“For more than 10 years, fans have been drawn to Dutch singer-songwriter Benny Sings' ability to layer R&B, jazz and pop over hip-hop foundations.”
— NPR Music
Benny Sings will release City Pop, his sixth album and first for Stones Throw in February 2019. With his signing to Stones Throw, he joins the label’s roster of artists — such as Jerry Paper and Mild High Club — in making music at the intersection of jazz, AOR, R&B and soul.
On City Pop, he delivers real-life observations and insights on love, holding together soft rock-inspired songwriting and jazz instrumentation with his leading piano and distinctive vocal. The album was inspired by and written in cities all over the world, including New York, LA, Tokyo, Paris and Benny’s hometown of Amsterdam.
Benny Sings debuted in 2003 with Champagne People. Since then he has performed for NPR’s Tiny Desk (their only Dutch guest to date); toured the world with Mayer Hawthorne, and collaborated with the likes of Anderson .Paak, GoldLink, and Mndsgn. In 2017 he co-wrote and featured on Rex Orange County’s megahit “Loving Is Easy”, a collaboration that arose from mutual admiration: "Benny has always been a massive inspiration for me and my music,” says the BBC Sound of 2018 breakout star, “In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated producers and artists going.”
Like the 2015 album Studio, City Pop celebrates collaboration, with Hawthorne, Cornelius, Sukimaswitch (the “Japanese Steely Dan”), Mocky and Faberyayo among the featured artists. True to the album’s name, cities from around the world play a starring role. Alongside collaborations with these Japanese musicians, Benny worked with Tokyo artist Ryu Okubo for the album art illustration. He conceived most of the album’s songs in Amsterdam at the studio seen in the DIY video for his ‘Passionfruit’ cover, and co-producer Renaud Letang — who has worked with Feist, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lianne La Havas — helped bring his ideas to life in Paris’ renowned Studio Ferber.
Benny’s music has always been informed by his real-life experiences and relationships. Following Studio’s release his perspective on life totally changed. His relationship expanded beyond the “everything-is-amazing romantic explosion” to include marriage and babies — no less exciting, and still filled with ups and downs, but anchored in a sense of a shared future.
City Pop is his most personal record yet, both in terms of his musical taste, with a strong influence of jazz and soul, and the moods he expresses. Lyrically, he reaches deep into both his experiences and his imagination. He celebrates naïveté and probes gloominess, opens up his heart and dissects his inner struggles. He even addresses his daughter, then just one year old, on the moving “My World”.
Throughout, Benny grapples with real-life love in all its forms: good and bad; romantic and realistic; epic and small-scale; familiar and brand new. The result is a collection of love songs as intimate as they are universal. He says, “It came together much more naturally than previous records. I finally feel free and confident in my writing, and this album feels like the start of something new.”
Benny Sings’ music could well be described as intimate lo-fi Disney hip hop songs. The terms AOR and Yacht Rock are often used to define his sunny 70’s and 80’s melodies. But it’s not all retro: Benny’s happy-sad songwriting, late ‘90s R&B beats and buttery production shape a sound bringing to mind the soundtrack to a just released indie comedy.
His debut album in 2003, Champagne People, caught the attention of specifically the independent urban artsy hip hop and soul crowd worldwide. During the following decade more albums followed: I Love You in 2005, Benny… At Home in 2007 and Art in 2011. Benny kept his fan base growing (especially in France, the US and Japan), boosting international sales and radio airplay globally – BBC Radio 1 & Radio 6 (Gilles Peterson), BBC Radio 2 (Jamie Cullum), KCRW Los Angeles (Anthony Valadez), Radio Nova (Paris), Beats1, and Studio Brussel (Lefto).Having worked mostly by himself up until then, his following album showed a more collaborating Benny Sings. On STUDIO (2015) he worked together with Goldlink, Mayer Hawthorne and The Stepkids, which led him to perform at NPR’s Tiny Desk. Even though not really being a stage animal, Benny toured quite a bit: doing lots of small solo tours in the US, Germany and France plus an extended European tour supporting Mayer Hawthorne. Benny built a special relationship with Japan, performing at the Billboard Live clubs every year, and working with many Japanese artists and brands.
Besides his solo work, Benny collaborates, produces and writes a lot with other artists, such as Rex Orange County, Mocky, The Free Nationals, BEA1991, Mayer Hawthorne, Goldlink, MNDSGN, DATA, 4Hero, Yuko Ando, Sukimaswitch, Instupendo and many others. Benny also writes for commercials and films on a regular basis. Among others he was commissioned by brands such as Kirin, Louis Vuitton, BMW, Uniqlo and Citroën. His original Benny Sings songs have been synced for shows like Girls (HBO), Easy (Netflix) and Nobodies (TV Land). He recently won the Zabut 2017 Award for Best Original Soundtrack, for the music he did for the animated film Zeezucht.