Q&A with Benta: "Music is a Critical Aspect of Who I Am."
The identity behind multi-instrumentalist and producer Benta might be a bit of a mystery, but with just one listen to his recently released track, "Road With Seven Lanes" it'll be apparent that it's Benta's music that matters, not the face that comes along with the name. In a former life, the artist behind Benta was a signed musician by the age of fifteen. After stepping away from music six years later, though, he returned with a newfound drive and a passion to create utterly honest, hauntingly beautiful music.
With "Road With Seven Lanes" and his recently released collaboration with Lenii, "Bones," out now, Benta is edging into the daylight of the real world with music releases and gigs. The coming months are going to be busy, with more new music and even an EP coming soon. Get to know Benta and listen to "Road With Seven Lanes" below.
Interview by Dom Vigil
Can you tell us a little bit about Benta for any readers who might not be familiar?
I make music in NYC. I’m a lifelong New Yorker who’s always chosen music and art as my outlet for expression. Benta, as a project, was conceived a few years ago and is a most honest, unfiltered expression of my existence.
This project has a pretty interesting origin story, which started with a former music career that began at the age of 15. When was it that you realized that what you were doing previously just wasn’t for you?
I don’t really look at it as a former music career. To me, music is a critical aspect of who I am. My music defines me and vice versa. I think that as I’ve gotten older, my influences have become more varied, I’ve experienced more in life, both good and bad. All of that has an effect on the art that I produce. I look at what I’m creating today as an extension of the past, not a replacement.
I think something a lot of people don’t understand about music is that it is this sort of addiction or unhealthy relationship. Although you had stepped away from music completely, you still came back to it. What encouraged you to take a step in the direction that Benta is now?
A few years back, I did somewhat abandon writing and producing. It was for a period of two years, or so as I was busy with other aspects of my life. I found myself utterly dissatisfied, emotionally speaking. Upset, even. I was still tinkering here and there on the guitar or piano, but wasn’t writing or creating like I had been since I was 10 or 11 years old. I started doing it again, and almost immediately, felt this rush of satisfaction. It’s what I was missing. When I started my first band at 12, I was the drummer, so I’ve always had this fascination and love for complex rhythms and sexy syncopation. When I started writing as Benta, instead of composing on the guitar or piano, I started building drums and beats and would write melodies to them, and add the melodic instrumentation later. That’s really how the more sparse, percussive and electronic flavor of the project came to be -- via this different approach to composition.
Did you have any goals in mind when you first began seriously writing as Benta? Or was it better to not have a goal and just create music that you wanted to write?
The funny thing is that the Benta project kind of started by accident. I had just finished building my studio and started playing around with drum sounds and rhythms. Before I knew it, I had a track, and then two and then three. And a sound and a vibe started to surface, and I knew it was something more than just a simple messing around. The beauty of Benta and the tracks is that there’s absolutely zero pressure now to write or produce anything that’s “supposed to sound like something”. In my prior musical endeavors it was all about that. It was all about having to write a hit that the major labels would be attracted to. Now it’s just about creating interesting, emotional music that accomplishes my objectives of emotional release, while hopefully providing listeners and concertgoers with a connective, immersive experience they’re seeking.
You recently released your new song, “Road With Seven Lanes” along with a few remixes. What inspired this track?
The track was written in a U-Haul truck, as I was driving it, helping to move somebody’s furniture. The vocal melody and idea for that driving rhythm came to me immediately and powerfully. And as typical, I hummed it into my phone’s voice recorder and took the concept into the studio shortly thereafter. Lyrically, the track is about people's’ connections with one another, physically and emotionally.
How did the collaborations with Paris & Simo and It’s Different for the remixes of “Road With Seven Lanes” come about?
The Benta team is comprised of some amazing, passionate folks who are all about elevating the project and doing cool stuff. Jon, on our team, connected us and the track with Paris & Simo and It’s Different, and they both excitingly took to the track and vibe and wanted to give it a run. I absolutely love hearing other talented producers go to town on my tracks and am super stoked about all the great collaborators and producers we’ve been able to work with thus far.
Earlier this month, you also released “Bones,” which features Lenii. Can listeners expect to hear any more new music in the coming weeks and months?
Yes - so, Road With Seven Lanes is the lead single off a 5 track EP that’s scheduled for release within the next couple months. We’ll probably put out one more single and then bring the entire EP to you. So that’s super exciting. We’ve also released and will continue to release some covers on select streaming services. I did a live take of Lorde’s Green Light that’s out now. We have another on the way shortly. I also have a couple of remixes of other artists’ tracks coming down the pike. Finally, I am hard at work on a debut full length album that will hopefully be out the middle of 2018. Really exciting.
What has been the most rewarding thing about creating music again as Benta?
Being able to get back on stage and play live again. Honestly, that’s why I do this. I love writing, producing and creating. But there’s nothing I love more than playing out and trying to coordinate a multi-sensory experience for an audience.
Do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2017?
As mentioned, a bunch of new tracks coming out on this upcoming EP. There’s several live shows soon to be announced as well!
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I really appreciate the time and interest in what I’m doing. Means a lot. Stay tuned...