Rising Australian hitmaker Benji Lewis has been on our minds for the past few months with his sultry indie soul masterpieces. Inspired by the likes of James Blake and gnash, the Melbourne bred singer /songwriter has crafted effortlessly gorgeous singles that combine chilling ambient electronic and passionate soulful R&B. Last July, Benji unveiled his 7-track sophomore Home For Now EP featuring his sparkling standout single “Drift”, which has gone on to garner more than 11 million streams on Spotify alone. He’s worked alongside burgeoning indie artists like Australian producer Golden Vessel, LA songstress TRACE, and indie pop producer Mike Derenzo of EXES to elevating lush R&B soundscapes with his delicate, mystifying vocals. His latest single “DEEP BLUE” took us over the edge with its bubbly, effervescent nature, cementing us as fans. Continuing to develop as one of our favorite new vocalists, Benji Lewis has traveled around the world for his debut SXSW ahead of his forthcoming Together Apart EP. Check out our exclusive interview with Benji Lewis below and catch him live tonight in LA.
RTT: Hey Benji, how was SXSW?!
Benji Lewis: Where to start. It was a full week of fun, learning, and meeting new people. It was cool to be somewhere different in the states as I’m usually in LA, check out Austin, the good food and vibe, especially along 6th street there during SXSW. It was crazy. And I definitely had some really special moments with my shows, at some unique venues and seeing and meeting some of my fans that came.
So you played 4 SXSW showcases, including the uber cool Sounds Australia. If you had to choose, what was your favorite showcase you played?
I definitely have a stand out favourite. It was a showcase I did at St Davids Historic Church. We had such a good turn out, the venue was beautiful. It felt so special and right for me. I closed with an acoustic version of my song, ‘Not Alone.’ I felt really good about that show. Was the best to meet fans after the show as well, that are following me and my music, actually in person, having a bit of a chat and taking a few snaps. Everything about that night, loved it.
Did you happen to catch any other showcases? Who did you most enjoy seeing and/or meeting at SXSW?
I think the stand out performance I saw was Duckwrth, the music is cool, he gives so much energy which everyone can feel watching him perform, and then tops it off with those moves. I did also catch shows from Billie Eilish and Finneas, I love their music so that was really cool to see them live, they just give a real honest performance. One other stand out was a friend of mine, Fatai. We caught her show, and my friends and those that came with were very happy I invited them. Her voice is insane, she flips songs and everything she plays on her guitar and sings in completely her and unique. All of us there felt that real emotion and connection, love her.
More importantly, what’s the best thing you ate in Austin?
Ha ha this is a totally fair question. Well I ate a heap of quesadillas and also had a really nice Indian dinner from the food trucks that are everywhere. But, a place that me and my guys kept going back to, so it kind of became our go to spot, was ‘Modern Market’ on Congress Ave. So many healthy options, and all of the food is cooked so good, so tasty!
Overall, what do you think you learned from your first SXSW experience?
For me, I tend to think so much leading up to things like this, well any live show. But after I did my first or second showcase, I let myself relax a bit, feel more comfortable and enjoy myself around the shows. So main thing I learned as I went on with my week at SXSW and all the showcases, is to have to have a bit of fun and relax as well. When you get up on stage, give it everything, connect, sing it all out and just be you. Obviously be prepared and rehearsed for your show and still look after that voice if you’re a singer ! Plenty of water, teas that are caffeine free and honey got me through my shows and week.
What do you have planned for LA?
So I am going to be apartment hunting in LA which is really exciting. I feel good here. I”ll also be playing a show with Robokid and Phil Good tonight at The Peppermint Club. I will be getting in the studio and writing with plenty of different people and also planning my next few releases that me and my team are working on right now. So keep an eye out, new music is on the way.
You just dropped “DEEP BLUE” before SXSW and it’s the first track off your next EP. Can you tell us a little about your upcoming EP?
Yes, and I’m really excited to be releasing music off this EP, this is going to give more insight to my life and what I’m going through. With recent stories and experiences that are really personal for me, I think a lot of people out there may have gone through or are going through similar feelings and moments. So the EP is called ‘Together Apart.’ It’s about love, hope and fighting to keep it together and helping each other through harder times.
What’s in store for the rest of 2018?
I feel good about this year and there’s a lot coming up. I’ll be writing and working on plenty of music with different people, my new EP ‘ Together Apart’ will come out, most likely the second half of this year. More live shows and performances, so keep an eye on my socials for those as I announce them. And I’m also excited to possibly head over to Europe and the UK if my schedule allows for it towards the end of the year.
It’s quite a long flight home – what’s on your go-to travel playlist?
So I do have a playlist I keep updated on my Spotify profile. For me it’s about the vocal and feel. Standouts in there like Freya Ridings, Sasha Sloan and SZA. Also 3 other recent favourite songs that have really hit me lately are Lewis Capaldi’s “Rush”, Jorja Smith’s “Let Me Down”, and Labrinth’s “Jealous”.
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