How do you launch a pop star in 2020? With a TikTok hit of course! New Zealand’s latest export Benee blew up after ‘Supalonely’, her collab with Gus Dapperton, took over the app, and eventually the airwaves. But of course, for Benee (pronounced ‘Benny’) this is just the start. With a couple of EPs under her belt already and much more to come, her funky tunes are about to take her much further than a phone screen. Who said Kiwis can’t fly?
We flung some questions over to her corner of the globe to catch up, and find out where you go after a viral hit.
How's quarantine treating you!? What have you been up to?
I've been keeping myself busy!! I set up a home studio just before we went into lockdown so I've been working on some new music. We're actually out of lockdown at the moment, so things feel a little bit more normal! I can go into the studio again, which is nice.
You've got a new single, what can you tell us about it?
I worked on the single with Kenny Beats!!! This was one of the first sessions I've ever done with a different producer which was exciting. I got Bakar to feature on the track; I'm a huge fan of his work. The song is pretty different to the other music I've made in the past; I wanted to go for a hip-hop production kinda feel.
How has it been preparing for the follow up to 'Supalonely', seeing it was such a smash?
Everything that's happened to 'Supalonely' in the last few months has been crazy, but I'm trying not to overthink my releases to come as I don't think comparing that success would be very productive.
It seems like that song was an overnight success, but you've actually been doing music for a long time - how did you feel when that song blew up?
It was pretty wild and unexpected! It feels pretty surreal; I think most of the things that have happened to me in the last few years have felt that way!
Have you had a go at the TikTok dance yet?
I'm naht reallllllly a dancer. I've decided to let the people do it, and I can just watch, haha.
For anyone who's only heard 'Supalonely', what three other songs do you think people should know that define Benee?
Ooooooh!!!!! I'd probably say 'Monsta', 'Blu' and 'Drifting'!
What was life like growing up in New Zealand?
It was super chill! My parents have always surrounded me with music and nature! I had a very active outdoorsy childhood. I was always encouraged to give everything a try, so I had a well-rounded upbringing with lots of love.
When did you start pursuing music properly?
2018! This was when I dropped everything else for music. I was at university (lasted two weeks) and I also worked two jobs making pizzas and washing dishes. I think after releasing Soaked and having industry people show interest definitely pushed me to start perusing music properly!
With the music scene being pretty tight over there and not many artists breaking out of it internationally, were you ever surprised 'Supalonely' took off the way it did?
Definitely! I had no idea this would happen especially not to this song hehe. It's crazy when I actually sit down and think about it because it's a scary thought how big the world is and how hard it is to put your hand up over here in New Zealand!
What kind of artists have inspired you over time?
Ohh my there are so many! I have been obsessed with Radiohead, Bjork and James Blake forever. I grew up with my parents playing me a bunch of Grace Jones and Groove Armada, but I'm constantly finding new artists to listen to and all of them inspire me in some kind of way.
You've got two EPs under your belt now, is there an album in the works?
There is! My first evaaaa one, I'm so excited. I plan on releasing one before the end of the year.
If so, who are you working with on it?
Mainly with my producer Josh Fountain! I'm also working with a pal of mine Djeisan Suskov who's worked on a bunch of ma other stuff with me. But also worked with Kenny on a beat and a couple of other people!
Is there anyone you'd like to collaborate with in the near future?
There are so many people who I'd love to work with, but I'm stoked with some of the collabs on the album so I'll keep them a secret till the songs come out.
Obviously, times are tough at the minute, but are you planning to get on the road when 'all of this' is over?
Faw shawww! I can't wait till it's safe for me to start touring again. I didn't realise how much I'd miss it.
Taken from the July issue of Dork, out now.
Featuring Haim, Phoebe Bridgers, Run The Jewels, Glass Animals and more.