Benjamin Francis Leftwich interview
SYS chatted to the very nice Benjamin Francis Leftwich, fresh from the airport after he had played a gig in Melbourne the night before and ahead of the release of his debut album, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm:
Benjamin Francis Leftwich, a twenty-two year old Yorkshire lad, explains that the record’s name refers to the mindset he was in while writing. “It’s like that moment of calm before you throw yourself into the wild.” He describes his creative process as fluid and natural. “I kind of just sit down with my guitar and jam and sing, sometimes I’ll have an idea of a message of what I want in the song, or I’ll have a melody or hook idea. I don’t think there is any real formula to it”.
The songs on the album are heartfelt and descriptive of his personal life experiences, which leads me to ask whether he was comfortable sharing so much about himself with his listeners. “Everyone is influenced by what’s around them,” he replies. “Whether that is friends, relationships, drugs, partying, whatever. Then comes a song that is individual, a totally personal interpretation of life”.
I was initially referred to Leftwich’s music via Youtube, being told that I should see his video for Pictures. This video had received over a million views before mine. I spoke to Leftwich about how sharing music like this was the modern way to get songs heard, and how it is steadily creating an even playing field for artists to compete within the music industry. He agrees, and adds that it’s a regular occurrence that “someone falls in love with a song, they’ll put in on their Facebook and it gets shared and this great word of mouth thing happens.” He continues to talk about the success that this may bring too, “It’s great that bands can tour the world and play shows off the back of them putting music out themselves and people talking about it.’
Leftwich’s tour schedule for the next few months has him playing gigs every night. When I ask him if he thinks the full-on workload is daunting as a new artist, he replies enthusiastically. “It’s cool, I’m proud of the songs that I’ve written and I like to share them with people in different places. I’m looking forward to it. I know that it’s going to be a pretty intense couple of months but I’m ready, I feel focused and healthy, in my body and mind.” He hopes to continue touring the album and mentions that he is midway through writing and recording a new EP. But don’t hold your breath for new music from the young singer/songwriter, as he said that he was “in no rush”. For now he will continue to tour, write, and play shows in new places.
Post interview, I caught Leftwich’s show at the Vanguard in Sydney (right). This intimate venue offered the perfect surroundings for his delicate acoustic sounds. Despite having recorded them with a backing band, Leftwich performed solo, captivating the audience with his breathy, smoky vocals and gentle guitar playing. While most of the audience stood in awe of the acoustic sounds being performed on stage, one drunk lady in front of me was rolling around on the floor, performing some sort of sexual worm dance to accompany Letfwich’s music. Inappropriate perhaps, but incredibly funny and applaudable, in its own strange way.
Between songs Leftwich talked about his tour with The Jezebels, mentioning how they partied and smoked “special cigarettes.” The set showcased all of the gems from his debut, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm, and closed with my personal favourite, Atlas Hands.
Words by Carol Bowditch