Benjamin Clementine

The rise of a raconteur.

Issue 27


Fashion, Music

Benjamin Clementine is a lesson in dichotomies: The 28-year-old pianist and songwriter exudes the wisdom of someone twice his age while questioning everything about the world around him with the vulnerability and naivety of a child. His songwriting is intensely personal, often dealing with themes of solitude and survival, and yet the artist himself is protective of the narrative surrounding his rise to fame. His story—of homelessness in Paris, attempted suicide, rags-to-riches discovery and success—is overly simplistic, he says. The truth is much murkier and more nuanced, as real-life stories so often are.

The youngest of five children, Clementine was raised by his grandmother in a middle-class household in Edmonton, London. She died when he was 11 years old, after which he was obli...

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