It’s undeniable that R&B sounds better under the moonlight when the rest of the world is quiet. For Benny Mfisa Hours Before is a prelude to his next project 3 Am Truths. Based in Johannesburg, the 21 year old recorded, mixed, and mastered his EP himself.
Benny the sportsman, the student, and the musician
Benny’s marriage to music came after false starts at a relationship with sports and academia. For the young musician, making music was the first thing to challenge him to push himself. Excelling in sports and academics never required too much of a concerted effort. Music wasn’t so easy; it demanded his his time, focus, and drive. By the time he started purchasing his own studio equipment, there was no turning back.
His sound proved to be harder to come by in comparison to his relationship to music. Benny struggled to find producers who could create a “late night drive”feeling the way he imagined it. This led to him donning the hat of producer, alongside his friend Nkululeko “Enkei” Mncube, to experiment with different sounds.
“I felt like I had to learn to work with my voice,” Benny adds. He mentions that having the best singing voice or the best bars may not always be strong suits if you don’t know how to use the alongside your production. He credits his ability to produce sounds that best suit his vocal and lyrical capabilities as what makes him a better musician.
Bruce Lee and women
Hours Before was birthed from the very experimentation with sound that Benny was working in to make 3 AM Truths. When he starts on a song he usually plays around with a few chords, which eventually becomes a full beat. Then comes the humming he does to find the correct melody. After all of this, he gets in front of the mic to record. None of this was the case for his favorite song on the EP.
The beat for “Bruce Lee” was initially played to Benny passively. The other people in earshot didn’t necessarily take much interest in it. Benny, on the other hand, got to writing the following morning on his way to work. Hence the line “I wrote this verse in a taxi passing Morningside.”
Benny cites the likes of Daft Punk, Kid Cudi, and A Tribe Called Quest as his sonic influences. On top of this, women are an important source of inspiration. 3 AM Truths was conceptualized to be about the honesty people show in the wee hours. Similarly, Hours Before takes on the same theme. “I wouldn’t say I’ve been through a lot with women, [but] certain relationships have taught me a lot about myself.” Benny sourced a lot of his lyrical content from the those lessons and how he was forced to come clean to himself about his character.
Releasing music and the awards that come with it
Releasing work is always a test if will for any artist. Benny was testing the waters with the release of Hours Before. “The timing felt right,” when he realized that the songs weren’t perfect for 3 AM Truths, but worked well enough to make one body of work. From the interaction he has had with his listeners, Hours Before had been positively received. “For the longest time I never felt I was ready,” he mentioned with a sense of pride in releasing the music that could have easily become lost tracks.
In the wake of the Metro FM Music Awards and Riky Rick’s controversial acceptance speech, music awards are a hot topic. Benny believes awards are great acknowledgements from the industry, but that the biggest award, and reward, is connecting with fans. “If my music could help people in their personal lives and [help them] create memories, the. That is the best award.”
Download Hours Before here.