Recently we caught up with BENT. LY, 21, one of the artists on our inaugural programme in 2018. He has collaborated and released three songs through The Sound Initiative (TSI) Soundwave 2021 សោតាអារម្មណ៌ just the end of last year. This year, he released his EP “Wretched Peace”.
What first got you into music? Soon after starting university, I felt like I could not continue anymore, and I wanted to do something else. Then I found a couple of young producers that work with famous artists who got me thinking why I couldn’t do something like that?
I have loved music ever since I was little, but I never thought that I wanted to become a professional singer or producer. When I started to be interested in music, I only wanted to produce, and I told my parents about it. My mum disapproves of my choice because, in her perspective, a music career doesn’t work. She encourages me to continue university and keep music as a second choice. Still, for me, I think if you want to pursue a music career, you have to give it your all otherwise, the result will be undoubtedly disappointing. Much later, my mum discovered PPIIA and suggested I apply, and I did, so that’s where I got my formal music education.
Which artists inspire you? One of the first producers who inspired me was Metro Boomin. His album with 21 Savage “Savage Mode” was the album that inspired me to make music. It was around 2016, and the first time I heard it, I was struck, and I was determined to be a professional artist too. The artist that inspired me to sing was Bryson Tiller. He was starting too, but he had a huge hit, so I felt like that was possible for me. When I was trying to get into PPIIA, I was so nervous, and I don’t know what the teacher’s reaction was. Fortunately, they saw potential in me and taught me well.
What is your all-time favorite album? I love Trilogy by The Weeknd. Sonically and vocally. This album heavily inspired my work. Beautiful Sound.
ou just released an EP. What was the inspiration behind that?
It was all about the real-life experiences, mine, and my friends. It was all about the stories I cannot tell to other people, so I wrote it into a song instead. I want it to be as authentic as possible. I want to sing about my truth and wish that the listeners can relate to what I’ve gone through.
What does Wretched Peace mean to you?
Wretched Peace- Going through hell to find the light at the end. It’s like all that I have gone through, all those hardships and holding on until you find peace.
How long have you been working on this EP?
I started around 2019, back when I was still in the TSI program and I was writing it until 2021. 3 years for 5 songs. *laugh*
Apart from singing, you also produce your music. What was the process like during the making of the EP?
I started by writing music and sending it to my producer friend to have some feedback. He was my classmate from TSI, Larry Zinc. I asked Larry for help on “Face Covered” & “Turn My Back”, so he is the co-producer on those two songs. For “All For Me”, after I’m done, I got feedback from Nighttone, and he had a lot of suggestions which turned out to be ten times better. The last song of the EP, “Is it You”, was my work entirely.
The process of making each song on the EP was never the same as the last. I started with the melody and finding the right chord progression; then I usually tried to come up with the chorus and verses. Most of the time, I do the lyrics last because I need to be satisfied with the music first to continue. There was one time I spent one week straight on writing the lyric to perfect it.
What was the most fun part of the process?
Producing the music is the best part because my creativity flows better when making music rather than writing lyrics.
How about making the visual side of your EP? How did you come up with the concept for the cover art?
I remembered looking at Kendrick Lamar’s cover art for Humble. He was looking to the side with this beam of light behind him. It sparks my interest and I wanted to make something with that essence. Basically, I sent all my raw photos to my designer and said that I wanted it to have the wave of sound coming out of my mouth. I also animated it to make it more interesting and not static and boring.
Are we going to see MV from this EP in the near future?
Maybe but I can’t promise that *laugh*. Due to this current situation, and just wanting to have the full idea before I put anything into motion. Maybe!
Which song are you most excited to perform live, if given the opportunity?
I want to perform them all, but it has to be “Is It You?” if I had to choose. I want to have this cinematic moment with the audience, and performing live is great to connect with them. Just thinking about it makes me excited.
In the past year, entertainment has moved online. How did the internet impact your business as an artist?
Not that bad, actually. Even without a lockdown, my plans still stayed the same except for the live performances. It’s not that different for me, which could be surprising to some people. The audience is at home anyways, and I’m providing them with more content via the internet. My EP is available everywhere; Apple Music, Spotify, Youtube, etc.
How did you decide when you are going to release the EP?
I actually wanted to release it in March-April last year, but that was the start of the lockdown, and coincidentally I got sick at the same time, and the doctor advised me to relax. After the situation got better in 2020, I was planning to re-release it in March-April 2021. 2021 rolls around, and it still gets worse, so I just decided to release it just like that. I’m a fully independent artist, but in the future, I think I have to do a release plan.
What is your vision for this current EP?
Of course, everyone wants their work to be successful, but I don’t want to expect my work. Putting the goal too high leads to disappointment and I don’t want to worry about how well it performs.
What’s next for BENT.LY?
I’m working on new music currently. I can’t say more than that *laugh*.
Any words of advice to people who want to start their own musical career?
I’m a new artist still, but I want to keep going for any new artists who want to start. Don’t forget to study the business side of the music as well as the creative side. It is crucial for your career down the road.
Be the best version of yourself, and don’t try to act like anybody else because that will destroy your identity as a human and artist.
WRETCHED PEACE IS OUT NOW EVERYWHERE. LISTEN HERE
Written By : Irene Hang