For a little while there, the balance that Ben Folds was leveling between musician and TV celebrity was beginning to tilt more towards the latter. Having been a judge on four seasons of the a capella competition show The Sing-Off, cameos on NBC’s Community, as well as a recurring role on FXX show You’re the Worst, it wouldn’t be too shocking if he was known more for the persona he’s created vs. what he became famous for in the first place – his music.
In an effort to reset the equilibrium, Folds shifted his focus back to the music world, returning to his chirpy pop roots with a sold out tour with Cake in late 2018 and a foray into the pop and classical mash-up of chamber pop, which has been mainly his focus for nearly the past decade. Having recorded with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and NYC’s yMusic Ensemble, he’s mastered the delicate symmetry of merging rock’s melody and texture with the soaring drama and swell of an orchestra.
It is with this current musical paradigm that Ben Folds now inhabits, this time with Miami’s Nu Deco Ensemble, a relatively new collective (birthed in 2015 by classical luminaries Jacomo Bairos and Sam Hyken) who has collaborated with Daft Punk, Outkast and Macy Gray among others. This Ben Folds/Nu Deco partnership has yielded this new and captivating performance of “Capable of Anything,” taken from Folds’ 2015 album So There.
Transforming the droll and twee pop song (originally performed with the yMusic sextet) into a riveting and soaring 30-piece ork-pop masterpiece, Nu Deco creates a whirling and dynamic whirlpool of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion as conducted by Bairos and anchored by Folds’ whimsical piano and distinctive, reedy vocals.
“Having my friend Jacomo Bairos conduct this performance with Nu Deco was an incredible experience,” says Folds about the musical alliance. “I commend Jacomo and Sam Hyken, brilliant musicians in their own right, for having put together this rare, one-of-a-kind hybrid chamber orchestra that’s way ahead of its time. Their collective talents and energy on stage is both inspiring and captivating to me as a performing artist, and to any audience fortunate enough to catch one of their shows.”
“My song ‘Capable of Anything’ is about admitting faults and weaknesses, flipping what seems like an uplifting message on its head, arguing that being capable of anything means that we can always give in to the darkness that sits idle inside us,” he says of the song, unintentionally highlighting that balance in his professional career that he shifts back and forth.
Hopefully with the overwhelming success that this composition accomplishes, he’ll opt to spend a little more time behind the piano instead of in front of the camera.