Editors’ Notes “I think what helps me to be so vulnerable with my writing is that I don't think about who's going to be listening to it,” BENEE tells Apple Music. “If I did, I'd freak out. It’s weird because I release it for all these people to listen to, yet I can't talk to my closest friends about it.” The New Zealand singer and songwriter’s debut album, Hey u x, is filled with honesty and anxiety and mental health and heartbreak, and all those little thoughts that wiggle around in our heads and keep us up at night. Though we all experience it, most of us can’t harness those feelings and turn them into lovely, innovative, thoughtful alt-pop songs. But for BENEE, it’s more of a necessity than anything else. “I'm really terrible at telling people if I'm feeling poo. I just won't talk about my feelings or emotions. I bottle it up and vomit it onto a page when I'm writing,” she says. “Then I think about, ‘Oh s**t, I have to release this, now people are going to hear what I've been thinking.’ But it usually doesn’t stop me—I want my music-making to be super honest and raw.” Here, she takes us through each track on Hey u x.

Happen to Me
“This is probably is my favorite track on the album, possibly my favorite song that I've made. I sing about my anxiety, which I've only had to deal with in the last few years. I can't go to a shop by myself without freaking out. I write about my fear of flying, about someone kidnapping me or me burning in fire, all these terrible things that could possibly happen. It’s really silly.”

Same Effect
“I wrote it about my ex-boyfriend, the same one I've written most of my relationship songs about. I've struggled with this one dude, being completely in love with him since I was 17 in a long-distance, on-and-off relationship. I broke up with him midway through last year. I was frustrated with myself because I knew I deserved someone who treated me better and he wasn't for me, but at the same time, nobody else had the same effect for a long time. I was stuck in this weird mindset which I think a lot of people can relate to. Someone can do terrible things and be really horrible, but you still don't feel like you’ll find better.”

Sheesh (feat. Grimes)
“I’d joked around about making a drum-and-bassy EDM song. Then I was in a session with my producer Josh [Fountain], and I was like, ‘It's time. I want to make a really upbeat, crazy one. I want Auto-Tune everywhere, I want to sound like a robot.’ I wrote it about this guy I maybe know, who’s really nice, they're really great for me. But when it's not there, it's not there. You can't force yourself to like someone. And for some reason Grimes wanted to do something on it, which is insane, because I'm such a huge fan of hers. Apparently she was a fan, and somehow it worked out. I'm still shocked. I have no idea what she’s talking about in her lyrics, but I love that.”

Supalonely (feat. Gus Dapperton)
“I’d broken up with that dude maybe a week before leaving to LA for a month to make music. It was the first session of the trip and I just vented to this woman I was working with. I was just like, ‘I'm heartbroken, but I know I've made the right decision. I just feel lonely as heck.’ I knew I'd be making very sad songs for the rest of the trip. I decided to put a spin on it and be super self-deprecating, and make a song that made me feel happy in the session. It ended up being really, really fun. Sometimes it's nice to laugh off the times when you're really, really sad.”

Snail
“This was a song that I wrote coming out of the first lockdown in New Zealand. I, for some reason, was fascinated by snails during lockdown. I lived with my parents at the time and they were everywhere outside my room. I was watching them, wondering what a snail thinks. And when I got into the studio a week after [lockdown], I wrote a little tale of a snail and a person, and the snail wondering why the human isn't coming outside or doing anything. It’s because of a global pandemic, but the snail doesn't know. Well, maybe it does. Maybe I'm just assuming.”

Plain (feat. Lily Allen & Flo Milli)
“Sometimes, the music I like to listen to when I'm sad about an ex is mean, bad-b***h stuff that makes you feel really good at the same time. My mum hates the song because it sounds like I'm putting down another woman in it, but I would never actually do that in real life. I wanted a song that made me feel better about someone f**king me around and me being sad at home because I'm still obsessed with them. And I got Lily and Flo Milli on it because I feel like they're both pros at being sassy.”

Kool
“I was imagining this woman walking into a party scene with a red velvet coat or something glamorous, and everyone's like, ‘Oh my god, she’s amazing.’ It was inspired by a couple artists I follow who come off as effortlessly cool and so confident, and they always say the right things in interviews. Maybe it’s a response to someone saying they think I'm cool and me being like, ‘You have no idea.’ At times I feel like the most uncool thing—not that being cool even matters, but I wish I didn't have this anxious bloody head that overthinks everything. I often say the wrong things and do things that embarrass myself. I just wish I didn’t have to be like that.”

Winter (feat. Mallrat)
“I made ‘Winter’ in the middle of my LA trip, but I completely ran out of steam. It was like, ‘All right, it's time for me to go home. I've had enough. I don't feel like making music right now.’ Which was a really horrible space to be in, because music is my way of venting and when I don't feel like making it, there's something wrong. It’s happened twice, and both times I needed to step out and get some help. You feel very small and alone when you're in a place like that and you don't know anyone. I was singing about how I wanted to go home—the winter suits me better.”

A Little While
“This is one that I made in lockdown. I produced it, which was new for me. It’s a romantic love story that I made up because I’d had enough of singing about my ex. It was more fun to make up a story about being in the car with a new love interest. But it’s also about the real feeling of being afraid to say something to someone who you like.”

Night Garden (feat. Kenny Beats & Bakar)
“I did this during a session with Kenny in LA. It was my first time meeting him and my first time working with a different producer, which was interesting, but really cool. It was the fastest I've ever had to write a song, because the guy was chopping up these drum samples that he had recorded in maybe 20 minutes. I wrote about a similar story to another song of mine, ‘Monsta,’ about a fear I have of someone being outside my room or in the garden while I'm trying to go to sleep. I went in and freestyled my lyric ideas and melodies. It was really sick, I was so happy with it. And I got Bakar because I wanted a husky, almost scary-sounding vocal and thought a British accent would sound really sick on it.”

All the Time (feat. Muroki)
“It’s about being spacey, maybe you're a bit drunk or a bit high, and you’re in a room with someone and you’re the only two on the same buzz. They get exactly where you are right now. It's also about how you can get into this routine of also using alcohol and drugs to cope, which is a horrible thing to fall into, but it’s pretty common. It’s just a trippy song. I wanted that beachy, surfy sound. I was definitely inspired by a lot of the more indie and reggae bands that come out of New Zealand. I met Muroki at a really small techno and house festival in New Zealand. I found one of his songs called ‘For Better or Worse’ and was just in love with his voice.”

If I Get to Meet You
“This song is more about speaking to people in the last couple of years who I didn't know before the music thing, and now I'm talking to them more than normal. I feel like it's this weird thing of, like, do I know if your intentions are genuine? I also made up that maybe I have a thing with this person and it's like, ‘What are you going to say to people around you? Are you going to say you’re talking to this singer?’”

C U
“It's like ‘A Little While’ in that I was thinking up this story. I’m at a beach house with someone who I am really getting along well with, and then I have to go because reality calls, I have to work. And as much as I’d like to stay and live on the beach for the rest of my life and just be one with the bloody earth and not have to worry about anything else, I also have to work. I love to work and love to make music, and I love to meet people and work with people. Sometimes I think I really could do it—move to a farm and live there for the rest of my life. But I think I just want to go on holiday.”

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Other Versions

  • Hey u x
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  • Hey u x
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  • Hey u x
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