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Acclaimed singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich on why he ‘cried my eyes out’ in Aberdeen

Singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich to play Aberdeen. Photo by Chuff Media
Singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich to play Aberdeen. Photo by Chuff Media

On a previous visit to perform in Aberdeen, singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich sat crying in the rain in a city centre park.

However that miserable day 11 years ago, after a breakup, has not clouded the musician’s love of the Granite City.

This is why he is excited to return when headlining The Lemon Tree on Friday to promote his acclaimed recent album, To Carry A Whale.

Cathartic for Benjamin, the album is the first the 32-year-old recorded sober.

It is a beautiful, fragile and candid collection of sombre ballads from one of Britain’s top singer-songwriters.

Singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich recently released album To Carry A Whale. Photo supplied by Chuff Media

Benjamin said: “I remember being in Aberdeen in 2011 when I had just gone through a break-up.

“We couldn’t get into the venue early and it was raining so much.

“I sat in a park in the middle of town and cried my eyes out then walked by the docks.

“I definitely made my own misery.

“However,” he laughed, “I have also had some great times in Aberdeen as well.

“I’ve had some great nights at The Lemon Tree. Most of my favourite bands are from Scotland.

“When I’m up there I love driving and listening to Tinseltown In The Rain (The Blue Nile).

“That is always very special.”

Benjamin Francis Leftwich is set to headline The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen. Photo supplied by Chuff Media.

To Carry A Whale a cathartic process

Tears melting into rain on that grey day in Aberdeen perfectly encapsulates Benjamin’s music – beauty from pain.

To Carry A Whale was recorded across four months at Benjamin’s Tottenham home, a Southend studio owned by Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly) and a hotel room in Niagara.

Duckworth shared production duties with Eg White who has worked with chart-topping stars Adele, Florence & The Machine and Sam Smith.

The new album is his first written and recorded entirely sober, a state he has maintained since spending 28 days in rehab in January 2018.

Benjamin said: “It was cathartic as I was writing about very specific events.

“I always think of songwriting as an audio will.

“If I was to die tomorrow. The final things I have said, would they have been true, hopefully, kind-hearted in nature, and honest?

“I haven’t always hit that mark. I don’t say that from a place of wholeness, I say that from a place of imperfection.

“If I have a good day in the studio and write a great song or record it well, or have a good show it is cathartic and beautiful.

“If I don’t do that it is the opposite – it is chaos, fear and self-loathing.

“I think that’s what artists are like. I try to work on that so it doesn’t get too toxic.”

Singer Benjamin Francis Leftwich has more than 500 million downloads on Spotify.

‘A whale is heavy to carry. It’s going to hurt you to carry it’

In 2011 Benjamin released acclaimed debut album Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm.

Hit single Shine was remixed by house star Kygo and subsequently named by Spotify as their ‘most addictive song of 2014’ as it was repeat-played more than any other that year.

Two further albums followed After The Rain (2016) and Gratitude (2019).

To date, Benjamin has sold more than 180,000 albums worldwide, with over 500 million streams.

The title of the recent album, To Carry A Whale, is an eloquent observation on life now sober.

He said: “A whale is heavy to carry. It’s going to hurt you to carry it.

“But it’s also beautiful, and it’s a miracle to be able to carry all that at all.

“I had that title from halfway through 2019. I was at my girlfriend’s house in Liverpool and playing the piano.

“God literally landed that title on my lap.”

Energy of trepidation and fear

Benjamin has been working on new material and has “20 to 30” songs although he feels only “five or six of them are good enough for an album”.

His return to Aberdeen is part of a full British tour, his first since the coronavirus pandemic put live shows into cold storage in March 2020.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich will play Aberdeen as part of a UK tour.

He said: “We did a few weeks around the UK and rural Scotland, playing places like Banchory, Perth and Galashiels.

“At the end of that tour, we had two shows left – one in Bristol and one in Bodmin.

“As Covid hit we cancelled those and came home. Initially, in that week it was happening no one really knew how bad it would get.

“There was definitely an energy in the air. The last show we played in the Lake District was right on the edge, two days before lockdown was announced.

“An energy of trepidation and fear hung around.

“We knew that night would probably be the last of the tour – but we thought we would be back in a couple of months.

“We definitely didn’t think it would be two years later.”

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