Benee’s had a couple of big hits on TikTok. Photo: Imogen Wilson
Benee’s had a couple of big hits on TikTok. Photo: Imogen Wilson

Pop CultureMay 6, 2020

Exclusive: New song from Benee

Benee’s had a couple of big hits on TikTok. Photo: Imogen Wilson
Benee’s had a couple of big hits on TikTok. Photo: Imogen Wilson

Benee’s new tune ‘Lownely’, a remix of the international hit ‘Supalonely’, is premiering right here, right now. She tells us about making music in unprecedented times.

Local lass and global superstar Benee is a 20-year-old with 23 million monthly listeners. She’s gone from strength to strength since last year’s EPs Stella & Steve and Fire on Marzz. New Benee tunes are on their way, but to tide us over, she jumped in the studio in the final hours before lockdown hit and reworked ‘Supalonely’. Here’s the brand new, stripped-back arrangement:

The Spinoff: How are you doing? Are you locked down in Auckland?

Benee: I’m pretty good thank you, yeah! Oh, dude, it’s so rainy right now.

Is that good for making music? Any lockdown tunes coming?

Yes, actually it is! I’m not running around all the time and everything’s kind of slowed down, which is nice.

Talking about slowing down, this new remix of yours — it’s very slow. Very chill. Do you think it’s a better reflection of the song’s lyrics?

Yeah, I would say so! It was written about something really sad, but I’m dancing around, which is cool, and I feel like that’s what I was intending to do when I wrote it. But I also want to show the realness of what I was writing about at the time. 

Did you make it more dancey and fun at the time because you wanted to hide how sad you were?

I don’t know if it was to hide, but it was definitely to cheer myself up. I was in LA, and I was gonna be there for a month making music, and I got there and had broken up with my boyfriend four days before leaving New Zealand, and I was like, fuck, I’m going to be so sad this whole bloody time.

I felt like making a song where I could mock myself for being sad, and have fun. It was a weird time. I thought I was going to have the worst month ever, and in the first session I was like, oh, shoot, maybe this will be fun.

I guess there aren’t so many LA sessions right now. A lot of musicians have found their careers are on pause during lockdown, but yours is still taking off — does that feel normal to you?

It’s quite weird. This whole time is very weird for me. I’m just glad that I can still work right now. I feel like the ‘Supalonely’ thing on TikTok has been able to push me through. I’ve been busy making new stuff, doing promo, and that’s kind of distracting me from playing shows. I am gutted to not to be performing live gigs.

That feedback from the crowd is so important, and you can’t get that doing a show on Instagram Live, or on Fortnite like Travis Scott did. Do you think you’d feel the same about being a musician if you had to do it online all the time?

Oooh… No. I don’t know. I used to think that the making of the music was the best thing about this job, and then you go and perform in front of a small group of people and you get this weird adrenaline — you can’t get that anywhere else. Now I feel like I need it. I think it would be very different if everything was online.

So no adrenaline rush. You might live a bit longer, though.

Ha! True.

Does this mean you’re still making music? Is there more coming?

I’m hoping to release a new album in the next couple of months. I feel like I’ve got it there, I just need to do the fine tuning and work in the studio. I would say it’s pretty different from Fire on Marzz. I’ve kind of explored different genres. All of the songs in it are very different to each other. It’s sort of organised chaos.

There are trap elements in there, and I try to rap, and even housey stuff. A bunch of different stuff.

If it’s housey, does that mean you’re going to make up a TikTok dance to it?

No! I’m going to leave it to the people. I can’t dance to save myself.

Keep going!