Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

A conversation with Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Photo By: “Pip”

In 2011, English singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich released his critically acclaimed debut album, “Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm.” A massive hit, the album rose to No. 35 on the U.K. album charts, and his song “Shine” went on to become one of the most-played tracks on Spotify with over 79.5 million plays and counting.

In 2014, Spotify named “Shine” the most addictive track of the year, being the most played song on the service. But after the death of his father, Leftwich took a break from the public eye to recover. After a three-year hiatus from touring and five years since the release of his last album, Benjamin Francis Leftwich triumphantly returned this summer with an almost sold-out nationwide tour and the release of his new album, “After The Rain.” In advance of his upcoming show at 502 Bar on Sunday, Nov. 27, Leftwich discussed his return, his perspective on songwriting, getting older and his new album.

As one of the main inspirations for his music, the death of his father was devastating to Leftwich.

“My dad was an academic,” recalled Leftwich. “He taught politics, economics and international relations, so he was pretty tight with his words, and he was always pushing me for clarity and meaning in lyric.”

“I just needed to take some time to myself and live outside this wild game of music,” Leftwich said.

Leftwich took his three-year hiatus to gain a new perspective on music and create songs that reflect a dark time in his life.  

“My aim is to always get to the point where I’ve made a body of work that I’m proud of,” said Leftwich.  “Because I had other things to think about and other things to be doing, I wasn’t ready to share music with the world.”

Although experiencing a massive hit in his song “Shine,” Leftwich said he never felt “any pressure to release a record or release a song unless (he was) 100% proud of it. (His) next album might come out in 5 years, or 10 years, or 100 years, or 1 year, you know? It’ll come out when it’s ready and (he’s) proud of it.”

But this year, he felt comfortable publicly returning to music.

“I’ve always been in love with music; I love touring,” said Leftwich. “I spent many years in my early 20s on the road, and I feel at home here. And I had a body of work that I was really proud of that I think was representative of me as a young man in the years following ‘Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm,’ and I wanted to share it. I wanted to share it so I could help people.”

Part of the reason he felt a need to release his music was to help people who found comfort in his music and had let his music become intimate parts of their lives.

“Every night, people were saying ‘that was the most beautiful gig I’ve ever seen,” said Leftwich. “These songs have helped me through these dark times’, and I’m like, ‘well creating the songs helped me through those same times,’ so we’re all brothers and sisters here.”

In the time between albums, Leftwich gained a wider and varied perspective. Leftwich takes influence from different types of musical genres, such as hip-hop, to further his mastery of music.

“I think my appreciation of songwriting as a craft and a discipline has increased a lot.,” said Leftwich. “A lot of inexperienced people think it just comes from the sky and right in front of your lap then you got an album. Mercifully and beautifully, sometimes songs do come like that, and I’ve had a few that come like that, but in general, especially when you go into your second album or your third album, you really have to be up for re-editing and really thinking about things deeply. You don’t have that luxury of having your whole life before you to have collected these songs that contextualize by your artistry.”

With a major part of his success due to Internet streaming services, Leftwich believes that masterful songwriting is the key to gaining the audience’s attention. Music has become so easily available to produce and release that the bar is constantly being raised for artists. Without a reason to stay and listen, then listeners will have the option to choose something else.

“With the age of the internet, in streaming songwriting is king,” declared Leftwich. “It’s above everything, and people have the option to click or not click,” said Leftwich. “Every song you release has to grab people and connect with them emotionally.”

Make sure to listen to Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s emotional new album, “After The Rain”, and check out his upcoming show at 502 Bar on Nov. 27. For more information on ticket pricing and availability, go to

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