bennytheghost Crash Lands With New Single "Supersonic" [Q&A]
Very early into his career, bennytheghost is already making a name for himself throughout the indie/alt pop world. With "Supersonic" being only his third single, he's been featured on multiple high ranked playlists such as Lorem, Anti Pop, Fresh Finds and Fresh Finds: Best of Indie 2020. Today's release, "Supersonic," is far from mainstream but has all the hooks and pop sensibilities of a top-40 track. If you're looking for a song to show off your music taste to friends or a new crush, look no further. Roll down your windows, turn the volume up with "Supersonic" blaring and let yourself feel everything this single has to offer.
We had the absolute pleasure of sitting down and chatting *virtually* with bennytheghost and all I have to say is that this is only the beginning of a very exciting career as an artist. Not only does his talent shine through his music, but after reading this article, you are going to want to be best friends with him.
Ones to Watch: First off, I wanted to start by saying I found your last single “Low," on the Lorem playlist and have been jamming it ever since so you can understand my excitement when I found out you were releasing more music. For those who may not know, who is bennytheghost?
bennytheghost: Hi there. Thank you so much for listening! It is honestly an honor and Ones to Watch is a publication that I've been a really big fan of for a while actually so to be on here is crazy. To answer your question, I am bennytheghost. I'm just a dude who is an average mix of chill and awkward. I like long walks on the beach, getting caught in the rain, and making love at midnight simultaneously. I tell people that my favorite drink is whiskey, but when no one is looking I really like to sit back and sip on a good pink raspberry cosmo. My favorite vibe is probably going 74mph on a 70 highway with the windows rolled down halfway so the sound of the air rushing by drowns out me scream-singing the song "Come on Eileen." I'm definitively over idealistic and romantic and I think it ends up hurting me sometimes, but I think it also is probably perfect for writing songs and I think that energy specifically is very apparent on my new single, "Supersonic."
Your new single "Supersonic" is very upbeat and bright, which is a strong contrast to your previous single "Low." What was the premise behind "Supersonic" and what sort of story did you want to tell?
In this kind of contemporary era of Covid and quarantining, I feel like I have heard so many tough stories of young couples getting forced to decide between either isolating and struggling through the loneliness and separation apart from one another or having to move in with one another and deal with the struggles cabin fever and sharing your space with another human sooner than what would've been ideal. While being trapped inside with the same people every day, it felt like relationship issues were just heightened and it became harder for people to cope overall. I wrote the song "Supersonic" to be a cathartically happy jam for everyone to reimagine the same scenario but in a truly optimistic light. The song, to me, is what it would be like to be locked down with the person that you love, with no job or outside care in the world. Just you and the person playing video games, making out all day, and playing music for one another; a falling in love tale set to the context of lockdown. This song and just imagining that scenario and the space that it lives in, helps keep me up when times are harder in quarantine. Even though it's totally fictional and I am painfully single at the moment, a testament to my idealism, I guess.
What's the story behind the name bennytheghost?
It's honestly a pretty crazy story. I was actually born in Scotland and raised in the family trade as a sheepherder. When I wasn't leading our herd to fresh pasture, I was writing indie-pop bangers on my acoustic lute. I'd had a lot of free time growing up walking with my sheep and so I would sing them to sleep at nights because the wind would scare them, and it would calm them down. Also, I knew that they weren't judging my singing voice which I was very insecure about. At nights though, after all of the sheep had gone to sleep, I would wander around on my own, like a ghost, contemplating lyrics mostly but also sometimes coming up with whole songs in my head. A lot of the time, I feel like I need to be truly alone in order for me to be my most creative, so I will wait until 1-2am to start writing music and will stay up all night creating so the name seemed pretty fitting.
So, you started out in an indie rock band, what made you branch off on your own and start a solo artist project?
Yes! I was in an indie-rock band called 'The Step Dads' for two years before officially becoming bennytheghost and leaning more into the indie-pop sound. It was the most freeing experience ever and without it, I probably wouldn't still be doing music today. Through that band, I learned what it was like to write music and to get on stage and perform on your own terms, which may seem normal to a lot of people but if you grow up in a structured musical system like music school, it's a big deal to be able to branch out and create whatever you want to create and perform to whomever to want to perform for without judgement or grading. It was only through that experience of jumping on rooftops, covering The Killers songs in packed basement parties, stomping on tables, and getting hammered on stage that I felt the true freedom of performance and fell in love with the whole process. Learning to cut loose, be myself, and have fun on stage and with my music in general was the most important developmental aspect of my artistry by far. That is the feeling that I'm perpetually chasing and cannot wait to get back to when live music can open up again. Eventually we all graduated and moved to different cities across the U.S. though and I came to LA as a natural continuation of my pursuit to be an artist while the other members continue their personal journeys elsewhere. When I go on tour though, I've already decided to get them as the band so the good days will resume again.
How would you describe your sound to a new listener?
It's tough for me to describe my sound to a new listener because I myself am still in the process of experimentation. I'm such an amalgamation of influences so I am making everything from folk, to rock, to dark-scary pop, to bright beachy pop, and some of it fits on this artist project and some of it doesn't. I'm trying to decide how far I can push the boundaries with fitting everything I love making into one project. Is it fair to the listeners? Will people like such a variety in sound, or is it more appropriate to stay in a lane and do that as well as possible? I'm still trying to figure out the answers. I would then take any musical characteristic out of describing my sound and say I love to make music that is very romantic in the brightest and darkest ways. I like making songs that sound infatuated or totally heartbroken. I always try to make music that is easy to sing along to, that would bring a listener to headbang or dance as hard as possible. I especially love writing songs that feel nostalgic, as if listening to them gives you the feeling of remembering something. 100% percent of my songs are steeped in sentimentality. So, if it sounds needy while oddly classic at the same time, then it's a staple bennytheghost song for sure.
What inspires your sound? Any artists in particular?
My biggest influences all come from the indie-rock world and are the reason why I try to include well-orchestrated guitar parts as a through line for all of my songs. Also having started my musical journey on guitar, it is important to me to have that be a big part of my sound. My favorite musician of all time has to be Julian Casablancas and if there's one thing besides guitar that I try to do in my music, it is to write melodies like he does. Their tone and curvature are almost classical in their beauty. The Strokes are a favorite of mine but especially their new album inspires me in some way every time I write. I take a lot of my indie and live show inspiration from Young the Giant, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys, and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Conversely, I get a lot of my pop groove and melody inspiration from artists like Billie Eilish, BENEE, and Still Woozy. I have to also fit the Lumineers in here somewhere. The story telling in Cleopatra is unrivaled and they are one of my all-time favorites.
Congrats on your release "Supersonic,” I’m a big fan and can’t help but ask if we can be expecting more releases coming soon? Possibly an EP?
Absolutely. Four new tunes by March. All of them better than the previous one. I am however still in need of suggestions for an EP title so if anyone has got any good ideas, please let me know.
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
I would love to make a song with Sameer Gandhi of Young the Giant. That guy's voice is more angelic than a pink raspberry cosmos on a beach in Mexico. I would love to collaborate with BENEE, Still Woozy, Cautious Clay, and Mykey to name some off the top of my head. All such incredible writers with the coolest melodies and most insanely innovative production. Working with others is a big part of where I get joy of making music from and I'd love so collab with whoever is down.
Who are your current Ones to Watch?
My good friend and co-producer of "Supersonic," Mykey. He makes some of my favorite music of all time. Another friend of mine, spill tab. Her music continues to blow my mind and she is killing it harder by the day. Fun fact: she's also given me 5 out of my 9 tattoos. My friend David, aka Marinelli, juggles at least 3 artist projects at all times and is crushing all of them. Also, my collaborators and good friends Calica, Daniel Loumpouridis, and Noah Elliott are all making some really cool stuff and I cannot wait to see where it takes them.