By Haniya Cheema, Guest Contributor
The following is an interview and music review of Ben Leit, a new artist from northern New Jersey. He is currently 20 years old, finds his passions in music and drama, and attends Hamilton college. We met virtually for an interview on June 1st.
I compared the face glowing on my computer screen to the one of a much younger Leit pictured in a polaroid of the cover art for one of his singles. The similarities were obvious: bright, unassuming eyes and perpetually curious eyebrows, raised in either wonder or surprise. The main difference was the college-kid scruff. My first prediction, based on appearance alone, was that I’d be interviewing a politely mannered frat boy on his steadily emerging music career. However, this reaction was in direct contrast to how his music made me feel. It is far removed from the brutishness associated with men in college.n fact, it finds its beauty in how deeply attuned it is to all emotions, not just the most predictable ones, like longing or anger. With its fearful, brooding, intricate themes, Leit's music slips a hand underneath the sheets of the human experience and pulls the blanket over your head, using reverb and rhythm to recreate the miniature seismic waves of adolescence. With each metallic hum you can feel the ground move under your feet, taking you towards the future, as uncertain as it may be.
His first single, called Worst Nights, was released on April 23rd, 2020. Worst Nights speaks to the side-characters of the world: the calm friend, the older sibling, the guidance counselor. Through a peaceful, repetitive hum, Ben sings, “On your worst nights / Will you call me / On my worst nights / Will you save me / From myself / Can you give me some help?” The song strikes a beautiful lonely-in-the-crowd chord, spoken with the fogginess derived from a night of pacing up and down through college halls. The quiet confession of tenderness and pleading for love in return falls out in simple, narrative lyrics, leaving the listener moved by the vulnerability of it all. About the process of creating the song, Leit said, “I wrote it on a plane… It was kind of a feeling of reliability. I’m very lucky to have a lot of people in my life that I really care about but sometimes I think that I feel too depended on, and not able to depend on others in the same way, like I’m kind of an emotional anchor… so Worst Nights was a song of reassurance.” The subject material pulls at the weight in all of our chests: will the people we love give love in return? Are we alone, and how long will we stay that way?
Inside, Leit's blunt, quarantine inspired second single, speaks to the anxious, bored juvenile. With its relatable, almost sassy lyrics and clicky beat, it is the eyeroll and the hand pressed against the bedroom window that every corona-age teenager is accustomed to. The difference between Inside and Worst Nights’s emotional weight and lyrical tone showcases Leit's range of songwriting capabilities, and leaves no clear precedent for his future work.
Leit's debut EP, Window, is on track for release on July 3rd, and is sure to be the midsummer inspiration you need to get through these nail-biting months. Make sure to tune in and support your local emerging artist!
P.S: His favorite fruits are crunchy green grapes (because they taste like candy), watermelon (but not in excess), pineapple (only when they are perfectly ripe), and avocados (which he insists are technically fruits, and eats one of a day).
You can listen to Ben's music on Youtube, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Apple Music. Follow him on Instagram: @benleit