BENEE Breaks Down Her Very Big Year

With her debut album Hey u x finally out and an E! People's Choice Awards nomination for The New Artist of 2020, BENEE's year has been better than most.

By Billy Nilles, Spencer Lubitz Nov 14, 2020 12:00 PMTags
Watch: Benee Thanks Fans for 2020 E! PCAs Nom & More

BENEE is having a moment.

The New Zealand singer-songwriter born Stella Rose Bennett skyrocketed to international acclaim after her single "Supalonely" inadvertently became the song of 2020. Thanks, in part, to the song's viral popularity on TikTok, BENEE was able to collaborate with some big names as she set out to record her debut album, landing features from the likes of Lily Allen, Grimes, Flo Milli and Gus Dapperton.

With Hey u x finally released on Friday, Nov. 13, now it's time for BENEE to celebrate. Already, the 20-year-old has been nominated for The New Artist of 2020 at the E! People's Choice Awards. She'll find out if she comes out on top over fellow nominees Doja Cat, Saweetie, Conan Gray, Ava Max, Trevor Daniel, Jack Harlow and Roddy Ricch when the ceremony airs live on Sunday, Nov. 15.

In honor of BENEE's very big 2020, she spoke with E! News about all her accomplishments, which also include launching her very own record label. Check it out below!

2020 People's Choice Awards: First-Time Nominees

E! News: How are you doing? I know that New Zealand is in a little bit of a different place than the rest of the world.

BENEE: To be honest, it's pretty good in New Zealand at the moment. We've come out of lockdown and our prime minister really is amazing. We've got two females running the country now. Weirdly, we are back to playing shows, which is crazy. I just finished my little tour that I did and it's just like—life feels good right now, but it also feels very weird because, obviously, the majority of the world is not on the same page, which is kind of odd.  So I even feel weird talking to people about how it's good, because life is not good for most people. 

E!: How does it feel that your music is something that people are listening to during this tough time?

B:  It's been pretty wild to have people reach out and tell me that my thoughts have been helping them. I think it's the coolest thing that you can hear as an artist.  Especially because the world is so weird right now and a lot has been happening, and obviously people are in very weird places. Mentally, I feel like it's nice to know that something you're doing is kind of working or helping someone. And I think that when I listen to music, it's so nice to kind of be able to relate to something that someone's saying or find confidence listening to a song. And I think that it's crazy to think that that's what some of my music is doing now.

Harry Were

E!: "Supalonely" was released before isolation, but the lyrics seemed to be like the perfect anthem for it. What was it like to see the posts on TikTok about the song?

B: It's random.  I didn't even know what the app was when it was taking off on it. I didn't really understand what was going on, but it was super cool. I was being sent videos of people dancing to the song everyday and I was like, "What are these people doing? What is this talk thing?" But I just thought it was super cute. It was so sweet that people will find something fun to do, and at a time when the world is very messed up. Then I got the app and I was like, "Well, this is actually really entertaining." I just think it's so cool how it's this new platform now where people can find music and share it with one another. You make a 20 second dance video, and people can copy your dance and repost it. And then a song can go viral. It's pretty crazy, but it's cool!

E!: One of your many fans is Elton John. He called you the next global smash. What was that like to hear?

B: Oh my goodness. It's pretty crazy, to be honest. Like, it feels pretty surreal. I don't even feel like it's really actually happening to me because it's just so weird. It's so cool, but so strange because you don't expect anything—well, I didn't expect that kind of stuff to happen to me. But, when something like that comes from someone like him, it's pretty crazy. It's pretty, pretty, pretty crazy.

The Best Music of 2020—So Far

E!: You were able to perform a live concert after so long. What was the energy like from fans who have not been able to be at a live show, and for you who has not been able to perform at a live show? 

B: Definitely this new kind of energy, a feeling that I've never experienced before at a gig. I feel like it's just, like, a relief from everyone. Like, everyone's just so happy to be able to go back to gigs again. I've been going to gigs like every weekend, 'cause I'm like, "Oh my God, I don't know when we're going to go back into this lockdown." Like, who knows what could happen? So I'm making the most of it. And I think everyone is just so stoked to be able to share music again, because, I think that, you know, we need it. And I didn't realize how much I needed to perform, and how much I would miss it and how much I would miss going to live shows. It's made me so, so excited for when the world can also kind of open up and we can go back to normal life. I feel like everyone's had enough of no music and nobody out to see anyone live.

Harry Were

E!: You have some pretty exciting collaborations on your album. Can you tell me some of these artists that are featured and how these collaborations come about? 

B: All of them have been made pretty much in the time of lockdown. So it's been them sending me verses, which is kind of weird, but also it works and you can do that now, which is cool. There are pretty crazy collaborations. I just released one with Lily Allen. Grimes is also really sick. I'm so stoked to have them on the album. They all bring so much to every song that has a feature. I feel like a feature adds so much to a song and kind of gives it this crazy new life.

2020 People's Choice Awards: Female Music Artist Nominees

E!: Do you think what you're experiencing in COVID, with virtual and electronic collaborations, will enable more collaborations in the future and make it easier for artists to collaborate? 

B: I would say so. I kind of realize how easy it is to get someone to send you a track. I mean, it does take time, but it's not that hard. You just record it and you can send a file, which I think is so brilliant. You don't have to be in the same place at the same time as anyone. So, yeah, it's definitely the future, maybe, for some people who can't travel, you know? 

E!: You've started your own label. Tell me about what you hope to achieve with it?

B: Well, I started it very, very recently. I've only just announced it, and I'm working with this woman called Trieste and also my friend Poppy who manages me. I wanted to make it a team of women, because I feel like there are so many males in the industry who are kind of running the show. I think that kind of having a point of difference in the business is so important and it's what we need. We need it to be diverse. I've just signed this guy called Muroki who's really cool. I think what we want to do is just get artists in front of people who wouldn't have probably listened to them before, because they wouldn't have been able to get themselves out there. And I feel like recently, getting more of a platform, I've realized that people are listening to me. I'm posting about climate change and people are listening. OK, well, why can't I support other artists with what I'm doing because people are listening. And I thought a record label would be such a cool way to do that. I've always wanted to do A&R, that has been, like, if I didn't do music, and now it could be really cool. So that's kind of my role in the label, to go out and find artists. I love finding new artists and I love telling people about them. So I thought this would just be perfect.

E!: You are nominated for an E! People's Choice Award for The New Artist of 2020. Congratulations! We're super excited. How does it feel to be recognized? 

B: It feels pretty crazy. Honestly, I feel like being nominated for me is just as good as winning an award.  In any kind of situation, I feel like it's just nice to be recognized for doing hard work. I feel like it's always nice when people acknowledge that you, you know, you're doing a lot. It's crazy, and it's crazy, especially, with E! I mean, I feel it's pretty insane for me, personally. 

E!: Do you have a message for any of your fans out there that have been voting? Anything you want to say? 

B: Just, thank you. Thank you, guys. Whether you vote or not, thanks for the support. It's been crazy.

Hey u x is available now.

Watch the 2024 People’s Choice Awards Sunday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC, E! and Peacock.