We had the good fortune of connecting with BennytheGhost and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi BennytheGhost, what are you inspired by?
As someone who makes songs for a living, I think it is a commonly believed fallacy that every song that you make under a deadline will be truly inspired. Writing music consistently has definitely become a craft or a sort of artistic muscle to flex and build upon when the fuel of creative inspiration isn’t there. Inspiration is such an intangible, fleeting luxury of songwriting that can be difficult to come upon reliably or sustainably but if one can manage to capture that brief moment, In my experience, those songs can be the ones that get written in 20 minutes, end up being the most successful, and end up connecting with an audience on a deeper level. So, out of the many duties that come with being a songwriter, I feel that one of my most important responsibilities is to try to find ways to cultivate Inspiration within my daily life in order to make the best music possible. There are a few consistent things I do to try to steer my day in such a way to attempt to bring moments of inspiration into my life and work. Something that really inspires me are stories and the things that they can teach us about ourselves. Stories can put experiences that we have had in a new light by separating our personal perspective from that of the story. In this way, we see how a character handles their life; we see their emotional and physical response and we begin to understand why they act in a certain way, and in doing so, can understand a little more clearly why we act in a certain way and why we can have certain emotional and physical responses. Finding pieces of yourself, friends, loved ones, or acquaintances in these stories can give us a deeper and broader entanglement with the human experience and can begin to open up a vocabulary of very specific and nuanced emotions to be able to imagine, draw from, and ultimately create from. Stories and the inspiration that I get from them can come in so many forms. I try to find them in places other than music because music is the eventual medium that I want to create out of that source of inspiration so starting with music does not really give me a lot of new room to expand into and imagine. I find great inspiration in travel and exploration because of the unbelievably unique combination of people, cultures, and stories that can be created when you are in a new part of the world and the perspective that is born of that situation. I love finding stories in movies and pictures and art as well. I personally feel that I have found the most inspiration in art that is based in love because of the strength of emotion. Writing songs and being on stage performing for a crowd of people can be a very powerful, romantic, and fantastical thing and so I find that the energy of love, whether positive like in infatuation or negative like in heartbreak, matches that romantic, fantastical quality of playing music quite well.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I began making music mostly out of curiosity at the age of 12 when I got my first laptop. My Macbook had GarageBand on it and technologically, this was the first time in history that any kid with a laptop could have easy access to a whole bank of instruments and the software to be able to compose with them. This is where the whole idea of bedroom pop came from because now anyone could make high quality music from their rooms without need for a studio or thousands of dollars worth of equipment and I was a part of that wave. I began to explore with a huge variety of sounds and had my hand at composing all different kinds of weird and random songs. Besides the production aspect of music, I began playing guitar in middle school, wanting to be in a heavy metal or rock band and didn’t even begin singing until I was about 18 years old. I figured, if I had any vocal ability, I would be able to backup sing and consequently be a more valuable band member. Around the time I started singing, I also began writing my own songs and listening to more pop and indie music for their melodies because I again thought that having writing ability would increase my likelihood of being a productive member of a successful rock band. It wasn’t until I was halfway through college that I realized that no one was going to be the one to do it for me besides myself. No one was going to create an awesomely successful artist project and then invite me to be a part of it so that’s when I started my own band and kind of grew into being a frontman and an artist in my own right. Since then, my artistry has been an attempt to walk a fine line between indie rock and pop, writing music for myself or writing music that sells, creating alone or creating with others, and a whole load of more questions that can define an artist and that I ask myself every day. I have found that there are a new set of questions and a new and unique set of challenges that an artist will face at every step in their journey. I’ve really learned a lot along the way and if had to share advice on being an artist I would summarize it as: your person is the same as your art. If you want to create better art, it is best to look internally. Challenge yourself as a person, talk to a lot of people, travel to someplace new, put yourself in uncomfortable situations, and then you as a person will grow and so too will your art and the ability of your art to connect with others. A good marker to be able to tell if you are heading in the right direction is if you find yourself happy and enjoying your process of creation, if your art excites you, and for me personally, the most important marker is if you are surrounded by people who are equally as passionate. It is essential to be surrounded by peers who encourage, support, push, and love you because they are the ones who you will be sharing your journey and successes with. What I find most special about my project is the unique combination of contributors, friends, mentors, and teammates that believe in its success and operate as one huge team to make it all possible. From my manager, to my lawyer, to my creative director, and and all my friends that I make music with, it is one huge collaborative effort in which without them, I would be nothing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One thing that I love to do and one really good way to give a friend a good experience of the city is to drive around. I love taking friends up Mulholland to check out the insane houses and to get gorgeous views of LA. It’s really fun to drive around the hills and imagine what it is going to be like living in one of the huge mansions when the time comes. I would take them to Pink Dot on Sunset and the Jimmy John’s in Beverly Hills to show them where I worked as a cashier and delivery guy up until I signed my first record deal. One of my personal favorite moves would go on the Eagle Rock hike in Toppanga canyon and then hit Will Rogers State beach to cool off afterwards driving the PCH the entire time. It is an absolute must to stop and get tacos at any truck or stand on the side of the road because they are all unbelievably amazing and I have literally never once been let down by any of them. It is such a good way to eat cheap and experience great Mexican food. While we are talking food, it is hard to understate how good Sugarfish is as well. Get one or two orders of banana sake and then order the “trust me” and prepare for the meal of a lifetime. The chef will prepare a whole slew of courses on their discretion so there is no decision making needed on your part and it will be some of the best sushi you’ll ever have. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My manager, Gio Roca! For someone so young, not only is his work ethic, business acumen, and ability astonishing, as he works a full time job as the head of an A&R department and also independently manages four artists, but his emotional and empathetic understanding is what makes him truly awesome to work with and such a great friend. My mom, Lisa. For my whole life, she has always encouraged me to make my own decisions and decide who I want to become on my own. She always supported any path that I chose for myself, whether it was with music or sports or travel or any of the many avenues a child can think of for themselves. I mean I took myself out of private school and enrolled myself in music school pretty early on and she fought hard to keep me there when times were harder. She never questioned or tried to influence my track and she never let money be a factor in deciding what my career would be when we were surrounded by kids who were sort of coerced into less financially risky paths like engineers or lawyers. I think there was a lot of pressure on her to raise me into others’ standard of success but she has always championed passion and happiness in our lives so shoutout to her. I can’t wait until I write a song that buys her some huge house in Malibu.
Jade Sadler Axel Kabundji Konstantin Mekhontsev