After being dropped by Columbia Records in 2016, American singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin rose up once again and took the world by storm after the release of his song “Let Me Down Slowly” back in 2018. His mixtape “Narrated For You” and debut album “These Two Windows” received overwhelmingly positive reviews with many praising the musician for his story-telling style of songwriting.
Unlike many talented artists out there, the singer has never relied on extravagant props or over-the-top music production. The simplicity of his art and the sincerity in his artistry have been able to capture the audience’s attention. We had the opportunity to chat with the 28-year-old and he shared with us the funniest thing that happened while on tour and what he really thinks about exchanging presents during Christmas.
1. How has touring the world been for you?
So far, this leg of the tour has been pretty wonderful. I feel like we have the privilege of getting to go to a lot of different places. And we have been to a lot of places and one of the places that’s the most different from where we come from, or the most different place, is Asia. It’s so culturally diverse and the food is so fun and tasty. Yeah, we’re having a great time. Tour has been good.
2. This is your second time in Malaysia, correct? What have you been looking forward to coming back?
Well, I think that the one thing that I’m most looking forward to is probably eating the food. I was looking forward to getting to see some of the people that I had met. Last time I was here must have been like four years ago. So to be back and see the familiar faces feel really nice. And then I love the scenery. I love how green it is. And yeah, I like the climate, even though it’s raining right now, I kind of like it, it’s nice.
3. From your experience, what is the most challenging part about touring?
I think the most challenging part about touring is trying to tour and keep a routine. It’s tough to keep a schedule because you’re crossing so many different time zones. And on this tour we’re going to be crossing the equator, you know, which also sort of messes with your equilibrium. So it’s kind of hard to juggle your social media posts, write songs, while making more music and practicing for the tour.
Sometimes it’s also hard to be present enough to remember how lucky you are to be doing the thing that you always wanted to do, and to make sure that you’re present enough to enjoy it. But I think on this tour, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of taking little periods of time to give myself a break. I’ve been traveling to cool places that I haven’t had the opportunity to explore. I really feel like I’m making the most of it.
4. Any funny or unpleasant tour stories you’d like to share?
Well, I just got stuck in an elevator. So that wasn’t funny. It was at the hotel like 2 minutes ago. There’s also this incident about the “poop gate”. I’m not saying a name. But all of the stalls were locked except for one. You’d assume if a stall is not locked, there’s no one in there. But someone from our team was taking a poop and I accidentally walked in. So the rest of the tour we call it, “the poop gate”. That was really funny. I was dying! Yeah, that was in the airport in Finland. That was really good.
5. Which was the easiest and most difficult song to write on your album “(Un)Commentary”?
I don’t think that there was an easy or a hard one to write. I think that probably the two that took me the longest were “Devil Doesn’t Bargain” and “Older”, because I wrote them in pieces. And I actually rewrote “Devil Doesn’t Bargain” three times. So probably “Devil Doesn’t Bargain” was the hardest one. And then “Nancy Got A Haircut” was probably the easiest one.
6. Why “Dopamine Addict” as the opening track for the album?
Well, I think for me, it’s the most jarring song on the record. It starts off talking about something that’s very important to me. I’ve been struggling with my naked personality. I’m always looking for something that will give a hit of dopamine instead of earning it, like exercising for example. And over the last two years when we were stuck at home, I was always looking for that cheap thrill. So yeah, that song kind of defines the last two years for me, and a lot of the struggles of my generation.
7. Most artists wouldn’t put out songs until they’re fully produced but you’ve always shared your demos with your fans. Why is that?
Yeah, sometimes I do too much. Like, I put out too much. It’s like I need the affirmation, of someone telling me ‘you’re doing a good job’. It’s also nice to get that rush of dopamine. So, I’m happy to just put things out music in whatever form but it’s not always the best idea.
8. In an interview back in 2019, you mentioned that one of your personal obstacles is feeling you’re not good enough and that you’re constantly worried that your new music isn’t better than the previous ones. Do you still feel the same or have you overcome that insecurity?
Yeah. I’m not as worried about it now. Because I realized that those emotions are not helpful. And even if it’s true, I’m still gonna make songs. So it doesn’t really matter.
9. As a songwriter, has there been a particular topic or subject that you still struggle to write about?
No, no, I’m down to talk about anything. I think sometimes it’s trying to find the best way to talk about the things I want to talk about in a way that is going to impact people in a positive way. So I think that’s probably the struggle for me.
10. Since Christmas is coming up, what would you say was the best Christmas present you’ve given and received from someone?
You know, I hate giving and receiving gifts. There’s a whole unspoken social contract of gift giving where it’s like, if you give me something, then I’m required to reciprocate and give you something of equal value on the same occasion in your life.
Because what happens if someone gives me a gift I didn’t ask for it. It wasn’t something that I wanted. But now I’m required to accept it and I owe them something. It’s a burden. Keep it!
It’s so much pressure. I think the best gift that someone can give you is their attention. I enjoy performing. So I like it when people give me their attention. (My love language is also) spending time together, when we give each other our attention. You do it together at the same time. It’s great. But yeah, the whole gift-giving sucks.
Since you’re here, do check out our concert review here.