Homegrown singer-songwriter Benjamin Kheng is back with new music, teaming up with acclaimed Filipino-Australian artist James Reid for a powerful collaboration on ‘Rock Bottom Blues’, the first single from his highly anticipated two-part album, Gloomy Boogie.
Produced by Charlie Kurata and Saint Kid, ‘Rock Bottom Blues’ delves into the depths of emotions experienced during difficult times and toxic relationships. The song explores the pain of feeling stuck in a cycle of self-redemption and longing for redemption. ‘Rock Bottom Blues’ is written by Benjamin Kheng, Olivia Knox, Saint Kid and James Reid.
Benjamin shares his inspiration behind the track: “Hurt people hurt people, that’s just human nature. I’ve experienced love that didn’t deserve my hurt, and that’s kind of where ‘Rock Bottom Blues’ takes place — at the end of a love that left for a good reason. It’s hard to be anything other than your worst self with someone when you’re already at rock bottom.” The poignant and introspective lyrics of the chorus (“Now I’m stuck singing rock bottom blues / I wish I was better for you / But I can’t / It’s too easy to fall right down again”) reflect the depths of personal struggle and the longing for redemption.
The collaboration —the first between the two— is a quintessential “sad bop”; the duo’s emotive vocal deliveries perfectly complement each other against the infectious dance arrangement. The result is a synergy that effortlessly blends sombre and danceability into a truly unique musical experience.
“Benjamin is a talented musician, and it’s been an honour working with him on this track,” says James, “The song holds a serious topic, but Ben’s playful personality couldn’t help but shine through. We aimed to infuse a playful energy into the song while staying true to its heartfelt essence.”
The feeling of admiration is mutual, as Ben shares: “ It’s been amazing getting to work with James on this track, not just to witness, up close, a superstar of his calibre be the amazing talent and human that he is, but also how beautiful it is to be able to make music across borders and draw parallel lines between our journeys. Here’s hoping we build more music roads across our barriers and get to see more Southeast Asians working together.”
The accompanying music video for the song was directed by Barnabas Chua of Murk & Marrow Films, who transports viewers to a mesmerizing, kinetic dream world. Alternating surreal landscapes serve as the backdrop, while multiple sets embracing natural elements such as snow, smoke, and storms provide Benjamin Kheng and James Reid with an expansive canvas to project their emotions. The video’s oscillating visual language guides audiences on a captivating journey, encouraging exploration of the contrasting yet enthralling world inhabited by the duo. Barnabas will also work on visualisers for other tracks on the upcoming album; the visuals of each video will echo the sonic textures of each track, revealing moments of vulnerability and introspection, where the viewers are invited to peel back the layers beneath the surface of Kheng’s multifaceted persona.
‘Rock Bottom Blues’ serves as the lead single of Benjamin’s two-part debut album, Gloomy Boogie, which will be released later this year. He describes the concept album as an ode to those who navigate life’s challenges while concealing their inner turmoil. The album will invite listeners to embrace their ugliest emotions at the most unexpected moments, capturing the same energy as those forced smiles at social gatherings when everything seems to be falling apart. It acknowledges the bravery required to dance through pain and acknowledges that everyone grapples with unkind thoughts, even when it feels isolating.
Like ‘Rock Bottom Blues’, fans can expect Gloomy Boogie to present them with a fusion of melancholic melodies and infectious rhythms that promises to be a captivating exploration of the human experience, celebrating the resilience of the “sad social-survivor”.