Despite receiving worldwide reach and Tik Tok fame with her smash-out LP, Hey u x, BENEE still has the humble mindset of a typical Zoomer.
In a world of Zoom collaborations and vaccine-debating, BENEE remains a powerhouse not only down under, but across the globe – and all at the ripe old age of 21.
However, despite fame and glory, BENEE remains true to the gooey-pop ballads and dark atmospheres that truly encompass a Gen-Z mentality. Happy sat down for a very Zoomer-esque chat with BENEE about memes, movements, and the ins and outs of creating the BENEE image.
HAPPY: So how does it feel to be able to perform back in New Zealand and Oz?
BENEE: It’s been pretty crazy being able to perform here – definitely not something that I thought we’d be doing this year, so it’s been a pleasant surprise! The Aussie shows that I have in my calendar popped up in the last couple of weeks so I had no idea of them, so that to me was like ‘holy fuck this is so exciting!’. So yeah, I’m just really stoked that the travel bubbles opened up!
BENEE: Yeah! get the heck out of here!
HAPPY: Wig! Literal wig! So, are you excited for Festival Of The Sun (FOTSUN)
BENEE: I am! I mean, just getting out of New Zealand! Festivals are always super, super fun honestly cause everyone loves festivals and the vibe’s always nice – everyone just wants to be at festivals so I feel like it’s nice to perform at them because everyone’s having a good time.
HAPPY: Do you ever get nervous before performing?
BENEE: Yeah I always do! I don’t know people who don’t. Like, I feel like people say they don’t, but they totally would! So yeah, I do!
HAPPY: But like, how do you actually do it?
BENEE: Well, I kinda feel nothing for a little bit – that’s when I know I’m SUPER nervous. That’s maybe like an hour before going on, and then maybe five minutes before I’ll be like ‘oh my god I need to pee’, nervous weeing and getting clammy hands and then I’ll just be like ‘fuck, I’ve just gotta get up there now’. I don’t know, as soon as you kinda get on stage I just snap out of it and like, ‘ok you have to sing a song, just stop thinking’, that’s all you can really think about – just singing the song and doing it well!
HAPPY: Yeah. So, I think we all need to get the fuck out of Australia, what’re some dos and don’t of going to New Zealand?
BENEE: Get the fucking vaccine. Straight up, get the fucking vaccine. I know I’ll be doing that before I go anywhere. Also just be patient with people when you’re travelling at the airport. You’re gonna be bombarded with crazy people who haven’t travelled for a year. But, get the vaccine, wash your hands, wear a mask, don’t be a dick!
HAPPY: What kind of vaccine are you getting?
BENEE: I’ll take them all, I just don’t want COVID!
HAPPY: Do you have any upcoming projects, or anything delayed from COVID?
BENEE: The whole touring side of things obviously got delayed. I kind had a huge plan that all got quite delayed, but it meant that I could finish my album, Hey u x sooner, and kinda releasing it at a time when everyone was consuming music. In a crazy way I felt like it was a good time to do that, but I’ve also had more time since then, this year, to work on more stuff, and I think definitely before the end of the year I’m planning to release another body of work.
BENEE: Yaaasss! (Laughs)
HAPPY: Are there any details you can give about that or is it all hush hush right now?
BENEE: It’s pretty hush-hush to be honest. But I really wanna do like, super crazy visual stuff, more like photographs and things with this kind of piece. I think, definitely not something I’ve explored so much with my other bodies of work, but yeah, that’s kinda what’s floating around the air at the moment.
HAPPY: Do you do visual stuff? Have you directed anything before?
BENEE: I’m very involved with all of my videos! It’s kind of a matter of me making a mood-board, finding a director I like, and then telling them exactly what I want, and them kinda making it happen. In that kind of way, definitely. When I’m finding artworks for everything, it’s me going out and finding them on the internet, somehow! Normally on Instagram, and connecting to them – I either kinda take an artwork they’ve already done that I love, or it’s a matter of just having a conversation with them about what I’m wanting. I like to be super involved with anything I have my name attached to, because I think that’s super important, but at the same time I love for the artist to do their thing. Either way, I am very involved though!
HAPPY: I think it’s interesting because musicians who are attune to the visual arts tend to have different interpretations when it comes to their music. I guess, how do you interpret visual art against your music?
BENEE: I feel that. I think… I don’t know, my whole kind of approach to finding anything that’s gonna be part of this project, I’m wanting it to be super eclectic and work with my music – but at the same time be kind of unexpected and different – and then at the same time have it all work together. That’s kinda where I’m at at the moment, and ‘eclectic’ is what I’d use to describe the plan of everything right now. I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m even saying (laughs).
BENEE: Straight up.
HAPPY: You’ve dropped some slapping collabs recently, what’s the best collab experience you’ve had recently, or the most interesting artist to work with so far?
BENEE: It’s weird cause most of my collabs that I’ve done, like I sadly haven’t really worked in-person with them. Pretty much every collab on Hey u x was done like, virtually, and I was pretty much just dm’ing them, it wasn’t even a real call – which is sad!
BENEE: I video called Lilly and Muroki, that was really nice for me and the first time I’d done that before, but mostly we were just messaging and them sending through a file, which is totally chill, but with the ‘bbno$’ feature I just did, I was like, super, super stoked because it was him calling me to start, and then doing a couple of facetimes and then planning this video idea together. It was kind of a lot more, I don’t know, it just felt nice how much more of a collab it felt like it was. We were talking more, and you know, weren’t doing a whole text thread of ‘what’re we gonna do’ and ‘how’re we gonna make this be really, really cool’. I don’t know, it’s just a different way of collaborating I guess, but, that for me was really exciting because I’d never kinda done anything like that before so, that was pretty fun!
HAPPY: It’s so weird that we have the opportunities to virtually collaborate with people. Is that something you enjoy? Or do you prefer face-to-face?
BENEE: I would say I actually do enjoy it! Because like, as much as I would like to be there in-person, doing it with everyone, sometimes it can be slightly intimidating, and the thought of like, I don’t know – my collab with Grimes, the thought trying to do a freaking song with her in the studio is like ridiculous! I’d be far too intimidated!
BENEE: So, it’s nice that you don’t have to be so direct with them, you can kinda just be like ‘I’m a huge fan, do you wanna feature?’. And then it’s kinda just chill. But my people actually reached out, I didn’t go as far as to message her cause I was too scared either way!
HAPPY: Yeah, that would be fucking terrifying.
BENEE: Imagine if she was like ‘ugh sorry, I’m so busy at the moment I don’t wanna do that’, like imagine being rejected by Grimes. Career over! Career over! That would be BENEE. Goodbye BENEE. Straight up never to-be-seen-again! (peace signs)
HAPPY: (laughs) What’s your favourite meme right now?
BENEE: A lot of the stuff I laugh at isn’t funny at all! (pulls up meme). Ugh, these aren’t funny at all but I wanna find you a good one! I find a lot of therapist memes quite hilarious! (Starts showing memes).
BENEE: Yas yas yas! (Peace signs)
HAPPY: Well, you’ve sort of answered all my questions – is there anything else you have planned, other than working, while you’re in Oz?
BENEE: Oh my gosh! I hope I have time and I hope that I’m not in and out straight away. I don’t know, I don’t even know what I wanna do – I just wanna go away and like, relax! Nah but it’ll be nice to just have a wander for a couple of days. I love Oz and just being able to do that, do some shopping, get some nice food, go to some ‘beeaaaches-uh’ could fun, ya know?
HAPPY: Be quirky?
HAPPY: Well, we’re really excited to see you at FOTSUN!
BENEE: Yeah! Loving the ‘wig’! Thank you so much!
BENEE’s latest collab with bbno$, help herself is out now! You can also catch BENEE performing live at this year’s Festival of the Sun (FOTSUN) from December 9, to December 11 this year! All ticket packages and full details can be found on fotsun.com. See you there, and don’t forget to BYO!
Interview by Mike Hitch
Photos by Mats Schram