Editors’ Notes Auckland-born artist BENEE (formerly BENE) dropped out of university after just two weeks, determined to pursue her career in music. It seems she made the right decision: Her debut EP is a collection of catchy R&B/alt-pop songs with so much warmth and comfort in her vocals, you’d be forgiven for missing the personal themes and moving stories that lie within. “I love the idea of having a fresh sound,” she tells Apple Music. “I want people to be able to dig in and be able to hear the different influences. Happy music is wonderful, but when you listen to sad, very honest music, it’s something people feel naturally drawn to. It’s the best thing.” Here, BENEE dives into the stories behind her first collection of songs, track by track.
“Soaked” “The reaction to the song has been nuts. I had been working with my producer Josh Fountain [of the New Zealand band LEISURE] for about two years when he introduced me to [songwriter and producer] Jason Schouskoff halfway through 2018. I played Jason a lot of beachy guitar bands from this coastal place in New Zealand called Dunedin and told him I wanted something similar with the guitars. So Josh wizarded up something on the computer, Jason was playing the guitar, and I was coming up with melodies. The song itself is simply about having things to say to someone you really like and just not being able to get those words out. There was this giant painting of a monster with a massive brain in the studio, and I thought about how those words become so frustratingly soaked up in your brain in those situations.”
“Glitter” “I wrote this the day after I went to a Charli XCX after-party in Auckland. It was your classic wild night out, where we ended up at Family Bar—this incredibly cool gay bar. Someone came up to me with this tube of glitter and threw it on my face. It was enough to inspire me and make me feel fricking amazing and write a song about glitter. I have a lot of love for glitter. It’s a song about not wanting the night to end and not wanting certain people to leave. ‘Let’s stick together like glitter.’”
“Wishful Thinking” “This is an old song that I’d been sitting on forever. It was written at the end of high school when I met the first person I was interested in possibly pursuing a relationship with. It then became a song about long-distance relationships. That excitement of starting something, but the frustration of it being so hard to keep it going because of the huge space between you. I am still in a relationship with the guy, though! So, a happy ending.”
“Afterlife “You know those dreams where you wake up and remember everything about them? They’re terrifying, right? This song is about one of those. I woke up, terrified, and decided to write it all down and take it into the studio. There were strange white rooms, silver guns, a weird-ass afterlife, run-down motels, hooded murderers. I think I was imagining purgatory, maybe. It ended up as a bit of a diss track to the chick who put me in this scary, weird place.”
“Evil Spider” “Another perfectly normal song about an enormous spider inspired by this black house spider I found on my bedroom windowsill I named Steve. Fortunately our spiders aren’t as big as Australian spiders. Anyway, there’s an evil underlying theme here. I put myself in the shoes of someone who would go out of their way to steal someone else’s boyfriend or girlfriend. I wondered how I might seduce them, weave them into my trap, and then catch them, eat them, and make them mine.”
“Want Me Back” “This is still my favorite song on the EP, surprisingly. It’s definitely the most vulnerable I’ve been lyrically. I wanted to be super honest, and to test myself. It was a sad song to write, obviously, because it’s one about someone coming back into your life and you knowing it’s not a good thing but still being weak as hell. I feel that’s what love does to you, and it sucks. I actually ended up freestyling some of the lyrics a little bit, which I had never done previously. I don’t know if I’ll do it again.”
Want Me Back
6 Songs, 21 Minutes
June 28, 2019
℗ 2019 Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.