Alec Benjamin’s profile raised after one of his songs accompanied a dancer on “America’s Got Talent.” (Courtesy Alex Currie)

Alec Benjamin tells stories from his life

When 12-year-old “America’s Got Talent” hopeful Merrick Hanna was looking for a song to accompany his stage interpretation of a malfunctioning android last year, he selected a lilting folk-pop ditty called “I Built a Friend” by the then-little-known Phoenix composer Alec Benjamin. The dance routine worked perfectly, and Benjamin was stunned. He hadn’t seen one of his songs set to choreography before. It’s proved a slight problem as the feathery-voiced singer hits the road behind his latest mixtape, “Narrated For You.” “Putting on a show is hard for me, because I never did this to be entertaining,” he admits. “These are songs from my life, and I’m telling stories that are important to me. So I’m trying to reconcile those two aspects right now, and it’s tough.”

You’re 24 now, and you really stress original songwriting. But that lesson is lost on a whole generation of “The Voice”/“American Idol” contestants who parrot others’ material.

Yeah. But I think some people, with the way that they interpret songs, can really be genuine and original, too. I remember learning some of my favorite songs of all time, but not through the original versions, through covers. Like “Mad World” by Tears For Fears — I found that through Gary Jules, who did a cover of the song. So I actually think that sometimes the artist doesn’t necessarily do the best version of their own song. But all I know is that for me, I feel better putting out music that I have my handprints on.

Before you signed with Atlantic, didn’t you have another label deal that went horribly wrong?

I was signed to Columbia, and it was kind of disastrous. But it was nobody’s fault. I think it was just me. I still had a lot of growing to do, and I hadn’t done a lot of it before getting signed. So unfortunately, it didn’t work out, and it was more of an experience thing and not something to cry over. Well, I did cry for about a night and a day. But that was it.

In response, you penned — then posted — a huge flurry of new material.

I did a song almost every day — at east three or four a week — for seven months. I wrote about 160 songs.

And they all had morals woven in, like Aesop’s fables.

That’s what I was trying to do — I like to tell stories and write things that are going to last, like Aesop’s fables, which have been around for a long, long time. If I could do something that’s even close to that, it would be rad.

IF YOU GO

Alec Benjamin
Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 6
Tickets: $14 to $16
Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.eventbrite.com

Just Posted

Community-led efforts to monitor air quality in Bayview, Eastern neighborhoods gain traction

San Francisco community groups are working to install high-quality sensors in the… Continue reading

Homeless shelter opponents use attack as ammunition in fight against city

A week after being attacked outside her condo building near the Embarcadero,… Continue reading

Fire department drill finds traffic around Chase Arena could slow response time

For years, some have feared the future home of the Golden State… Continue reading

Did Scoot ‘redline’ SF neighborhoods? Chinatown group says ‘we asked for it’

The talk of the transportation world is a Los Angeles Times story… Continue reading

New hires solve SF school crossing guard shortage — for now

San Francisco has gone on a school crossing guard-hiring binge, hoping to… Continue reading

Most Read