Donny Benét: Six Songs That Made ‘The Don’
BEING an artist in the digital age really throws up so many challenges. When a hip street press/blog comes to you wanting hot content and original ideas you’re pained with thinking of something to present that’s different and interesting.
It’s getting harder and harder to uncover something coveted and unheard. Every cool kid has heard ‘Dolce Vita’ by Ryan Paris and now they’re just getting into all the Japanese ambient recording artists like Hiroshi Yoshimura. Just what do you do?
Well, I got nothing new – for those of you just getting on the Don Benét scene I’ll fill you in on where it all began. – Donny Benét
Back in the early days playing at Goodgod Small Club in Sydney I’d park my Subaru in the side land and have a pre-show snooze. Upon waking I’d play this song to get into the space. It’s not easy being a overweight balding middle-aged man selling sex and dreams to an audience. A little bit of Al gives you that confidence. Side note: the Radisson Hotel across the road from Goodgod had Sydney’s cleanest and quietest bathrooms. All you do is walk in the lobby pretending you’re talking on the phone to a hotel guest and the concierge is none the wiser. A real pre-show treat.
Every John Maus track is a winner. He was very influential on me during my early days – gave me the confidence to do my thing. When the Don first hit the scene it was all shoegaze reverb and strummy guitars. I was like the awkward young Italian boy starting his first day of high school in rural NSW. But once people taste your mum’s schnitzel (Italian style – hammered paper thin) they’re quickly on board with the program. Maus is a good man.
I bought the Scarface CD in the early 2000s on secondhand CD from Red Eye Records. Music was so much harder to come by back then. I’d seen the movie years before and was so stoked to finally get the music from it. Uncle Giorgio’s music is pretty awesome and disgusting at the same time. I loved the pulsating synth bass latched to the Linndrum – the uncompromising insistence of it. I bought a Linndrum during a trip to Japan in 2010 and used it on my second record.
Basically all the early-’80s albums. A real early influence. I saw Prince last time he was in Australia with a full band and it brought tears to my eyes. I love the history of funk/soul in his music and how he blended that sound with drum machines and synthesisers. It’s a real vibe to be so influenced by a particular style of music and then to build upon it and make it your own. #1 guy.
I grew up in a small country town with little or no access to good record shops. Long before the internet. I think we had an ABC store and maybe a Sanity record shop. Good music was very hard to come by. My dad brought home a VHS video of a taped English TV show called Rock School. Each 30-minute episode focused on a particular music style: rock, reggae, blues, metal and … FUNK. This particular episode featured short interviews and demonstrations with Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins and Niles Rodgers/Bernard Edwards of Chic. I learnt to slap bass from Larry Graham, Bootsy taught me the dirty funk, and the Chic guys showed me a real sophisticated way to present the funk. Bernard Edwards is one of my top bass guys. Mamma mia.
Lou Reed is one of the worst and best singers. Much like Alan Vega I love the conviction in his vocal delivery. Having fretless bassist Fernando Saunders in his later bands was a huge asset. This is a sound I can really get into and it inspires me to stick by my musical convictions and present it in a way that excites me.