Creature Benny is a project by music industry professional Benton Oliver, who works in management helping artists, bands, and producer clients manage their careers. Benton has also worked with live music organizations including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Preservation Hall, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. Prior to launching Creature Benny, Oliver recorded and released music under the name “goodie.” Goodie music was conveyed primarily through rapping, almost entirely over self-produced beats made with YouTube drum loops layered with self-recorded acoustic guitar and other instruments. Songs also took the form of instrumental piano pieces, introspective caterwauling over violins, bongos, and harmonicas, and FL Studios-produced beats, Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I’m not sure which experience would have catalyzed the writing of my very first song. Probably perceived financial stress based on car trouble when I was 16 or something. My parents put me in piano lessons at the age of five or six, and my older brother put an unsuspecting guitar in my hands and taught me how to play “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer on Christmas Day when I was 15. And then I just started writing with all the fervor my teenage heart could muster.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Nothing so far, except that I drove myself completely insane recording, editing, mixing, mastering, designing the cover art for, and releasing the first batch of Creature Benny songs in the latter half of 2020. I was up late every night working on it from August through early January 2021, so that was crazy. I also posted performance videos of every single song on Instagram @creaturebenny, so that also factored into the workload.
What has been the high point of your music path? Just doing it myself, I guess. I’m livin’ the dream baby!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like? Usually, I start songs with a line and don’t necessarily know where they’re going or have any overarching themes in mind to start out. I write my way through the song from beginning to end and let the rhyming words reveal the song to me, and take me down the weird/creepy/cool path I’m tryin’ to tread. And then I get there and I’m like, “Ha, cool. What?” Guitar comes together before, during, or after the lyric-writing process. I usually have the guitar part more or less figured out by the time I finish the lyrics. I record the guitar, and then program the drums and bassline to that. I record the lyrics after that’s all done, select the best ones, and make them crunchy or whatever makes sense for the song.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be? It’s hard to get the word out for sure. How to get beyond the friends you have on the internet is where everyone gets stymied. I’d love for strangers to be aware of Creature Benny and dig the music. That would be the coolest.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why? I think it’d be cool to go on tour with Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, or another sick rapper I like whose fan base can get behind some spooky shit, and could potentially even be really open to a guitar-based artist. In the guitar-sphere, current artists I’d love to go out with are wimps (from Seattle) or The Chats (from Australia), or I’d really love to go out with an OG act like DEVO, X, The Weirdos, Violent Femmes, Misfits, or T.S.O.L.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show? I don’t have a band, so rehearsals are just me and my guitar on the loveseat in my closet/studio situation in Koreatown, Los Angeles. I play/sing the songs I’m gearing up to film or perform over and over in the order I’m planning to perform them. Gotta get the muscle memory down. I might have a few beers.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it! Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!: That song has yet to be released, but from phase one that honor might go to “Rock and Roll (My Face Off),” based solely on how long it took to come together. My brother wrote the first verse and chorus, plus the original guitar idea back in 2016. I wrote the rest of the lyrics gradually- verse by chorus by verse etc. -over the next few years, and finally recorded it in 2019. It feels particularly poignant today, even though it’s all based on a thought process that began in 2016. Things just continued going downhill in this country surprise surprise unfortunately NOT.
What's coming up in the future? What's coming up in the future?: Creature Benny phase two, plus most of phase three, is already written and 85 percent recorded. I’m still taking a break from all the work I put in on phase one August-December 2020, but I plan to dig back in and start releasing Creature Benny phase two in later 2021.
Tell us where fans can access your music? Stream on Spotify
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