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Brkn Love & A Whole Canadian Tour: Inside Justin Benlolo’s Music Career

By Hanan Hammad, January 31 2020 —

Brkn Love, an alternative rock band, is about to begin its first Canadian tour this February after being hard at work recording their self-titled debut album. This Valentine’s Day, be prepared for emotional lyrics, powerful vocals, and goosebumps. 

Lead vocalist Justin Benlolo wrote this album between the ages of 16 and 19, preparing for the day he would start a band and perform for people. From a young age, it became clear that he had a love for music. 

“I started singing when I was young, just innately,” he siad. This led to joining school plays during his elementary years. “I started miraculously getting lead roles [in school plays], so I guess I could sing and stand out more than the other kids.” 

The band Kiss sparked Justin’s initial interest in music. 

“It was so powerful seeing [them] dress up that way, with the spectacles and the over-the-top characteristics, it was like seeing superheroes. And in every young person’s life, superheroes and fantasies are so important for their development.” This led to Justin’s initial experience in musical theatre. “Seeing Kiss [be my superhero] in a musical perspective was so inspiring to me… they mixed the superhero thing with the rock band.”

Later, at the age of eleven, Justin convinced his parents to buy his first guitar. 

“I was always begging my parents to let me play the guitar,” The began his guitar journey with the help from his uncle. “My uncle was very, very good. You don’t need to learn how to read music or take lessons, that’s not an essential part of being a good musician. I developed a good ear and pretty much learned most of the stuff by listening, which comes as you play,” concluding that “if you want to be good at something, you just gotta give it the time.”

By the age of 16, Justin dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. He moved to New York to learn, write and practice music. This time was a period of laying out the foundation for his future band, which led to the creation of the name Brkn Love. 

“My manager and I made a list of my favorite albums and songs, and we kind of mixed and matched the front parts of some albums and the back words of some songs. Until we got to Brkn Love,” Although the process of the name was coincidental, Justin feels that the name resonates with his persona. “I didn’t have the band when I came up with the name, but it’s not about being incapable of love, but being afraid of being hurt by love, and it’s a lot of who I am.”

His musical journey between New York and Los Angeles led to expanding his network and meeting his band members. Once he found a drummer, bass player, and another guitarist, he was set. They began to record their first single, “Shot Down,” which was released in mid-March 2019. Since then, the journey has consisted of performing and recording the rest of their debut. 

When asked about the future, Justin admits to being a little scared of what it holds for Brkn Love. 

“Well, I think the stress comes from the strive for success; I just want to be successful. I want the band to do well and I want our hard work to pay off because we worked so hard on this project,” Benlolo further describes what success looks like for him and the band. “For me and the band to be successful is to have a dedicated crowd who want to listen to us play. If I can do this and sustain myself and everyone can live a good life, then that’s success to me. I just want to make a career out of this and be self-sustaining.”

Albeit, unaware of what the future holds for Benlolo and Brkn Love, he tries to keep a positive outlook. 

“I don’t think there’s any reason to stress about anything, unless you really have to, which is easier said than done. It’s hard to predict what the future’s gonna hold or if you’re gonna amount to anything, and I’m sure there’s other stressors that don’t help with that. But you gotta take every day for what it is and be happy that you have this experience.” 

Brkn Love will be performing at The Gateway on the SAIT Campus on Feb. 20. Tickets can be purchased online for $19.70. 

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