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Interview: Benjii Chat About The Brisbane Live Scene, Their Sound and Alcohol

Benjii, founded in 2020, is a Brisbane based indie shoegaze 4 piece, making some serious sound waves in the Brisbane live music scene. Playing their first show at the start of the year and their first headline show a few months later, the band are excited to announce a new single titled ‘Undertow’, coming out on September 29th. This is following their demo tape ‘Scarborough Sketches’ in late 2020 and single ‘New Song’.

I caught up with 3 of the 4 members of Benjii to chat about the band, the scene in Brisbane and most importantly, which alcoholic drink best represents their band.

What is the general vibe of the band and what kind of music do you play?

Levi: We’d describe our genre like indie shoegaze, we’re pretty inspired by a bunch of US bands like Cloud Nothings and Car Seat Headrest, but mainly a lot of 90s alternative like My Bloody Valentine, that’s like the sound. The vibe is more that we speak from the heart in terms of lyrical content, discussing relationships with other people, our friends, and how we grow and develop as a person within that context.

Hamish: I’d describe it as really good time music, you put it on and you zone out and have fun.

Lachlan: It’s funny because I know the meanings to a lot of the songs and I wouldn’t necessarily  describe it as good time music, I’d say it’s self improvement music. A little bittersweet.

You have a new song coming out, can you tell us about it?

Lachlan: Last year I was doing an assignment and I had to write a song in a very short amount of time, a day I think. I spent all day working on something and I didn’t have time to write any lyrics so I sent it off to Levi and I got him to write the lyrics and he came back with this fantastic voyage of a song, I had no idea what it meant, still dont , but we’ve re-recorded it since then and it’s almost ready for people to hear. We actually play it live, it goes off.

Hamish: Yeah it’s the song we usually play first out the gate, it starts off the set and it’s like ‘Lets go!’ Ya know?

Lachlan: For full context, the title of the song is ‘Undertow’, that’ll be coming out on the 29th September so we are very very excited.

Speaking of live shows, tell us about your recent show at Greaser Bar.

Levi: It was great! I think we all agree that it was the best show we’ve played so far. We were pretty awestruck by the energy of the crowd, I felt like there was a real connection. Really high energy, everyone was dancing,  we sold all our merch, and a lot of people were stuck outside waiting for 40 minutes, that was pretty funny.

Did they all eventually get in?

Levi: No, they were outside waiting for us and they missed all our material which was a bit sad.

Lachlan: We played this one song, which is very lowkey, at the quiet point of the set called ‘This too shall pass’ where everyone had their phones up, some people were singing the lyrics. I think that’s the most surreal, when you hear people singing the lyrics.

Hamish: Yeah for me that gig— I just felt so much energy, I was fairly drunk as well so that helped. I woke up the next day and felt pain all down my back. I was in so much pain but it was worth it.

What’s your favourite venue here in Brisbane to play or see a show?

Hamish: For me It’d be The Zoo cause I played there a couple times. It’s just so big and once you play there it’s like‘Oh wow, this is truly something.’ That and Greaser.

Levi: I think if I had to choose one It’d have to be Blackbear Lodge. I feel like I’ve seen so many great little indie bands and not so little indie bands play there the last couple of years. I’ve made a bunch of friends there, some good connections. For me I think that’s my favorite, and I’m keen to be playing there later in the year.

Lachlan: Probably Greaser, I’ve been there so much, it feels like a second home, it may be small but it’s ferocious and it brings a lot of energy, that’s why I like it.

The merch you were selling that night, the lovely Seinfeld themed Benjii tote bags, who came up with that idea?

Lachlan: Look, sometimes you just watch the same show that was made before you were born over and over again, sometimes you see that logo when you close your eyes, sometimes you think  that’d be really funny to do for my band, then you get your girlfriend to design a tote bag and they come out really nice and they sell out. That’s the story behind it.

Is there gonna be more or was it an exclusive run?

Lachlan: There’ll be more, we’re thinking maybe different colours.

Hamish: I’ll just say that nobody in the band actually got one.

Levi: Yeah all of our partners got one, all of our friends got one, my housemate got one, I did not get one, Hamish did not get one, Isaac didn’t get one, Lachlan didn’t get one, yeah none of us got one. They were very limited stock but we will be getting some more!

What do you think of the creative scene in Brisbane right now?

Lachlan: I think we’re trying to thrive under the worst circumstances. It’s nice to see bands just shoot up, like we only started playing gigs this year and it feels like we’ve had so many opportunities right out the bat even with COVID affecting everything.

Levi: I think to an extent, It does feel like there’s a greater barrier to entry post COVID. I played in another band before Benjii, just generally speaking the opportunities were more available, you would have people emailing you more just to fill a spot, and that doesn’t really happen as much anymore, as is the way of venue capacity and limitations. But I think there is a lot of creativity and a lot of exposure to come in the scene so I’m very excited for what Benjii’s got going.

Hamish: I’d say to me it felt like there was a shift of people realising that  gigs are not the viable option right now. So I see a lot of people turning to online, a lot of people going off on Tiktok. So I feel like it’s just a shift that’s happened.

Are there any local bands you’re really getting around right now?

Lachlan: Monsters Up North! We’re playing a gig with them next month at King Lear’s Throne

Hamish: Krave is putting out a new single, that’s gonna be tight. I love that band. Shout out to Sam from Krave.

Levi: Definitely The Plane Sailors as well, Curtis the frontman is a lovely guy and they got like a mathrock thing going on. At least in Brisbane you don’t really hear a lot of bands doing a math rock thing so I’m excited to see where they take it.

Do you have any short term or long term goals for the band

Lachlan: I think maybe the long term goal at this point is to tour nationally, that would be really fun, just expanding the horizons.

Levi: Short term goals, just getting this single out at the end of the month that’s gonna be great, sorta mid range to long term goal, we are working on more music. I think at this stage it’s going to exist in an album format, that’s gonna be really exciting. Don’t know how long that’s gonna be just yet but I agree with Lachy in terms of touring nationally, even touring statewide.

Lachlan: I would love to go somewhere and play to a crowd I wasn’t familiar with.

Levi: I hink we got a little bit of that vibe at Greaser. For the first time there were people who were listening to us and started following us on social media that we have no connection to and that’s kinda an exciting feeling, so to get a bit more of that in the future is definitely on the horizon for us.

And finally, if Benjii was an alcoholic drink, what would it be?

Lachlan: Maybe spiced rum and milk, I don’t know why that was the first thing I thought of, don’t ask me how my brain works.

Hamish: I was just thinking like 100% liquor.

Levi: Like a vodka redbull, an antidepressant and a stimulant at the same time, I feel like that’s a good descriptor.

Lachlan: Or maybe like a vodka mother or something more intense.

Levi: A real juxtaposition but it somehow just works amazingly.

Catch Benjii at their next gig here supporting Monsters Up North.

Written by Ash Wallace