Introducing Singapore's Benjamin Kheng, who makes swirling R&B with Find Me
The rising musician's second single is gentle and soft, but still contains an excitable bite.
Being an site centralising on Australian music, we often don't venture out of the country boundaries too often, except for the odd New Zealand artist and international profile here and there. However, every now and again, there's an unmissable artist that comes across from outside of the country with a sound so potent and remarkable that we need to get on top of it, and a fair chunk of that music - as we've found time and time and time again - happens to come from Singapore; a place quickly becoming somewhat of a south Asian musical hub.
Benjamin Kheng is another musician whose proving Singapore's place on the international music globe, spending the last few years as a developing songwriter and keen collaborator until the release of his debut single Wicked at the tail-end of last year. Wicked is a short-and-punchy three minutes that introduces Benjamin Kheng and his thick, R&B-adjacent sound; taking an incredibly rich production and layering it with almost-indulgent vocals that swirl and swoon amongst the production's rises and falls.
Today, he's back to make it two-for-two the release of his second major single Find Me, which sees Kheng team up with a familiar face in Australian hip-hop - go-to producer James Angus (Carmouflage Rose, Jai Waetford, Lara Andallo) - for another track that deepens his sound and puts Kheng forward as an incredibly exciting name to keep an eye on in the year ahead. Find Me is intoxicating in every sense of the word; a spiralling, woozy production forming the perfect backing for Benjamin Kheng's vocal which just like in Wicked, feels remarkably potent and dense as it moves with its soft, R&B-esque groove.
Kheng's performance on Find Me is more on the gentle and subtle side of things, with an emotional intensity seeping through his drifting vocals in the almost-ballad-like track. "Find Me was partially written a couple of years ago when I was in a really bad headspace. To be honest, I was quite unfit to love or care for anyone, and yet, destructively wanted more out of love and a relationship," he says on the single, seemingly explaining the track's intimate and close-knit feeling. "This song is the closest thing to a love ballad I have ever attempted. It is also kind of the final chapter of a certain approach of music I've adopted for some time."
There's plenty more to come - now that Benjamin Kheng has introduced his sound to the world, he's not going anywhere - so dive into Find Me below, and better introduce yourself to the rising star while you're at it:
Tell us about yourself?
I’m Ben, I’m a music artist and lover of dairy. I’m also lactose intolerant. I’ve been juggling a theatre / film & music career for some time now and it’s brought me some joy and lots of paralysing self-doubt. I also show-run a sketch comedy series called The BenZi Project when I’m not making them sad beats.
What’s the vibe music?
This record is sounding like the lovechild of a gospel choir, a sleazy backroom of a burlesque club and Phil Collins. Which is strange but kind of awesome. It definitely still sits in the pop world, but I’m trying to compress a lot less. I love writing love songs, and I love analysing messed up people, so I guess a strong theme would be love and messed up lovers.
What are your production and writing processes like?
I’ll write and produce nonsense deep in the night and wake up to either horror or slight surprise. “Write drunk edit sober” is the slogan. I’m a firm believer of more voices = more fun so I like to vibe-workshop and get layers from my show-choir friends. The current record is mightily co-produced by James Angus of Brisbane, who does things with Fruity Loops that one should never speak of.
Can you tell us about your new single, Find Me?
Find Me is the closest thing to a love-ballad I have ever written. It’s about being generally unfit to love or care for anyone, recognising you’re in a destructive space, and demanding to be loved anyway. Very human. It’s also a good challenge this day and age for a songwriter / top liner to strip a track down to the bare bones, mostly just a piano, and see how the story gets told still.
Any tour dates coming up?
We’re doing some regional promotional tours second half of the year to Southeast Asia and hopefully Australia.
What does 2020 have in store for you?
The album comes out around May, and we’re going to try and tour the shit out of it. In between, some film and theatre projects and I gotta move to a house man, adult-type things.
Where can we find more of your music?
You can follow all of my nonsense at @benjaminkheng or Benjamin Kheng on all music streaming and socials, and that unfortunately includes TikTok.
Follow Benjamin Kheng: FACEBOOK