KARL BENJAMIN

The visually-charged, UK artist chats about releasing his second single 'Moon', getting to grips with the Keyboard and creating his music to vivid imagery.

Your second single 'Moon' has just dropped, how are you feeling?


I’m feeling good! Obviously, my phone literally died in my hand the day of the release … that was a bummer but I’m happy with the reception it’s got. I couldn’t have asked for more to be fair, I’m just excited for the next couple of days with people hearing it!

What did you want to explore on this track?


I wrote it about my relationship, so that song is more or less a tribute to the relationship that I’m in - as cheesy as it sounds! I basically wrote it about the journey of myself and my partner getting to where we are now. We were best mates for five or six years and then just decided to try something. We always knew in our head that there was something underlying there but the timings had never really matched up, like I had a partner or she had one for a long time and after a while once we ended it with our old partners, we just tried it.


What was the process like of working on the track?

So, we’ve technically been working on it for a year and a half to two years. Summer 2019 is when I wrote it with PRGRSHN, one of my producers. From that point we had just been working on the track, through lockdown we were working on the masterings and everything and just doing a back and forth as we couldn’t get in the studio or anything but between that time we were just fixing it up and getting it to release standards and here we are!

"I wanted ‘Apricot Sky’ to be subjective to anyone who is listening to it ..."

You also released your first single last year, what did you want to showcase on your debut release ‘Apricot Sky’?


So, that song represents me very well even up to the first line which is ‘too much time spent in front of the TV’ [laughs]. It’s so spot on for me, if any of my friends know me, they know I can sit down and binge whatever is on TV or movies for hours. I’ll start to feel bad about it after a while, thinking I should probably do something but … nah! That song itself was about trying to get out of that … as much as I still do it know, it’s about getting out of the rhythm of not knowing what’s out there and watching everything that you think you know on the TV screen. 

 

I wanted ‘Apricot Sky’ to be subjective to anyone who is listening to it but I wanted it to represent someone finding something that is out of their norm that they hadn’t realised before but it’s really important in changing their life for the better. So, I wanted ‘Apricot Sky’ to be that thing that someone or everyone might have experience in their life.

How does being an instrumentalist, as I believe you’ve started playing keys, aid your writing process, especially when working with producers?

So, I’m still new to working on the keys. With the ‘Apricot Sky’ keys my hands were like cramped. I couldn’t use my fucking fingers because the guy that wrote it, his name is Ferg, he’s this amazing Pianist, one of the first people I ever worked with, he’s just this Grade 8 Jazz Pianist and the first song, he wrote this crazy, finger-breaking chord progression and to this day, I’ve forgotten how to play it! I could learn it again but I felt my fingers and knuckles shift in ways they shouldn’t have shifted. 

Getting my head around, I’m just learning as many songs as I can and trying to make up my own chords and learn progressions and stuff. Writing songs about anything, when it comes to chords, just getting used to using keys to write with. I think in the long run, it’ll be more of a future thing that I’ll be able to take some of my ideas to producers to then grow.

"I can create sounds that nobody has really heard before because they can’t see the image that I’m creating in my head ...."


What were the main influences that went into the ‘Moon’ visual?
 

‘Moon’ was great, it was a lot of fun working with Sam, the director - he was incredible. As soon as I got the treatment

from him, on his ideas and what he saw ‘Moon’ looking like, I was like this is exactly what I had in my head for it as well, it’s like get out of my head! 

It was great, so we both came to the conclusion that it would be the vibe to create this almost kind of ‘creature of the night’ element to it and this creature coming alive more so when I find my partner within the video. Obviously, the song is about me and my partner so I was like well … let’s just get my partner in? So, we her in on it and from there we just went with creating the video around both of us kind of discovering each other. The majority of the video, we’re not really making much eye contact and then towards the end of the video we’re looking and seeing each other and are a lot closer and we’re acknowledging each other and we kind of come to a new section in the video and in our lives, that’s what I really wanted to portray. 

How important is having a visual aspect to your music?


So much! Like I said with the whole TV thing, I’m a real visual person. My next EP that I’m working for that I have songs coming together for, I don’t have a sound that I want it to sound like (if that makes any sense) I have a movie that I want it to look like, really and truly. So, I’m writing to fit the movie that’s in my head.

So, do you find that you take inspiration for artistic mediums other than music e.g. film/fashion?

Yes, massively. I’ll write a song and then be like this is a track for the end credits on a film, instead of thinking about whether there’s a nice section or whatever, obviously, I go through that process and everything with the song but my brain will just latch on to creating a visual.

Do you feel that thinking and creating in that way helps you to stray away from getting caught within any genre boundaries?
 

Subconsciously, yes and I love it. I love the idea of not being able to put me in a box. Even though I’m saying that I’ll

write to my own visual in my head, I love so many genres - I can listen to anything as long as it sounds nice to my ears. I’m not someone who will be like ‘I don’t listen to this or that’, I’ll literally give anything a chance. Like, I’ve been listening to a lot Spanish music recently and I like the idea of genres and that I can create sounds that nobody has really heard before because they can’t see the image that I’m creating in my head that I’m writing too, as crazy as that sounds - I’m not crazy, I promise! It just  makes me happy that I’m able to do that and separate from being like ‘oh, he’s that or doing that’.

 

"I was just like fuck it I’m going to jump in on the singing competition and see how it goes. So I entered it and I won ..."


 

How did you first get into music and what led you to the sound you have today?
 

So, it basically started off with my sister. She was singing Alicia Keys around the house 24/7 and just finding her voice and really loved to sing and perform. I was like that’s cool but I never really took it seriously, I just thought it looked fun. Then, fast forward to sixth form maybe 2012 my sister entered a singing competition in our school and she won and I thought it looked like a lot of fun and it looked really cool, I loved the energy she was receiving from the crowd whilst she was on stage and thought it could be fun to experience. 

So, finishing year 11 I was just like fuck it I’m going to jump in on the singing competition and see how it goes. So I entered it and I won and thought ‘ok, sick’ … don’t tell them this but I actually kept the un-engraved trophy that you’re meant to give back but I was like ‘fuck it, I’m happy about this, they aren’t getting it back’ [laughs]. 

After that, I went into my A Levels and did a music BTEC and just played around with producing and just creating sounds and trying to replicate tracks and stuff. I just really enjoyed that space to just create.

 

So, how did you get from that to creating your own music?

 

So, I started making tracks with my teacher and a student who was a year below me and we just made this four-track thing … I have no idea where it is now and it was lit. After that, I just wanted to do it more, I had every intention of finishing my A Levels and then going to Uni to do Photography or Graphics, that’s what I had always focused on as I draw a lot and I love to create art wise. Then I realised how much I loved singing and creating in a different medium, which was music. Also … the lifestyle just seemed a lot more fun!

How did you first get into modelling and how does it act as a creative outlet for you?

That was great because it gave me a lot of time to work on my music, it gave me a lot of space as I wasn’t held down by a 9-5 schedule, which I’m really blessed for. Prior to modelling I had just started my own solo stuff too, so I was hoping I could do that and still balance a work career and then I fell into modelling, I was so happy about it.

 

Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?

 

I haven’t actually told anyone this in ages but the first thing that got me singing was Daniel Bedingfield, I think! It was the ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ album and for some reason as a little kid, as if I had experienced heartbreak at all singing to ‘If You’re Not The One’, I was just running around the house singing that, in my feelings. The first artist to properly get me into music and be like this is dope was definitely Frank Ocean. He massively still influences me now, he’s a very talented, strong songwriter but then alongside you got the likes of SZA, she’s doing bits, Sam Wise, Skepta, ASAP [Rocky] has always been a massive influence, Tyler [The Creator], Tierra Whack - she’s making moves, I love her, Billie Eilish - there’s so many important musicians coming up, right now. It’s really beautiful to see.

 

If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would they be?
 

Kadhja Bonet, 100%. AMA, she’s recently released a project - I’ve just come onto her recently and she creates a nice vibe. Bobbie Johnson, I love her - she’s from Brighton. I feel like it’s too obvious to suggest Tyler but fuck it - Tyler, The Creator. Audrey Nuna or Tobi Lou, Ah! And Baby Keem

What’s coming up for the rest of 2021?

 

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to start performing again, by that time I will have had my second EP out, if it’s the last thing I do this year. I’ll hopefully be working on a larger project and the main thing is that I want to have performed a substantial amount of times and to have had at least two bodies of work out, I want it to be a very busy year!

KEEP UP WITH KARL BENJAMIN BELOW
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Instagram
  • Black YouTube Icon
  • Black Spotify Icon

twitter      -      instagram     -   spotify     -     contact