RJ Benjamin is one of the many SA artists who are keen to explore the social media space, and in so doing, he has taken to claiming his own blog on MySpace.
I got the opportunity to interview SA’s leading neo soul artist on his latest offering to the music world called, "Swimming in the soul of music".
Why the title, "Swimming in the soul of music"?
I came up with the title 2 years ago. It came when I found I had lost my way a little in my life & when that happens to me I tend to go back to my musical roots, that being soul music. I literally drowned myself in it & from that came the name, from the name came the music & a whole album!
How different is the new album to your first one, "who I am"?
One of the concepts of this new album for me was to create definition. To show where I am as a music producer, composer & arranger. "who I am" was very much me giving everything I had in every song. With "Swimming in the soul of music" I didnt feel the need to do that & in fact made it easier to create. I very much wanted to make sure that each sound & part had its place that when a listener heard it they could clearly hear each part.
You’ve been using MySpace quite a bit to promo your new album, how do you see social media as helping artists achieve this?
I think Social media is a blessing to underground artists such as myself. I can connect with my fans on a personal basis which one could never do 10 years ago. It gives me the chance to talk to my market far more directly than any other medium could!
What kind of response have you had to your MySpace page – does a lot of the attention to it come from SA or is it globally spread out?
My Myspace page, ahem: rjbenjaminofficial has been a great platform for more international attention. I get many messages from other countries looking for deals or putting tracks on compilation albums.
I actually contacted you via Facebook, another great social networking site. What do you think of sites like this in terms of being an artist and promoting sales of you album?
I love Facebook. Initially I was guilty of being an FB addict. I use it now strictly for promoting my work as an artist. I find FB lets me communicate very easily with local fans. My Group fan page grows all the time & Facebook has made it very easy to keep people informed of gigs, events, interviews & other achievements I may gain. I think people like to see that you are keeping busy & updating your pages, blogs etc. If you do that, you can only be helping your status as an artist!
You have collaborated with a few upcoming artists on "Swimming in the soul of Music". Tell us a little bit about the featured artists and why you chose to work with them?
Ok, let me start off with Zubz. He featured on my hit single, Shut up, written with Danny K. I have always wanted to work with Zubz. He’s an extremely intelligent lyricist & for the topic of the song, he hit it on the nail. His flow was unbelievable. For muso’s, the track is not a straight hip-hop groove, more of a blues shuffle & Zubz flowed like it was something he rapped to everyday!
Nothende is one of my favourite Soul sisters & we wrote the track "dont wanna" together many years ago. It was inevitable that when I released I would put it on & she was the only choice to duet it with me!
Dan Patlansky is a fellow Jewish boy playing very un-typically Jewish music. I rate him as the best Blues guitarist in SA & I knew for the track "I dont love you" he was the best person for the job. He made that guitar cry!!
HHP & I colab on a track called "Overloaded". It’s not my usual soul thing & similarly not his usual thing either. He came up with a HHP style ragga. I couldnt believe he could do that. Jabba is such a versatile musician. No wonder he’s blowing up in SA like he is!
Slikour was very kind to let me put "Dreamer" on my album as a bonus track. I feel it’s the most beautiful track I’ve ever featured on & Slikour’s lyrics are perfection. For me this track will go down as one the best Hip-hop anthems ever to be produced in SA!
Where can RJ Benjamin fans catch you next?
Up-coming performances include, performing as Zola’s band at the CPT jazz festival, performing a menage a trous show with Ishmaek & Malik in CPT the following day & I will be performing atthe Blues room on the 5th of April.
Your album when first launched was a tad hard to get hold of, how do you plan to get it out there and noticed by the masses?
Well, finally Musica has agreed to take stock. The struggle has been that CD’s just arent selling & stores are becoming more & more reluctant to take stock. When mainstream artists are not selling, how do they justify stocking my album?? Please go buy your copy available at all Musica’s. I’d like to prove to them & other retailer that niche artists can sell & outsell their commercial counterparts!
Have you considered the sale of your new album via your MySpace page? Do you think it could work?
I havent but thank you for bringing that up, that may be a great Idea. I will most probably sell via my website which will be up & running in the next 2 weeks.
Lastly, who is your aimed at in the SA market and which listeners do you consider on the fringe of this market? What’s your favourite song off the album?
Lovers of old school soul. people who like stories & still see music as an artform.
My fav song on my album: I love em all!! ….maybe Dreamer even though it’s not my song, what a song!