MNEK roars back with exclusive FAULT Magazine Photoshoot and new video ft. Hailee Steinfeld

Words & Photography: Miles Holder

Styling: Edith Walker Millwood

Grooming:Bianca Simone Scott

Styling Assistants: Leslie & Felicia

 

MNEK returns today with a brand new track from his upcoming debut album! It’s hard to imagine, but despite years of releasing hits to the world, MNEK is still only 23 years old. New track entilted ‘Colour’ also features vocals from Hailee Steinfeld. We sat down with MNEK to talk all things music, his big battles and look to what will no doubt be, an even brighter future.

 

In other interviews, you’ve mentioned never having a figure like yourself in the industry, is it harder to pen an album when you don’t have a reference to learn from? 

I think when I say that, I mean that I don’t have an artist who is like me. Just as far as being out and being an openly gay musician and I drew influence from different areas of music that I love. I always grew up loving 90’s rob, prominent voices and dance music and so it was just an amalgamation of all those things but with my spin on it. Doing it without a point of reference makes it more fun too because there aren’t any rules that I have to follow.

Colour by MNEK & Hailee Steinfeld on VEVO.

 

Your early music and all-around demeanour at the start of your career was far more muted that it is today, did you ever feel like you were being pressured to tone it down back then?

 

I think I was figuring it out. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the evolution of artists being a sudden “now I’m the real me and doing when I want” but really evolution is about the changes that lead up to that point. I can say that getting to that point 18/17 when I was releasing records, that’s who I thought I was. There were some things that I was maybe surprising, but I guess that comes from the knowledge that I have now. Now, when I’m surpessing something, I know that I’m doing it, but more importantly, I remember when to stop. When I first started putting out records, I didn’t think I was gay. So all the rudimental records stuff, was me figuring things out while growing up and being on tour and getting into the Industry and it was a lot! Now thankfully I’ve established myself as a writer-producer which has given me the comfortability to be myself and find myself

 

 

What would you say is the goal of this record?

I have a bigger goal and more of a target and what more my career can do. I think when I was putting out music, these were all songs that I loved and I’d written, but now I come with the knowledge that if I’m putting myself out there, it has to help people or for me to be the template for young artists that I didn’t have.

 

And what is the overall goal of your career in music?

To be the template, I think the main thing for me is not to be the main one, while it’s great for me to be out here saying “I’m the only openly gay pop star” what my goal is, is for me not to be the last.

 

You’ve made a point about always being yourself, but that can be a detriment to your fanbase and people who don’t agree with your choices – why not stay silent?

 

Everything happens for a reason, and I have a unique career in the way that it’s not conventional for the person I am to be making music that I’m making. I think that everything I’ve done up to this point has happened for a reason and I’m at a point where I’m doing all that I could have dreamed of.

 

It’s a great album, I was expecting because of the messaging, for it to be a more melancholic album, but it’s really uplifting!

I sometimes think when it comes down to the gay narrative, it can come across as unrequited love and sadness or that being gay is a hard knock life when in fact, being gay is jokes and so much fun. I have great friends, incredible stories to tell both mine and others and I think there are ways of singing about our experiences and still having a good time. I have ballads on there which are sad, but it’s mixed with sass and my score sting.

 

You’ve written a lot for other artists, how different is your process when writing for yourself?

It’s both different and the same. When I’m writing for another artist, I’m tailoring it for them. I’ve got to talk to them, and I ask “what are you going through” but when it’s for me, it’s the same conversation, but I’m just having it with me. The way I see the world is different to how DUA will see the world or Zara or Beyonce so I can help paint the picture but it’s got to come for them.

Is it hard putting so much of yourself into your music

No, because I started in the industry when I 14, what was I going to write about at that age. So I grew up and went through things, and that inspires what I sing about now, and I don’t have a problem with it. What’s exciting about releasing this album, is it not belonging to me anymore and it will belong to the fans.

 

What’s your biggest fear?

Failure, but that comes in different forms. I haven’t learnt to drive a car, but I’ll be damned if I have to kill someone and to be in control of my transport.

 

What is your FAULT?

I’m incredibly self-conscious which is more from a vanity point of view, as a result of being a big kid and having the weight issue. I’m working at it, and we should all work on our mental health every day and making sure we are our best selves.

 

FAULT Weekly Playlist: Benji Lewis

benji

It’s been a while since our last weekly playlist, but we’re back this week with Australian singer/songwriter Benji Lewis! For this edition, we’re doing something a little bit different. Benji recently released his debut EP Hearts & Halos, a collection of four sultry nu R&B tracks centered around love and relationships. With a vocal sound & style that can be likened to Sam Smith, Active Child and Antony Hegarty, Benji Lewis captivates and inspires with his vocal complexity and technique, as it’s nestled amongst tidy arrangements of smooth electronic beats, swooping synths, and textured atmospheric sounds. We asked Benji to take us through the EP track by track, as well as provide a playlist of some of his current favorite tunes.

Track By Track through Hearts & Halos EP with Benji Lewis
*** Reach You Where You Are ***
After loosing my Mum in 2012, this was the first real expression that just flowed out of me one night. I was in my apartment in Brunswick sitting at my digital piano and nearly the entire song came out. It’s about wanting her to still be around, to let me know that she’ll always keep me safe & that we’ll always be able to reach each other some way.

*** Why ***
I fell really hard for this one person and we created this beautiful idea and picture of what we could be. Saying how crazy it was to come across each other, staying up all hours talking over the phone. Then out of the blue they were gone. So it’s about the feelings that come loosing something before it even really had a chance to be something and wanting to know why.

*** Never Leave You Lonely ***
So having gone through a bit of rejection and loss in the relationship department, this song is coming from that. Then having new feelings for someone who has some similar trust issues. It’s about having that understanding of what it feels like, wanting to prove to them that you are different and you won’t ever do that to them. You just want them to give you that chance.

*** Night * Day ***
I love my Mum so much and I miss her every day. This song is me just reflecting on being here without her. Remembering conversations we had, that are ever so visual in my mind & I’m glad they are. It’s about the love she had for me, which was unconditional and believing in it just as I do without any second thought as much I do night and day. Holding on to the faith that we will speak again, we will see each other again.

Benji Lewis’ Current Favorites
Joy – About Us

gnash – I hate u I love u (ft Olivia O’Brien)

Atlas Bound – Lullaby

MNEK – No Ordinary Love (Sade Refix)

gnash – leave a message

ARMNHMR Ft. Desiree Dawson – Fallen (Dathan X Fransis Derelle Remix)

Flume – Never Be Like You feat. Kai

RY X – Sweat

Benji Lewis Socials:
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Soundcloud