Either at first listen to first look, you know Benjamin Clementine is an artist. Yes, he is a musician, and a determined one at that. From growing up in the tough Edmonton section of London to busing kitchens in Paris, Clementine would move across nations and face every challenge, including poverty, to make sure the music of his heart could be released to the world. Every musicians suffers to be heard, but Clementine has suffered to create, which can be heard in his musical artistry.
Clementine grew up teaching himself to play and sing, influenced by Erik Satie and, a little later, while watching television discovered the magic of Antony and the Johnsons. In Clementine’s strict, religious background, television was a rare joy, which made watching this performance feel like, a message from Heaven: Benjamin Clementine MUST BE IN MUSIC! It was his deep, spiritual connection to music that helped sustain him and eventually move him from London to Paris, after realizing that he had no employment or emotional ties in his home country. Yet, he turned what many would deem sad or a barrier into a positive and further motivation to chase his dreams. Singing in the metro station helped him live in hostels and eventually rent his own room. These experiences, which again would discourage many, only lit the internal fire of Clementine’s spirit. He was going to make it in music. Moreover, he was going to make it in good music.
Clementine naturally evokes a raw sense of heart. You can literally see the beating flesh that makes his music, which means there is no avoiding that both you and him feel his songs so powerfully. Each of his tracks, both sonically and intellectually, are destined to rise within the soul. Just listen to I Won’t Complain. It is somberness in its purity. While most musicians aim for the emotion, Clementine strikes the basic essence of it, which may be a harder but more glorious feat. Moreover, his vocals seem to come from the pit of his stomach, as they evoke an inherent, guttural pain. Yet, ironically, in describing the above track, Benjamin told Fader: “I have always thought that the best way to get over a difficult situation is by way of belittling. Nothing is bigger than what I see, and complaining is too much of a luxury for a bohemian butterfly.”