Published on July 10th, 2015 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson0
Benjamin Clementine’s Debut Album Due Out July 31st “London”
The acclaimed London-born, Paris-based singer, songwriter and pianist Benjamin Clementine has announced a July 31st U.S. release date for his stunning debut album, At Least For Now (Capitol Records). The video for the album’s lead single “London” premiered today on i-D Magazine, watch it here. The video was directed by Colin Cardo, the filmmaker behind various famous La Blogotheque sessions. The single is available now on all streaming services and digital retailers. The album can be pre-ordered on iTunes or Amazon.
Following his buzzed about debut NYC performances in April, Clementine has just announced an October 15 show at the Highline Ballroom. Tickets go on sale here this Friday, June 19. Clementine has sold-out shows across Europe in London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, and will play festivals in the U.K. this summer including the Björk-curated main stage at this year’s Wilderness Festival on August 7 and David Byrne’s Meltdown Festival at The Southbank Centre on August 21. Additional U.S. tour dates will be announced shortly.
Clementine has packed a lot into his 26 years: heartbreak, homelessness, and reinvention all came before reaching cult status in Paris and eventually receiving the “Best New Act” honors at 2015’s Les Victoires de la Musique, the French equivalent of the GRAMMY Awards. Raised in a strict religious household in the tough Edmonton section of London, Benjamin started to teach himself the keyboard at age 11, stumbling upon classical rather than contemporary pop; a sparse piano solo by Erik Satie in particular transformed the way he played. At 16 years old, in a rare moment of permitted TV watching, he caught New York avant-gardists Antony and the Johnsons performing the disarmingly naked “Hope There’s Someone” on the BBC. “I was confused, scared…it was another world,” says Clementine. “When it finished, I went back upstairs to my piano and started playing chords.”
Inspired by figures like Leonard Cohen—and with no emotional or employment ties to keep him in London—Benjamin left for Paris at age 20; sleeping rough, working in kitchens and busking out of economic necessity. First in the corridors of the Place de Clichy station and then on the metro, he built his voice and refined his craft as he made enough money to move first to a hostel and then into a room of his own. Having eventually returned to his hometown of London, word spread from across the continent to the point where Benjamin Clementine’s U.K. live debut took place on national TV when he played two songs on Later…With Jools Holland. At 6 ft 3—dressed in his now-trademark overcoat and bare-feet—Clementine cut an extraordinary, puzzling presence, causing a small storm on Twitter, and Paul McCartney amongst the first to congratulate Clementine on an “amazing” performance.
U.S. audiences have only recently been introduced to Benjamin’s intimate live performances which have tugged at heartstrings and sent shivers down spines of European concertgoers for more than two years now. Rolling Stone named Clementine one of their New Artists You Need to Know, evocatively describing his unique sound as “Nina Simone’s brother steps into an elegant French café, sits down at the piano and tears open a vein.” NPR Music noted that “Clementine has been stirring hearts abroad with his awe-inspiring voice,” as they introduced the video for his powerful track “Nemesis.” Listen to an interview with Clementine on NPR Weekend Edition here.