“Very little about Clementine is predictable, all of it is worth watching” - The Observer
"Sombre piano balladry that goes straight for the gut" - DIY
"Nina Simone's brother steps into an elegant French café, sits down at the piano and tears open a vein” – Rolling Stone
“An extraordinary new musical talent. Incredible” - The Evening Standard
“Visceral doesn’t even begin to describe Clementine’s songs, which combine the hurt and danger of Nina Simone, Antony Hegarty’s tremulous passion and Laura Mvula’s boundary-straddling music” - Sunday Times Culture
North London newcomer Benjamin Clementine has announced details of his new single ‘Nemesis’. Written after the disillusioning end of an affair, when Clementine found himself back sleeping rough on the boulevard where his girlfriend once lived, the track will be released on March 23 via Virgin/EMI Records. A headline date at London’s Barbican on Wednesday April 1 will follow, continuing a journey which has taken Benjamin from busking around Paris to a debut performance on BBC2’s Later...with Jools Holland, and then sold-out headline shows at London’s Purcell Rooms, Koko and Emmanuel Centre. With additional backing from the likes of Zane Lowe and Lauren Laverne – plus dates supporting Cat Power and Tune-Yards – Clementine is expected to confirm the UK release of his debut album along with further live plans shortly.
New Single: ‘Nemesis’ – Release Date: March 23, 2015 (WATCH VIDEO)
London’s Barbican – Wednesday, April 1, 2015 (TICKETS)
Benjamin Clementine has packed a lot into his 25 years: heartbreak, homelessness, reinvention, before reaching cult status in Paris and returning home in unlikely circumstances. Raised in Edmonton, his household was a strictly religious one, where children were barred from the living room unless it was a weekend dinner ("my parents, even though they were quite devilish, acted like Christians, and we weren't allowed to play anything other than gospel music”). When Benjamin started to teach himself the keyboard aged 11, he stumbled uponclassical radio 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 Jake Thackray - and with no emotional or employment ties to keep him in London - Benjamin absconded to Paris aged 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 actual trains. A brutal baptism of fire, he’d perform covers along with French language numbers by Jacques Brel and Leo Ferre (despite not being able to initially understand the language). ‘The reason I feel no fear when I go onstage is because of what happened in those trains. I just used to sing my guts out”, he says.
Having eventually returned to his hometown of London, word spread from across the continent to the point where Benjamin Clementine’s UK live debut took place on national TV, of all places: he played two tracks on Later…With Jools Holland, caused a small storm on Twitter, and Paul McCartney was among the first to congratulate Clementine on an "amazing" performance. At 6 ft 3 - dressed in his now-trademark overcoat and bare-feet - Clementine cuts an extraordinary, puzzling presence. He had hardly, however, come from nowhere, and new single ‘Nemesis’ and the forthcoming debut album offers a fascinating glimpse into that shadowy figure hunched over the piano.