Last time I chatted to Alec Benjamin his song had raked in 22 million streams on Spotify alone and just two months later he has over doubled that. The American singer-songwriter has become a streaming favourite with multiple songs being added to high profile playlists and climbing the charts. He first gained attention when he self-booked himself a European tour playing in parking lots outside concerts by the likes of Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan. This boosted his social media status almost instantly and had him heading back to the US with a new direction and following. Uploading covers and original tracks to YouTube he continued to grow his fanbase and impressed with his honest storytelling. His newest single ‘Death Of A Hero’ is a honest track that explores a soul crushing encounter with someone he looked up to. With a stripped back guitar sound he really captivates you with his soothing vocals that are compared a lot to the likes of Ed Sheeran.
Alec Benjamin recently touched down in Australia for a brief promotional visit and I sat down with him while he was in Brisbane to talk about his expectations for his Australian visit, the way he socially approaches writing songs and his goal of writing a song a day. Check it out;
TB: Last time we chatted we talked about what things you would love to do if you came to Australia one day and here you are! So I wanted to check in and see if you’ve ticked things of the bucket list yet.
AB: *Laughs* okay!
TB: Visit the Sydney Opera House?
TB: Play a show?
AB: I did play a show in Sydney. It was just a little media showcase but it was great!
TB: Hug a Koala?
AB: Haven’t done that yet but I’m actually going to do that in 2 hours!
TB: Go to P Sherman 42 Wallaby Way?
AB: No, I sadly found out that it’s not a real place *laughs*
TB: I told you! *laughs*. How about, go to an Outback Steakhouse before your Australian trip?
AB: No, we didn’t do that *laughs*
TB: Your new single ‘Death Of A Hero’ reflects on a negative run-in with someone you looked up to which is always a bit of a soul crushing experience. So was this song your personal therapy to have closure with this experience?
AB: Maybe that did happen in a weird way, maybe it did give me a little closure but it’s not why I wrote the song. ‘Death Of A Hero’ kind of just came out and it reflected on the experience that happened.
TB: How did you want to creatively approach this song? Did you do it any differently to the way you approached your other singles?
AB: No, usually when I write a song I just write it acoustically and then I hand it over to someone else to produce. So, I don’t really worry about how it sounds sonically because I always just know that when I have my songs made that I want there to be only a couple of elements and not too much going on. So production has to be minimal.
TB: You’ve just released the music video for your track ‘If We Have Each Other’ which is an intimate little track that follows a very vivid storyline and the video turned out so beautifully. So what was one of your favourite memories from the video shoot?
AB: To be honest, I think the whole thing was a really positive experience but I actually don’t enjoy making music videos so there’s not really one specific memory that makes me go “omg, I loved that”. But I did think it was really nice when I got to meet the old people who were in the video, that was really special. But the rest of it was a bit of a blur because I don’t like the creation process. However I did love how it turned out!
TB: Over the past couple of months we have already heard your sound evolve quite a bit and have heard a few different sides to you as an artist and as an songwriter. So what is currently inspiring you sonically and melodically?
AB: I’m not sure because I have had a little bit of a writers block over the last couple of days. And I haven’t really found any new artists that I love at the moment so I’m still looking for some inspiration.
TB: You’ve previously said that you like to try write a song a day. So how do you usually try to juggle this with your crazy amount of travelling?
AB: I don’t *laugh*. But I’ve been trying to write though! I wrote a little bit this morning and a little bit last night and a little bit the day before. So I’m just trying to make sure that I keep the wheels turning, that’s all I’m worried about. So as long as I’m writing some little ideas then I’m happy.
TB: Do you write on your phone or do you have a notebook full of ideas?
AB: Anywhere I can while I’m travelling. Sometimes I don’t have my phone with me so I just jot it down or improvise.
TB: Because you’re always on the road do you find that your storytelling gets adapted from the people around you other than just your own personal experiences?
AB: I don’t do it too often. But even if I do change the perspective and I’m taking about someone else, I’m actually usually talking about myself still. But I have done that before.
TB: Is there a song that has been more massively influenced by this from the songs you’ve released instead of personal experiences?
AB: I wrote a couple of new songs that are like that but they aren’t out yet. But if I am talking about someone else I’m still talking about it from a perspective of that I’m watching them. So it’s still my experience cause I’m not putting myself in their shoes. Like for example in ‘If We Have Each Other’ there’s a part where I’m talking about a girl who has a baby but it’s only my observation what her life is like. It’s not like I’m imagining it or making it up, I’m just observing from the outside looking in.
TB: 2018 has seen you release a lot of new songs so can we expect some more new music soon?
AB: Yes! I’m going to release a mixtape by the end of the year and then an album next year.
TB: Your songs have gone kinda viral with ‘Let Me Down Slowly’ raking in 47 million streams on Spotify alone. So have you heard any of your song played in any weird/strange places yet?
AB: I haven’t heard them played anywhere yet but people have messaged me saying that they’ve heard them in public which is cool.
TB: What has been the biggest misconception you think you had about Australia before coming here?
AB: I kind of assumed that it would be all tropical because of Finding Nemo but I got here and it was freezing cold. So that was a surprise *laughs*.
TB: You’re about to kick off a massive American tour which is nearly fully sold out. So what are you most looking forward to these run of shows?
AB: I’ve never really played a whole tour before where I am playing to my own audience so I’m just looking forward to meeting the people who have supported me. It’s just going to be me and my friend on stage so it’s going to be super intimate and nice.
TB: Let’s play a little game when you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind
TB: Most people think I…
AB: Am a girl when they first listen to my music *laughs*
TB: My morning pump up song is…
AB: ‘Girls Like You’ by Maroon 5.
TB: Pineapple on Pizza is…
TB: If I could have any superpower it would be…
AB: To write better songs than I am writing right now.
TB: My ultimate festival line up would be…
AB: I’m not a massive festival fan but I would love to see System Of A Down with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Alec Benjamin’s new single ‘Death Of A Hero’ is out now!