Pop star Benee has launched her own record label, Olive and her first signed artist is a young Raglan lad called Muroki. The Spinoff spoke to them both about their next moves.
Young Benee’s having a big week. Her latest music video, for the wavy post-lockdown song ‘Snail’, was released this morning. She’s just been named as a finalist in three categories at the Aotearoa Music Awards. She’s performing a sold-out nationwide tour, and during last night’s show, she announced she’d be live-streaming her final date.
And today she adds a new feather to her cap: record label owner.
The 20-year-old singer told The Spinoff she’s “always loved the idea” of finding new artists, and hopes her new record label, Olive, will put some of her favourites in front of an audience. “Other musicians have helped me in this way, and I want to pass it on,” she said.
Olive will start out small as she wants to be able to “give any artist signed to the label the attention they deserve, so that will naturally limit numbers”.
And why call it Olive? “I love olives,” she said.
Her first signing is Muroki, a 19-year-old artist from Raglan who’s inspired by the region’s reggae history. He told The Spinoff that so far he’s found Benee to be a hands-on label runner.
“I’ve been writing heaps of songs,” he said, but wouldn’t say if an album was due out. He’s waiting for Benee to tell him what to do. “She’s in charge.”
Muroki’s been passionate about music for most of his short life, first learning guitar at the age of nine from the Cornerstone Roots’ Nicky Keys. When Benee approached him to sign on to Olive a decade later, he was stoked. “I was just losing it. I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “She’s been so supportive of this whole thing. It’s been amazing having her helping out.”
When Benee appeared on Elton John’s podcast Rocket Hour earlier this year, she played Muroki’s single ‘For Better or Worse’ for the international icon. “I was pretty stoked about that,” said Muroki. “He’s pretty well-known.”
He spent the lockdown in the Coromandel trying to write more tunes. “I was recording [an EP] in this little shed that used solar panels. It was raining quite a lot so I had to use the generator to record a lot of it.”
“It’s been weird, man. The lockdown was a bit trippy for me. There was all this stuff bubbling away, and we got out and now everything’s crankin’.”
Benee said having Muroki on tour with her was another way to get him out there. “It is great to bring him out on tour in front of my supporters ‘cause I know they’re gonna love this guy, his band and his music.”
Today Muroki’s new single ‘Light Me Up’ was released. Benee also announced that her Spark Arena show on October 17 would be live-streamed around the world, and the recording would be available to ticket holders for 48 hours following the show.