New Zealand’s blooming pop icon BENEE, formerly known as BENE, is about to kick off a global trek.
With sold out dates across Australia, and international appearances in the pipeline, a teenaged BENEE, real name Stella Bennett is in demand. But does she slow down? I don’t think so.
Ahead of her gargantuan tour kicking off, we chatted with about the creation of FIRE ON MARZZ, and what it means to be a woman in the music industry.
But it all started with a confused Bennett being unsure of what a post-high school life could look like. The 19-year-old enrolled in a now-deferred Communications degree. But she was constantly drawn to music.
“In my last year of school (2017), I had a moment where I was like ‘I actually don’t know what I wanna do with my life’. Everyone was enrolling into university and I was like ‘fuck, I actually don’t know what to do’. By then, I’d released a few Soundcloud covers just for friends. That got the attention of Josh (Fountain, producer) who contacted me and told me to come into his studio,” Bennett explains.
“We released ‘Tough Guy’ later that year, and I was like ‘ah crap, maybe I can actually do this a little bit more’. I dropped out the second week of 2018, and spent the whole year in the studio.”
It was after that she released ‘Soaked’.
BENEE – ‘Soaked’:
“I wrote it with Josh and Jason (Suskov, co-writer). It was the first time I’d written a song in a different studio. It was Jason’s studio, and it had all this incredible artwork all over the walls. That was part of the inspiration. It’s about an important moment – where you’ve got words to say, and being unable to get them out,” the singer tells of the breakout single.
She confesses, “It reflects on that time, like ‘fuck, I wish I said what I had to say,’ and it stuffs up the whole situation.”
All the tracks on FIRE ON MARZZ were conceptualised in quite different ways.
“It’s made up of a bunch of songs that I’ve been working on for about two years. They’re all a little bit different to one another, I think. That’s what I liked about the idea FIRE ON MARZZ, because I couldn’t come with a word or anything to sum them all up together. I wanted something completely irrelevant that doesn’t make much sense,” she tells.
“Some of the songs on it are like that. I also wanted to be visually appealing with the videos for the songs. A lot of the lyrics from my song-writing I feel are quite visual – so I try piece the two together when I write songs.”
Bennett is proud to admit she’s been able to have creative freedom when creating her songs. When asked about the level of support for women in the music industry, she believes we’re getting there.
“Now is a good time for women in the industry. I’ve felt very free with choices, and people I work with. I feel like there are a lot more women working in the industry now. There are also times when you’re in a meeting, and it’s completely male-dominated, and there’s one other chick in the room – a bunch of business dudes,” the musician explains.
But she too knows there’s room to grow.
“We’re getting there. It’s about supporting women as much as possible, and this whole thing of having more women on festival lineups – like Laneway did this year, which was incredible. I think it’s great to see so many doing well, while being so supported in the music industry.”
While she loves touring (especially to Australia), she’s keen for a well-deserved break.
“I’m having a little break after my Europe and the States tour, but I’m pretty excited to come to Aussie, ‘cos the last time I was there I played a couple of little shows in Melbourne and Sydney, but it’s pretty awesome. Most of my fans are in Australia – so I’m very excited.”
Her admiration for Australia is strong. “The weather’s nice, it’s like a sunnier version of New Zealand, and the beaches are pretty cool. The people are great too.”
BENEE’s new single ‘Find An Island’ the follow-up to FIRE ON MARZZ is out now. With her upcoming Australian tour sold out, your next chance to catch BENEE here is Laneway Festival 2020!