Youtube makes it tough to be an original. With the explosion of vlogs, tutorials, covers, and video diaries, creative content is growing more and more elusive.
Somehow, that’s not a problem for Miss Benny.
Having started at 11, the singer, songwriter, makeup artist, comedian, and actor has been unleashing his creativity on an unsuspecting world for nearly a decade. The content ranges from thoughtful bops with a swirling, acid bass to how-to videos on achieving unclockable fake freckles.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Miss Benny is now expanding beyond Youtube with an upcoming single and subsequent music video as well as an arc on a popular television show. We got a chance to speak with the artist on his career so far and what’s still left to come.
You’re a musician, you’re a makeup artist, you’re an actor, and you’re a director. How did you become such a multi-disciplinarian?
To be honest, any “jack of all trades” title I’ve earned has presented itself almost entirely out of necessity. I’ve been doing all of this independently with a very specific vision for what I put out. So naturally, you pick up a lot of new skills when you can’t afford the best production gear or hire a large creative team. I really do love every aspect of the creative process, though, so I ain’t mad. However, that being said... please stream my music nonstop when it comes out because I am doing this gig alone and appreciate every penny.
You’ve been making music and videos for nearly a decade. Where do you draw the inspiration that keeps creating new content?
The evolution of my career has always reflected the evolution of myself. In the decade that I’ve been working in the entertainment industry, I’ve had many different jobs in many different fields with many different stage names. But in that same timeline I went through my entire teenage experience. I had my first kiss, my first relationship, my first heartbreak.. I moved out of my hometown to a city thousands of miles away and came out to my friends and family all in the stretch of ten years. The creative formats I’ve used to express myself has always changed, sure, but the inspiration has always come from my ongoing and evolving personal experiences.
We both have Southern roots. How did growing up there inform your expression in life vs on the internet?
You know, I get very jealous of the people I grew up with in Texas. There’s such a sense of hometown pride and community in the south for people who fit into the traditional southern lifestyle. I never really got to experience that level of comfort or safety growing up in my circumstances, and I was deeply impacted when I finally recognized that it wasn’t a home for me. The dissonance between how much I was closeted and hurting in my personal life to how open and optimistic I was in my content online was painful. But I’m grateful I had those formative years to sort of figure it out, and that I had an audience and community of supportive people online to look to throughout.
I absolutely loved your video for “Little Game” You wrote, directed, and starred in it before even officially coming out. How did you summon the courage to do that?
Oh man, I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how that all came together the way it did. “Little Game” was one of the first songs I ever wrote and was a personal response to a slightly traumatic experience I had in my life about the way I was presenting myself. I learned how to produce music and videos entirely because of that song. There are so many rough edges surrounding the actual production value of it all upon reflection, but none of that mattered to me at the time. All I knew is that I needed to put it out in the world. I had no idea people would respond so strongly. It was ultimately cathartic and has changed my life forever. Four years later I’m looking forward to putting out the music I’ve worked on now as Miss Benny.
I’m a huge fan of your wit, especially in your tweets. How would you say you developed your unique sense of humor?
Well I grew up around adults and college students mostly, and I absolutely thrive on attention. So I made it my mission to hold my own and make them laugh. As I got older my sister exposed me to a lot of stand-up routines and British comedians which really cemented my admiration for witty and dry humor. Once I moved to LA, I spent some time studying at the Upright Citizens Brigade, and Groundlings Theatre which is based in improv comedy. So I guess it’s always been a huge part of me. I also use comedy as a way of coping and addressing hard times in my life. Still working out if that’s healthy or not.
As a queer artist, what are some of the ways queer people can respond to the current administration and political climate?
Dude, I’m so overwhelmed if I’m being honest. I really wish I had the perfect response to this question. I came into adulthood right at the beginning of our current administration, and so my political awareness has always been this. It’s hard to feel hopeful sometimes. The best way I’ve learned to respond so far is to listen and stay as informed as possible. Then pass on what I learn to inform both my audience and peers on how to make our voices heard. Beyond that you just have to be kind to each other and take care of yourself.
So, what’s next for you? Any exciting projects you can tell us about?
Oh boy, so much excitement! I’m grateful everyone has been so patient for what I’ve been working on.
My first single is coming out at the start of 2019 along with a music video visual I shot at the end of the summer. It’s so fucking sick, and really shows off who I am as Miss Benny with these new songs. I genuinely struggle to not leak it every day because I’m so proud of it.
I’m also appearing in a really sweet Netflix show called “Fuller House” on December 14th. I shot some episodes at the end of the summer, and I was losing my damn mind the entire time being on such an iconic set. I’m not sure I can say too much about my character but I essentially get to play a very fun and important gay character. I’m very excited for people to see it.
Overall I’m trying to bring attention to something I think is very important and slept on, which is me. So I’m really encouraging people to follow my Instagram @Miss_Benny.
Evan Brechtel is a queer writer living in New York. You can find his body of work at www.evanbrechtel.net. @EvanBrechtel.
Photography by Nicolas Bloise