Benzo Beneluxo is the alias of Koen Fris, a multi-instrumentalist who has kept busy in the Dutch music scene over the last few years, filling various roles in many bands.
“I’ve been playing guitar since (I was) 13, and not long after I got really into songwriting and have loved it since,” Koen said. “Creating something that feels like your own little baby, made up of all aspects of you, that makes me happy!”
Though he has always had a solo project in the works, it wasn’t until summer 2017 that Benzo Beneluxo came to be. While driving through the Benelux Union – Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – returning from vacation, and feeling revived after having had a week of the best sleep for months, without the aid of Benzodiazepines, Koen reached a turning point in life.
After a long run of struggling with sleep paralysis and night terrors, Koen went medication free and sought healing in nature, music and his studies as a music therapist. This course was a challenge to personally confront health issues and push creative boundaries, bringing an influx of creativity and emotion, which transcends into the music of Benzo Beneluxo. It can be heard through each song on the upcoming EP, Barkie (June 2020).
Benzo’s songs have an uplifting and sweet atmosphere to them, surprisingly so, considering they touch on some very heavy subjects, covering everything from dangerous boating journeys to uncertain love. One track is an open letter to a best friend who lost his father to suicide – a great man who also served as a long time music role model for Benzo Beneluxo.
Barkie is an intimate look into the ever so sweet sounds, but dark underlying of Koen’s mind, as heard in the first single, ‘Come On Home’. The track opens with rich euphonious guitars that smoothly swirl together, before dropping into the driving beat of the song. The rhythm section takes the listener on a journey with pleading lyrics from an outsider watching a poor odyssey play out to a loved one, while they are in total oblivion of harm.
“I guess it’s just kind of helpless advice to someone, you can go down that path, but when you see it for what it really is then at least know home is here for you,” he said.
This sense of journey is supported by the film clip, opening with the point of view from the passenger travelling in a car, embarking on an island adventure through sunny Madeira, Portugal.
The clip captures the cute camouflage that Benzo Beneluxo washes his songs in, complete with puppies and kittens! ‘Come On Home’ is a great introduction to the upcoming EP, introducing the intentions of Benzo Beneluxo’s music – to make light of a bad situation.