You may not know Benny Blanco, but you probably know his songs. At the age of 24, the Reston native has co-written and produced 15 Number One songs, including “Moves Like Jagger” and “Payphone” for Maroon 5, “California Gurls” for Katy Perry, “Dynamite” for Taio Cruz and “Tik Tok” for Ke$ha. Those were all massively huge hits.
He’s gone from Reston now, living in New York, according to this Los Angeles Times piece which ran in The Post Sunday. When he was in Northern Virginia, he was known as Benjamin Levin, and he took his stage name from a character in the heart-warming family classic film “Carlito’s Way.” Where he grew up and where he went to school around here are unclear, but he told Vibe magazine in 2012 that one of his formative experiences was going to a neighborhood cassette tape store when he was five or six years old, where someone would sell him and his brother “Parental Advisory”-stickered material. (Sounds like Compact Discount in Lake Anne Plaza. That guy would sell anyone anything.)
“He grew up consuming a steady diet of hip-hop and hard-edged pop, utilizing cheap Casio keyboards to create his earliest musical productions around age 9 in his suburban Virginia home,” Blanco told Times writer Chris Lee. “I used to link up boomboxes, record one take, play it into another boombox then play all that back into the other one until I had six tracks,” Blanco recalls. “It was unlistenable!”
He aggressively pursued record industry figures on MySpace and anywhere else he could find them, did a soundtrack for a softcore porn movie at age 14, according to this interview he did when he was 20, and now he works with Britney Spears, Wiz Khalifa and Rihanna. Here’s a good recent Huffington Post piece on him, and if you know more about Benjamin Levin’s Reston roots, drop us a line.