Melbourne songwriter Benji Lewis is soon to take his first steps on the SXSW stage next week, bringing his lush sounds through to Austin, Texas and some undoubtedly eager ears. As part of our pre-event series, we find out some more about this emerging talent, and get to know Benji’s anticipation surrounding SXSW.
What are your expectations the event and Austin in general?
This will be my first time playing SXSW or any large festival or music conference, actually. I am really excited about it, not everyone gets invited or accepted to do SXSW, so I just feel lucky and ready. I am looking forward to checking out another part of America, as most of my time when I’m over there, I’m in LA.
It’ll be cool to check out some other artists I’ve been liking that I’ve seen on the lists, Sinead Harnett from the UK is definitely one of them. Also, to have so many great people and artists from the industry in one place, I’m happy my team will be there to possibly meet some more of the right people for us to work with.
How crucial do you think the opportunity to perform at and attend an event like this is for an Australian artist?
I think that this opportunity is HUGE. Especially for an Australian artist. My music has already been more taken in by people in the United States, so to be able to attend SXSW, with my team, it will definitely help me to continue to do my thing and have me and music be seen and heard.
What are you hoping to get out of the experience this year?
Having booked SXSW, I am wanting to continue doing more live shows after it. I am hoping to meet some other great artists that I get along with, maybe even want to possibly write with. It’s also just a big opportunity to be in front of and around people of the music industry, so I’m definitely looking forward to having some good chats and conversations with those that me and my team have spoken to recently and also those we haven’t crossed paths with yet. It’s exciting.
What’s the most important element of SXSW for you to experience or learn from?
These are going to be special shows for me. I have been rehearsing a lot with my live show guy, Allan McConnell, who will be taking care of the beats and also on the keys for most of the set. It’ll definitely be a learning experience of adapting to different crowds and stage set ups, and also just getting up there and enjoying the moment of performing all of these songs that are mine and super real for me.
Are you performing elsewhere around the US?
Yes. So after SXSW, e have a show booked at The Peppermint Club, March 28th in LA. Got some cool supports too, Robokid & Phil Good. I’ve seen some of my favourite artists go through this venue, looking forward to this one.
Which other artists are you looking forward to catching?
I am so looking forward to hopefully meeting or catching a set from Sinead Harnett, her voice is beautiful, delicate and pure soul to her stuff. Also Bobi Andonov, had his single in a playlist for a while now, so different and very cool vibes. Two others from Australia as well actually, a friend of mine who I haven’t seen for it feels like ages, Fatai, she can sanggg and we just get along real well, hopefully see her. And Mallrat, have really loved what she does with her music for a while, she works with Golden Vessel too, hoping to meet her and chill.
What kind of show could you guarantee an American crowd coming to your set for the first time?
I can promise anyone that comes to my show, they will definitely feel a range of emotions, I hope to take them away from their day to day thoughts or worries. They may possibly cry, but hopefully feel some sense of calm and peace and also safe. And from some of my new material I think we’ll all be moving a bit as well, get those moves ready!
SXSW runs from March 9th – 18th this year! Check out Benji’s official event profile here.
Photo: Sean Pyke.