Benny Sings is a Dutch vocalist, songwriter, and producer whose music embraces the sunny melodic structures of vintage pop, R&B, and jazz while fusing them with arrangements and production influenced by organic hip-hop and downtempo electronic music. After playing with a series of groups, the Amsterdam native established a solo career with Champagne People (2003). Since then, he has continued to refine a synthesis of soul, jazz-pop, and soft rock with primary inspiration coming from Stevie Wonder, Michael Franks, and Alessi Brothers. (Sings' mellow and tender vocals recall the latter two acts in particular.) A valued serial collaborator, Sings has scored minor hits with Data ("Don't Sing," 2015) and Rex Orange County ("Loving Is Easy," 2018), and worked with Mocky, Mayer Hawthorne, and Cornelius on his own City Melody (2018), released the following year in a slightly reconfigured version as City Pop.
Benny Sings was born Tim Berkestijn in 1977, and was raised in Dordrecht, a city in the western Netherlands. When Berkestijn was a teenager, he formed his first band, a high-school combo called the Loveboat. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he studied sonology. In 1999, Berkestijn adopted the stage name Benny Sings as he joined the Dutch hip-hop group Abstract Dialect, signing on as their bassist. Before long, Sings was also working with the hip-hop collective De Toffen, as well as writing and producing material for the soul-styled group Heavenly Social.
In 2003, Sings struck out on his own, making his first solo album, Champagne People, which was released by the Dutch label Dox Records. Germany's Sonor Kollektiv label picked up the album for European distribution, and it earned enthusiastic reviews and impressive sales. Sings' next effort was a 2004 live disc, I Love You, and three years later, he released Benny...At Home, which true to its title was recorded in his home studio, with Sings handling most of the production and instrumental work himself. With the 2011 album Art, Sings' music began receiving greater attention in the United States, and the 2012 compilation The Best of Benny Sings was assembled with an eye toward introducing international audiences to his body of work.
Though there were no new Benny Sings albums for a few years, he stayed very busy. Along with touring, producing multiple acts, appearing on Data's 2015 single "Don't Sing," and forming new bands (new wave disco duo Copy Club, Coco Tour, and Double Double), he also built a new studio in Amsterdam. His fifth album, the soft rock- and Phil Collins-inspired, Stepkids-mixed Studio, was recorded there and released in late 2015. Three years later, he scored a minor collaborative hit with Rex Orange County's "Loving Is Easy," which registered on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart, and in Japan released his sixth proper album, City Melody. Recorded on both U.S. coasts and in Amsterdam, Paris, and Tokyo, the album zeroed in on Sings' affinity for R&B-infused soft rock, with Mocky, Mayer Hawthorne, and Cornelius among the contributors. Toward the end of 2018, Sings joined the roster of Stones Throw and made his label debut with a reinterpretation of Drake's "Passionfruit." A slightly reconfigured version of City Melody, titled City Pop, followed on Stones Throw in 2019. ~ Mark Deming & Andy Kellman