The Daily Grind Video

Benjamin Bronfman is known for his industry insider status, but he is also a talented and exciting musician, environmentally-minded businessman and producer on his own merit. The son to Edgar Bronfman, the current CEO of Warner Music Group and fiance of M.I.A. and father of their son, Ben also started his own music collective called Teachers and his own record label, Green Owl, focused on sustainability and artist responsibility. 

Teachers’ first single “Gold” wrangled the group a spot co-producing Kanye West‘s smash hit “Monster” featuring Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and Bon Iver. Now, with the blessing of Kanye himself, Teachers has revamped “Monster,” unveiling a side of the bass heavy jam you’ve never heard before. It’s the “Monster” that rocks, complete with slamming drums and eery electric guitar. Check out the remix here and go to Teachers’ Facebook page or Soundcloud page to hear more. 

Bronfman is only 27-years-old and manages music, an entire record label that counts GlobalGrind faves Ninjasonik as a signee, and he is also a strategic advisor at Global Thermostat, an organization that focuses on developing technologies that aim at supporting a sustainable economy. Bronfman is specifically focused on devising solutions to reduce carbon emissions. 

GlobalGrind had the opportunity to speak to Bronfman about how he made Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” verse even better, how we can be sustainable consumers and whether or not he plays M.I.A. his own music. 

GG: How do you go about remixing a song; where did you begin with “Monster?”

BB: A lot of people don’t know that I co-produced the original track, when I was out there in Hawaii with them it was an amazing experience. Kanye is incredible. I was out there for a week, it was really incredible. So when I ended up adding the synths and vocal samples to “Monster” and getting into that track with him and his album being such an opus, I was like, “You’ve gotta let me do something else.” There’s not really rock elements on his album, but there kind of is. Whenever I hear drums, I always picture live drums, even when I hear electronic drums. I grew up loving amazing drummers, with this I wanted to do something more from that angle. So I kind of wanted to start it from this place of, okay, but what would it be like if we were playing this at Coachella?


GG: A lot of people say Nicki Minaj’s verse is one of the best of the year. How do you take a verse like that and make it even better?

BB: Obviously it’s amazing and what I wanted to do with the verse is take it to this other place. The kind of crazy build up at the end of the whole section, that’s actually my guitar player for Teachers, Ezekiel, and I were like, we’ve got to do this crazy, amazing build up to the end of her verse. Because her verse ends in such an epic way, we’ve got to create this whole thing right here, so we were focused on that part. We just started playing and looping and he’s a god, he’s a freaking healer, Ezekiel, so when he did that, it was just an unbelievable moment, so we went with it. I just wanted to build that part for Nicki when the synths come in there and the guitar gets more abstract at the end. We just got deep into it and we were like how do we make this feel like the most epic thing possible. 

GG: Your record label, Green Owl is sustainably minded. What are some things we can do as music consumers to be more sustainable? 

BB: Green Owl is just about trying to raise the level of consciousness for the consumer, we were the first label in the Warner system to use one hundred percent post consumer packaging. We consulted with Warner to do their whole green campaign and the first thing we ever put out was Live Earth. It’s really about pushing that whole thing forward and myself, when I’m not doing music, I cofounded a firm called Global Thermostat where we focus on taking carbon out of the atmosphere. It’s funny for me because I’m deeply involved in music and have been my whole life, but I work outside of the industry quite a bit and I’ve got a lot of responsibilities out of the industry and I take all that on and it’s not easy, timing wise, with a baby. Too much is going on.

(But) I try to take it on because I’m trying to live as much as I can by example and not just rhetoric. So by being involved in greater projects you can heighten the level of awareness to consumers and it’s just about raising the bar of education and what can you do and what can you be a part of and I think it’s about knowing that some of these technologies exist and how quickly the scene is changing on that front. So normally people who work on environmental technology projects aren’t doing Kanye remixes but I figured I might as well give that shit a go, so it could be something that people could say, “Oh wow, it is possible.” 


GG: At what point do you play M.I.A. your music when you’re working on it?

BB: I try to play it for her at the very end when it’s totally done, so even if she says that part’s shit I can’t go back and change it. Sometimes I play it for her in the total infant stage and sometimes I play it for her totally at the end. But it’s generally that way, either I’ll play it for her when it’s just the birth of the idea, or at the end when you’ve got the whole thing.

GG: Tell us about your upcoming projects with Teachers.

BB: We put out one single, but our first thing that’s gonna come out pretty soon, it’s basically we did a couple other interpretations of “Monster” and I took a couple of other tracks of some of my other favorite artists and I used them as two tracks or as the basis. It’s not really a mix-tape, but I guess it kind of is. I took some instrumental tracks from some of my favorite instrumental artists (Pariah, Burial DJ Spokoh and this kid Joann) and I wrote over them as if they were my own tracks and recorded the band on top of them. So this “Monster” remix is a part of that whole greater session, so we’re going to put that out in the next week or two. I’m really excited, I hope people like it, it’s our first offering. 


Ben Bronfman talks Teachers “Monster” Remix, M.I.A. and environmentally minded music with GlobalGrind.


Ben poses with his sister Hannah.