Benjamin Francis Leftwich talks rehab, redemption and growth ahead of his show at The Foundry, Sheffield

Ahead of his show at The Foundry, Sheffield, Benjamin Francis Leftwich spoke to The Star about alcoholism, owning your mistakes and his musical quest of introspection and redemption.

Saturday, 19th February 2022, 11:37 pm

Released in 2021, To Carry A Whale is his fourth album, recorded over four-months in Leftwich’s Tottenham home Urchin Studios in Hackney, a room in Niagara and in a Southend studio owned by Sam Duckworth — commonly known as the artist Get Cape Wear Cape Fly.

How was the process of creating the album?

“It was a beautiful kind of cathartic process, myself and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly wrote and produced the album in early 2020, and we became really close friends. He came to the studio the day after we first met and we wrote, Oh My God Please.”

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“I knew what I wanted it to be, I knew that I wanted it to be around 10-tracks about living with that heaviness. And, with that title it enabled us to be quite assiduous with our decision making as we were kind of going through it, in terms of not only the writing process but also the sonics.

“We spent five weeks in the studio working on the sound and after that time we made the decision overnight to move studios, and scrapped everything we’d done.”

“I think by having a clear, kind of narrow, area of focus it enabled us to make those decisions effectively. But it was a beautiful process.

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Benjamin Francis Leftwich brings his UK tour to The Foundry, Sheffield, on February 24, 2022.

It was the first time that I made an album when I was awake and I had nowhere to hide.”

To Carry A Whale is the first by Benjamin written and recorded entirely sober, a state he has chosen to continue since he spent 28 days in rehab back in January 2018. In turn this gives further context to the decision behind the naming of the album’s title.

"The title To Carry A Whale was decided on from pretty early on.”

“Between Sam and I, and all of the amazing people who helped us make it, we had quite a long and tiring process, but it was quite clear what we were heading towards.”

Benjamin Francis Leftwich is set to perform at The Foundry, Sheffield on February 24, 2022.

Did it feel like a metaphorical weight had been lifted once you had come to the end of that journey?

“Erm… that’s a good question, no, it just felt like an interactive observation of what it’s like to keep an eye on that weight.”

I put it to him that perhaps the weight isn’t meant to be lifted and perhaps the album, while an exploration of what he is going through, is an acknowledgement and embracing of feelings. A take that Benjamin agreed with.

Maybe, I openly pondered, this is your way of identifying those problematic elements that impacted his own life and of those around him.

He responds saying “that’s exactly right, that’s what that stuff does. It’s not rude, it’s true.”

Quite often we do not realise the impact of how our energy output affects our relationships with those around us. Rarely questioning our actions, how we are perceived and dare I say owning our mistakes. It’s something that Benjamin is openly broaching, working on, striving to adjust, improve, fix even. He’s incredibly candid, self-critical, aware of his wrongs.

I’d go so far as saying that this is Benjamin’s most honest, uncompromising, yet self-introspective body of work yet. It’s also a project that allows us into his thoughts as he seeks to redeem himself. To Carry A While does not so much expose the artist, it sort of strips back those feelings to an earnest clarity.

"I think it depends on what someone struggles with, for me, just getting sober doesn’t change much and I think for me getting sober is where the problem starts. And for me that’s sort of where I have to work on my spirit”

"I blamed the world for a long time, I blamed the world, everyone around me for a long time and it didn’t work.”

Perhaps we can’t always redeem ourselves or be in control of that element. We can torture ourself on a quest of righteousness. But many of us are not brave enough to do so self-effacingly and publicly. That in of itself is a strength in our seemingly weakest of moments.

"In my experience it was the thinking in my head that needed to change for my heart to change.”

Benjamin Francis Leftwich will be performing at The Foundry, Sheffield, on February 24, 2022, you can buy tickets and find out more information at: benjaminfrancisleftwich.com