Articles, Track By Track

Victoria Benito | Vulnerability, mundanity, and understanding ‘You Might Not Be as Good-Looking as You Think’

“Not only am I the composer, main performer, and producer of the album, but also the inspiration for it, which frankly, is disgraceful.” – Victoria Benito

Zyggy has asked me to write about my album, which is very flattering, but also very difficult, and after various fruitless bits of text, where I attempted to reflect on each of the tracks, technically or conceptually and, generally, stupidly, I am approaching the ambitious task of analysing my own music from a new perspective.

The album is out there in the world and it’s been there for over two weeks, so I have been able to gather some very kind feedback from very kind friends. I think this is important to acknowledge because their reactions have given me details about the pieces that I wasn’t really considering before. The lack of feedback, however, from other also very kind friends and people that I assumed I would get feedback from, scared me, but that is probably due to the fact that I am an insecure composer. It is okay; I still really like the music that I made.

Photo credit: May Chi

I find it arrogant and a bit pathetic to reveal, but You Might Not Be as Good-Looking as You Think talks about my life. All the tracks are about my life. Not only am I the composer, main performer, and producer of the album, but also the inspiration for it, which frankly, is disgraceful. Still, there are countless things beyond myself and my life that I cherish, admire, and love, that are equally an inspiration for this music as I am. And I think that my personal interaction with these things is what ultimately triggered these eleven tracks.

I don’t consider myself a self-absorbed individual, but my music can be sometimes. Its conceptual core are the things that I usually don’t discuss with others, unless those others were truly close people that appreciate me unconditionally like my mum, because who else would be interested in discussing in depth with me my daily life adventures and misadventures? These events are, in fact, very meaningful to me and, although I would never think of them as global issues or celebrations, they exist with and within me every day, and making them into something musical to perceive them differently and artistically, is crucial to me to sincerely understand and communicate why I do what I do as an artist.

Victoria Benito, playlist stream of You Might Not Be as Good-Looking as You Think (2022).

The oldest track in the album is There Will Never Ever Be Another Me, which was recorded in September of 2020. And because that summer I played ‘There Will Never Be Another You‘ on the piano to a sickening degree and this was an improvisation, I decided to call it that. There isn’t much more that I can say about it, but hopefully the music speaks by itself. And if it doesn’t, hopefully it sounds decent.

The cheesiest track in the album is Love Song in Spanish, which was essentially inspired by love. I don’t think there is much more cheesiness in the album.

Victoria Benito, visual for ‘For a Dying Pigeon’ (feat. Kat Wallace), from You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think (2022).

Very mundane activities are a massive source of inspiration for my compositions, but only when experiencing these activities evokes an emotional response in me. One day, on my way back home, I saw a dying pigeon near Digbeth Coach Station. I had never felt compassionate towards a pigeon before, but I could see its suffering in its eyes and it broke my heart. I went home and wrote For a Dying Pigeon, which is a piece of compassion for that bird and a reminder to myself to feel compassion for the things that I sometimes forget to feel compassionate about: street pigeons sometimes and people other times.

While I’m writing this my neighbours are playing ‘In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle’. It is distracting me massively, but it also reminded me of when my sister and I used to dance to it when we were younger, pretending we were garden sprinklers. During lockdown in 2020, dancing became a constant activity to me and my friend and we would spend hours every day trying to learn dances from old music videos. It didn’t feel very mundane at the time; everything was too exceptional and unbelievable to be perceived as everydayness. But dancing reminded me of when I was a child and I would think of it as something relatively ordinary. Children dance all the time, so it feels normal to do so and to be asked to do so. After a month of daily lockdown dances, it became surprisingly prosaic, which I guess never happens to dancers and people who really like to dance. I suppose dance dance dance dance dance dance dance is about this.

Victoria Benito, visual for ‘dance dance dance dance dance dance dance’, from You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think (2022).

It took me a while to like Dry and Austere. It is a bit eccentric but I don’t know what it is about it that I didn’t fully agree with. The piece has definitely grown into me and I think it was having good friends playing in it that made it better. Friends make everything better, don’t they? And if I’m honest, Too Sad to Sing was only included so that the album had eleven tracks in total. I really hope I’m never too sad to sing.

Eleven Allen Keys is the eleventh track of the album. Around this time last year, I found out that I was the proud owner of eleven, very useful Allen keys. At the same time, I started writing a song that needed vocals and possibly some kind of lyrics. At first, I didn’t want the song to be about Allen keys, because I didn’t want people to question the seriousness of my music or the lack of depth of the words. But then I thought that my music is serious and the words are deep, so why would people question it? Or why would they question it more than the instrumental bits, the production, or the quality my singing? There are so many elements in Eleven Allen Keys that are questionable, and that I never questioned that could be questionable, that I am not worried about the choice of topic anymore.

Victoria Benito, ‘Eleven Allen Keys’, from You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think (2022).

Prelude to an Album is a sequence of chords that I really like because to me it sounds like a sphere that continuously shrinks and expands, which also reminds me of a heart beating. So I thought I’d put a blood-pumping organ at the beginning of the album to keep it alive. Speaking of hearts and organs, Illusion would be the soul of the album. In the booklet I talk about this, so I won’t repeat myself too much, but I really like how music and visuals can affect our perception of time when we are experiencing them. With this track I wanted to recreate the feeling I get when I’m involved in a temporal illusion and can’t perceive time passing. I enjoy absorbing myself in that state of confusion where I cannot be sure of what I am experiencing.

Victoria Benito, visual for ‘Ashes Don’t Sing but They Whisper’, from You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think (2022).

Ashes Don’t Sing but They Whisper is a summer night in our beloved rural paradise, surrounded by family and friends, making delicious food, listening to music, and sharing the space with the sound and the smell of pieces of wood burning and slowly becoming ashes. I wish I could’ve recorded their smell too, but at least you can hear them.

Ode to an Ode gave somebody the idea of making this album, so I guess it is the origin of You Might Not Be as Good-Looking as You Think.

Victoria Benito, visual for ‘Ode to an Ode’, from You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think (2022).

Victoria Benito (b. 1993, Madrid) is an interdisciplinary composer, performer, and researcher based in the UK. Victoria’s work draws upon experimental, pop, classical and electronic sounds, as well as film and visuals; her recent compositions have revolved around everydayness, reflecting on her experience of the un-romantic and mundane aspects of life. Victoria’s work has been performed internationally by ensembles such as Decibel, orkest de ereprijs, and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with her debut album You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think releasing on Birmingham Record Company / NMC Recordings on 28 October 2022.

Read PRXLUDES’ initial interview with Victoria Benito here.

Stream and download You Might Not Be as Good-Looking As You Think at the links below:

Follow more of Victoria Benito’s work at:

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