- Words Notion Staff
- Photography Charlie Sarsfield
Rising artist, Benny Atlas, offers up a house-infused R&B track to wrap up his debut ‘Honey Rum’ EP, and shares his musical firsts.
Benny Atlas burst onto the scene in November 2020 with his soulful tones and heartfelt lyrics. Taking inspiration from Earth, Wind & Fire, Daniel Caesar, and Marvin Gaye, the West Midlands newcomer delivers a smooth, distinctive sound of soul and R&B.
Following on from his first three singles, “Silly Games” is the latest release from Benny’s debut project ‘Honey Rum’. The new tune exudes the house-infused R&B that artists such as Kaytranada have become most known for. Finishing the project on a real high, Benny brings something unique to the table, his nostalgic harmonies glide on top of the almost club-ready instrumental with ease.
Benny continues to catch the attention of BBC Radio 1, BBC Introducing, 1Xtra amongst others, as well as featuring on all your usual favourite Spotify and Apple playlists. The up-and-coming artist is definitely one to watch for 2021.
Notion caught up with Benny Atlas to talk about his musical firsts. Dive in!
First song you ever made?
When I was 16 I went to Amsterdam with a bunch of friends. Was quite an experience. As soon as I got back I wrote a song called ‘Lost in Amsterdam’, this is the first tune I ever showed anyone, wasn’t bad ya know.
First song you released officially?
Paradise was my debut release in November. Going back into the archives, you maybe be able to find some releases from previous projects.
First CD or record you owned?
You lot really testing out the memory of a weed smoker here. I think it was an Aaliyah album, I remember my older sister used to have CD’s everywhere in her room, so I used to sneak into her room and steal a few to start with, she was obsessed with Aaliyah at the time, woulda been Aaliyah or The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
First time you realised you wanted to be a musician?
Tough question, not sure there was ever any ‘want’ involved, I actually tried to get away from music for a few years, and just couldn’t stay away. Why would anyone ever face all the ridiculous odds associated with making a career out of music. To chase it, you’ve gotta have it inside you, if you don’t, then sooner or later, the difficulties will get on top of you and you’ll give up. From day one I would say I always envisioned my future with a mic in hand.
First gig you went to?
I’m from Wolverhampton, we don’t really have a proper music venue in the city, so you’d have to go to Birmingham. The first gig was Damien Rice at the NEC, still remember it clearly, I must of been about 13.
First festival you went to and the first one you performed at?
The first gig that really left an impression on me was when I was 16, I went to GLADE festival. Finley Quaye played the 6pm slot, and this has to be maybe the most memorable gig that I’ve ever been to. I had never heard his music before, but I felt like I knew every lyric before he sang them, his music fully connected to a young Benny, and I still go back to Finley’s albums now. First one I played at was with my old band, the first gig we got was at Secret Garden Party, we played to about 4 people.
First instrument you owned?
Guitar, six strings ya’ll. My dad brought me it when I was about 14, and the first weekend I had it, we drove down to Cornwall, and I sat in the back trying to learn songs. By the time we got to Cornwall I had a song or two down, probably Wonderwall, haha.
First time you felt like giving up?
Lost count, I have got quite comfy in that space. When you’re feeling like that, its best to try and harness that energy into a song if you can. Of course, some experiences in music can knock you back, when I was younger, I had a couple of experiences with A&R’s that were pretty uninspiring, played gigs to empty rooms. Its all part of the process and that feeling of wanting to give up can sometimes fuel good songs.
First time you felt starstruck?
Me and my boy P used to sneak into the Wolves training ground on every half term or holiday when we were kids. They would let us sit there and watch and even let us kick ball on the sidelines. I remember when we had Dennis Irwin and Paul Ince sign with us at towards the end of their careers, they had won everything with Man United. I remember once walking with them both and asking them questions about their careers, probs that, but I don’t tend to get too star struck these days tbh. Peoples just people.
First time you heard your song playing somewhere? i.e. on the radio, a shop, a Spotify playlist.
Cant remember the first time, but once when I was in my old band, I was walking down Camberwell High Street and heard someone playing one of our songs in their car as they drove past, I tried waving but they looked confused.