INTERVIEW: BENEE on 'Fire on Marzz', her debut EP release
Young, talented and a visionary are all fitting descriptions of the NZ artist BENEE.
After hearing her single ‘Soaked’ late last year on the radio, I endeavoured to find out who sang it as soon as I’d parked my car. Rightfully, this catchy track landed itself in triple j’s Hottest 100 list for 2018, and BENEE has since played at Laneway Festival and around America/the UK.
With her debut EP FIRE ON MARZZ newly released, BENEE is only brimming with more to come — as those on the Australian east coast will be blessed with a string of live shows come November. As well as that, she will also be making an appearance as one of the standout acts at this year’s Spilt Milk Festival in both Canberra and Ballarat.
In light of all her new music and the announce of her exciting east coast tour, I just had to get her sentiments on her thriving success:
As someone who made their debut only 2 years ago, you’ve well and truly blown up as one of NZ’s hottest talents. (‘Evil Spider’ has been on repeat on the radio and I’ve belted it out every time.) What was it like first hearing your music played on popular radio stations like triple j?
It’s pretty mad to be honest! I’m still pretty mind blown about all of this... The love that I’ve received has been insane.
I heard you dropped out of a Communications degree (which I once did too!) — what other pivotal moments led to you joining the music industry professionally?
Hahaha very nice! I got some encouraging feedback from my postings on Soundcloud and some interest from people overseas and in New Zealand, which really boosted my confidence and led me to believe that I could make it a career possibility.
You’ve released three unique tracks, but the catchiness of each song’s melodies is out of this world. How do you build on ideas while you write your songs?
Thannnnnkkkk youuu! I mean, I work with two guys called Josh Fountain and Djeisan Suskov. It starts with us creating a beat that we like, then whilst those guys are working away at that, I’m there writing and making up melodies in my head.
Sometimes I’ll go freestyle with lyric and melody ideas then come out to have us all combining it together. Or, I’ll have lyric ideas and the guys and I will all hum different melody ideas to one another. It’s all a very fun collaborative process.
You’ve just let your first ever EP, Fire on Marzz, out into the world. On top of that, you’ve just announced a brand new headline tour. Which cities are you most excited to stop at?
Ooooh I’m excited for all of them, but Melbourne is definitely one of my favourite cities! I love it there, the whole vibe is super cool.
Name three words you would use to describe your sound.
Hmmm probably something like: bubbly, crispy and swingy.
You’ve already played in a heck of a lot of different countries lately and by the looks of it, are having a lot of fun. What have been the best parts of travelling and performing live?
I think just going to different parts of the globe and seeing that people there enjoy my music has been the best thing ever for me. Hearing people sing my songs to me is the weirdest, coolest thing in the world.
I love your funky Instagram photos; I got real excited spotting Ricardo Cavolo’s work in your latest. How did you get to collaborating with him to create your album art?
Haha why thank you! I have been a fan of his work for ages now and it came to finding an artist for the EP art and I knew exactly what I wanted aha. The name FIRE ON MARZZ instantly made me think visually of bright colours and flames, and Ricardo came to mind when I thought of this! When I heard he was keen to work on it, it was just about the best thing of life.
If your life was a movie, what would it/would you want it to be?
I think my life right now is kind of weirdly like a movie. Everything is kind of floating along and I’m the happiest bean ever so I don’t think I’d want to change anything at the moment.
I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the movie Submarine (directed by Richard Aoyade), but your music video for ‘Soaked’ reminds me of it! You look a bit like Jordana.
I haven’t! But I’ll have to peep that!
Circling back — is music your preferred mode of self-expression or do you enjoy other art forms?
100%! I find music to be a great emotional outlet! I don’t really like talking to people about my problems or how I’m feeling, so being able to translate those feelings into lyrics and creating songs out of them for me is pretty incredible. I also love drawing and painting even though I’m not that great at either.
Ultimately, what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I hope they can relate to it and feel like they’re not alone in a situation. I find that when I listen to music and relate to what an artist is saying it makes me super happy and gets me through times when I feel like I’m alone.