Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
When Jade first met Jonathan Carmelli it was nearly five years ago and Jade was joining a funk band that featured Carmelli as their guitarist. On her first day Carmelli stood out because he was playing despite the drummer trying to have a conversation, and Jade really liked what she heard. “I pulled him aside and I was like ‘I have some ideas if you want to write with me.’” Carmelli was interested, and says “from literally the first minute that we wrote a song it clicked instantly.” At that point the foundation for Blind Benny was born.
Jade explains that what both of them liked from the start was “it didn’t sound like anyone else, it just sounded like us.” According to Carmelli, part of this uniqueness comes from Jade’s voice, as he explains “not a lot of artists have that ability to be like ‘this sounds like me.’ It’s almost in a Jeff Buckey kind of way where he can write slow jams and you’re like ‘wow, that’s Jeff Buckley,’ then he can write a fast rock song and you’re like ‘wow, that’s Jeff Buckley.’ She has that ability.”
Carmelli adds that Jade also isn’t afraid to get personal with her music, saying “all of Jade’s lyrics are phenomenally introspective, and so clever and well written, and it’s all about her in a very, not only honest and raw, but it takes a little courage to be like ‘I’m just gonna be real right now on this song, this is what I’m going through right now, and it’s in a song I’m going to play for everyone all the time.’ I can’t do that. It’s ballsy.” Carmelli turns to Jade, “you got balls. You have man sized balls, hangin like TruckNutz.”
Another quality that makes the music of Blind Benny stand out is the arrangement of each song. “They’re about the ride that you go on,” Jade explains. Carmelli adds “there’s a certain ebb and flow to the music. Certain parts need to be intense, I need to feel that energy, and when it’s soft you need to feel like it’s much softer. We don’t have many songs that are one level straight through.”
Recently the unique sound of Blind Benny was on display at the Bowery Electric in NYC, which is where the band had a residency in September, and is in the heart of the city they call home. For their recorded music Blind Benny is the duo of Jade and Carmelli, but when they perform live everything gets kicked up a notch with the addition of a bassist and two drummers. During their residency the band performed their latest EP, No Honor, in its entirety.
No Honor isn’t just the name of Blind Benny’s EP, and a song on the album, it’s an issue they’re looking to address. “It’s really about how no one has integrity anymore,” Jade explains, “it’s about people, just us, our generation, lacking this integrity chip in our brains. Literally anything goes, and people get hurt. It’s a battlefield out there.”
The concept of integrity is one the band holds dear, as Jade explains it’s even in their name. “My dad’s a pastor and his name is Benny, it’s a family name.” With her roots as such, she says “I take Benny’s morals and I kind of put em on the band, hence Blind Benny. Blind is because we’re not pastors. We do our best.”
Doing one’s best, and having integrity, or honor, can be tough in the music industry, as Carmelli notes “I feel like with art, a lot, in today’s day especially, marketing takes precedence over everything. No matter what creative field you’re in, marketing takes precedence. There’s always been some element of that. Marcel Duchamp’s toilet (for example). I feel like today it’s so wild, and I feel like people want to see some real shit. They just want to hear some real music, don’t bullshit me, and that’s really what we tried to express on the record, like this is no bullshit, this is what we do.” Carmelli continued, adding “we’re not trying to sell you an American Idol sob story. There’s no weird tick about us, we weren’t born in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. We’re just trying to be like yo, we do this, we’re bringing it to you, and that’s where we’re coming from.”
In other words, they may have “blind” in their name, but Blind Benny has a very clear vision for everything they’re doing.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.