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BENEE, The Artist Behind A Viral TikTok Hit, Gets Serious And Weird

Harry Were
Courtesy of the artist

UPDATED Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Editors Note: This interview was pre-recorded in November 2020. BENEE's former manager, Paul McKessar, who is named in the interview, no longer works with her, CRS Management or her producer Josh Fountain.

BENEE is just chilling. The New Zealander is hanging out in her room, like a lot of us, waiting for the pandemic to end. In another time she'd be on tour in the U.S., celebrating her breakout moment — a viral smash single, "Supalonely" — and the release of her debut album, Hey u x. Instead, she's being patient with the moment, knowing her time will come.

"Supalonely," which gained attention after going viral on TikTok, is an undeniable pop gem, and it's one a few hits BENEE's had in her home country. The album, Hey u x, features appearances fromLily Allen and Grimes, and pulls from influences like Groove Armada and Radiohead. It showcases BENEE's ability to write serious songs about isolation and loneliness, but also the fact that she isn't afraid to get a little weird — like on "Snail," where she imagines life as ... a snail.

Click to hear a conversation with the very down-to-earth 20-year-old along with performances of three songs from Hey u x,including "Night Garden."

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Since 2017, John Myers has been the producer of NPR's World Cafe, which is produced by WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Previously he spent about eight years working on the other side of Philly at WHYY as a producer on the staff of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. John was also a member of the team of public radio veterans recruited to develop original programming for Audible and has worked extensively as a freelance producer. His portfolio includes work for the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, The Association for Public Art and the radio documentary, Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio. He's taught radio production to preschoolers and college students and, in the late 90's, spent a couple of years traveling around the country as a roadie for the rock band Huffamoose.