ENTERTAINMENT

BENEE chats to us about going from TikTok sensation to sold out shows

Superstar BENEE tells us what it's like performing concerts when no one else in the world can.

If you switch on the news, you’re reminded of the simple fact that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a living real threat for millions around the world. Except, ofc, if you tuned into New Zealand TV. Overnight, the country, which reportedly beat COVID-19 in July and again just last month, had as many confirmed cases across the country as the White House—three. And, while the rest of the world’s live music scene has indefinitely shut down and turned to digital means, New Zealand musicians, like BENEE, are thriving. 

The 20-year-old Kiwi-born artist (real name Stella Rose Bennett) is just about to drop her debut EP, Hey U X, and recently performed two sold-out shows to packed crowds in Auckland. When the rest of the world needs to maintain social distancing measures and wear face masks to lower the spread of COVID-19, BENEE’s recent gigs come as historic.

In fact, they might be one of the biggest live concerts since the pandemic first really hit outside of China in March. That point isn’t lost on BENEE—artists featured on her album like Grimes and Lily Allen can’t do what she’s doing right now in their home turfs. But, as she told Girlfriend, that hasn’t stopped things from “popping off, dude.”

“Your gal has been going out and I didn’t used to go out very much at all. Now I’m going to gigs every weekend. I’ve gone crazy.”

“But I mean, why not?” she adds. “You realise that everything can change so quickly so go to gigs and live it up. That’s exactly what I’m doing.” (Editor’s note: If it’s safe and if the restrictions in your state allow you to do so!)

BENEE noted that while 2020 has certainly been “very weird times, being in New Zealand right now,” she finds “it’s quite easy to forget what’s going on.”

“Life is semi-normal and I feel guilty because I have so many people that I work with in the [United] States and all around, and it’s kind of like, “should I be promoting myself? Should I be putting my album out right now?””

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“But then I think, “music is the only thing that makes me happy when I’m f***ing sad and have nothing to do.” Artists are so important right now because life is f***ed up and crazy. We’ve also just been playing shows so it’s kind of like I’m on a high.”

BENEE’s debut EP Hey U X sounds too good for a debut album. A 13-track-long multi-genre diary of loneliness and heartbreak during COVID-19, featuring cyber-goth pop-star Grimes, Britain’s feminist musical wordsmith Lily Allen and music producer Kenny Beats, it’s something most artists could only release after establishing themselves in their third or fourth EP. But, rolling off the success of her TikTok viral hit “Supalonely,” which also features in Hey U X, BENEE delivers the soundtrack to your moody summer vibes and beyond. 

BENEE’s debut album, Hey U X, is available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music from tomorrow, Friday the 13th of November.

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