Fame follows no set formula, as we have witnessed from the rise of overnight sensations and viral internet memes in this decade.
Procuring widespread acclaim premised on a significantly greater sense of longevity is Benee (real name Stella Rose Bennett); whose latest single is a familiar tune to anyone with a TikTok account. Off her second EP “STELLA & STEVE”, “Supalonely” has come to rack up over a whopping 10 million plays on TikTok, serving as a soundtrack to prominent celebrities and TikTokkers such as Charli D’Amelio, Madison Beer and Emma Chamberlain, as they each perform a set of flashy, enthusiastic choreography. The summer hit features American singer-songwriter Gus Dapperton, who laments along with the fresh Kiwi starlet over a groovy beat.
“I think it’s awesome how so many people can connect to the song by making 30-second videos of themselves dancing or doing something weird.”
The EP stalks hot on the heels of her debut “FIRE ON MARZZ”, released only months prior, from which we welcomed new additions to our playlists. Leading the chilled pop-funk party is “Soaked”, loaded with bluesy flanger tones that intertwine with its relaxed bassline, followed by the psychedelic “Wishful Thinking” and closing off fiercely personal with “Want Me Back”. The bar has been set impressively high for a debut release, but Benee proves that growth is a consistent theme in her music.
Popspoken: What have you learned about yourself through the past two EPs?
I think I’ve learned a lot about myself through the experiences in life I’ve gone through, like the breakups that I’ve come across in the last few years. Even just writing the songs and that being my way of dealing with my emotions.
Popspoken: How would you describe the sound of your latest EP, “STELLA & STEVE”?
I like the idea of blending genres. I feel like it’d be maybe like a mix of indie-pop.
Popspoken: How personal are the songs on this album to you? Were they written out of personal experiences and profound emotions or do you prefer playing around with abstract concepts?
Definitely a mix of both. I think some songs on the EP, especially one called “Blu”, I’ve allowed myself to become vulnerable and express more of my sadder emotions. But I also have a song called “Drifting” on there, which is more of a random, abstract idea that I literally wrote about a weird space adventure so I definitely like the idea of being able to write about anything—using real emotions, and also having elements of fantasy in there too.
Popspoken: Some of your music videos follow very distinctive concepts of surrealistic dreamscapes. How do you find the inspiration in terms of conceiving visual ideas to reflect the tracks you put out?
I thought about how you can make a video and adding to the listeners’ experience, and realised that I became a lot more creative with the ideas that we came up with. It’s just about finding like-minded creatives who are doing their own cool thing and collaborating with them. Being able to chuck ideas around and bounce ideas off each other with anyone I’m working with is just something I love to do, that’s how most of these ideas are formed. I love making videos for my music, you can literally do anything. It’s like you can write a song about anything; you can also write a video that is the weirdest thing you can relate to the song, and I find that quite cool.
Popspoken: Are there any existing music videos by other artists that have stuck with you?
I love Joji from 88rising. I think he has some awesome music videos. He’s had this music video with this giant monster—Oh, “Slow Dancing in the Dark” is a cool one, actually. It’s got a cool video! I think he makes really awesome videos, but there are so many cool videos out there.
Popspoken: You’ve embarked on a two-week tenure of university life, before dropping out to follow your passion for doing music. What would you say to someone in a similar situation, but perhaps faced with less of an option to quit school and pursue a more unconventional path?
I personally loved school and being in it, that’s why I thought that I wanted to do university but my mom told me “You can go back to university, you can have a gap year and take your time. You can even go back and learn something different.” Something I talk to a lot of my friends about is that you shouldn’t feel like you need to know exactly what you’re going to do when you come out of school. I’m all for taking a gap year. If you need time to figure out what you want to do, I don’t think that you should be doing anything that you’re not loving.
But I think for someone without an option to quit school, maybe just release music. If music is something that you love, but you don’t have the option to drop out and take a risk, just keep creating. Even if you’re at school, there are so many awesome, useful platforms that you can use. You can post covers or songs on YouTube and SoundCloud; that’s where I got found out. Literally no one saw it, but there are so many industry people who are always scouting on those platforms. So I think if creating is something that you want to do, but it would be a risk to just drop everything else, just keep creating. Keep working with it.
Popspoken: There has been a lot of uncertainty around touring for artists with everything that has been going on with the world recently, but where are you looking forward to playing once all of this dies down?
I just want to play everywhere! I didn’t realise how much I would miss being able to play shows. I just had to cancel my Europe tour, which I’m really sad about. But I’ve never done an Asia tour; which is something that I so desperately want to do. And I think that “Supalonely” has recently opened up a bunch of doors for me and I’m hoping that when I plan my next tour I’d be able to do a big Asia tour as well, so I’m certainly looking forward to that.
Popspoken: You used to work at a pizza place so we have to ask—what’s your go-to pizza flavour?
Ooh. I don’t eat meat anymore but I still recommend pepperoni, jalapeños, roasted garlic and feta.
Featured image credit: Imogen Wilson / Universal Music Singapore