Yung Lean and Bladee's Biblical Breakthrough

Yung Lean and Bladee's Biblical Breakthrough

Story by Ivan Guzman / Photography by Ali Foroughi / Styling by America Korban / Set design by Grace Snellock / Makeup by Athena Pagington / Hair by Mark Francome Painter

In the Bible, the names Jonathan and Benjamin hold special meaning. The story of David and Jonathan, who hailed from the tribe of Benjamin, is one describing deep camaraderie, connection and true male companionship amidst a deadly war.

“If you’re in a war and your mind is safe, at least you know who the enemy is,” Yung Lean tells PAPER. “If you’re in a psychosis, your brain is the enemy.” Real name Jonatan Aron Leandoer Hâstad, the rapper is quick to make the comparison between the holy scripture and his new collaborative album with Bladee, whose birth name is Benjamin. “It’s all very biblical,” he says.

Psykos, out everywhere now, is the result of a tumultuous mental spiral on many fronts. The album’s title is the Swedish word for “psychosis,” which seems to have been a running theme throughout the making of the project. Main producer Benjy Keating, AKA Palmistry, admittedly suffered a full-on drug-induced psychosis in the months leading up to its release, and Yung Lean himself has been very open about his battles with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and addiction. “I think in every man’s psychosis, you think that you are the devil, and if you die, then there will be peace on Earth,” he says. “You have to sacrifice yourself. And this thought became very real to me, like twice. I’d be in the mental hospital with that thought, and I’d be at home with it.”

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Celine, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Jacket and shoes: Prada, Pants: Olly Shinder, Hoodie: Stylist's own

Through it all, the album became a story about redemption, unconditional love and picking up a friend when they’ve hit rock bottom. Yung Lean and Bladee have both built their careers on community, becoming icons for the “sad boys” and the “drainers,” respectively. Psykos is a kismet moment where the two finally come together to unite through a sonic universe that is stripped down, shoegaze-y and straight to the point.

Throughout our hour-and-a-half-long conversation, there are many manic musings: drinking codeine and kratom in Greece, war criminals, falling asleep in front of a sex shop in Thailand clutching the laptop that holds all of the album’s tracks. There’s also internal mental sabotage, secret agents, halfway houses and almost dying in an Uber in Spain.

The chat brings up the classic question: do you have to go through pain to produce good art? “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but sometimes great art is made when people really go through [bad stuff],” Keating says. “But somehow, something bigger was happening for all of us.”

Below is a raw, unfiltered conversation between Yung Lean, Bladee, Keating (Palmistry) and Ed Leeson, a UK-based gallerist, curator and longtime friend of the group who has witnessed all of their internal and external ups and downs.

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Celine, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Hat: Hurtence, Shoes: Prada, Top, pants and necklace: Stylist's own

Yung Lean: This is a good group of men. This is like some AA shit. Let’s start off by thanking God.

Ed: I was listening to the album earlier properly for the first time, and it’s so good. Maybe a good place to get started would be talking about the origin story. Obviously me and Benjy know the origin story of Jonatan and Benjamin, although this is the first album you two have done together, right?

Bladee: Yeah, it is.

Ed: But with Benjy, let’s reminisce. Because it was over 10 years ago, right?

Yung Lean: My story with Benjy is that the first songs I made, I would send them to Palmistry on Facebook. Because he did a show in Stockholm, and then the Triad God stuff and the early indie stuff. So in my mind, I thought he was famous, and I was sending songs to everyone I thought was famous so that I’d get more attention. I’d be on the computer in my parents’ apartment just sending it to anyone. But Benjy would reply and be like, “Yeah, this is not so good. I’m not too sure about this. Who are you?”

Benjy: [Laughs] I was really intrigued, though. I was like, “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.” Because you sent me the “Greygoose” track and I was showing it to my friends, but then you blew up really quickly.

Yung Lean: Then I blew up and you got angry. You were like, “Fuck!”

Benjy: [Laughs] I was like, “I feel like I’ve been doing this for so long and it’s not happening.” No, no, but it was fine.

Yung Lean: In all fairness, I’d been doing it for a long time as well. Then that name, Yung Lean, and that whole thing came... But then I met you 11 or 12 years ago the first time I came to London, and I did the Billionaire Boys Club show. I invited you, and you came with Kami. That’s the first time I met you, Kami, Felix, everyone.

Benjy: Yeah, it was pretty special.

Ed: That must’ve been 2012, 2013.

Benjy: You know, what’s funny about me and Benjamin [Bladee] is that we first met either in your flat, Jonatan, or in Ed’s flat. Do you remember when Benjamin came with Kami to Ed’s flat?

Ed: I remember a few times, yeah.

Benjy: We were having another conversation about whether to do pills or not. And Benjamin was like, “Yeah, let’s not.” I was like, “Benjamin is wise.” He’s a wise one.

Ed: It’s mad because, in a way, there was a whole friendship group in London that was super tight, and then there was [Yung Lean’s] friendship group in Sweden. And then they sort of combined at one point, didn’t they?

Yung Lean: Yeah, I remember there was a Mexican standoff the two groups had. It was funny. It was the Billionaire Boys Club show and then we went to the Primitive store. We played each other our songs, and that’s when I realized you guys listened way more to Vybz Kartel and Alkaline and Jamaican dancehall. We listened more to Chicago drill and Atlanta rap. So you put us onto a lot of songs and we put you on, too. Then the first Mexican standoff was when we did a show for the first European tour we did, the White Marble Tour. We did a tiny show in London, and then afterwards it was me, Benjamin, Zach, Ludwig, Axel, and we were sitting at an afterparty with Felix, Peter, everyone. It was kind of a Mexican standoff between two friendship groups.

Bladee: It was the first time we met some people who were into the same stuff as us. It was just an opposite group of people that were the same. We all instantly clicked on a deeper level. It was like, there are these kids in London who also play music and are into the same type of shit. I went to London after that and I don’t remember why. Maybe I came with Jonatan and then we all met.

Yung Lean: And then you came back alone.

Bladee: Yeah, I came back alone because I was really fucking with what was going on in London. I stayed at Kami’s house and I went there a couple times. I guess that’s when we met Ed and Benjy.

Yung Lean: It was funny because we definitely liked the same stuff, but no one really wanted to reveal their sources.

Bladee: [Laughs] Yeah, we were showing YouTube videos, too. Like, we all got some obscure stuff in the vault.

Yung Lean: It was an exchange that we both needed. Our way of existing when we were teenagers was sitting in a room, smoking weed and just listening to songs on YouTube. And making songs.

Bladee: Yeah, we were doing the same shit.

Yung Lean: It was the Avengers meeting Power Rangers or something, you know?

Benjy: Special times.

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Giorgio Armani, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Pants: Jean Paul Gaultier, Hoodie and shoes: Talent's own,

Ed: They were magical times, really. What’s interesting is that that story of how you met Benjy is the story of a particular time in London, which doesn't exist anymore. A friendship group in London, which is totally disbanded in a way. So it's sad in some ways and I mourn it a lot. But I look back, and there was like a five-year period which was really beautiful.

Bladee: So special. That time in London, it was just creation. A lot of stuff sprouted from what was going on there. Even if it was on a small scale in London, if it was just for the people involved mostly. But it inspired so much, and I feel like Benjy was definitely the key player. Benjy was the glue.

Benjy: There were never any bad vibes, it was always good vibes.

Yung Lean: Everyone was kind of emotional and a little bit fucked up, which made sense. But when I came back, I was like, “London is way more lit.” You had the Primitive store, you were hosting parties.

Bladee: I mean, it was tough actually for us. We came out of more of a void.

Ed: When you came, it was like the heyday of Endless. When you got there, Endless was starting to really become something deeply special. It's mad to think where all these people are now. But I think the Swedish group, and then the London group, the unity was around it being this group of very emotional young men trying to figure things out. And that was something which I think united everyone massively.

Benjy: Ed, you and Alice were like the young moms and dads, always looking after everyone.

Ed: Going off of that comment that Jonatan made about emotion, and segueing into the album that we're here to talk about, I'm really happy to be on this call with you guys because obviously I love you, but everyone's been through a lot of stuff. And when I listened to the album, particularly this morning, I was listening to it again and I felt quite moved. But thinking about recent times and what Benjy has been through, the weight and gravity of the record, it's very poignant right now to listen to.

Benjy: Heavy shit.

Yung Lean: I'm glad, in a way, that me and Benjamin never made an album together until now. We made so many songs, but we never made an album. And now we made an album. And it came perfect with Benjy and the timing, and just also the kind of music we were listening to. The journey has been very emotional.

Bladee: I feel like that’s also something with working with Benjy, things always take on epic proportions. We started out in Thailand and we were listening to one of your mixes. You're always in our minds, even when we don't talk. But then, we were like, “Let's make a project.” It was a very last-minute thing. I think we hit you up the same day or same night, and you came out in the afternoon the next day.

Benjy: Yeah, I flew the next day to Thailand, after I shared an Instagram message with you. I'd been thinking about you guys a lot as well, which made it kind of surreal. I was like, “I don't know if me and Jonatan are cool,” and then I get this really nice message saying, “Come to Thailand.”

Yung Lean: I mean, our story, Benjy, has been kind of its own thing. You came to Stockholm right after Barron died. It was very intuitive. You were like, “Oh, Barron [Yung Lean’s old manager] is the same age that I am.” And, in a way, we share the experience because you worked with Barron, and you were kind of mentoring me and guiding me through all that. So then you came there and we lived in Stockholm together, which was very intense.

Benjy: For six weeks.

Yung Lean: Yeah, you lived with me for six weeks and we went swimming with my dad. I don't know what we did. We just created our little void of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Mario Kart, but then we started making music together, which we had never done. I think the thing is, whenever I make music with you, it goes back to the roots. It goes back to singing and songwriting instead of meeting at the party level, at the Palmistry club or the Yung Lean club or the Bladee club. We kind of strip it away and cut a little deeper, but then I came to Athens to see you and that was a fun one. It was also a little depressing in some ways.

Benjy: Well, we got robbed.

Yung Lean: We got robbed and then there was the key to the apartment. It was very dramatic in Greece. We were smoking a lot of cigarettes and it was a little bit depressing, but then there was a downfall in our relationship. I remember when you came to Stockholm and you were scared of me.

(On Yung Lean) Top and shorts: Stylist's own (On Bladee) Top: Laura Andraschko, Pants: Olly Shinder, Shoes: Prada

Benjy: Oh, you mean last year? I was on some Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shit.

Yung Lean: Yeah, you were. You had the cowboy hat. But then when you came to Stockholm, you were on some Russian mob shit. I was very scared.

Bladee: It's always been love, but the album came into being the same as us meeting and everything. We didn't really have an idea for what it was going to be or anything. But I feel like the relationship that we've all had and everything that's going on obviously birthed the project in some way.

Benjy: It kind of consumed me for a year making this project. Everything I thought about was just about this. And then it was personal. It was also more thinking than doing, really.

Ed: What do you mean?

Benjy: I was living in Athens, and I would wake up and listen to the music constantly, constantly listening and making notes. I kind of lived and breathed it. I was smoking and chugging coffee like you wouldn't believe. It was kind of an intense thing.

Bladee: I don’t know how much you wanna talk about it, but the process was intense from beginning to end.

Benjy: I don't know if you guys are okay with talking about Thailand and doing Kratom?

Yung Lean: Yeah.

Benjy: I was sober when I came to Thailand, which was really good. I think that's the reason they could work with me. I was a few months sober. And Jonatan and Benjamin were going in on the Kratom in Thailand.

Yung Lean: We were drinking kratom with codeine in these big bottles. Every day.

Benjy: We were doing these sessions, and I was struggling to keep up with them because we make music in a very different way. But it was really good for me. It helped me level up a lot, to be honest, but I think the most intense part for me was in Gnesta in Stockholm.

Yung Lean: Outside of Stockholm. Yeah.

Ed Leeson: Why, what happened?

Yung Lean: I think we gotta be honest. I think we have to tell the whole truth. This is our only chance.

Benjy: Yeah, true. I think what happened was, I was making the project with my friend Lucio. He wasn't there in Thailand, but we flew him out for the Stockholm sessions. I had relapsed the day before I came to Gnesta.

Bladee: Secretly.

Benjy: Secretly relapsed. And then when we got to Gnesta, Lucio had all this Adderall. Like, very strong pills. I was like, “I need this to stay awake and work.” I didn't sleep the whole time.

Bladee: That’s something we figured out after. You were just up all the time.

Benjy: Yeah, I was awake for days.

Yung Lean: But you stole all his Adderall.

Benjy: I stole it all. He said I could have one and then I had all of them in one night. But yeah, it was beautiful because we were making the record, but me and Lucio were starting to fall out. My madness was starting to take over.

Bladee: I guess you got very paranoid doing these sessions. The paranoia was kicking in.

Yung Lean: You were on your Phil Spector, not gonna lie.

Benjy: True. I mean, when I look back on my onus of the psychosis, the first psychosis I had was in Gnesta. Drug-induced.

Ed: When was this, last year?

Bladee: Yeah, a year ago.

Ed: And then what happened? That was that session, and then were there any more after Sweden?

Bladee: We finished the project in Sweden. I mean, me and Jonatan finished our part, and then Lucio and Benjy kind of took over from there in wrapping it up and actually finishing the tracks. So I guess leaving that session, obviously Benji wasn't in a great place, but we still managed to wrap it up and then we left it to Benji and Lucio.

Ed: So was there a period after you guys left it to Benjy and Lucio before it resurfaced? Or was Benji the model professional?

Bladee: I guess it was in your guys’ hands at that point.

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Celine, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Jacket and shorts: Olly Shinder, Hat: Louis Vuitton, Shoes: Talent's own

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Celine, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Jacket and shorts: Olly Shinder, Hat: Louis Vuitton, Shoes: Talent's own

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Celine, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Jacket and shorts: Olly Shinder, Hat: Louis Vuitton, Shoes: Talent's own

Benjy: Me and Lucio were worried at one point. I mean, me and Lucio are best friends and we talk every day. It's been really good for our friendship, but we mixed the record as far as we could, and then we got this guy who mixed Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ first record, Chris Coady, to finish it because me and Lucio couldn't finish it to the level we wanted to. That was a really amazing moment because we could let go and trust that it was going to be good in this mixing way. I mean, think about how Daniel [Swan] came into the scene in the mix, as well. That's another important person in our whole friendship group. For Daniel to round out the project and for the artwork to get so much hype has been kind of amazing.

Bladee: That also felt like a full circle to get Daniel on board. I mean, the artwork was also kind of us just throwing out ideas first. We started with the cross imagery, and then the frog came in. But now since we dropped it, I feel like it got really deep and really represented the album in a good way, too.

Benjy: Yeah, it's been really nice to be at this stage of the cycle. It’s been a really good feeling having it out and seeing where it came from. But yeah, it feels like things are a lot better. I'm not in psychosis anymore. I mean, at one point I thought I was kicked off the project. The problem with my psychosis was I thought everyone was coming for me. So I thought I was, like, going to prison for 25 years. It was all in my own head, I sabotaged myself somehow. So for me, it's like a redemption story.

Ed: I know you may not want to talk about this necessarily, Benjy, but the fact is that this album has come out in a recent period where you haven’t been in a good place at all over the last few weeks. For it to make its way into the world at this critical juncture in your life is kind of extraordinary. So for a lot of your friends and stuff, listening to the record feels special because it’s been a really touch-and-go period.

Benjy: True, I think it marks something special. Sometimes great art is made when people really go through [stuff]. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, but I think somehow something bigger was happening for all of us. But for me, I feel very lucky to be out of that and gone through it as well. In a weird way, it's been a good thing. In a strange way. I can relate to Jonatan way more now, too. I’ve studied mental health, and now to have gone through it, I can relate a lot more. And Jonatan came up with the idea of it being Psykos.

Yung Lean: I wrote it on my leather jacket.

Bladee: It’s cool that we can talk about that, too, because people probably don’t even know what that means. It actually means “psychosis,” and it’s some real shit that you guys had to go through at war.

Yung Lean: Big war. It’s funny, because the first time I met [Benjy], you worked in a mental health facility. You were a nurse. And you always kind of lived on the edge, but I never saw mental illness in the tarot cards. I never thought you were gonna go down that route.

Benjy: Me neither, to be honest. Because I'd seen it in so many other people. I thought I was always more of a moderate case. So for it to actually happen, I guess it made me realize it can happen to anyone. It doesn't have any kind of race or age preference. And once you have a psychosis, it’s like you’re a marked person.

Yung Lean: Yeah, you are. The first thing that happened to me when I got back from my first psychosis was I started reaching out to different people. Once I got sober, I started meeting more schizophrenic people, and bipolar people, because your mind has been in this war. You have to meet other people who have been through the same war to even talk about reality because it can switch any minute. I mean, if I stop taking my Lithium for two weeks, I can feel the mania coming in and you think that everyone on the street is a secret agent. And if they have blue eyes, then they're gonna put you in the back of a van. It really starts going like that. And then you're like, “Oh, that song was actually about, you know, Hitler being Jesus Christ,” and then it spirals. It's very easy.

Bladee: It seems like a terrifying thing.

Yung Lean: It is. Because if you're in a war and your mind is safe, at least you know who the enemy is. If you're in a psychosis, your brain is the enemy. And that should be your best friend, that should be your home. Your brain, your mind. One thing I want to say before I forget was that musically, it was really good in Thailand because me and Benjamin record so much and we're used to writing new verses and jumping off each other's energy. But Benjy, you took a step back, and you were like, “Nah, we're gonna scrape it off. We're just gonna get to the ribs of the song.” Just the guitar and the singing, and I think it was a good dynamic.

Benjy: Yeah, in that way, it was great because you, Benjamin, me and Lucio, we all wrote it together in this special way. We had maybe 40 songs for the album. But then it got to a point where we got Benjamin and Jonte, and we all made it like a band together in this weird way.

Yung Lean: The funniest was when we tried doing new ways of writing songs. You had this idea of how the South Park writers made songs, because that's how they made an episode. It’s like this happens then this happens and, because this happens, then this doesn't happen. And then Cartman comes back in the end and fucks everyone. So Benjy forced me and Benjamin to write songs like this. We were like, “Her eyes were blue, but not because they were the ocean.”

Bladee: Yeah, we didn’t get so far with that technique.

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Burberry, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Dress: Ashley Williams London, Pants: Olly Shinder, Shoes: Prada

Ed: In the first song, “Coda,” which is so beautiful, and also going back to you and Jonatan talking about your experiences with psychosis... In that song, when I was listening to it and listening to Martin's cello, there's this moment where there's a little break in Jonatan’s spoken word where I think it's your voice, Benjy, which says, “No one fucking cares.”

Yung Lean: That’s Benjamin’s voice.

Ed: That hit me really hard. There was something really desperate about it.

Yung Lean: My girlfriend brought up that line specifically, as well. She's like, “Oh, that line? No one fucking cares. That's from a movie, right?” She was like, “That's from an indie movie.” I was like, “No, that's Benjamin on a voice message.”

Bladee: Yeah, it was. Me and Jonatan had been in Miami doing some work. I was going back to Sweden. I was in the airport. And Lucio texts me that Benjy had made this intro and wanted us to speak over it. And so I did that on a voice note in the airport. We just kind of freestyled it.

Yung Lean: It came from true horrors.

Bladee: I wrote part of it when we thought we were going to die in this Uber.

Yung Lean: We were going home from Riff Raff’s house, it was six in the morning. It was a near death experience.

Bladee: He was driving fucking reckless and he didn’t speak a word of English. He was just talking nonstop in Spanish going so fast in between two lanes, swerving. He had the trunk of the car open and he wouldn't close it.

Yung Lean: Every time me and Benjamin are in a taxi and there’s a Spanish-speaking taxi driver, I kind of take over the job of speaking Spanish because I know, like, diez palabras.

Bladee: Yeah, Jonatan was talking to him for 40 minutes. Because it was a two-hour Uber drive.

Yung Lean: The only thing I remember is that he said he drinks ginger ale because it’s good for his cabeza.

Bladee: He was saying he had a stroke, and since then, he had been drinking ginger ale for his head. [Laughs] Jonatan was like, “Si, si, claro, claro.”

Yung Lean: Muy bien por la cabeza, ginger ale.

Ed: It’s a great opening song. It immediately locates the record, puts it in this whole other sphere. It's just such a grand opening statement. I was speaking to Dean Kissick this afternoon. And Dean was saying he tweeted yesterday, do you know the record Trawl the Megahertz by Prefab Sprout?

Yung Lean: Yeah, my ex-girlfriend loves Prefab Sprout. That one song, “Wild Horses.”

Benjy: This is so full-circle, because Ed introduced me to the cello player when I was like 20 years old in London and we had a band together. He’s like a classical cellist, a lot older than us, but a beautiful human. And then I was messaging you crazy shit in Thailand. My ego had gone insane. I was like, “Yeah, we're gonna have a boy's choir at the end of the record.” And I was saying all this funny stuff.

Yung Lean: You were kind of like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now. You wanted to throw on the boy's choir and you wanted the boy's choir in the studio. “Get them here now.” Like if you would have had a gun, you would have been Phil Spector. It was so close to you having a gun.

Benjy: That would have been a nice prop: a little gun to wave around.

Bladee: It would’ve motivated us, for sure.

Yung Lean: We can’t forget when you fell asleep outside the sex store and couldn't get into your hotel, and had the laptop with all the songs just holding it all night in Thailand. Insane.

Benjy: That was the last night of the session. We got back really late and I had to sleep outside in Thailand. It was kind of beautiful, though. I have to say, not a bad place to sleep outside.

Yung Lean: One thing I wanted to mention about the “Coda” intro is that it's all full circle because you put in the choir from “Things Happen,” and I never wanted [“Coda] to be the first song. I thought it was going to be the outro after “Things Happen,” but then I think Benjamin said, “Nah, it’s got to be the first one to introduce the album.” I didn't like that idea. I thought it was maybe too pretentious to have a spoken word thing as the opening, but in retrospect it's a ballsy move. It's got some Kenny Powers balls to it.

Bladee: Everything came together kind of last minute. I wasn't sure what this album was going to be or if it was good or not. Up until this last week. I knew we had something, but I didn't know how it was gonna hit. And then me and Jonatan, a day before we dropped it we went up to see Benjy and we made this intro video.

Ed: Where did you shoot that?

Benjy: I kind of live in a halfway house, and we shot it there.

Yung Lean: Yeah, I've spent some time in mental facilities. You can really tell when it's that vibe and the people that live in the halfway house are sweet but they’re very–

Bladee: Yeah, it was some real shit. We were happy to see that, Benjy, you’re doing well. You're not completely out of it, you know? So you had to get your head in the game still.

(On Yung Lean) Jacket: Celine, Shoes: Louis Vuitton, Pants and belt: Talent's own

Yung Lean: I got the short end of the stick, though. I came there the week before. I was like, “Oh, I'm in London. We're gonna do some work for Psykos. We're gonna do the video with Daniel, we're gonna see Benjy. I'll go alone and see Benjy, just, you know, talk about the album.” So I'm on my way to Warwick, and I’m in touch with Benjy's brother. I'm like, “Yo, Benjy is not picking up.” He's like, “Oh, it's all good lad. He's probably sleeping.” All right, cool. And then I'm on my way to Warwick, and [his brother] is like, “Nah, Benjy’s in the emergency room.” So I went straight to the emergency room in Warwick. It's a Sunday in Warwick and he’s alone. It's quite dramatic, like the people there in the emergency room are really hurt. I tap Benjy on the shoulder, and Benjy is just like, “Am I dead?”

Benjy: [Laughs]

Yung Lean: You were in the funniest of spirits. I would show you text messages that you had written before the police found you and you were just laughing putting your feet back together. We had some coffee, and then we went back to the halfway house and saw your family. But at that point, I was pretty worried that maybe this was going to happen again and again. But I also knew that you knew there were bigger things happening for us once this album drops and in life.

Bladee: That’s also inspiration. We’ve all been worried about you, of course, Benjy through this and I feel like that has inspired a lot in the project.

Yung Lean: You're inspiring, Benjy, without being self-destructive. Like Benjamin said, you always take it to the most dramatic [place]. You are kind of like the country Greece. You want to burn it down to rebuild it.

Ed: You know what, though, like you were saying earlier about all of this is coming out at this critical inflection point in your life, Benjy. Going back to what you were saying earlier about bad times making good art or whatever, I mean, it's important that this has happened. So this is coming out at this moment because it's a beautiful thing to hold on to. And everyone's been super worried about you.

Bladee: It’s nice that it can be for something, you know?

Yung Lean: The stakes were high on this one. I got a thought in my head that was very clear, right now. Benjamin saved me in Miami. And then when Benjy came to Stockholm after I had my psychosis, he saved me through music, and we made “Hell Rain” and the Katla EP, so I'm glad I had the chance to save Benjy this time. That's what this is for me, in a way. If I could do that with music and get you to Thailand, and I mean, yeah, both of you guys. It's very biblical. You know, in the Bible, Jonatan has this best friend called Benjamin and these two guys are called Benjamin.

Bladee: Yeah, we’re two Benjamins.

Benjy: Pretty special. No, you’re right. That was the healing part where it really takes a good— [Zoom cuts out]

Ed: Oh, you’re back. I kind of missed that, Benjy.

Benjy: No, yeah, definitely back from the grave, for sure.

Yung Lean: We’re glad you made it through, Benjy, because we were all very worried.

Benjy: Yeah, I'm sorry. The worst thing for people with mental health, and you can probably relate, Jonatan, is I think the friends and family go through it the worst, don't they? It can definitely be even worse for them in some ways.

Yung Lean: It is. I think at one point in every man's psychosis, you think that you are the devil, and if you die, then there will be peace on Earth. Like, you have to sacrifice yourself. And this thought became very real to me, like twice. I would be in the mental hospital with that thought and I'd be at home with it. I just remember my mom saying, “But don't you want to get old? Don't you want to get old with me, and we can sit and have tea and you can have kids and grandkids?” And I'm looking back at that like, it must be so frustrating being a sister or a parent or a friend.

Benjy: You can see the potential for someone's life that they can have a long, fulfilling, happy life. But for the person themself, it's harder to see the change sometimes.

Yung Lean: Yeah, that's what I was trying to tell you at some of the most pivotal points. Because I got sober 40 days ago and I was really clear headed. I was like, “Yo Benjy, this album is going to drop, and in the future we’ll sit in our castles in England and in Sweden, and just enjoy the fruits of our labor.” And to me, it was so clear, but you were caught up in a bad moment. And you can't really help someone until they help themselves. I think you're on the verge of helping yourself a lot now. It’s blessings all around right now.

Bladee: It's been really cool to see how people receive the project in a deeper way than we thought about when making it. I feel like it hit this bigger context.

Benjy: It’s been giving me goosebumps, actually, some of the reactions from people.

Yung Lean: Did you see the guy from BTS posting it?

Benjy: Yeah, that’s crazy. You know Koreans are on some deep depression shit, as well.

Yung Lean: Koreans drink the same way that Swedes do.

Bladee: I saw someone post the cover, and they compared it to this famous painting of a guy that sticks his head through the firmament or whatever. It's like the cover of a Soulja Boy tape where he sees God on the other side of the firmament. I was like, “Damn, that’s pretty deep.”

Yung Lean: We are the frogs that see through the light. That’s the deep shit. When you zoom into the frog and you see the mirror of the frog.

Benjy: I love you guys. Thank you for sticking with me through this.

Yung Lean: We love you, too.

Bladee: Love you, bro.

(On Yung Lean) Jacket and shoes: Louis Vuitton, Turtleneck: Emporio Armani, Pants and belt: Talent's own (On Bladee) Top: WE11DONE, Pants: Louis Vuitton, Shoes: Prada, Glasses: Cartier

Photography: Ali Foroughi
Styling: America Korban
Set design: Grace Snellock
Makeup: Athena Pagington at Future Rep using Victoria Beckham Beauty
Hair: Mark Francome Painter

Photo assistant: Petar Petrov
Styling assistants: Sian Davis, Joseff Worth
Set assistant: Clem Farrar
Makeup assistant: Tom Easto
Production assistants: Alvaro Merino, Abi Lorenzini

Casting: Lucy Rogers
Fern Gray, Clara Collins, Daniel, Quadri Ajao, Hannah Vincent, Olga Chernykh

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Managing editor: Matt Wille
Editorial producer: Angelina Cantú
Music editor: Erica Campbell
Cover type: Jewel Baek
Story: Ivan Guzman
Publisher: Brian Calle