10 things you need to know about hazy pop superstar benee

This Kiwi rules.

by Alim Kheraj
04 June 2019, 10:14am

Pop is amazing when it kind of confuses you, when songs feel like they don’t make sense but then a great hook, top line, production or lyric (or, even better, a combination of all four) slides in and it all clicks. That’s the effect that 19-year-old New Zealander BENEE has with her sometimes breezy, sometimes emotionally wrought, but always catchy approach to pop. It’s got R&B licks, slightly hazy guitars and earwormy melodies, with lyrics that make you pause and ponder.

Like many, she got her start recording songs and posting them to Soundcloud. Unlike many, however, her song Soaked was picked up in New Zealand and Australia, clocking up over 17 million streams and Gold Certification in New Zealand and Australia. Not bad for a girl just out of high school. Or, as she puts it: “It’s flippin’ crazy to me!”

With her debut EP set for release on 28 June and a number of live shows on the cards, including a headline date at London’s Waiting Room on 5 June, we got BENEE to tell us all there is to know about her. So read on and get to know her better via these 10 fun facts.

1. Music was just one avenue that she started exploring...
“I had started to take music really seriously in my last year of high school after posting a couple of songs on Soundcloud which got really positive responses. When I started university, I was doing a communications degree, but it kind of just felt like it was a distraction at that point. I knew that music was what I really wanted to pursue."

2. Her songwriting wasn’t always so good...
“When I started, I guess I was still trying to develop my sound so I was experimenting with a bunch of different genres. Lyrically, I’d say they weren’t as well written as my most recent ones. Over time I've begun to learn the craft of songwriting and I've started to explore different ways of composing songs.”

3. One such song, Evil Spider, might sound breezy but is actually super dark...
“Yeah, I mean it’s pretty light and bouncy but what I've written the song about could be considered somewhat more sinister. It’s about wanting someone who’s already taken and trying to kinda weave your way in on them.”

4. She’s more than aware that boys in high school can sometimes be douches...
“I wrote Tough Guy in my last year of high school and that’s exactly what it's about! It's also about the tough facades that a lot of teenage guys in particular tend to put on when really, underneath, they're sensitive little boys."

5. Creative inspiration comes from her dreamscape...
“I draw inspiration from my own experiences and weird thoughts I often have. I also have some strange ass dreams, so a lot of my unreleased songs are written about those.”

6. She loves to play around and “deconstruct” what pop is...
“I guess I listen quite widely. I love all genres of music, so when I first started making stuff I was mixing genres to create a fresh and organic sound. It was something I really pushed for and wanted to do. I think the idea of taking different elements from various types of music to make a new ‘recipe’ is very cool.”

7. YouTube is her friend when it comes to discovering new music...
“I go into deep search holes on both Spotify and YouTube. The Discover page on Spotify is super handy for finding artists related to the ones I already listen too. I also find that series on YouTube like ‘Colors’ and ‘Tiny Desk’ both introduce me to a bunch of crazy cool artists I didn’t know about.”

8. James Blake is her ultimate fave...
“I think he will always be top for me. His voice and production to me are like next level. I’ve also been super into ROSALIA at the moment! She’s got this crazy voice and all her visuals are fucking incredible. I love King Krule’s stuff, his voice gets me good. His lyrics are also crazy and seeing him live he just has this energy to me that’s super inspiring.”

9. Her folks didn’t mind that she dropped out of uni...
“I mean, I think they’re just super stoked that I’m doing something right now that I’m so happy with and genuinely having a good time doing it. They were so supportive when I came home after my second week of being at university wanting to drop out, and ever since then I’ve got nothing but support from them. I do think they’re pretty mind blown with what’s been happening recently though – they’re both coming on tour with me, which they’re very excited about.”

10. Her end goal is to get as creative as possible...
“I just want to explore more ways of creating, not only music but also other kinds of art. I want to have all of my work to contribute to one big art piece. I don’t if that makes any sense, but I just want to create and work with as many different people possible to get a bunch of crazy stuff out there.”

BENEE plays The Waiting Room in London on June 5. Her debut EP is out 28 June.

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

10 things