Ahead of Mielipop Festival, we chat to Lenny-Dee of Bye Beneco about the constant shift in sound, performing live, their recent Europe tour and side projects to look out for
You guys went from a five-piece band to a threesome. How does this change the dynamic in songwriting and performing?
Everyone has their own style of expression and so the music becomes ever changing. We love that our sound is constantly evolving. It’s satisfying that we aren’t stuck to one genre. By the way – we have just taken on a fourth member. He plays bass and it’s so snug. We are loving the addition and the direction it’s taken is sexy. Being a foursome lends to a balance and generally a good time. The sound is real groovin’.
Space Elephant is a very colourful project, which showcases your versatility beautifully. Are there any more sides to you that were not presented in that album; more layers that we can expect in a future album perhaps?
Sure – Space Elephant was released soon after we formed as a group, and I think that’s why it has a heavy sense of experimentation. We were all so obsessed with weird sounds, where they came from and pushing those boundaries. There are elements that are not part of Space Elephant which we have since been developing. Something that turns us on – Romance. All kinds of romance. Our new body of work (which we are dying to share with you all) has a groove that talks to your instincts and impulses. It’s fever.
You seem to be a favourite in the local festival circuit; your name often appears on lineups of some of SA’s best music festivals. Has your experience of performing at all these impressive gigs refined or reshaped your aesthetic in any way?
We live to play festivals. We feel elated every time we get up on a festival stage. Not sure what it is… but there’s wildness in the air. Everybody’s got the crazy eye. Playing these super lineups has definitely assisted in making us more aware of our aesthetic and our general tone.
You recently toured Europe. Tell us about that experience: the highlights, the mood and the response.
Europe was off the wall. We played some festivals, some smoky, sweaty clubs, and every show was just remarkable. Sound was never an issue either. We would be happy playing to one person as long as the sound is not compromised, which we find happens a lot here. Another reason we love playing festivals is that the sound is generally real good. Our highlight was most likely playing to an audience of Swiss people in Sion on old castle grounds. Real old castle grounds! Palp Festival. We played to an audience and to the Alps. They grooved so hard and bought all of our merch. It was beautiful.
The growth and direction of the band keeps shifting in sound. Are you playing around with versions of what the band’s signature sound could be or do you still feel like you’re still finding your voice?
We’re all about shifting. We have our voice and it’s in every accent you can imagine. We love that every song we write can go in any direction. It’s freeing. As we build up our opus, we can start curating our shows accordingly. This year is all about significant curating for us.
Side projects and collaborations.
Can you reveal some of the projects each member has been working on in their own time?
Yeah for sure – so I’m (Lenny-Dee) currently working on an EP with French rapper, Alec Lomami. I’m also busy with some solo stuff which I’ll probably only release in five years. It’s all very personal and I can never decide which songs to use for my solo project, and which to use for Bye Beneco. Bergen has a project that is currently on hold for a short while called Past Life Pantsula. Matthew has a side project with his lady, Sierra Sky. It’s real pretty and they are busy writing an EP. Finally, Dan is in his honours year of music, but is always collaborating with other jazz musicians.
Your music videos can be elaborate, intimate and often psychedelic or stripped down. which videos have you enjoyed the most?
Chemirocha was just so fun to shoot. We spent the weekend at Ben Crossman’s house out in the middle of nowhere dressing up, being cold, drinking beer and burnt a 10m wooden horse to the ground. He made some super elaborate sets, which was such a mind trip to witness. Props to Ben, Robo Wilson & Wilma Smit. Big loves.
You guys are no strangers to the Mieliepop Festival stage. What was it like performing at the festival the first time and what can festival goers expect from your set this year?
We love Mieliepop. It’s one of our favourite festivals. We loved performing there and being part of something so special. We have some new tracks, a new member and some magnetic vibes we’ll be bringing to this year’s show! Just come for a trip. Catch you there.