through, and even enjoy, all the challenges.

Please tell us about The Roswell Universe.
The Roswell Universe is a band I started. Matt, Caleb, Hugh, Oliver, Haisem, Liam and Noah. We’re unofficially the tallest band in LA. We’re a group of 8 musicians/producers/songwriters, which is a total circus but an awesome one. Our live shows are fun: horns, vocoder, big/loud and little/intimate moments. The music is rooted in jazz but comes out in different ways. A lot of the song ideas come from me sitting and playing or me and Matt (bass) making stuff. Then there’s a whole marinating process where I’ll bring everyone in to put their hearts to it.

Everyone is not only crazy-talented, but they’re more importantly just good-souled people who I feel lucky to be friends with. I was proud that we were able to go for it and make our first EP. It’s fun to listen to it and embrace all of the ways in which it can grow. I’m really excited about the new stuff we’re working on.

We also collaborate and make songs with friends of ours who are amazing singers/rappers/producers. Those collaborations range from just me making stuff with someone to most of us hopping on a track. I’m stoked for all of that music to come out soon.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my earliest memories is walking around a forest in NorCal picking and eating wild blackberries from blackberry thickets with my mom when I was 4 or 5.

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