[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] Daktyl And Benni Reflect On Their Solo Projects & New Collaborative Single, "Matrix"
One of the greatest qualities of music is its ability to bring people together. Not just listeners, but artists as well. Every so often, individuals will cross paths that share a like-minded vision. This is exactly how things went down in the case of Daktyl and Benni Ola, two musical innovators that have joined forces to transform their visions into reality. Now, they have linked up with iEDM to reflect on their journey together. However, this story is incomplete without tracing it back to each artist's origins.
A mixed bag of talent and creativity, Benni is never afraid to express what's on his mind. In addition to songwriting, rapping, and acting, Benni's identity is heavily rooted in poetry. Contemplating what the art form means to him, Benni stated, “To me, poetry came from a space of 'how do I say how I feel'”. Growing up in a Nigerian home, it was uncommon to convey his emotions. Utilizing it as a channel to communicate, poetry has led to new opportunities for Benni. “People open doors to what they understand. You don’t let a stranger in; you let somebody who you know in. When you are genuine with how you feel and how you express yourself, others will recognize that,” he explained. In regard to how poetry transfers over to different areas, Benni claims that “everything has a rhythm in life”. He has taken his understanding of rhythm from poetry and brought it into his acting and songwriting.
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Balanced with Benni's powerful lyricism, Daktyl is a wizard in the field of production and instrumentation. Although, the path to becoming a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist was far from easy. When asked about the musical challenges he has faced, Daktyl recalls the saxophone as being the hardest instrument to pick up. He has always had a great understanding of music theory, so the real issue was heightening his mechanical skills on the sax. Offering advice on how to overcome this type of obstacle, Daktyl stressed the essentialism of discipline. “You have to learn to enjoy practicing, and I love practicing.”
On the road to discovering his signature sound, Daktyl also discovered the importance of curiosity. Instead of just listening to EDM, he loves jazz, gospel, classical, and all sorts of other genres. These influences are absorbed into his creative process when working on a new track. Additionally, he seeks inspiration from elements outside of music, such as nature. Another piece of wisdom Daktyl shared was to write down ideas the instant they come to mind. This triggered Benni's memory of how he interpreted a famous quote from Pharrell: “Creativity is a library and you’re just checking out ideas. If you don’t check it out, then someone else will.”
Within the first five minutes, this kind of flow between Daktyl and Benni was quite clear. They frequently bounced off each other's ideas; it had to be a factor when forming an immediate connection, during their inaugural joint session in 2019. Since then, they have taught each other so much, growing together as artists and as overall people. “I feel like Rich (Daktyl) is somebody who pays attention to a lot of detail. He sat me down and said, 'Hey man, I think this would be a dope lane for you to explore,'” remembered Benni. While Daktyl supported Benni's dive into the EDM space, Benni returned to favor with his imaginative mindset.
Talking about the nature of their relationship and what he has learned from Benni, Daktyl said, “his uniqueness hasn’t really been done before. He has helped me explore new territories. He has made me more open to experimenting. I think we were meant to work together. We are both pretty quick and we both throw stuff at the wall to see what sticks. We have created this collage of music that I’m very excited for people to hear.” Going off Daktyl's analysis, Benni laughed as he exclaimed, “Shoutout to Rich's quickness! In the studio, he is six people working at the same time.”
Fast-forward to today and the momentum behind this dynamic duo has flourished. Hot off their performance at SXSW for the Young Art Records showcase, Daktyl and Benni's faces lit up when prompted to describe their experience there. “LEGENDARY,” said Benni emphatically. They continued to elaborate on how special the set was because the pandemic had prevented live music from occurring at that venue for a long time. It can be nerve-wracking showing off a bunch of music no one's ever heard, yet, “it felt like they knew our tracks already.” A major highlight was when they teased their latest collab, “Matrix”. Daktyl and Benni grinned from ear to ear as they harked on how hyped the crowd was.
On the subject of “Matrix”, this single perfectly encapsulates the direction that this pair of creatives are heading in. Breaking down the track, Daktyl identified the swing on the drums being the sound component that pushed him the most out of his comfort zone. On top of the sound design, the vocals throughout “Matrix” are incredible. Speaking on the making of “Matrix”, Benni reverberated, “I remember that session like it was yesterday. I had probably written five different verses for it. I was spitballing and saying tons of ideas.”
An idea that stuck the moment Benni came up with it was his first line: 'Killing time in the chaos, got new pills to hold down the matrix.' Dissecting the deeper message within these lyrics, Benni justified his word choice. "Everybody’s just trying to figure out a means to control the chaotic world they live in. 'New pills' = focusing on being present. We are always giving ourselves some sort of medicine to allow us to escape our reality." Benni went on to say that what we should be doing is coming to terms with ourselves and our environment, in order to truly move forward.
Selecting the line with the strongest ties to his personal life, Benni pointed out, 'Momma told me to talk about it, papa told me to talk to God. I don’t feel like talking, but might need to pray soon.' “This line hit home for me because my mom is always telling me to speak up and voice my problems. My dad says as soon as you have a problem, you should go pray. I don’t feel like doing any of that shit. Sometimes, I feel like busting shit open or breaking some shit. That’s a feeling that most people can relate to. That’s human emotion. You are not always going to take the high road. Sometimes, instead of saying have a nice day you want to say fuck you, and that’s ok.” Listening to Benni's fearlessness to share his honest thoughts was equally inspirational and eye-opening.
Just as mesmerizing as Benni's passionate self-expression, is the music video for “Matrix”. Daktyl made sure to commemorate the entire creative team behind it, from Nikki the dancer to Karats on the camera, along with the laser operator and projection mapping professional. Embodying the auditory vibe of “Matrix”, the music video encompasses “an aesthetic that felt chaotic and peaceful simultaneously”, explained Daktyl. His favorite part is the opening section discussing 'giving yourself the relaxation you deserve', due to the comedy and irony surrounding it. Trying not to crack up, he said, “that line counteracts in an extremely cool way. You should meditate. And then Benni’s like nah fuck that and delivers a verse full of the hardest rhymes.”
In its entirety, “Matrix” is a thrilling preview of what lies ahead for Daktyl and Benni as they venture into the sonic and lyrical unknown. With their next single, "Two More Days", dropping soon and their highly anticipated debut EP, Chaos Theory (Vol 1), coming in May, this forward-thinking pair plans to take their collaborative project to new heights.
Photos Courtesy of Alona Kalinyuk @fabulona