Benny Sings has always sought out other voices. An arch collaborator, his work is peppered with team-ups, link-ups, and studio sojourns, continually trying to push his work into different spaces.
New album ‘Young Hearts’ is the perfect example of this. At fate would have it, all-star producer Kenny Beats is a huge fan of his music, and dropped him a line over DM on Instagram. He quickly picked up the conversation, and within weeks the Amsterdam based talent was flying out to LA to kickstart recording sessions.
Out now, ‘Young Hearts’ is a nimble collaboration, the work of two voices operating in tandem. Discussing his lyrical touchstones, Benny Sings comments:
“The antihero is at the heart of my music. It’s who I am at the core. Soft. Non-athletic. I hope that someone can listen to these songs and think, ‘I’m not Superman but maybe I can still save the day’.”
Clash invited Benny Sings to break down his new album… and he went deep.
This is one of my favorite songs on the album. I was writing a lot with Adam Bar-Pereg in Amsterdam. We had some great songs but wanted something with a little more complexity on the chords. It’s always nice to look for a simple melody on complicated chords, so we decided to do that here. It was a puzzle at first since the song had four or five different versions with completely different choruses and verses.
Kenny added Remi in the chorus when he started producing the track – you can imagine how happy I was when this version came in.
This song is one of the rare occasions where I’m singing in third person, which I really love. It’s about two young people getting addicted to crack – not autobiographical.
THE ONLY ONE
My favourite song on the album without a doubt. Writing with Adam Bar-Pereg was a breeze for this album. We had two weeks of writing, usually filled with sweat and tears, but this time was different, the music just flowed. We created the song by combining two ideas. One was the riff (in a much slower tempo), the other was the beat. The ideas worked, and just like that, sparked the whole idea for the song.
Adam pushed me to sing differently than I normally do (there’s a man across the street), and I loved that. I couldn’t help getting sweet and smooth again in the chorus. The way the instrumental rhythm of the chorus contradicts the melody is what I love about the song. It’s about a man who’s losing touch with reality, obsessing (yet again) over a woman.
Also, at the time, we were talking a lot about the concept of “safety”. A Korean fan had said that my music “made her feel safe” I liked that so much, I think that can be a nice feature of music. Then we started writing a lot about “here are the keys to my house” etc. That’s where the bridge comes from.
This was me and Adam attempting to find a song that was light, simple, but great at the same time. It’s always such a challenge finding something like that without it becoming dull. They say comedy is the hardest to write, when you think drama would be. The same goes for this kind of music. The idea started very old fashioned with Adam behind the piano and me singing along. This isn’t something I do very often, since I mostly start with a beat, but it felt great being able to write a simple uplifting love song.
This song was made when I was writing in LA at Kenny Beats’ studio. It was such a blast being in his wonderful environment, surrounded by the best musicians and writers in the scene. We all hopped in for percussion together, Oliver, Izzie, Kenny, Remi and me. Killer chords by Izzie and sick melodies by Remi. It’s a song about a man with low libido and his other half wanting some more.
This was the first song Kenny and I wrote together in his studio in LA. Kenny had binge watched Yacht Rock documentaries the evening before in preparation for our writing sessions. He was full of ideas and rhythms and I was doing some chords, and this popped out. Hether joined us for some great guitar parts and came up with the topline for the bridge (all that math).
I brought the song home with me, and then we came up with the chorus (living it up). It’s a song that refers to the old yacht rock days of the record, a very nostalgic, 70’s feel, pumped up by Kenny.
We were in the middle of the US tour, when the whole band got covid. It was a really weird experience returning home mid-tour. When I returned home to Holland it turned out I had covid as well. As my wife was pregnant at the time, we decided it would be better if I was not at home and should go into quarantine in my studio. This was in the middle of the winter; it was so cold in my studio, but there was also something romantic about it. I was messed up in terms of dopamine levels post tour, got in a big fight with my wife, and wrote this song behind the piano during that (pretty grim) quarantine. The song is about missing her so much and hoping I didn’t screw things up. Kenny produced the whole song in LA later, which was amazing.
LOVE WILL FIND A WAY
Everyone got COVID mid-tour when we were in the U.S. We returned home, and I had to go into quarantine in my studio, forcing myself behind the piano every day in the blistering winter cold. This song was written there.
This song was written in LA together with Kenny and other amazing musicians and writers that were there that day. Kenny invited Nami, who he said can transform into the person he’s writing for. Nami
was able to see Kenny and my vision, and together we created the track. The song is yet again about an impossible love, ready to be dissolved.
I wrote this song in Amsterdam together with Adam Bar-Pereg. It’s a song about what humans are capable of, and how we are able to survive in this all-destructive universe for so long because of our capacity to work together, and together, we can do a lot. We can do a lot of bad and a lot of good, but the power we have in cooperating is immense. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. Let’s go.
TAKE YOUR TIME
This song was written in Kenny’s studio in LA. Kenny’s drums are just amazing, I don’t know how he does it. The ad libs Choker does in this track do it for me. It reminds me of Lenny Kravits’ ad libbing in the background of Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’. Subconsciously, it makes the track – a song about a girl that’s not totally into you but has you at her fingertips.
Photo Credit: Robb Klassen