Ben Caplan is a Canadian folk musician from Halifax, Nova Scotia. His work explores themes of immigration, loss, darkness, love, sex, and God. We talk all things heartbreak and hiking. What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment? I’ve been listening to a lot of pianist Ahmad Jamal, as well as an […]
Ben Caplan is a Canadian folk musician from Halifax, Nova Scotia. His work explores themes of immigration, loss, darkness, love, sex, and God. We talk all things heartbreak and hiking.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’ve been listening to a lot of pianist Ahmad Jamal, as well as an English group called GoGo Penguin. Also listening to some Chick Corea and a lot of Turkish kanun music. That and podcasts. Lots of long drives out here on the road. I’ve also been reading a book called Reflections on the Art of Living which is a posthumously published book of collected writings by Joseph Campbell.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
Wow. Tough one to answer. There’s been a lot of challenges, but I’ve also been pretty blessed to be able to rise to meet them. Aside from some painful heartbreaks in my younger years, I think my greatest challenge in life has been figuring out how to balance my artistic vision with the rigorous necessities of running a business. I’ve worked with several music managers and a couple of labels over the years, but never found exactly the right fit. Each time one of these key business relationships didn’t work out, it felt like a divorce, and I felt lonely and lost. Figuring out how to steer the ship on my own while maintaining a balance between art and commerce, as well as between having a personal life vs. working all the time has been a challenge.
What have you learned about yourself over the past five or so years?
I’ve learned more than I have time or space to say. In the last five years I established my career as a full time songwriter/entertainer/musician, met and married my wife, and played over 1000 concerts. There’s been a lot to learn about myself. Perhaps more than anything, I’ve learned that I will easily succumb to temptation when I am feeling worn down and tired. I try not to let myself get too worn down and tired, and I try to keep myself away from temptation. Ah, temptation… my one weakness.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
That would include a canoe, a pack, a few portages into the backwoods, and a glass of scotch whiskey by a campfire. And since we are talking perfect, there would somehow be a well tuned and maintained grand piano in the woods. Or maybe just any day when I get to cook breakfast with my wife and play piano for a few hours.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
Love, and the opportunity to make my vocation and my passion my profession.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
Having some alone time every day, and having an outlet for my creative energy.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
Vegetables. And lots of ginger and turmeric.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I can’t claim to have a routine, but I do try to do some stretching a bit of yoga every morning. I tour with my running shoes and a resistance band for strength training.
Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground everyday and loving it – can you share a similar memory?
I have fond memories of hiking in the woods near the house where I grew up. That and playing night-time hide and seek with the kids in the neighbourhood.
What three songs lift your spirits?
Melnik by La Fanfare du Belgistan
Peoplewatching by Socalled
L’aeroport by Donald MacLennan
What is your favourite self-help book, or motivational quote?
Tough one – I don’t have many top of mind, but I think that to a certain degree I live by the credo, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
Take a deep breath, have a good sigh, and take it all one moment at a time. Break every problem down into its constituent parts. Don’t try to solve big problems. Turn them into lots of small problems and work on those.
An artist unafraid to chart new musical waters, Astles has been praised for hRead More