While Bronze Avery often collaborates with other artists, he's never previously invited guests onto his own songs. His latest single "Sea Salt," out now, marks the Los Angeles musician's first proper duet, featuring vocals from Miss Benny — and it's a testament to the power of two queer storytellers.
The independent release, which was produced entirely by Avery and Benny, largely looks at the healing process and uses sea salt as a symbol of this long, at times painful arc. "Salt water heals wounds," Avery says of the title. "It hurts a lot at first, but eventually you're left cleaner, healthier than before."
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On the pop-inflected chorus, Avery references someone the world wanted "dead" and "gone," but he's standing in front of them with "two wide-open arms," regardless. He sings, "I'm all that you've got/ And it's heavy on me/ But I'd rather feel the weight than try to float into the sea, away."
For Avery, "Sea Salt" is "about cleansing those emotional wounds" and "finding a new space for somebody in your life that's hurt you, even when it's unintentional."
Below, Bronze Avery and Missy Benny talk about growth under COVID, learning to self-produce and the deeper messages encased in "Sea Salt," which follows Avery's previously released 2020 singles "Risky Time," "Only You" and "Boys!"
Bronze Avery: Hello bb! First of all, how are you today? I wanna know what your first beverage was and the first thing you listened to [today].
Miss Benny: Hi diva! I'm doing good, I'm feeling great. The first thing I drank today was a glass of water. I probably inhaled it in the least sexy way possible because that's what I do when I first wake up. I think it was the first and last glass of water I've had today, so that's a great reminder. First thing I listened to... I'm really into this band called Slow Pulp, right now. They have a song called "High" that is everything to me.
We have a song together called "Sea Salt," which begs the question: what is your favorite thing to put salt on? Do you mix salty and sweet? Do you have a favorite salt? Himalayan? Garlic? Kosher? Please tell.
Bronze Avery: I love this question because I love salty food. So, so, so much. I am the girl known to have a salt shaker or bring one to the table every time I eat something because I usually don't think things are salty enough. My favorite thing to put salt on is definitely white rice and black beans. I grew up in Florida where there's a ton of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican and Colombian food, and they usually like their sides pretty salty. I've noticed the Mexican food in LA isn't really salty, so that's why I'm first to grab the saltshaker when I eat.
Obviously this year has been notorious for many reasons, but it's also been a really impactful reset, and not just because Megan The Stallion dropped an album this year (but that's also 95% why). Tell me what you had to reset in 2020 and what's giving you hope for 2021?
Miss Benny: Okay, wait, hold on. I'm losing my mind at you saying, "I'm the girl known to have a salt shaker." If that's not your bio during the entire promo run, we're never going to talk again.
Anyway, I think I really needed to reset and reevaluate my relationship with social media. I've had a Myspace/ Twitter/ Facebook account since I was 10 years old and never really got to live life without it. So I've spent most of this year with no social apps on my phone and only logged on when I had an intentional reason to, which has made a world of difference.
The outcome of the recent election has definitely given me hope for 2021 and the younger generation in general. They're creative and funny and intelligent and so vocal about social injustice, which is very inspiring.
Bronze Avery: To your point on social media, it's actually insane to think I've lived most of my life on the internet. In some ways I feel totally trapped by it and in other ways I feel like I owe most of my success to it. I mean, my entire job is on the internet and I've met most of my friends that way too.
"I got into producing out of necessity when I was 15. I couldn't convince anybody to work with me and I was tired of waiting, so I took matters into my own hands." –Miss Benny
Miss Benny: Ditto, diva. I'm a party girl artist at heart, but with social outings being compromised, I've noticed my songwriting process has shifted a lot. My next project is a lot edgier and more honest to real events in my life, and I find myself working very differently than I have before. Have you found your songwriting process shifting or evolving in 2020 under these new circumstances?
Bronze Avery: My songwriting process shifted a lot in terms of frequency. Before COVID, I was relying on going to a session with another producer to complete a song. I didn't quite having the production/ mixing chops like I do now. When COVID started, I was forced to be at home for long periods of time by myself. During that time, I got really good at producing and mixing and really figuring out what my style and sound was to the point where I was making maybe like 10-15 ideas a week, which was life-changing for me. I felt like I had finally unlocked my creativity by diving deeper into my production powers. Once I started to really find my sound, my content shifted from being what I subconsciously thought people wanted to hear, to me actually pulling from deeper parts of my existence.
It felt like I had things to say and I could say them all by myself without waiting on somebody or letting my inspiration fly away. "Sea Salt" started with me producing the track. And then, as a stream of consciousness, I sang what was really on my heart. I never looked back or changed those lyrics from the first take. I don't think I would have been able to accomplish that if I was sitting in a session for hours, going back and forth trying to find the perfect word.
We're both self-taught producers. How did you get into producing, when did you actually feel like you were good and what do want to improve on your productions?
Miss Benny: When you sent me the track for "Sea Salt" and asked if I wanted to be a part of it, I was so obsessed with the production. I was like, "I have to be a part of this. I need to write to this immediately." I wanted to commend you on that.
I got into producing out of necessity when I was 15. I couldn't convince anybody to work with me and I was tired of waiting, so I took matters into my own hands. I'm so grateful that I did. I think every songwriter should learn the basics of production because it really frees your creative abilities.
That being said, no matter how many billions of streams or how many releases or how many songs or sessions that I do, I think it's a producer's curse to always have imposter syndrome. I've never really felt like I was amazing, but I'm now really confident in the fact that I can create things I'm really proud of and that people enjoy. Don't think I ever have a moment where I'm like, "Now I'm a good producer and I have crossed a threshold." Something I really wanted to improve on this year and that I'm really proud of myself for is utilizing live instruments. Every single song I've written over the last year for my upcoming project is guitar-focused. It's me shredding on an electric guitar and playing these cool bass guitar patterns.
I started writing music with my guitar and my voice memo app, so it feels really cool to return to that and now I'm addicted to it. I want to buy a mandolin and an upright piano and a cello. Hopefully I can get some streams, get some funds and get some instruments [laughs].
Bronze Avery: I can picture you with that mandolin now [laughs]. I really love that. I always talk about how embracing technology and learning new skills will really empower your creative mind. I found myself getting into production because getting invited to sessions felt super exclusive at times and could be discouraging when I wasn't part of the system.
Miss Benny: I think "Sea Salt" is so sick and I love that we got to do this together. What does this song mean to you? And how would you break it to me if I had responded with the most garbage gutterbutt verse you've ever heard on top of your stunning production?
Bronze Avery: "Sea Salt" is a song about healing. Salt water heals wounds. It hurts a lot at first, but eventually you're left cleaner, healthier than before. For me, it's about cleansing those emotional wounds. The song is about finding a new space for somebody in your life that's hurt you, even when it's unintentional. Instead of giving up on them and ejecting them out of your life, you're actually finding a new spot for them and having grace, even when nobody else feels the same.
Also, if your verse was actual garbage, I think I would have honestly ghosted you. JK, I would have really pushed you until I felt like it was right. I'm just glad that didn't happen, and you actually were the opposite and completely slayed your part because I don't know what the fuck I would've really done.
Miss Benny: Ghost my hypothetically garbage verse daddy!
Bronze Avery: Sksksksksksksk. I love collaborating and do it pretty often for others, but this is the first time having a guest on a song for my project. I swear I'm not a bitch who only works alone, but it just had to feel right, ya know? And I think we have such similar energy in our music and I'm obsessed with who you are as a person. It just felt like such a great match.
Since you got to spend time alone with the song, what does "Sea Salt" mean to you? And do you have any advice for someone trying to heal from a difficult time?
"I felt like I had finally unlocked my creativity by diving deeper into my production powers." –Bronze Avery
Miss Benny: You know what's so funny? I realized after the fact that I had never asked you specifically why this song was called "Sea Salt." I was just like, "Of course, this makes complete sense."
When you sent me the song and creative prompt, I definitely picked up on the aspects of healing and sort of being at a crossroads and not knowing what to do next, but not wanting to give up. It was really fun to explore that and play off of what you had sent me.
My advice for anyone trying to heal from a difficult time is do something weird with your hair. At the beginning of COVID hitting the US, I decided I was going to grow out my hair. I bleached a chunk of it, it was purple for a minute and now I have a shag hair cut with a '70s porn-stache. I've taken like 50 different forms during all of this and it's maybe the most exciting part of my life. So definitely do something weird and try to change your space if you can. But also don't listen to me. Go to someone who has more than three brain cells.
Bronze Avery: You definitely have more than three brain cells... you probably have closer to five. JK, but I seriously relate. You know I've never had a manic hair moment? Feels overdue at this point.
My advice to people for healing is all related to time and patience. It's so corny, but time heals all wounds. There's no rushing it. Sure, you have to do the hard work, but at the end of the day it just takes time to move on from something hard. Sometimes it takes two weeks, sometimes it takes two months, sometimes two years, but the pain will not be there forever and it will go away. It just literally takes time.
I just love you so much and I'm so happy that we got to do this together. Releasing a song together is such a great way to get to know somebody in a deeper way. I didn't realize that until I went through this process with you, so thank you for being such a special part of this journey.
Miss Benny: Obsessed with you, so excited.
Photo courtesy of Bronze Avery