Welcome back Benji, since the release of your last project on the site how have you been keeping up? – Since my last release with you guys, CS2 in May 2016, I have been through a lot. I actually quit producing (again lol) due to personal issues and found myself experimenting with songwriting, recording & engineering. In the summer especially, I was in complete isolation. No beats = no friends am I right? I found myself in the shoes of your average music enthusiast, more of a DJ if anything, instead of an artist. During this time I my love for music reached new levels; I grew and transcended all the boundaries that most felt I couldn’t. There were times people didn’t believe in me (and I couldn’t even blame them) but I feel I am now at a point beyond belief; I am now whole and constantly rising.
How was the evolution of rising from the ashes to become a better artist/producer? – It was a rather strange, but definitely a surreal experience. From heartbreak to other outer body experiences, it was really during this time I realized that music was my true calling; and that this calling would forever be something that only I could understand and support. I finally managed to break out of other’s perception of me and ask “who am I? and what do I want?” I want to create, I want to do it my way and I want what I create to matter. I learned that I would rather be a fish in the vast ocean the music lifestyle than a shark in the small pond “regular life” any day. I learned that what I have is a gift, one that can easily be taken for granted both by myself and those around me; so therefore it is my job (my destiny really) to ensure that this gift shines as brightly as it is intended to. My light is infinite, therefore so is the task I am called to.
You sounding like you’re in a much better place. How’d you strike the balance between getting back into the swing of your music and making sure your health is okay? – Well I’ve always been the type to have a good separation of “church and state” sort to speak when it comes to balancing priorities and managing my focus. I like to make sure my personal affairs are in order, however I still like to see that I am in a good space musically as well. I try to make sure that on top of staying healthy, that I am also striving for advancement and success in life. So whether you see me as just a kid on campus at school or even just your average artist, I like people to know that I truly am passionate about what it is I do – music is what I love. Period.
Where did your love of music stem from? – I think it’s just something that has always been apart of me. I have always made it a purpose, sometimes not even consciously, to surround myself with music. I loved the radio as a child and would fall asleep to my favorite throwback slow jams on the air. I would wake up early for school to have time to watch A&M MTV videos and would love to rush home from school to catch 106 & Park. Even before I ever collected or made my own music, it was something that was always with me. From dancing to Jackson 5 songs in the living room with my siblings to being dropped off to school in a car cranking Port of Miami, I have always had a loving, genuine relationship with music; and this inspires the various emotions that i may, in turn, channel into my own creations.
How does your love of music translate into the music you make today? – The music I make is as a various as the times & ages of music I have lived through. I feel that in addition to keeping up with the hard, trap sound of today, I am able to keep the conscious, nostalgic sounds of yesteryear (such as R&B sampling) alive just based on the facts that these sounds have always natural loves of mine. I am able to keep the sounds that I fall in love with and make them apart of my style despite probably giving off the image of a producer just “keeping up with the times”. I feel that music I make is versatile and very hard to categorize just due to the fact that I love music as a whole, and not just one genre or passing trend.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing? – Hard to say. I would’ve still had the school route. I would’ve probably just focused harder in school and gotten through the day-to-days as best as I could towards a nice paying career like most of my colleagues hopefully will. Not to say that these things aren’t in my future for music, but I know it will be awhile before I am truly recognized and adequately compensated for the work I do; and i am willing to make that sacrifice to achieve greatness in music. This goes to show you that, if I weren’t doing music I would have the same passion and intensity towards any field I ended up being in. I graduate (assuming that DROP OUT check doesn’t roll in) in the fall of 2017 so I am happy I have been able to balance music and pursuit of a technical career as well as I have thus far.
That’s what’s up! How has the reaction been with your friends and family with your music? – Mixed reviews, various reactions. Most people, especially those who may know me personally, find it hard to distinguish Benji, the goofy but charmingly funny mama’s boy who always has a joke and a smile on deck, from Armstrong, the ambitious, cutthroat, evil genius on an industry mission that transcends any personal relationship. I don’t blame people for choosing to see me as the kindhearted fellow they can always go to for a bit of sunshine when they’re feeling blue; and most of the time I’m willing to oblige. However, things can get kind of tricky when it’s time for me to turn on that ruthless pragmatism that is often necessary while navigating the music world. I notice that more people in my personal realm would rather look the other way when it comes to my aggressive campaigning in the music word, and this is something that I myself do in-turn with regards to anyone who has nothing to do with my musical endeavors. For the most part, I try to keep my personal and professional lives separate anyways. So this isn’t something that’s too hard to navigate 🙂
Where did the Armstrong side come from? – Made sense for me to be the black astronaut. I knew from day one I would be a producer out of this world, and that alien no one would even quite understand until later on. Regardless of who will admit or recognize, I feel I am the man on the moon in my city; I break new ground and do things in and out of music that establish new trends.
How’s the Florida music scene from what you’ve experienced? – Florida is full of talent, north-south-east-west. I feel that this is the premier state for a Up and coming to be right now as far as the music scene goes. However, the division and formation of clan-like groups in our state makes it very hard for the state to rise as a whole. Artists tend to stick to who and where they know; which is usually not a good idea if you want to grow and expand your reach. Florida is unmatched when it comes to potential, but we are probably in dead last-place when it comes unity.
What’s in your plans for the rest of 2017? – 2017 will be a year of hard campaigning, interviewing, and being in the public eye. I am going to be making my industry debut and releasing my 1st EP via iTunes/Spotify/etc on April 26. We’ll call it “untitled unfinished” for now, but it is going to be a very professional project. I also plan on releasing my debut album Pyrex Radio at any time from November to the New Year. Lastly, and a major for me, I want to spend time establishing my label (Strange World) and my PYREX brand, as well as expanding Pyrex Radio.
You seem to have a well thought out plan in place man. What’s the endgame for you? – For now I really taking things one step at a time; but in the long run I just want to be a prominent figure in the music industry who can open doors and new horizons. I want to really get people out of that comfort zone they’re used to – because this is how you start new trends! In the end I just want to not only be “that guy” but I mainly want to help others be “that guy” that they have always seen in themselves. It’s not enough for me to be a star, I want to create & surround myself with stars as well.
To wrap up, what would you tell to other aspiring artists and rappers out there trying to make a way for themselves? – F**k what anyone (me, them, they, we, us, ¡anyone!) has to say about your craft. At the end of the day, your biggest fan has to be you; if not, you’re already losing. I know we live in an age obsessed with popularity and clout, but all that comes and go like the seasons. Something that can never be taken away is how you feel about what it is you do. As long as you feel that you’re the man and continue to strive for excellence, you don’t need to worry about what anyone else has to say. Self achievement – this is the only true path, all other routes are illusions.