With her introspective lyrics and smoky, stylized vocals, BENEE combines the sophisticated R&B of artists like Sade and Corinne Bailey Rae with the atmospheric, head-voice electronics of Billie Eilish. She initially hit the charts with her 2018 single “Soaked,” before cracking the Top 20 in her native New Zealand with her debut EP, 2019’s Fire on Marzz.
Born in 2000 in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn, Stella Bennett first began posting songs online during her final year of high school. It was during this period that she adopted the abbreviated alias Bene. Her tracks caught the ear of producers and Leisure bandmates Josh Fountain and Jason Suskov, who began mentoring her and helping her develop her sound.
In 2017, she released the single “Tough Guy,” followed a year later by “Soaked,” the latter of which reached number 14 on the singles chart in her home country. After tweaking her name to BENEE (a move to avoid pronunciation confusion), she signed to Republic Records and released her debut EP, 2019’s Fire on Marzz. The EP, which included “Soaked,” was also a hit, peaking at 13 on New Zealand’s album chart. Also that year, she issued her second EP, Stella & Steve, which cracked the Top 20 in New Zealand and landed on the Billboard 200.