Donny Benét doesn’t just operate in his own lane. He owns it.
The Don returns today (May 22) with Mr Experience as a wiser, smarter, more mature artist, but every bit the same “Australian piss-taker,” in his own words.
Mr Experience is a party in a package, which funks its way across 10 tracks. It’s the culmination of two years’ work, during which time the Sydney singer, bass player and producer created a pool of 30 songs. “Some are completely finished, some I’ve just started and an hour later started swearing and dragged it into the ‘rejects’ folder,” he tells Billboard. “I haven’t dropped the rejects folder into the trash. It’s good to look back and see where you’re at.”
Benét is always looking forward, even if his sound and style harks back to a glorious age when we rolled up our jacket sleeves, slap bass ruled and Miami Vice lit our screens.
“For me,” he explains, “there’s a process with writing where I get the shit out of the way first. This is a very coronavirus pandemic-based analogy to use. I’ve started baking bread, which everyone’s been doing. The more you make the more you learn about the process of it.”
Benét went and baked Mr Experience, which includes the groovy, previously-released “Girl of My Dreams” and “Second Dinner,” and didn’t for a moment consider locking it down until life returns to normal.
“I think there’ll be a glut of releases and tours next year,” notes Benét, who boasts a Masters Of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium. “It’s going to be really hard to stand out.”
A fiercely independent artist, Benet has no imitators. There’s no pigeonhole for him. Think, debonair with a flair for ‘80s fashion. Think pastel jackets and jumpsuits, chunky bass lines, dreamy synth chords and ironic, next-level sex appeal.
“I’m a real joker at heart,” he admits, “at the same time the criteria I have for myself and writing music is, would I enjoy listening to it if I was a punter and will I enjoy playing this every night for the next two years? Would I get off the stage and have some sort of fulfillment. If you could write a throwaway song, you’ve got to sell that shit for the next two years. If you don’t believe in it, you’re screwed. I’d write a song and think I have to believe in this and enjoy playing it over and over.”
Mr Experience is the followup to 2018’s The Don, which saw him build a global, cult following. In recent times, he has toured extensively across Europe and North America, including dates with Mac Demarco.
Benét’s post-disco prowess is perhaps best captured in the Alexander O. Smith-directed music video for Benét’s 2017 track “Konichiwa,” which featured on The Weeknd’s Handpicked playlist showcasing 24 songs that inspired After Hours.
On Mr Experience, there are no nods to exotic locations, as he did in the Don classic “Santorini.” “I’d done that before,” Benét remarks. “I’d written about places and dating, it’s cool but I can’t revisit that territory. I’ve already been there. The last few years for me personally, I’ve been so busy. I’ve had some real highs and had some really interesting things happen for me. My life experiences really influenced my writing. But it’s not like I’ve turned around and I’m taking myself seriously.”
Stream Mr Experience below.