Enigmatic multi-instrumentalist/producer gives the lowdown on his latest single and upcoming EP
When you become a signed musician at the age of 15, something happens to you. For the artist known as Benta, that something was stepping back from the music industry entirely for years. But after a fateful dream in a London hotel room, all that changed.
“Two years ago, I was in a London hotel, and I had this dream where the project name came to me. It felt like a sign from somewhere,” the multi-instrumentalist/producer recalls. “Before that, I felt this void in my life. I felt really depressed.”
Fast forward two years and Benta has released a stunning single in “Road With Seven Lanes” and is putting the finishing touches on his Seeks EP. ARTISTdirect caught up with Benta to learn more about the single, EP and how he realized music was in his blood.
Hello – Please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Benta. I write and produce music and sing in the best city in the world: NYC.
Where are you right now?
I’m currently in the aforementioned best city in the world: NYC.
Tell us about your new project: Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?
“Road with Seven Lanes” is the lead single from my latest EP that’s on its way called Seeks EP. This collection of five songs is an intimate one that fits a certain sonic aesthetic and captures a particular time and place in my life. I’ve done everything you hear on the track and the entire EP, from writing to production to vocals, all in my studio in downtown NYC. The single and the EP as a whole thematically explore the emotions of a growing distance between people over time; lovers, family, friends, etc.
How do you describe your music to new friends?
It’s my complete, unfiltered, uncensored expression of my inner emotion at a given point in my life – and probably the only way you’ll ever access it because I’m a generally unemotional, even-keeled person outside of my music.
Other than BENTA, what should your hometown be known for?
Our high school volleyball program was second to none. There’s amazing energy around those games. We also had a lot of cool bands and music being made. I was fortunate to be at the center of both of those hometown phenomenons.
Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you (and that your relationship with it/them).
My water bottle – It’s bright yellow and reeling with energy. Hydration is the key to health and life. Water is also such a powerful metaphor in music and can be used in so many ways. How’s that for a spontaneous answer?!
What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…
I wanted to be Blink 182 growing up. Being exposed to their alternative image and sound and then falling head over heels in love with the whole pop punk, and later, post hardcore scene, showed me that alternative could be cool, but also mainstream. And I quickly realized that there was no better way I could openly and honestly communicate my emotions than through music. And for some incredibly lucky reason, I was genetically blessed with the innate gift of rhythm and melody and ability to relatively easily play things by ear and hear things that most others probably weren’t. And I’ve never looked back.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?
To never, ever stop making it and creating it, but to always have other interests, passions and ways of sustaining yourself. Having a life outside of music only further inspires the art. It’s a very tough road to pursue music as a career, particularly as an artist. There’s certainly an element of a lottery in terms of achieving real success. But when you don’t have to rely on music to provide economic sustenance for yourself in isolation, that’s when the real amazing stuff starts to pour out.
Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?
Chris Martin and The Beatles. I think we’d make some incredibly beautiful stuff along the drive and the harmonies would be outer worldly. I’m a sucker for stacked harmonies.
What song best sums up your life right now?
“8 (circle)” by Bon Iver.
What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?
Honestly, the love from blogs I follow and respect as the music has been coming out has been incredible, but there’s nothing better than being in the studio with other artists and/or team members that are working on and supporting the Benta project and seeing their initial gut reaction to new music that I’ve created in that very same room. It’s a vulnerable feeling to “let people in” for the first time, but when they’re catching the vibe and the feels, I know that things are headed in the right direction.
Take a moment to dream – Where do hope to be a year from now?
Playing live often, hopefully on the festival circuit someway, somehow!
What’s your next step towards that dream?
Putting out more tunes, getting the rest of the EP out, continuing to put out other work with other great artists, building an amazing community of talent and perhaps even starting a record label to consolidate all of it.