By Alice Hingley
BenjiFlow is rapidly creating a name for himself as one of the UK’s most exciting musical prospects. Part of the Mini Kingz collective, Flow’s latest release The Thrill, which dropped today, is a luscious tapestry of rhythms and genres and stands proudly as part of his already infectious repertoire. The release follows on from the success of the multi-instrumentalist’s first EP - BENERGY - which racked up over 6 million streams and received acclaim from Radio 1 and 1xtra, seeing BenjiFlow become the first face featured on Boiler Room’s Energy series.
Armed with an unmatched ability to blend UK R&B, West African pop and Afro-Cuban rhythms, Benji is a force to be reckoned with. He spoke to us over Zoom to give an insight into his world. We sat down to reflect on the artistic vision behind The Thrill, his struggles with mental health, and his passion for bowling.
Congratulations on releasing The Thrill! What inspired the sound?
It's a combination of things: my experience with relationships that I’ve had with women, and the inspiration I found during lockdown. I wanted to tell a story, I wanted to make it interesting. Most of my songs are about my relationships. The good, the great, the bad, and the ugly. That was the ethos around The Thrill.
You mentioned you want your music to tell your story - this EP sounds like a chapter within that. Can you tell me about the instrumental tracks?
It was an idea from the moment I knew I wanted to make the second EP - I wanted to start and close the project with instrumentals. I want to show many sides of myself while I'm still rising… Once you get huge, you're just huge. Everybody wants to hear that one formula you've been doing. When you're still rising, you have the capability to really express your sound and let people know the wide range that you want to do.
There's lots of collaboration with other producers and musicians on the EP, did you enjoy collaborating with other artists?
I didn't collaborate much before because I had anxiety. I struggle with imposter syndrome. I might not go into the studio with someone because I'm thinking this person might suss out that I'm not who they think I am.
I really had to jump over the hurdle of feeling that about myself. Not many people know that; I think people probably thought he just doesn't want to work with anyone. But a lot of the people, like Juuls, I became friends with before I got into the studio. We built a nice relationship before even making a song. That's my ethos around collaborating, I want friends. We can be mates as well, that'd be nice.
Friendship in the industry is so important. Are you still a part of Mini Kingz?
Yes, they’re like my superheroes! They’ve supported me this entire time, they’re amazing. We’ve got a project coming up soon after my EP.
In the future, who would you love to collaborate with?
The Staves, Mary J Blige, Kanye West, Roddy Rich, I’d love to make Westlife's comeback song too. That’s some things on my bucket list, if I can do every genre once I’ll be happy.
How do you feel about live performance?
I love performing live. I want people to feel like they've experienced something when I perform. My journey has been about me and the people that support my music. Trying to eliminate the celebrity, that's what I'm doing. When I grow, I'm going to keep doing these live shows because we're all singing together. I'm not on a higher platform than the people; they're not on a lower platform than me. No one's separate.
What five pieces of advice would you give to your younger self?
To start being an artist from the jump, become who you were supposed to be straight away. There’s no perfect time.
Always communicate as much as you can to the people you care about.
Start bowling. Bowling is incredible for everyone, bowling is my sport. I’m trying to get one of the shirts made.
Keep praying and believing. It’s important to have somewhere to offload your worries, sometimes your friends have their own thing going on.
The Thrill is available now on all streaming services.