Binx on Feeling ‘Buzzed’ For New Album, Overcoming Her Father’s Death: Interview
Binx almost gave up. Her father passed away mere months before the release of her debut project, 2016’s addictive The African Bee EP. The tragedy sent a shock wave through her system, draining every ounce of creativity from her body. She could have succumbed to her pain, but she struck back in a big way. That’s when “Jack Flash,” a feisty ‘80s-influenced pop-rock number, was born.
“I feel you there,” she croons, detailing her father’s guiding light throughout her brand new album, Buzzed (out now), which was brewed in sorrow and nurtured with tenderness. “I wanted to pour my heart out a little, show the more vulnerable side to me and let people know how important he was to me,” she shares.
The past year, filled with death and heartbreak, was critical to Binx’s evolution in more ways than one. “I felt like I got whiplash with all those emotions last year. I wanted to put out an album called Buzzed, because it was an indication of what my feelings have been,” she says. On the cover (below), she strikes a Madonna-like pose, a liquor bottle firmly gripped in one hand, gushing black and yellow paint. “I found my dad in my music again. The paint is representative of me channeling something negative into something positive. I’m pouring my alter ego back onto my skin.”
Her alter-ego, the provocative, confident African Queen Bee, allowed her to mend her broken heart and return to the stage. “I’m not broken, just rearranged,” she promises on “Paradise,” the sunny bookend to a record which touches on life’s most fragile but transformative pillars. “Hell, I could use a friend today, hey!” she later howls. “Playing Games” finds Binx dissecting the treacherous dating scene in the digital age, while “Like a Wave” taps into her inner Lana Del Rey angst for the set’s standout ballad. Binx often waxes dreamily poetic⎯⎯“You’re in my head / You’re in my bed / I’m awake / I play pretend my heart isn’t dead”—but most times, she isn’t afraid to “Scream” her lungs out.
On the album’s main message, she takes a moment to catch her breath. “I want people to know that you can go through the most difficult things in your life—whether it’s heartbreak from someone you’ve been in love with or if you are mourning someone you’ve lost. You can get through it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “I always try to radiate positivity. Every song that I’ve written, there is always a positive enforcement in how you can overcome the sad times.”
On Buzzed, producers Jackson Hoffman and Rhyder Stewart pieced together a stylistically cohesive record which feels brawny, timely and empowering. Binx injects each lyrical quip with an astute wisdom, which could have only been taught through experience. It’s evident she’s having a blast, and even when life throws her a curve ball, she throws one right back. Three percent of album proceeds go to save the bees with Environment New York.
Below, the singer explains how she processed the past year of her life, her move to Los Angeles and ghosting.
How did you keep up the level of strong melodies for this album?
I don’t even have an answer to that. I think I’m very much a writer, and I’m always hearing melodies and hooks in my head, consistently. Most of my melodies come out when I’m at the gym. It’s frustrating. [Laughs] I’ll get on the treadmill, start my workout and will have to run out of the room twenty times to sing into my phone. It’ll come whenever I don’t want it to come. I’ll then just have to run home to write the song.
You really let your vocal shine on “Like a Wave,” the only true ballad on the record. What inspired that song?
That is about my only love. We’d been in a relationship for more than four years. It was long distance from South Africa. He was a diver and basically lived in the ocean. He was very unfaithful to me throughout our entire relationship, but I kept taking him back. I got to a point where I realized exactly how toxic our relationship was. One day, he was diving, and I went to the beach with him to sort of watch him. I was actually on the rocks in the middle of the ocean when I wrote this song. I didn’t have a pen or a phone with me. I wrote the song in my head as he was diving. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever written a song. It’s kind of like The Notebook, where you have so much passion and love but it’s toxic and terrible.
Were you nervous about releasing a ballad?
No, actually. I love writing ballads. Sometimes, it feels difficult to break a ballad in when you have such a limited amount of songs you can record. I needed to bring in a ballad. I probably write better ballads than anything else. I know my music is very dance-pop, but I’m glad I did. “Like a Wave” is your typical ballad, and then “Jack Flash” is my more rock-pop ballad.
Which is easier to write: ballads or uptempos?
Naturally, an uptempo song comes quickly to me. I’m usually a very upbeat person, so that comes as a very empowering type of song.
How did you process those emotions through writing and recording this album?
When everything happened last year, I hit a wall and didn’t [want] to sing. It actually wasn’t making me very happy. I wasn’t writing anything. I started therapy, and I mentioned to my therapist that I wrote a song called “Jack Flash.” And I couldn’t believe it because it was quite soon after it had happened. I didn’t expect to write a song for a long time. That song needed to come out at that time. After that song, I never really wrote again and didn’t even want to sing. I was going to give up a career in music and sort of gravitate doing something in fashion or acting. It was devastating doing anything musical because my dad was so musical and taught me about it.
I got to a stage where I was telling everyone I was done with music. A friend of mine bought me a cordless microphone that I had always dreamed of having. It was the same one my dad used when he used to DJ. I felt forced back into music with that, but then, it also felt right. I didn’t want [to bring] anyone down. It was a big sign that I needed to keep going. I tried to channel the negativity into something positive. I took it one step at a time and did each project that made me feel good. I started slowly writing until I got back into it.
How have you changed in the past year?
I’ve changed in every aspect: the way I think, songwriting, perception of life, people and relationships, how I go about my day-to-day. Everything has changed. When you go through something like that, I was always worried I wouldn’t be myself. I’m not; I still have parts of me, but I’ll never be the same. That was the hardest pill for me to swallow. I’ve had good people around me to help me channel all that into positivity...It’s made me stronger and better. You can’t cherish lives and time as much as you do when you’ve lost something that important to you. I’m more appreciative and more aware of making the most of every minute I have with people.
One of the other standouts is “Playing Games.” How did it come together?
That is such a fun one. I actually wrote it with a completely different title. I played it for one of my friends, and he didn’t really like it. I was like, “No, I think it’s going to be really good…” The melody was there, but I think I was writing about something different at the time. It had a different concept. It was an unfinished track. Then, I met this surfer from the Hamptons, and we started dating. It was going really well, and I really liked him. I hadn’t liked anyone for awhile, but we started [with] social media issues. There was ghosting involved and lack of communication. What inspired the song was not just from him but any relationships where they are going so well and then all of sudden, they fall off the radar. I thought it was important to discuss dating in the digital age and why we play games with people we like, instead of just going for what we want or being upfront if you’re not interested anymore.
Ghosting is the worst.
It is the worst. I don’t understand the concept of ghosting. People change their minds, and all you have to do is say “Hey look, I was into this in the beginning, and if I’m being honest, I’ve changed my mind” or “I’ve met someone else” or “I’m not in a good place right now.” After you’ve been ghosted once, I’ve learned to never ghost someone. It’s just not respectful.
Why are you moving to LA?
I went there a couple months ago and did really well there. I had every single person tell me “you know, you need to be in LA. You could stay comfortable in NYC or you could further your career in LA.” I knew I had to always move to LA at some stage, but it made sense to go there as fast as possible. The things I achieved in six days in LA was ridiculous compared to what I’ve been doing in four years in New York.
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