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An Interview with New Zealand Indie Star Benee about Her Debut EP “FIRE ON MARZZ”

Benee is a rising indie star from New Zealand, who has been dropping hit after hit over the past year. Benee has dropped her first EP, signed with major label Republic Records, and has been touring in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. I got to talk with Benne to learn more about her EP “FIRE ON MARZZ,” its meaning, its art, and its overall message.

Can you explain the meaning of your EP’s title FIRE ON MARZZ?

Hahaaaaa ya! I came up with the name FIRE ON MARZZ because I wanted a name that would pop visually. The EP art was the most important thing to me, so I wanted a name that would compliment the artwork well. The name doesn’t link to any track in the EP and it doesn’t reallllly mean anything, which is why I love it (,:

You said, “I considered what the EP was going to look like visually when I named it.” Why is the artwork of your EP important for you?

I think for me and my BENEE project, I want to not only have music as the only art I put out there. I want to collaborate with as many different artists as possible to create a wider BENEE artwork. For me, I think music needs visuals, colours and when writing my music I think of all these things, so when it came to choosing the art for my EP I thought about what images came to mind whilst listening to all the songs & then got Ricardo Cavolo to translate that. Your previous singles have charted and done really well, do you feel any pressure because of this for your upcoming release? Not really! I’m just excited to put more music into da world (:::::

Personally, I picked up on a semi-beachy/beach punk sound to “Glitter” – what style were you focusing on using when you made the song?

When it comes to starting a song I always play a bunch of music to Josh Fountain (my producer) and focus on key elements of each song, like guitar sounds & different instruments that I could incorporate into a song. I don’t really ever focus on a style, instead I like the idea of mixing genres and finding different sounds that I like then smooshing them together to create a fresh sound that works.

Some artists use one specific person or event to inspire entire bodies of work – what served as inspiration for FIRE ON MARZZ? Was it one or many things?

It was a tonne [the metric equivalent  of a ton, for all of our American readers] of different things aha. I think FIRE ON MARZZ is a good peep into what the inside of ma brain looks like. Every song on the EP is about something completely different. One is about a crazy dream I had, another is about this weird night out I had… There are a couple about love and that stuff but the inspiration is not really ever from the same thing for me.

How have you found the music scene differing in the United States from New Zealand (NZ)?

I think it’s just a lot bigger. In NZ I guess you could say the music scene is kinda a cute lil family, but going to the States it’s just this massssssive world of new music and so many different artists. I think it’s somewhat more intimidating because of its scale, but it’s definitely also very exciting because there is so much going on.

Your music has a very “chill” sound, even on songs with sadder meanings – is this intentional, or even reflective of your personality?

I think so! I’m loud but one might say I can be chill at times aha. I have a very quiet side and I listen mainly to chill music, so I guess it is kinda reflective of my own music.

What were you experiencing when you wrote these songs: “Afterlife,” “Evil Spider,” and “Want Me Back?”

Afterlife was this crazy dream I had about being killed then waking up in this crazy twisted afterlife! If you listen closely to the lyrics, it’s exactly what went on in the dream. I wrote Evil Spider about a slightly darker idea of wanting someone who’s already taken haaaa. Want Me Back is a more personal song, where I guess I really open up about a sadder experience of having an ex pop back up into my life. I really allowed myself to become very vulnerable with this, one but it’s by far my favourite track in the EP.

Image courtesy of Benee’s team at Republic Records

You have been performing on tour recently, do you enjoy touring and singing for big crowds?

I loveeee it! I feed off the energy at shows it’s bloody crazy. Just the whole atmosphere at a live show leaves me so shooketh. I love being able to bop with a bunch of peeps to my songs. Also, having people sing my songs with me is an out of this world experience.

How do you avoid getting nervous, or is that not even an issue for you?

I’m a weird one with nerves. It’s almost like I’m way too nervous to be nervous if ya getttt me. I kinda get into this weird blank mode where I just don’t really feel nervous at all, it’s more just excitement I think. I do get nervous about forgetting my lyrics though in all honesty.

How do the crowds differ depending on the place? Have you picked up on any patterns, stereotypes, etc.?

I did do a show here in New Zealand in a place called Dunedin, which is student/party central, and I definitely felt a more intense party vibe from that crowd haha.

Are you going to tour with your music from the EP, and do you think that tour will be different than yours in the past?

I’ve played the songs in my EP from the first gig I’ve ever done. It will be different now though that people know them.

What are you trying to say with this EP, and what does it mean to use as an artist?

Just a big old hello to the world haha. This is me & what I’m about…

 

You can listen to “FIRE ON MARZZ” out everywhere now.

 

Featured image courtesy of Benee’s team at Republic Records.

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Written By

Helen Ehrlich is a writer who enjoys politics, activism and charity work, music, and all things literary. She lives in America where she attends school.

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