How Alec Benjamin’s ‘Let Me Down Slowly’ Took Him From Sidewalk Performances to the Hot 100 (and Beyond)


In the previous few months, Alec Benjamin has collaborated with Alessia Cara, carried out on The Late Late Show With James Corden, and frolicked along with his idol, John Mayer. Most lately, the 24-year-old singer landed his first music on the Billboard Hot 100, along with his weak breakout hit “Let Me Down Slowly.” But getting up to now in his profession wasn't so simple as it could appear.

After touchdown a report deal at simply 18 years-old, Benjamin was dropped from the label earlier than even releasing an album. Determined to make his music profession occur, Benjamin started enjoying on sidewalks and outdoors of venues all over the world, handing out enterprise playing cards to assist construct his fan base. Befriending Jon Bellion throughout a co-write in 2016, Benjamin toured with the "All Time Low" singer later that 12 months, however continued his parking zone busking to ensure he was doing all that he might.

"I've performed just about in every single place. One of the cool issues about music is you get to fulfill a variety of fascinating folks alongside the best way. You can choose up followers on social media, however they're faceless -- you don't get to know the folks," Benjamin tells Billboard. "I obtained into music as a result of I preferred the human connection, in order that's one of many explanation why I used to be compelled to go outdoors of venues. It stored me impressed."

Benjamin wrote "Let Me Down Slowly" in 2017, impressed by an expertise with an ex-girlfriend. It was one of many songs that caught the eye of Atlantic Records later that 12 months, and he formally signed his second report deal in February 2018. Since then, Benjamin has launched a 12-song mixtape titled Narrated For You and offered out two headlining excursions, finally proving that a second likelihood is all the time attainable for those who put your thoughts to it.

As "Let Me Down Slowly" continues making waves, Benjamin chatted with Billboard about his first Hot 100 hit and what the music -- in addition to his perserverance -- has achieved for him. The singer spoke to Billboard about his gradual, regular climb.

How did you react to hitting the Hot 100?

I known as my mother, after which I did a breakdance. When you choose a profession like music that’s a bit unorthodox, it’s onerous to inform for those who’re on the appropriate path. This just isn't like graduating or something, however at the least it [feels like] I’m doing one thing proper.

How did Alessia find yourself on this model of “Let Me Down Slowly”?

She mentioned that she preferred [the song] on Twitter, so I despatched her my telephone quantity. I mentioned, “Want to do a verse?” Two days later, she despatched me a voice memo she recorded at dwelling. You can report her voice on an iPhone and it sounds nearly as good as something. She added a variety of actually cool harmonies, and her perspective introduced new which means to the music.

Isn’t social media the way you linked up with John Mayer too?

Jensen Karp at KROQ discovered my music and despatched it to John, and John actually preferred it, so he began posting about it. Then I despatched John a message on Instagram like, “That's loopy.” But I spotted I had despatched him a message eight months earlier than being like “Yo, I'm an enormous fan, I really like you, hope that I can meet you at some point.”

He's all the time been certainly one of my primary inspirations for making music normally, so it’s one of many coolest issues that’s ever occurred to me. For me, there's having your music on Billboard, and John Mayer speaking about your music. That's just about it. [Laughs.]

Has he given you any recommendation because you’ve been buddies?

Yeah, I've realized lots from him. I used to be texting him about tour life and making an attempt to determine it out mentally, [asking] him “How do you steadiness every thing?” He was giving me ideas concerning the street, songwriting and all that good things.

I speak to him on a regular basis, really. He despatched me a bunch of voice memos of recent music concepts.

Have you dropped into some other artist’s DMs these days?

I hit up Khalid on Twitter, and I labored with him a couple of weeks in the past. I don't know if the music we had will come out, however it was fairly cool attending to work with him. I really like his music.

What did you study out of your experiences enjoying on streets and outdoors of venues?

Everyone has to start out someplace, and it doesn't actually matter the place you begin. I believe it's essential to construct from the bottom up and by no means be ashamed of enjoying outdoors of a venue. Just since you're beginning outdoors of a venue doesn't imply that's the place you're going to be endlessly.

What recommendation would you give somebody who could have gone by an identical expertise of being dropped from a label?

If you consider in your self and you like making music, it doesn't matter what the scenario is. You shouldn't hand over -- you must all the time hold going and work as onerous as you possibly can, and hold writing songs, since you by no means know what can occur. Especially these days, you've gotten a variety of management over your personal future. Getting dropped from a label in 2019 just isn't a demise sentence. Sometimes it may be one of the best factor that's ever occurred to you.

I don't actually really feel like I'm ready to present recommendation. I'm nonetheless taking recommendation from folks, and I’m nonetheless figuring it out. I form of simply put issues within the music. People are like how do you are feeling about x, y and z -- I’d fairly speak about it in my music. But I definitely shouldn’t be giving relationship recommendation.

A model of this text initially appeared within the Feb. 16 concern of Billboard.