Interview – Jason Benoit

Despite how 2020 has turned out, Jason Benoit has a lot to be thankful for because of his fans.

Hailing from Fox Island River Newfoundland, Jason Benoit knows how to keep busy during this extraordinary time. This CCMA award-winning country music artist has accomplished much in 2020 with his ECMA win for Fan’s Choice Video of the Year for “Slow Hand,” the release of the music video for his single “Two Wrongs”, plus his time spent in lockdown reconnecting with fans via his weekly Friday Night Lockdown live sessions on Facebook. Benoit continues to prove himself as an artist to watch in Canadian country. Canadian Beats chatted with Benoit, via email, about his award win, his new video, how he’s been pivoting in the time of the pandemic. We thought it would be great to end with some fun questions so Benoit’s fans can get to know him a bit better.

First of all, we at Canadian Beats want to congratulate you on your recent ECMA win for Fan’s Choice Video of the Year for “Slow Hand” featuring Leah Daniels and directed by Tim Deegan. (The East Coast Music Association {ECMA} is a regional collaboration of people in the music industry of Atlantic Canada. The 2020 Awards took place on July 12). On a side note, we would also like to congratulate you on reaching over 1.2 million streams for your award-winning “Slow Hand.”

When you were making “Slow Hand” did it cross your mind at all that it could garner a nomination, then bring home the hardware, in this prestigious fan-voted category? 

First of all, thanks so much for the congrats and for your support after all these years. I truly appreciate it. As for your question, I knew that fans were digging the song because before I even recorded it, I was singing it as a cover song at shows and festivals and there truly was a great response. But then adding Leah Daniels to the song as a duet really added something special to this track that people were looking for and I think that was the tipping point that made it even more sought after. There isn’t a lot of Duets in Country music these days like in the days of “Conway and Loretta” or “Johnny and June” and people miss that playful side of country, which I feel we were lucky to achieve with “Slow Hand.”

What does it mean to you that you won an ECMA Fan’s Choice award?

Winning the Fan’s Choice award is what every artist dreams of because at the end of the day the fans are what make it possible for artists to continue to do what we love to do. I am truly thankful and grateful from the bottom of my heart for such loyal fans that truly gave me this award!

How did you feel when your name was announced for the ECMA Fan’s Choice Video of the Year for “Slow Hand”?

I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked and so grateful! The category of Fan’s Choice Video of the Year is across all genres and not just country music so to win this truly shows the incredible support of country music fans and the true power country music has in today’s Canadian music industry. It was a dream come true.

Not being able to be together to celebrate, how did you, Leah Daniels, and Tim Deegan celebrate this win?

It was a bittersweet moment; we shared congrats over social media as many of us do today being kept apart due to the current state of the world.

Can you tell us a bit about the making of this video? I heard fresh cookies were involved. And, what was it like to work with these two talented and incredible people?

We actually shot the video at Leah’s grandmother’s place for the open field and her parent’s place for the barn scenes. They were incredible people who were very courteous and kind. And yes, fresh cookies were the icing on the cake from Leah’s grandmother. All very down-home country folk!

Next, let’s chat about your new video for your single “Two Wrongs” off your EP Revolution Part 1. This is a light-hearted single about how opposites can attract – “You like the Beatles and I like a little Merle.” The video is an animated form full of word balloons, scream bubbles, and very cool graphics.

Tell us a bit about how you came up with the concept for “Two Wrongs.” It seems to be a very special video.

The concept was thought up by my manager and president of my record label Vicktory Music Group, Nick Nunes, and the producer of the video, Ryan Daramsing. I was asked how I felt about the comic book idea with the UFO theme and I immediately said “Yes, Awesome!” Ha ha. I’m a big fan of comic books and conspiracy theories so this one was a no brainer.

Who produced “Two Wrongs”?

The track “Two Wrongs” along with the rest of the EP (excluding “Slow Hand” which was produced by Jeff Dalziel) was produced by Gabe Gallucci in Toronto. Fun Fact … Gabe also recorded the vocals for my tracks “Gone Long Gone” and “Cold Day Comin’.”

Do you have any fun stories to tell us about in the making of “Two Wrongs” and what was the most special highlight for you

I wrote “Two Wrongs” with a good friend of mine, Gerry Foote, a couple of days before I performed at 2018 Cavendish Beach Music Festival in PEI. There may have been a bottle of tequila and a bottle of Fireball present at the time, but we can’t really remember much from that night. All I know is, music business aside, sometimes the best songs are written by having a bit of fun with some good friends over a few drinks, which is how this one was written.

I have to ask, whose dog is in the video? 

That is not a real dog. He’s completely computer-generated. The magic of technology, ha ha.

You’ve ended this video with “To Be Continued.” Can you expand on that?

It’s a cinematic segway for the next single. A good movie always leaves you hanging, wanting more. Hopefully, fans will want to see more after seeing this video.

Let’s broach the subject that is on everyone’s mind these days – Covid-19. 

During the lockdown, you did spend a lot of your time connecting with your fans via your weekly “Friday Night Lockdown Live” sessions on Facebook. You reached over 15,000 fans worldwide during this time. Plus, you gave away merchandise (that’s so cool). You mentioned that this live stream was your new happy place. How was it for you to connect with your fans in this manner? 

It was actually the first time I did any live stream performances so at the beginning I wasn’t sure what to expect. I soon realized that a live stream is so personal and allows me to connect with fans one on one, from my home to theirs, which is truly a rare and awesome experience. Live concerts are fun and exciting but I can never hear comments after I perform a song. I can hear the collective cheer or even fans singing along but doing a live stream gives me direct feedback from individual fans straight away which can completely change the direction of what I do in a live stream next. I have a setlist written before my live stream but it can all change with just one request or comment from a fan. It’s exciting because it’s just as entertaining for me as it might be for the fans. Such a cool experience for me.

What was your favourite part of these sessions and what was it like to perform so many fan-requested covers?

The viewers’ comments are my favourite part of a live stream. Their comments and energy are felt through social media, it beamed straight into my home, which for me is as close to performing live as you can get. Fan requests are fun because I sometimes get to sing new songs I’ve never sung before. For example, I never thought I’d ever sing a Sam Hunt song because his style of country is different from mine but a request for “Hard to Forget” got me singing Sam Hunt and loving it!

How did you fair with the “3-shot Challenge” that you were nominated for during one of your sessions? 

I’m a straight whiskey drinker so it was a little easier than I’d like to admit. Ha ha.

This has been such a challenging time for the music industry and the Coronavirus has drastically reshaped how artists’ livelihood has changed. How has it been for you not to be able to have that personal interaction with your fans?

It’s been so strange not being out on the road as I usually am every summer doing shows, festivals, visiting radio and media outlets. Personal interaction is a huge part of connecting with fans and I truly miss it. There’s nothing like performing live, which I truly enjoy so not being able to do that has left me feeling empty inside, sort of lost. If an artist can’t perform for people, then what does he do? It’s been that way for many artists this year. Luckily, we have social media as an outlet.

Do you think social media has helped you even more than usual during these crazy times? 

Absolutely. Using social media through live streams has helped to ease some of the stress of the fans in these crazy days. It has also been very therapeutic for artists as well who can’t get out and connect with fans at shows like we used too. Social media thankfully helps both fans and artists alike to get through difficult times.

Rising to the challenge of this pandemic, how have you used your own platforms to stay engaged with your fans, to create a sense of community and help your fans cope emotionally? What is one message you would give to your fans?

This pandemic helped me learn a lot about the power of social media to connect with the world outside. I had to learn to adapt to a new virtual world and learned to love doing something I’ve never done before (live streaming). Fans would look forward to my Friday Night Lockdown live stream performances and told me so. To know that they valued this content and the fact that they keep coming back for more is incredibly encouraging to an artist especially in times of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I’d like to thank all the fans for giving me the encouragement and drive to keep doing more and more. I keep saying it because it’s true, I wouldn’t have a music career today without incredibly supportive fans that I owe everything to. A prime example is the win for ECMA Fan’s Choice Video of the Year. Fans always come first to me and knowing I still have their love and support after all these years is mind-blowing and very humbling.

Do you have any gigs lined up that you can tell us about? And, what will it mean to you to be back on the stage again, when the time comes?

Currently all my gigs for 2020 have been postponed until 2021. Please keep checking www.jasonbenoitmusic.com for updates on show dates.

You have amazing fans. Let’s chat about some random things that will make your fans get to know you better and fun for you to answer…

With all the many social media platforms that exist today telling the world your life story, is there anything about you that would be of interest to your fans; something that they couldn’t find on your own social network or even Google?

I’m an amazing metal detectorist. I love doing it … it gets me outdoors, gives me much-needed exercise, and I sometimes even find an old relic or coin which is a lot of fun for me. Boring to others though, lol.

What is the most useless talent you have?

I can make a squirrel chirping sound with my mouth, lol.

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?

Sometimes. I’m from the East Coast so sometimes the random Rankin Family song.

What is your favourite song to perform?

This is a hard one. For my songs, it’s “I Won’t Go” because it’s an upbeat powerful number with a great message of hope in times of uncertainty. For a cover song, I think my new favourite to sing is Morgan Wallen’s “Whiskey Glasses.” Great song!

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

Almost got arrested at a bachelor party … my friends were the troublemakers though, not me. Ha ha.

What do you think your “biggest break” or your “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your music career?  

My biggest break and the granddaddy of all opportunities was being discovered by Canadian songwriter Jenson Vaughan. He released my first set of singles, which helped me take off and get a gold single for “Gone Long Gone.”

If you can have one thing that your fans could remember about you, what would it be? 

I hope they look at my story and they realize that no matter who you are or where you’re from, you can achieve success greater than you could have ever imagined. Being a small-town Newfoundland kid, I only dreamed of achieving this level of success in country music. Dreams really do come true.

We, at Canadianbeats.ca, thank you Jason so much for taking the time for this interview and helping your fans get to know you a little more. We wish you continued success.

Connect with Jason Benoit:
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