R J Benjamin interview

RJ Benjamin is an award-winning vocalist, songwriter, music producer, vocal coach, and musical director
To date, RJ has released five studio albums.
Most recently his work includes vocal production for iscathamiya group Thee Legacy, Chantal Stanfield and Sho Madjozi of John Cena fame, as well as headline performance on 2019 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz
RJ also produced the DHL Stormers and Friends Project in March 2020
He is currently a keynote speaker at Music Exchange #MEX20 having spoken to Neil Johnson re the state of radio in SA as well as Wiseman Ngubo the COO of Capasso and music executive Lance Stehr.
Music Exchange 2020 is being held till the end of the month 30 September 2020 on the Ticketpro platform Covid-Zero

We held a rapid fire Chat with RJ last week
Where do you see the industry going post COVID?
I think live streamed performances will be a much larger factor for the foreseeable future, but finding a model that makes it a viable income source will be challenge. The relationship though between an audience and a performer cannot be replaced and no doubt innovations will be made possible for live performance. For now that will clearly be for smaller, exclusive audiences. This is not a bad thing because it will drive up tickets prices to be able to view an artist or band in-person while there is limited seating etc.
What challenges do you see?
I think particularly with music performers, lockdown has brought some awareness with regards to earning passive income. If you exclusively earned your living doing corporates and live shows you have definitely been hit harder during lockdown. Musicians who have released content on radio streaming platforms have still been able to have their music earn them money despite being trapped indoors. Session musicians have been able to claim money for sessions they played on through SAMPRA. Radio has been a constant in South Africa and so if you had a catalogue of music or new music spinning on SA radio you most likely earned some royalty income. I think lockdown has forced some awarness on the need to be diverse and make sure as artist you have multiple income streams.

What does music mean to you?
I live my life through music. It drives me everyday because I am always looking for something in the world and in my life to inspire the next creation.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?
Pulling a new creation out of thin air and taking that idea from nothing to a complete piece of art.
Your heroes?
Prince and Stevie Wonder is top of the list. Almost all other music I listen branches out from these two artists.
Which living person do you admire most and why?
This probably changes daily but consistently the answer would be my mom. She’s a cancer survivor, she endured a lot of pain with regards to how my dad eventually lost his life almost 20 years ago. She’s small of stature but stronger than anyone else I’ve met in my life.
Dream gig to do?
The Montreux Jazz Festival.
What makes you stand out?
I’m actually a bit of introvert and try to avoid standing out. I’ve lived by a few rules in my career, try to create timeless music, try to create honest music, try to focus on my musical strengths and let all of that speak for me.
If you were not a musician what would you do?
I would not exist.
5 Favorite SA albums of all time?
Hanging Gardens Of Beatenberg by Beatenberg
Burn Out by Sipho” Hotstix” Mabuse
Desire by Nakhane Touré
House Of Exile by Lucky Dube
Zandisile by Simphiwe Dana
Greatest Movie Ever Made?
2001 A Space Odyssey
What song changed your life?
Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson
Who do you love?
A lot of people, but I probably hate more people than I love.
What is your favorite word?
Inderdaad, Afrikaans word for indeed.
Your greatest achievement?
Surviving almost 20 years in the music industry and following my passion.
What do you complain about most often?
What is your fear?
Dying without seeing my child grow up.
Happiness is?
Seeing my daughter’s happiness on a daily basis.
On stage I tend to?
Talk a lot of shit!
The best life lesson you have been taught?
Never stop writing.
Do you get worked up whilst watching a sports game on TV?
Of course, I’m tennis mad. A huge Roger Federer fan and obviously his struggles with Nadal and Djokovic have caused me much pain. Also being constantly into thinking The Proteas could wine World Cup has caused much pain.
Where would you like to be right now?
Despite the lockdown, I’m actually very happy with being exactly where I am.
Do you do charity work and if you do –what do you do?
My greatest passion is trying to do skills transfer with underprivileged artists. I do that wherever I can. In the recent past this has been through Music Exchange and the programs they connect me to in the Western and Eastern Cape.
Wishes and dreams?
I wish The Proteas would sort out their shit. I dream of creating a piece of music that actually creates a change in the world. I’ve had my fair share of tries and I’m still trying.

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