Q&A: Alumnus, artist Ben Harris talks music

(Photo courtesy of Ben Harris)

(Photo courtesy of Ben Harris)

The State Press caught up with ASU alumnus Ben Harris, a musician who plays the opening act for ventriloquist Terry Fator at The Mirage in Las Vegas and just released the song “Generations” to celebrate MLK Day.

State Press: So you graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience at ASU?

Harris: The experience was great! I was a Cronkite broadcast student, so I was able to use all the outlets possible, you know? It’s funny because I was able to expand my mind in class, but in between classes was when I really got to speak my mind, so that’s when I learned a lot of what I do today. I got to do shows and activity boards every day. I did as many shows as I possibly could; they probably got sick of me, but it really helped me now in the real world out here in Vegas. I was out there performing under the alias Ol’ Green Eyes all over campus while I was earning my degree. It helped me tremendously.

SP: While at ASU, you had a radio and a TV show, right?

H: Yeah, I was doing The Blaze. At the Blaze, I did a hip hop show, so I really started to get my freestyler skills down and everything. I also did news. It was called the SDTV news back then. I was an anchor for that and a reporter.

SP: Did you always know you wanted to do music?

H: Yes! It’s funny because people think, ‘Well, if you want to do that, you don’t need to go to school and get your degree,’ but when I was in college, that’s when I really learned all my skills as far as putting on shows and networking. That’s when I met a bunch of producers, and I did this song with a couple of football players called, “The A State Shuffle,” and that got really big that year because of the football team. Without ASU behind me and backing me, I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

SP: And now you work at The Mirage in Vegas performing your music. What’s that like?

H: It’s cool to see all the people coming here and all having a good time. I’m always representing my school. That’s one of the things I always wanted to do after graduating. It’s a lot of fun. We have been traveling the country and playing sold-out shows. It’s been really great. I would love to get back to ASU and do a show there in the spring, so I’ll be working on that.

SP: On Monday, you released a music video titled “Generations” in honor of MLK Day. What inspired you to write the song?

H: Growing up with my dad, we always talked about how his generation was and how we took for granted everything we had. From there, my grandma’s generation was always talking about my dad’s generation and about that gap. It just made me really start thinking about generational gaps and how we can just work to make everyone appreciate everything. Just closing the gap and bring awareness to get out there and hustle.

SP: What has the response been so far?

H: Tremendous. People are saying, ‘You have to hear this,’ so it’s been great.

SP: If you could say anything to the Sun Devils now, what would it be?

H: I would say thank you for all the support when I was putting on those shows. Thank you for listening to me out there on Hayden Lawn and thank you for still supporting me and still following me now. To all the current students, I would say ‘Keep going for your dreams.’

SP: Is there anything else people should know about you?

H: I just want to make sure students (who hope to make music) know that you don’t have to be signed to a label. As soon as I started not doing that, I was able to do much more for my career. My brothers and I actually got together, and without a budget, made the video for my newest single, “Reason to Smile.” I’m really proud of that.

Reach the news editor at dpbaltaz@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @dpalomabp