[EXCLUSIVE] BENEE On Writing Music With An Impact
Stella Bennett, or better known as BENEE, is a 20 year old singer from New Zealand with the song that’s taking over Tik Tok — “Suppalonely”. “I still can’t even wrap my head around what has happened to that song in the last months. I think it’s very interesting how fast it kind of took this new life this year through the app,” she said when we asked about how she felt about the song’s rapid success.
BENEE too (like most of us during this trying time), is just starting to understand how the app works. Does she know the dance? Well, not really. “I know like some moves, because I’ve watched a lot of videos that people tagged me in,” she explains, “But I couldn’t do the dance if someone asked me to, like properly do the dance. It’s hard. It’s a difficult dance. I feel like you have to be like semi good at dance and you have to be cool, I’m uncool as heck.”
Aside from “Supalonely”, BENEE got an array of music that’ll get you hooked. There’s something about her upbeat, funky sound paired with the rather blasé lyrics that makes her music so irresistible.
So how did you first get started in music?
I like always loved music, I’ve always loved singing and I’ve always loved to write. But I never really thought that it could be something I could pursue as an actual career. So it was always kind of like a fantasy thing for me. But when I finished high school in 2017, I had released some SoundCloud covers and that got me in contact with my now producer Paul and Josh Fountain.
I released a song that got a ton of response. The people around me in New Zealand were really encouraging and I kind of was just like maybe I can give this a shot. And my mum was like, you have all this time, you could always go back to university if it doesn’t work out. And I didn’t want to feel like I would regret not giving it at least a shot. So I kind of dropped out and I made pizzas and washed dishes for a year and made music.
Did it make it easier that you had your mum’s support?
Yeah, 100 percent. My dad was also really supportive of it. The only people that were with my grandparents. Mum and Dad were like, “Okay don’t you have something to tell them?” And I was like, “I’m not going to uni. I’m going to do music.” And both of them were just like, “Wow, you’re an idiot.” But yeah, having the support of my parents was something that I needed in the place that I was at.
So the inspiration for your music, Where does it usually come from?
I think it comes from all different places. I’ve written like a lot of them. Like the inspo comes from relationships, not just romantic relationships, but friendships and stuff. I’ve written songs about conversations I’ve had with people. Dreams also spiral into a lot of my songwriting. I think what I love about songwriting is you can literally write about anything you want to do. That’s what I love about making music.
What about like music idols, do you have any?
I think there are so many; like Grace Jones, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. These people in terms of lyrics, sound and just the whole kind of, you know, their whole thang. I think they’re very much the strong females in the industry.
And I think that’s why I look up to them a lot and with what I do, because they’re role models in a cool kind of different way, where they’re not afraid. I feel like I want to be one of those kind of power powerhouses, like not afraid to say anything and just do it.
And is that one of the biggest messages you want to present in your music, like not being afraid to speak up?
Yeah, definitely. I feel like that’s what I appreciate when I listen to music. If someone’s kind of saying something that makes you go like, “Woah, that hits deep.” I think it’s cool. I feel like someone needs to do it and it’s cool when it’s a chick.
as a songwriter, what goes into your songwriting process?
I do a lot of note-taking and I take those notes that I’ve written into the studio. I’ll write little short stories and stuff and take them into the studio. But usually I’ll go into the studio and start fresh. I’ll talk to my producer about like what’s been going on and stuff then we’ll kind of bounce ideas off each other for like the production production side of it and making a beat. From there, we’ll write my ideas down, freestyle then turn it into a song.
Your lyrics are more like a little more on the sad side But then the song itself is so upbeat. was that intentional?
I kind of haven’t really noticed that that’s what I do. I guess songwriting is kind of a way for me to vent and share emotions. I struggle with sharing to people about life, like I hate talking about my problems and my fears and stuff to people. But I think that as a creative outlet, songwriting is a place where I can literally say anything.
I feel very comfortable when I’m making the song. I don’t know. I do like to write sad songs but I love like upbeat, like funky music. So I guess that’s where it kind of crosses.
are there any other genres that you’d like to explore?
Definitely. I tried rapping recently but it didn’t really work out. I think there are elements of trap I find really interesting. And I used to be very much into R&B then it changed to indie music that I was super into and I love funk.
I think that just kind of something that I want to do with my song, like making songs is kind of being able to just mix all different elements from different genres, you know, create like a new kind of sound. So I think, yeah. All genres is something I want to explore at some point I think.
Let’s Talk about aesthetics and your music, because you seem to have such a vision for yourself. Do you think those two really affect each other in any way?
I think definitely, the visual side and the aesthetic side is something that complements the music. When I first released my first song, Tough guy, I didn’t have anything out other than that. It was just the song. And I hadn’t even shown my face. I feel like having visuals and all of the side stuff is something that people can kind of know you better. I think they like all the kind of content that they can get.
How would you describe yourself to somebody that is new to BENEE?
This is a harder question than I thought it would be. I would like people to think that it’s kind of a fresh sound and be able to hear that. I am trying to kind of create something new and blend genres. That’s what I would like people to think, but I don’t know if it’s something they’d actually think. But yeah, I guess it’s kind of. It’s upbeat and like generally happy. I feel like I just like to be super kind of honest with everything.