When you think of the Wesleyan music scene, one name comes to mind: Ben Seretan (pronounced Seh-reh-TAN, not Seh-reh-tawn, as I mispronounced it). Luckily for us, Ben didn’t mind when I walked in to the WESU offices and asked for an interview on the spot—in fact, he’s been expecting it since freshman year.
Argus: Why do you think you are a WesCeleb?
Ben Seretan: I’ve worked hard to get where I am today. I eat 4 raw eggs a day for breakfast. I spend twice as many points as a regular student, I take 15 classes a semester, I’ve done the work to bring the “A” game and I have a lot of Facebook friends. I’ve worked really hard and I deserve the recognition.
A: So you’re involved in a lot of music projects on campus. What bands are you currently in?
BS: Currently I am in the band Duchampion. You might have seen us at the Usdan S’More event. I’m also hosting a live music show, Wild Wild Live, on WESU on every other Tuesday night, 7:30-9 pm. I’m also in the band Cous Cous. I play guitar and sing in it. I’ve done a lot of other music in the past, too. I was in a Dead Kennedys cover band called Too Drunk to Fuck, I was in a Crass cover band called I Am No Feeble Christ. I was also in Sewing Machines and Decora. I should say, I’m the VP of WESU.
A: What do you think about the Aural Wes controversy? State of music on campus?
BS: I have to agree with O)))’s post, with particular moments. But I will say that at times the music scene has been more vibrant than it is now.
A: Do you think the decline is due to the administration or the students?
BS: I think it’s definitely due to the Eclectic crackdown, funding is an issue and there is less spontaneity with student events. It just seems like if you try to do something now without registering, you will get shut down. With I Am No Feeble Christ, we would decide to do it the day before. But we did get SJBed a few times. People are less willing to be SJBed nowadays.
A: What did you do this summer?
BS: This summer I hitched a ride with another band to Chicago, lived there on a couch for a while and then I drove to California with my band Sewing Machines. We got on the local news in my town at July 4th. Costa Mesa. We were playing on the pier—we were more desirable or camera friendly than the abortion protesters up the way. This guy came up to us and asked if we knew any patriotic songs. We played This Land is Your Land. He didn’t even tip us, though.
I tried to get a job at the Orange County Fair, but I didn’t get it. Then I recorded an EP in my bedroom, recorded ukelele music in Brooklyn, finished my work from last semester and then recorded another EP with Ben Bernstein in Vermont. It probably will come out in six months.
A: How’s it feel to be a senior?
BS: It’s like freshman year over again, except instead of everything being new and weird, it’s like having déjà vu and it being weird. Mostly it feels like I don’t give a fuck.
A: What has been déjà vu?
BS: The sense of camaraderie in the senior class that has been absent since freshman year. Participating in University activities feels like freshmen year. Senior cocktails feels like something from orientation. It’s funny how everyone was like, “Are you going to senior cocktails? Are you going to senior cocktails? I’m only going if you are going.”
A: Are you a nostalgic senior?
BS: I’m definitely nostalgic for certain things. The old campus center, I’m nostalgic for a lot of the people who have graduated. I hate to say it, but I kind of miss Doug Bennet, he was so goofy. He really made Wesleyan seem like a place that didn’t exist. He didn’t seem like he was in charge, he was a Muppet. He mumbled, it was incredible. I remember when they did the farewell to Bennet and welcome to Roth, and he goes [muffled] “I’m just sooo happy” and he sits down and that’s all he says. I just remembered another campus band I was in called The High Lonesome. It was a jug band. Midge Bennet was a fan. It was old-timey music. She came to like three or four of our shows at Green Street Arts Center. One time I sat next to Doug and Midge to hear the next few bands [at Green Street]. The band played a Bob Dylan cover. Doug leaned over and said, “Do you know who wrote this song?” I said, “I think it’s Bob Dylan.”
A: What song was it?
BS: I want to say ‘Don’t Think Twice.’
A: He didn’t know it?
BS: Yeah, it was an obvious one.
A: Are you doing a thesis?
BS: Yeah, it’s on the music of Arthur Russell. He is an experimental cello player, pop songwriter and queer disco auteur from Oskaloosa, Iowa, who worked with such diverse people as Allen Ginsberg, Robert Wilson, Jerry Harrison and David Byrne of the Talking Heads. He died in 1992 of AIDS. The written component is modeled on the film “32 Short Films about Glen Gould,” it’s a sweet movie.
A: What’s the performance part of it?
BS: An hour-long concert of both his music and my music smooshed together with a particular emphasis on his disco. It should be nasty.
A: What are you doing for fall break?
BS: Uh that’s a good question. I don’t know, but Asa [Horvitz ’10] is giving me his car. The sky is the limit.
A: One last question, how does it feel to be recognized as a WesCeleb?
BS: Man, there’s all this build-up to be a Wesceleb. I’ve been working so hard, meeting people and kissing ass. This reminds me of the time I lost my virginity, it’s like… that’s it?