Phoenix-born but Los Angeles-bred artist Alec Benjamin has been having his parents drive him to the City of Angels since he was 16 as he chased his dream of becoming a singer. By the time he turned 18, his parents asked that Benjamin go to college. After a year of obliging, Benjamin was given an opportunity he had been working towards for years; music. After dropping out of college and pursuing music, it was clear there was no turning back. Since then, Benjamin has surpassed being a viral hit, gained the support of one of his all-time idols, John Mayer, and is gearing up to release even more new music.
“I got into music because I loved singing, but you know, I really love releasing new music. It’s exciting to me to write these songs and then kind of see how people feel about them. I love that,” the 25-year-old artist says.
Benjamin perfectly showcases his innocence with instinctual giggles and genuine reactions throughout our conversation. In between his charming responses and relaxed nature, he has a few reflective moments that allow me to understand exactly why his songs resonate with listeners so well. “I don’t make the music for me. I like when it finally becomes someone else’s. I think [my music] is always made with the intention that it is not going to be my own,” he says.
Narrated for You, Benjamin’s debut mixtape with Atlantic Records, featured the hit “Let Me Down Slowly” and secured Benjamin as a crafty lyricist. His accompanying tour garnered the attention of none other than John Mayer who made a special guest appearance at Benjamin’s sold out Los Angeles show.
The latest single from Benjamin is a multi-faceted track that show’s the artist’s ability to depart both sonically and lyrically from what listeners might expect. “Jesus in LA” was inspired by one of Benjamin’s friends who had high expectations for what New York City could offer someone and was let down. “Growing up out west, I had this idea of Jesus in a white robe, everything white around him, and that, ‘ahh’ moment,” Benjamin explains. “When I came to California I thought it was going to be everything I dreamed of and it wasn’t. So, instead of Jesus in New York, it became Jesus in LA.”
Even though Benjamin (and his unnamed friend) had certain expectations for their respective cities, he admits that he never had to look too far for what he really needed. “As cool as the professional things are, I’ve had the stuff that ultimately makes me happy, I’ve always had my real friends.” With a supportive team around him, Benjamin realized that while he might not find the metaphorical Jesus in LA, he doesn’t really need to.
This summer has taken Benjamin to sold out shows and music festivals across the globe, and next up is one of his biggest arenas yet: Lollapalooza. “I love festivals but you just never know what you’re going to get so I’m always a little nervous,” Benjamin says. Festivals can definitely be challenging for singer-songwriters but with a late afternoon set on Friday, August 2 on the American Eagle stage followed by a 6:00pm intimate set at the Toyota Music Den, Alec Benjamin will be sure to impress his audience at this Chicago festival.
Watch the official video for “Jesus in LA” below.