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Style, innovation & equality

Benjamin is wearing a cotton and polyester smoking shirt by Eton, his own hat and necklace, polyester top and wool trousers by Our Legacy.

”Bladee is the artist I’m going to show my grandkids when they ask me what I listened to as a young man,” a quote taken from Reddit about the lyrical 25-year-old Stockholm-born autotune rapper, producer and designer. He leaves no-one untouched, or as a YouTuber pointed out while listening to his ”Red Light” album: ”why am I crying in the club rn?”

Ever since he began producing music, Benjamin Reichwald has released three mixtapes, five EPs, four collaborative projects, and two studio albums, ”Eversince” in 2016, and his second album ”Red Light” in 2018.

Benjamin is wearing a nylon and wool puffer jacket by Oscar Jacobson, polyamide trousers by Haglöfs, wool and satin tuxedo jacket by Our Legacy and full grain leather by Lundhags, stylist’s own accessories.

I would like to start by asking the same question that one Drainer asked on Reddit: Is Bladee aware of being Bladee?

— Yes, of course! haha! It’s a thing that is mostly misunderstood by people, that I shouldn’t have a sense of humor, that I take everything seriously.

Are you a shy person?

— I’ve used to be shy but I’m not really anymore. When I was younger it was more of a problem, but I’ve never been outgoing. Fame is really strange. Jonte (Yung Lean) became famous early on, I never really blew up back then. I was eased into everything through him. I went with him on his first tours of America and Europe and got used to those big screaming crowds.

They [Drainers] call you Drain Gang’s dark angel. Do you agree?

— If people think so, it’s chill. I handle my own feelings in my music. I don’t usually think about it that much. But it often happens that my music talks about deep stuff that I wouldn’t normally think about. I notice later when I read my own words. When I sing, I just rhyme. I guess it’s subconcious shit and sometimes it gets deeper than I thought.

Are you a poet?

— I find my voice by making music, but the fewer the lyrics the better. I would love to simply create hooks and really short texts, because you know, sometimes I feel that I say too much. I think you can say a lot in a few carefully chosen words.

Kristofer Andersson, a close friend and journalist taught me early on: ”Write short amounts, preferably nothing.”

— You don’t have to use so many words. There are often no words to describe the most intense things. The rest is just to fill up some kind of void.

It’s easy to connect to your lyrics, especially your song ”Sugar”: ”You don’t want me do you?/Know what I’ll do to you/Wish I never knew you/I wanna know what you do when I’m gone”. Did you have an idol that you felt connected to growing up?

— I liked the punk scene when I was a kid. When I was eleven or twelve, I saw a punk rocker casually walking down the street and wanted to be like him. So I started to trash my clothes and make fanzines.

”I find my voice by making music, but the fewer the lyrics the better.”

Benjamin is wearing stylist’s own t-shirt and necklace, a long sleeved cotton t-shirt by Acne Studios (SS20), a cotton smoking vest by Eton, polyester trousers by Buster’s World and an 18k gold ring with diamonds by GEORG JENSEN.

You started a punk band, in 2004, when you and Zak became classmates.

— Yes our name was Krossad (meaning Crushed in Swedish). It was the first time I’d done any music.

Drain Gang’s got a punk attitude. You are punk with autotune. Will you ever stop using autotune?

— Yes! I can sing better now, but I want to take singing lessons before I start releasing music and use my natural voice. Although I think there is something about autotune, it’s a different depth when you remove the human aspect of the voice. I can’t sing the same lyrics without autotune.

I have to confess, I hated autotune before listening to you.

— You can do it in different ways. When we started, we sang sick strange, and it was almost as if we used it as an instrument instead of a voice effect. But music can really be awful with autotune.

You’ve just released the Drain Gang music project ”Trash Island”. It feels like you often try to remake trash into something new and interesting, like autotune for example. Do you agree? Is it a love/hate relationship that keeps you going?

— Yes, hate is close to love. I like to just change completely, from one day to another. I really like to learn and get to grips with new stuff.

Is there something you are afraid of?

— I guess I fear anxiety.

Do you ever experience anxiety before you release a new project?

— No, not really. I don’t like to compromise and be convinced to do stuff I don’t want to do. But what really makes me cringe is the fact that all my music or interviews, such as this, will be on the Internet forever. I can’t erase it and it’s locked in history and it’s out of my control. Nowadays, I try to think less about that. I do whatever I feel like, although I don’t always like what I’ve done.

Well you can’t always be perfect, that’s just not human.

— No, but as public person it’s hard when you are constantly getting reviewed.

Are you aware that there’s fan fiction about you? There’s that common fan fiction story: girl meets boy, girl tries to save him from himself. Do you want to be saved?

— No, I’ve saved myself.

Are you spiritual? Do you believe in any higher power?

— Yes, of sorts. I don’t think things are just the way they are. I believe that you can create your own reality. I think you shouldn’t be completely sure of anything.

I recently read an interview from the 90s with Bodil Malmsten. She talked about a poem she gave the musician Plura for his birthday: ”Bli aldrig proppmätt och självgod! Misslyckas igen, Misslyckas bättre!" (”Never get too full and self-righteous! Fail again, fail better") You’ve said that you try not to get too comfortable. What is too comfortable?

— It’s when you think you know something, when you are sure of what you think and believe. I’ve just come to the conclusion that I don’t know shit about anything.

Do you have a humble approach to knowledge?

— Yes, when you get set in your ways, you will stop growing. Reality is recreating itself all the time, it never ends unless you put an end to it yourself.