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BENEE: Taking Control

In just a few short years, BENEE has gone from nascent indie-pop star, to viral music phenomenon – all before the release of her debut album.

Image of BENEE

Imogen Wilson*

When BENEE performs, the Kiwi indie-pop artist radiates a certain sprezzatura, the kind of effortless nonchalance usually reserved for ‘it girls’ and those who pull off beautiful dishevelment. When you chat to her though, she’s nuanced and raw, like a new best friend at a house party.

BENEE The Business is ramping up at rapid speed, from her singles “Glitter” and “Supalonely” going viral on TikTok, to the latter charting in the US Billboard Hot 100, to taking out four of her home country’s biggest music awards last year, to earning a lifelong fan in Elton John and readying a debut album she calls “organised chaos”… should I go on?

Right now however, Stella Bennett is more concerned with being taken by an unknown man in the middle of the night. “It’s actually a genuine fear of mine,” she says via Zoom from her home in Auckland. “I’m often scared that there will be someone outside waiting for me – which is ridiculous.” 

It was touched on in last year’s Stella & Steve EP (“Monsta”) and gets a mention in her debut album too: I wonder if he’ll jump right out / cover my face and hold me down,” she sings on “Night Garden”.

These distinctive fears over possibilities stem from her love of horror films and crime novels – both of which she’s had to give up. She’s not taking any chances though; security cameras have been installed at her home, and she won’t post a photo on Instagram until after she’s left the location where it was taken.

At 20 years old, BENEE provides a mature perspective on the lesson she learned in her teenage years; honesty.

“What I’ve learnt more recently is you need to say how you feel all the time, you can’t be scared,” she says, leaning forward a little. 

“[…] Especially being a young woman in this industry. I feel a lot of people want to have you look like ‘this’ and they want to have you ‘do this’ because ‘it looks good’ and ‘it sounds good’, but you just have to be like, ‘shut up, I’m not doing that’.”

BENEE will release her debut album, Hey u x, on November 13th.

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