The album cover has a whale on it and the first track is called “Tilikum.” What’s the significance of the whale references?
Benjamin Francis Leftwich: I first heard that word when I watched Blackfish, a film about the poor treatment of killers whales in captivity. Me and someone I was close with once were planning on having a baby and we wanted to call it Tilikum after watching that movie. That never happened… but the song is about hope for love in the future in this life or the next, so I thought “Tilikum” was a beautiful title for it.
What would you say makes this album different than your first LP?
BFL: Working with Charlie Andrews was a blessing. He is one of the best musicians I’ve ever met and he has become a close friend. My tastes in music have widened a lot over the past few years and I think incorporated a wider range of sonic elements into this record. Overall After The Rain is more dynamic both in terms of songwriting and the sound. I feel like this record has more colours on it. I’m equally proud of Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm as I am of After The Rain. They are very different records though made at very different times.
Any influences when making this new album?
BFL: So many… I fell in love with hip hop and R&B in a big way over the past few years and a year ago I brought an MPC on which I made a few of the beats and samples on After The Rain, including the drone at the start of “Mayflies.” I think listening to more programmed and electronic music opened my eyes to new colours. Me and Charlie tried to tie this sonic with my roots though you know… which is always my vocal and acoustic guitar…
If you had to pick one, what would you say is the standout track on After the Rain?
How do you feel about the upcoming tour?
BFL: I’m on tour from now until Xmas all around the world and I’m excited to play these songs more and meet new people and discover beautiful new music. Touring feels so different this time around. I’m a lot more at peace with myself and music.
Will any other acts be joining you on the tour along the way?
BFL: Yeah I hand pick all the artists who join me on tour and we have some truly beautiful and inspiring song writers joining us around the world for the next few months.
How do you think you’ve changed (or not changed) as an artist between Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm and After the Rain?
BFL: I think the most influential and meaningful change was that my tastes in music and art widened and diversified. I care less now about what is cool to like and I’m a lot more at peace with accepting whatever kind of music moves me.
What’s your songwriting process?
BFL: Writing songs that I believe in, that move me. To go into the depth of that question would be impossible for me to respond to accurately in this format.
Both album titles reference the weather, any meaning behind that?
BFL: I think growing up in Yorkshire had a huge impact on my song writing, perhaps sub consciously. The nature in Yorkshire is powerful, omnipotent and beautiful.
What do you do when you’re not making music?
BFL: I think about making music, or I think about how good other people’s music is. Or I talk to my sister.
Any particular themes or stories you’d like to convey in the new album?
BFL: I don’t write songs because I like or enjoy conveying messages, I write them because I have to.
Do you have any superstitions or good luck charms?
BFL: I have a few charms I stick to my pedal board each night on stage, I put pictures of my sister and Dad down, I also put an elephant model and some notes from my friends. I usually turn my phone off half an hour before I start singing and put on the Memoirs Of A Geisha sound track in the dressing room.
What’s one thing or person you couldn’t live without?
BFL: My sister.
BFL: A flying dolphin.
If your job wasn’t musician, what do you think you’d be doing?
BFL: Thinking about making music.