You might not know the name ‘Alec Benjamin’ yet, but we have a sneaking suspicion that his label Warner Music will be doing everything within their power to ensure that you do.
See, his breakout single ‘Let Me Down Slowly’, which dropped at the end of May, went viral. It blasted through more than two million streams worldwide in just its first week.
But this success didn’t just happen overnight.
It’s the result of years of persistence, hard work and dedication, perhaps sprinkled with a little bit of luck.
Alec built a name for himself by flying to Europe and performing in car parks following concerts by the likes of Shawn Mendes and our own Troye Sivan.
“I think for a while people told me that I shouldn’t do it because it was a bad idea,” Alec reveals.
“I think I worried way too much about what people thought. And I should have worried more about how much of a commitment it would be to go and sing in the parking lots, but once I was doing it… I love singing.
“So I could be singing on a street corner, I could be singing in a stadium. It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I get to reach people with my music. So to be honest, I really enjoyed it. There was something really exciting to me about the whole process.”
We mention to him that it feels as though his career has been entirely of his own making. Though he tells us that’s certainly not the case.
“I’ve definitely had a lot of help from a lot of different people and have learned a lot from different songwriters and different people in the industry. You can never do anything completely by yourself.
“By the same token, I realise that I have to take the initiative and I’ve got to care about my career the most, because it’s my life at the end of the day.”
His songwriting, performance and upward social trajectory got him noticed by the team at Atlantic Records in the US, who inked a deal with him. But he’s giving props to one person in particular who had a hand in helping to bring the deal about.
“You know what? I’ll be honest with you,” Alec says. “There’s an artist named Daniel Skye. He’s the coolest kid ever. He found my music and sent it to somebody at Atlantic. And he was one of the first people who really cared about my music. So I’ve gotta give him praise, ‘cause he’s the one who found it.”
Though he’s well on his way to being a star, he’ll be one of the most reluctant.
His local label Warner tells us he’s not exactly comfortable being in front of the camera.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a pop star. I have a long way to go,” Alec admits. “But to be honest, that’s the source of a lot of anxiety for me. And not something that I’ve figured out yet.
“I have a love/hate relationship with it, because I love being in contact with people who care about my music and want to support me and for that I’m very grateful. But I don’t really love taking pictures of myself and posting them all the time. And I have OCD too, so I just overthink everything.
“So it definitely is not the part of me I really enjoy very much. I started making music before I used Instagram or any form of social media. I know a lot of people use social media and then they get into music later. Music to me always comes first, so this has been something that hasn’t come really naturally to me.”
To that end, we ask him how he’ll cope with all the attention if global superstardom beckons.
“I’ll do whatever I have to do,” he reveals. “And I’m really grateful for the opportunities I get to express myself, so if people care enough to follow me on Instagram and they want to see me posting pictures of me eating soup, then I’m going to do what I’ve got to do. Because at the end of the day, I appreciate that people care enough to want to see me eating soup.
“So I’m just going to have to get over it. It’ll have to be a learning process for me. I’m going to have to grow up a little bit. I’ve got to figure it out.”
Released at the end of May, Alec’s single ‘Let Me Down Slowly’ took off in the digital sphere, blasting through more than two million streams within seven days of its release. It was a song with a special meaning.
“I’d never really written a love song before, but then I had a girlfriend and that’s what inspired it,” he reveals. “And it was one particular moment where she was staying over at my place and she got up and left. I think she thought I was asleep, but I wasn’t asleep.
“And I kind of knew that she was leaving, but I didn’t want to say anything. So it was that moment of feeling kinda helpless. So it’s really a simple song about that feeling of helplessness.”
We ask if she was leaving permanently.
“I thought that she might be. And so that was the song of me being, ‘if you’re leaving, just be nice’.”
Alec quickly followed that song up with the deeply personal ‘Boy In The Bubble’.
“I had some things that happened when I was younger. I never was in a crazy fight or anything like that, but I always just think… It’s interesting for me, because it’s a conflict of not wanting to give in to people who are being mean to you. And you don’t have to love them, but sometimes it’s interesting to see where they’re coming from.
“You don’t have to excuse them for their actions, but it’s always interesting to just see… I’m really fortunate and I have a really great family and they raised me well (I hope). But if you put me into some of the positions that maybe some of the kids who treated me poorly were in when I was a kid, I don’t know how I would have turned out. That’s it. Just the thought. And that’s what inspired the song.”
With those two singles in the bag and rumour of an Australian visit in the next few months, we ask how far advanced plans for an album may be.
“I’ve written a lot of songs, so hopefully pretty advanced. I’m hoping to put out nine or ten songs in the next three or four months,” he reveals, adding with a giggle, “Don’t hold me to that!”
With such a huge barrage of songs coming at us, media commitments and continued work in the songwriting department, we finish by asking Alec whether he gets to squeeze in any down time.
“Well this is the cool thing about music is… what I do in my down time is make music. So when I’m working, it really feels like I’m doing something that I enjoy, so I don’t really worry so much about that. But there’s definitely always time for me to relax.”
Alec Benjamin’s singles ‘Let Me Down Slowly’ and ‘The Boy In The Bubble’ are available at all digital service providers now.
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