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Alec Benjamin: The (Un)Commentary Tour, Never Planning for Moderation, & Introspective Lyricism

June 21, 2022

Model/Singer Alec Benjamin (@alecbenjamin)
Director of Photography Stephanie Siau (@stephaniehsiau)
BTS Videographer/Photographer/Journalist Maegan Grendell (@maegangrendellphoto)
Groomer Colleen Dominique @colleendominique for Exclusive Artists (@exclusiveartists) using Ilia Beauty / Stmnt Grooming
Lead Wardrobe Stylist Naomi Zinns (@naomizinns)
Wardrobe Stylist Pariya Rahni (@pariyarahni) using Vintage One of One
Wardrobe Stylist Cameron Hunter (@camcamhunter) using Lonely Ghost
Editor-in-Chief Ezzah Rafique (@ezzahazka)
Design Director Mohja Filfil (@mxhja)
Press Director/Creative Coordinator Orchee Sorker (@orchees_photos)
Website Director Camila Camacho

MG: How are you? How was the photoshoot?

AB: I’m great, it was awesome. I’m having a lot of fun! You guys are great.

MG: How would you describe your music to those who haven't heard it yet?

AB: I think there are a lot of different layers to it. I would say that it is good for casual listeners but also if there’s somebody that, you know, wants to get a little more out of it and dig a little bit deeper… I would describe my music as pretty introspective. I put a lot of emphasis and a lot of effort into my lyrics, so, I would describe it as very lyrical. But also, it doesn't have to be. If you just want to sort of listening to it more peripherally and sort of just have it on. I think the music itself without the lyrics is strong enough. But for me, I think what I try to focus the most on is the meaning. So, I would say my music is meaningful. That’s how I would describe it. It’s hard to describe music.

MG: Was there ever a moment in your career where you realized… this is it, this is going to be your job?

AB: Well there was a moment where I realized this is what I was going to pursue because I didn’t really want to do anything else. And that was sort of when, you know as any high schooler does, you come to that threshold in your life where you’re like “okay, well, I have to make a decision… am I going to go to college and pursue a degree that has a path towards a graduate degree or…”. But, I don’t like school so I decided by process of elimination that music would be the thing that I would pursue professionally because it requires the least amount of school, if I’m being honest.

MG: Is there any advice that you would give to somebody who is in that same position? Someone who is in school and not really loving it?

AB: I don't necessarily feel like I’m in a position to really give anybody advice, especially because the landscape of music is changing so quickly that the variables change so fast, it’s hard for me to say with any degree of certainty what somebody else should do. It’s hard for me to be aware of the intricacies of anybody's individual situation. But, my advice, or at least one thing I would say, is that it’s going to be a lot harder than you think it’s going to be. So, if you really want to do it then you really have to commit, and you have to want it more than the person next to you because if you don’t, it’s not going to work. And I feel like I learn that every single day. You have to really want it.

MG: Let’s talk about the tour! How are you feeling about the European leg coming up?

AB: I feel great about it! I’m ready. I’m ready to get out and tour the album because I know what it’s like to put out a record and not be able to tour it. And I feel like the most crucial part of the record promotion process for me has been getting out and actually playing it for people. I feel like a lot of the relationships I have formed with my favorite songs records, a really crucial part of that bond that I form between those records and myself is the live experience. The first time I heard it and then what was going on in my life at the time and how I related to it and then also where I was at that specific point in my life when I was able to experience it live… I feel like it completes that feedback loop. For me at least as an artist too, making music is a means to an end. That’s my favorite part. I’m excited. And I haven't been to Europe in two and a half or three years. My music got popular in Europe first, before it started anywhere else. So, I think it’s going to be pretty awesome. I think people are going to be stoked. And they haven't had concerts in a long time, they're just opening up now.

MG: Do you think COVID-19 has grown your appreciation for touring?

AB: It’s definitely grown my appreciation for everything in my life. Well, not for everything. There are certain things about my daily life that I didn't miss during the pandemic. But, most things I have learned to appreciate more. I’m very grateful for the perspective

the pandemic has given me, not grateful for the pandemic itself. I learned a lot from it.

MG: What’s something you wish you knew when you started touring?

AB: Do you want a funny answer or a real answer? This is not funny. What I was gonna say is bring underwear. You laugh, but I brought no underwear on my last tour. Like I literally wore the same two pairs of underwear inside out every day. For two weeks then I did, then I did [buy some].

The other answer is that not everything is gonna be perfect and you're gonna have to learn as you go and you can't take everything so seriously, because if you do, ultimately you're gonna burn out… the only way that you can avoid making mistakes is if you know somebody who's made those mistakes and they can enlighten you or you make the mistakes yourself and you learn from them and you don't make them the second time around. And every time I entered into something or like touring, there's so many different moving pieces that I was so worried about everything. I didn't actually get to enjoy the show. I wish I would've let go of a lot of those little things. Because at the end of the day, I'm able to adjust and move forward. And I have to enjoy the present moment.

There's a lot of touring advice. There's not enough advice in the world that could prepare somebody for a tour...especially a van tour.

MG: How does this tour differ from previous ones? And is that something you expected going into this after COVID-19?

AB: The way that it differs is that it's following a pandemic. It differs from every tour everybody's ever done, unless you toured after the Spanish flu in 1918, you know, I don't think that anybody is alive that did that. So it's different because, well, because I have a whole new album. I have a whole new body of work that I'm excited to play for people. And it's different because my show's way better because I had two years to work

on it. And I'm grateful for that time and that I didn't waste it because I think our show is the best that it's ever been.

MG: You just spent your birthday in Korea, right? Happy late birthday. How was that?

AB: Well for me spending my birthday in Korea was awesome because Korea is actually probably my favorite place to play. I just love it so much. I love Asia. Culturally it's awesome, the food is amazing, and the crowd is awesome. And it was my first time out of the United States since the pandemic. So, what a way to [celebrate]... I get to go to Korea, that's amazing. It was awesome.

MG: How have you noticed that tour and your career, in general, have affected your personal life?

AB: Well, honestly, it's hard for me to remember because I've been touring for a long time now, even if it wasn't my own tours. Since I was 20, I was playing in people's living rooms or trying to follow other people's tours around or whatever. So honestly the pandemic impacted my personal life more than touring does. I'm used to spending days on the road. I like it that way. Yeah, I prefer it.

MG: How do you keep a good balance between work and then also your personal life? Or do you find that they're just the same?

AB: I don't have a balance, but I've never had balance in my life. I don't want anything different. I feel like if I want to make the music that I want to make, then I have to give a hundred and if I want to play the shows that I want to play, I have to live my life in such a way. I never planned for moderation. It takes a lot of work.

MG: What's your dream collaboration?

AB: My dream collaboration…a lot of the collaborations that I do that have been the most fulfilling for me have been the ones that were unexpected. Like getting to collaborate with you guys and [Hazze] and the people who are doing the styling and all that stuff is really cool for me. So getting to explore more stuff like doing more collaborations in the visual realm is something I'm excited about. And then for some reason, the only name that's coming into my mind is, uh, Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer.

Nathan (Alec’s Manager): What happened to Elon?

AB: What happened to Elon Musk? Yeah, controversy.

MG: Was that on the list before?

AB: Yeah, it was number one. He's in some hot water… next question.

MG: Truthfully… Do you listen to your own music?

I listen to my own music, not for pleasure, but because for me, I like to listen to my songs and imagine myself playing them in an arena or stadium or something. You gotta do the visualization. Or when my song is doing well, when good things are happening to it, I'll turn it on and be like, “yeah, that's a good one”. But I'm never like, “oh man, I could really go for some of my own music right now”. But I know people who do that really. We’ll be in the car and they'll put their own song on. I wouldn't do it for that purpose. But when I'm just imagining, when I'm really excited about where my career is taking me and stuff, sometimes I'll listen to my music and think about the person I was when I wrote the song and the things I was going through and be like, ‘thanks for doing that'.

I remember when I wrote, “Let Me Down Slowly”, which is the first song that I had that really sort of gave me the opportunity to go around the world… I didn't even want to go to that session, but I forced myself to go to the session because I was like, “okay, I'm gonna appreciate this later”. And then I listened to it the other day, I hadn't listened to it in a while, when I was playing in Korea and there were people in Korea who were singing that song and I was like, “good shit, bro. Good for you for going for that session”. But I'm not like, ‘man, I could just really go for a little bit of “Let Me Down Slowly” right now. That's weird to me'.

MG: How does it make you feel knowing people are singing back your songs that you wrote about yourself?

AB: That's the coolest part. It's awesome. It's the best part. I'm from Arizona, and I said this on stage, I had a cactus in my yard when I was growing up, that's where I'm from. You know, I didn't imagine that I would end up on the other side of the world. I mean…, I did, I dreamt of it. And when you were actually there, you're like, “shit, like I'm here”. And one of the artists that made me want to sing was Jason Moaz and he did a performance in Korea that was super inspiring to me. And then I was like, I want to follow in the footsteps of him and John Mayer and Paul Simon and all these guys. And then I'm like, “oh, I'm doing it”. Sometimes it's hard to believe. So it's cool.

Listen to Un(Commentary) album out now

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