BENEE dishes out a sizzling serving of musical therapy in her latest collaboration, ‘Bagels,’ an irresistible blend of infectious alt-pop and cutting-edge science.
Alt-pop sensation BENEE has joined forces with New Zealand mental health charity Youthline and leading neuroscientists to create a groundbreaking new single aimed at reducing anxious feelings.
Titled ‘Bagels,’ the track incorporates musical elements identified by neuroscientists from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to relax the nervous system, modify brain activity, and ease anxiety.
BENEE, a firm believer in the therapeutic power of music for mental health, eagerly collaborated with producer Josh Fountain and AUT scientists to explore why certain sounds impact anxiety. “‘Bagels’ was a totally different creative process for us,” she shared. “Every aspect, from the beat, natural soundscape, harmonies, to the subtle message in my lyrics, ‘you are not alone,’ is designed to alleviate anxiousness.”
Neurological tests conducted on teenagers and young adults found that listening to ‘Bagels’ significantly lowered levels of short-term anxiety, known as ‘state anxiety,’ experienced in stressful situations. The track also calmed brain activity in the frontal and parietal lobes, which play a crucial role in regulating emotions and the stress response.
Associate Professors Daniel Shepherd and Mangor Pedersen from AUT, who advised on the musical principles behind ‘Bagels,’ designed tests to measure the song’s impact on anxious feelings. Using electroencephalogram (EEG) imaging of brain activity, their research revealed that ‘Bagels’ was the most effective in easing anxiety and inducing a state of relaxation.
Excited about the groundbreaking project, Associate Professor Shepherd said, “Our testing of ‘Bagels’ shows its effectiveness in managing anxious thoughts and calming the bodies and brains of young people, as evidenced by lower heart rate, brain activity patterns, and reduced perspiration. Our research, powered by over 10 billion data points mapping brain activity, represents an unprecedented study of how music can regulate anxiety, and I’m excited to see it help our youth.”
The animated music video for ‘Bagels’ brings its soothing melodies and natural soundscapes to life, immersing viewers in playful and organic worlds. The video incorporates anxiety-reducing techniques such as smooth color transitions and the hypnotic swaying of organic forms, similar to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a therapeutic tool for anxiety.
Youthline’s Clinical and Services Manager, Joanna Madsen, stressed the urgent need to address mental distress, particularly in the post-COVID era. Madsen said, “Anxiety is a top concern among young people seeking support. We need clinically sound and creative resources that young individuals can incorporate into their wellness kit during stressful situations such as exams, difficult conversations, or crowded spaces.”
Madsen expressed excitement about collaborating with BENEE, a vocal mental health advocate. “It’s been so exciting to have someone as talented and relevant as BENEE on board. Her determination to use her voice to support young people shines through this track,” she added.
All proceeds from streaming ‘Bagels’ will be donated to Youthline, further supporting their essential work in providing mental health support to young people. BENEE’s partnership with Youthline and leading neuroscientists showcases the power of music as a tool for mental well-being, offering hope and a sense of calm to those who need it most.