American singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin makes beautifully personal songs that have resonated to the tune of two-billion streams. His debut album, ‘These Two Windows’, is coming this summer, and he’s playing Homeschool this weekend too. Before lockdown kicked in, we pinned him down for a chat.
Hi Alec! How’s it going? Are you having a good day? What’ve you been up to?
I’m having a great day, I’m on tour with Lewis Capaldi which is awesome.
You’ve been playing some huge spots lately, racking up a ridiculous number of streams – does it feel like it’s all been a long time coming? What’s been your favourite ‘pinch me’ moment so far?
I guess so! I don’t really focus so much on those things. Sometimes social media really gets in my head. The real ‘pinch me’ moment is getting to play shows for people who know the words to my songs. That’s really awesome.
How did you first get into making music, have you always wanted to be a musician? Did you grow up in a musical household?
I didn’t grow up making music, I kind of just fell into it. I learned how to play guitar to impress a girl.
What is it about your music that resonates with so many people, do you think?
Hopefully, it’s my lyrics. I spend a lot of time on them, so I hope they resonate with people.
Do songwriting and storytelling come naturally to you? How have you approached learning your craft?
I don’t know if they come naturally to me, but it’s the style of writing that I enjoy most. I practice a lot, and I work really hard at it.
Can you remember the first-ever song you wrote?
Yes, I wrote it for my grandpa after he died, it’s called ‘Beautiful Pain’.
How was your experience creating a debut album, what did you find most challenging about it?
It has been a really interesting time for me, a lot of ups and downs, it’s like an emotional rollercoaster.
Do you have a particular mindset that you find it easiest to write from? Like if you’ve just been through something tough, or happy, for example.
I try to write when I’m in a happy place, it’s difficult to write when I’m in the middle of a hard time.
Which songwriters or musicians do you think are doing really exciting things with their music at the moment?
I love Kacey Musgraves, she’s wonderful.
Have you spent much time touring other countries? Do you enjoy travelling?
I don’t love flying on planes, but I love seeing new parts of the globe, I’ve toured a bunch internationally, and the shows are always really special.
Where’s the most far-flung place you’ve visited so far? Do you have any fun stories from ‘on the road’?
Probably Japan or Korea. Asia is really special! Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of visiting Asia as I studied Chinese when I was in high school.
Tell us a secret about yourself?
I’m not sure if this is a secret or not, but I always get really nervous when I am releasing new music, I’m very sensitive, and it’s very scary to put yourself out there like that.
Alec Benjamin’s debut album ‘These Two Windows’ is out 29th May. He’s taking part in new online festival Homeschool too, which runs from 8th-10th May – visit homeschoolfest.com for details.