MEB writer Christina Troitino caught up with Dutch pop artist Benny Sings for a quick interview about his new album, Studio (debuts 11/27), his lifelong love of music and what it’s been like gaining a much deserved fanbase outside of the Netherlands.
MEB: While you have been gaining some well deserved international recognition in recent years, you are originally from the Netherlands. When did you first fall in love with music and performance?
My first band was called The Loveboat. We were 16-ish, and living in a small town near Rotterdam. What I liked most I think, was being part of a group. I remember this moment where we, the band, walked across a square to our first band meeting, thinking “this is it, this feels nice”.
MEB: The new album, “STUDIO,” has an incredibly eclectic feel, with some songs sounding inspired by 80’s action-movie synth (“Whose Fault”), natural sounds (“The Beach House”), and 70’s pop riffs (“You and Me” ft. GoldLink). What inspired you to make this album?
I think my inspiration came from not wanting to achieve anything. Just making music, and having fun. With previous records I always had this higher goal of making something big and meaningful. I feel like I’ve grown (up). Things don’t have to be perfect or ultimate anymore. You can hear that in the music in a positive way. Not trying to achieve greatness, makes the music sound bigger actually.
MEB: The song “Shoebox” features producer and singer Mayer Hawthorne. What was it like collaborating with him?
It was great. I’ve known him a little while. I was the support act of his European tour in 2012. Been in contact even since. So it was a short line asking him for this song. I think he did a great thing with it.
MEB: You were recently featured on Data’s “Don’t Sing” which quickly went viral online due to the song’s incredible catchiness and equally compelling music video. What was it like seeing the internet react so quickly and positively to the song and video?
Yes that was great. With stuff like this happening you still realize that the public is reachable, and won’t only be controlled by the hype of the day. This video wasn’t super cutting edge or fashionable at all. It just was great storytelling. And then you can see that, with great stories, great art, entertainment, whatever you want to call it, you can still reach people. Not only the newest of the new, or stranger than strange will get attention. Those things are great too, but it is also great to find out, that if the composition of the story you want to tell is proper, you will still be seen.
MEB: Your music is known for being catchy and accompanied by soothing vocals, but I have always been intrigued by your subtly hilarious promotional photos and videos, including a shot of you lounging in a suit accompanied by a dog with warm 70’s lighting on the “Best of Benny Sings” cover, splashing yourself in pink paint in the video for “Little Donna,” etc. How important is it to you to have fun with your visuals?
I think lightness is key in my art. Like jazz is called light music (or at least in The Netherlands, when you study jazz, you study “light music”, which is considered a very serious term.), I don’t take lightness lightly. It is hard to do, and to make. So when you’re dealing with lightness, you always are close to comedy I think, or you have to deal with it. So that’s what you see in my visuals too. Maybe in my visual the comedy is more apparent. But never intended. I just want lightness.