Benjii released his single titled “California” and despite the breezy laid back vibe of California, he wrote this song in a dark place in his life where he was feeling helpless stuck in the moment, and in the need of an escape. Those numbing feelings everyone experiences during the in-between spaces in life was the type of place Benjii was in. Benjii is a huge fan of John Mayer so most of the guitar arrangement in “California” was inspired by him and stylishly modified by the amazing Ryan Worsley. Ryan played a pivotal role in sculpting a rather dated sounding demo into a lush, modern pop track.
“California” is highly ethereal, and the hazy aura that surrounds the song brings the cooling aesthetic of California together, while passionately displaying poetic lyricism that serves as a reflection of melancholy, and sadness. The guitar chords in California has a way of abducting you inside the music. You receive goosebumps from the warm vocal resonance from Benjii. The lyrics shift between reality and fantasy, playing on what-if’s and daydreaming of the greener side. From our listener's perspective, we interpreted from “California” that the song discusses themes of hopelessness and searching for a meaning. The feeling of becoming numb and placing yourself in a state of nomad is what we got from listening to this chilling yet hauntingly gorgeous record. Benjii is an incredible artist who knows how to cultivate a sound truly so special and “California” completely compelled us.
Listen to "California here and get to know more about Benjii below!
Hi BENJII, great to chat with you! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey what's up! So glad to be on here with you guys! My real name is Benji Klassen, and I'm an alternative-pop artist a little north from you guys, up in Vancouver Canada. I've essentially been a guitar player all my life, writing and touring with a couple fantastic bands in the past, but finally thought I would branch off and make music that I loved without compromise -- to take a real crack at a solo music career. Growing up in the prairies of Canada, we didn't really have anything other than Top 40 playing on the radio at the time, so pop music became the foundation for me. It wasn't until moving to Vancouver 7 years ago where my eyes opened to the beauty of alternative music, so naturally, I had to combine the two genres. It's something I'm so profusely passionate about. I feel like I've had all of this pent up creativity and energy inside of me for a quarter of a century and I'm just ready to explode.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career so far?
The challenge is finding a big enough stick to beat off all the people thinking you’re crazy for blowing all of your money on your art! Not really - I’ve been incredibly blessed to have so much support from the people in my life - but overcoming the self doubt to take the plunge has been pretty difficult! Especially for a guy that over-calculates everything. Not only that, but then having to actually fund and invest into a high quality project single-handedly has certainly been an ordeal and massive sacrifice - but I have faith it will all be worth it in some way down the road.
Do you write your own music or collab with others?
The songs begin with me recording any new ideas, beats, hooks, or structures into Protools, and then I pull in my man JJ Bakker to start filling it all out with me. He’s a massive talent, and has played a huge role in helping me sculpt these tunes and to help keep my head and heart where they should be. Once we get the demo recorded and produced as far as we can take it, we bring it to Ryan Worsley (Dear Rouge, Said the Whale) at Echoplant Studios where he puts it through his sonically golden producing/mixing fingers and out comes magic. I swear to God that guy is the most talented human I’ve ever met. He pushes me for nothing but the best and has this way of always getting it. Bit off topic there in terms of writing, but it’s certainly a team effort and these songs would be nothing without the amazing people I work with.
Love your new song "California". What does California mean to you?
That means a lot considering you're from LA! I mean, how many songs have been written about California right? The song was written during a very grey and confined moment of my life where I was just dying for a breath of fresh air (maybe it had something to do with the 8 months of non-stop rain we get here in Vancouver). It's meant to be a mental escape for anyone needing a little pick-me up in their day, and I think California was just the perfect setting for a song like that.
Favorite lyric line in the song? Why?
It’s gotta be “Just something I feel” at the end of the second verse. I’m not a man of many words to be honest (which probably surprises most if they know me), and have always had a hard time explaining my own thoughts, emotions or feelings. That line right there sums me up on such a deeper level than anyone could ever know, even though it’s such a simple line.
Lyrics in general are something of a chore for me actually, and it’s because everything I want to say is already put into the colours and textures of the music itself. So the real goal with my lyrics is just to supplement the music in the best way possible without muddying up the message/feel with poorly chosen words.
What can we expect to see from you through 2019?
I was hoping you’d ask that! Lots. Within the next few months I’ll be laying the foundations for a follow up single that will NOT be what you’d be expecting after hearing California. It’s going to be a banger. But I’m so early into the game I just can’t afford to blow all my money on a single swing (like an album). At this point I’m going song by song growing a foundation + fanbase as I go along. The response to California has already been incredible, and people are already begging me for the next one haha! It's an amazing feeling, and I really can't wait to keep dropping singles this year.
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