Interview with: Benjamin Lipman
What got you into writing and producing music in the first place?
When I was a kid my mother had me take piano lessons. I didn’t care for it too much but it laid a foundation. I was also in the children’s choir at church and enjoyed that. Then in middle school a good friend and I got guitars that we taught ourselves how to play and started a band. It was the early 90s so of course we wanted to be Nirvana, and although Nirvana was mainstream, they had a DIY vibe about them. They made you feel like you could do something like that. Of course you couldn’t come close, but it was fun to try. Near the end of the 90s, singer-songwriters were doing their thing. I fell in love with Elliott Smith and the whole process of recording your own music. I bought a little Tascam four-track, and it wasn’t long before computers started offering easy and inexpensive recording programs with endless tracks and built-in effects.
What inspired “To the Moon”? Was it a long process to choosing the lyrics, or do they come to you when you aren’t looking for them?
“To The Moon” was inspired by my life during that time. I had the chords with a melody for quite some time and the lines, “I don’t have what I thought I had, you don’t have what I thought you did, but what we have it’s really not that bad,” which eventually ended up being part of the second and last verse. The first verse, the bridge, and the part about singing to the moon came later on after staying up after my wife and newborn daughter went to bed, trying to finish my beer. Then a day or two later I wrote the rest of the verses at work. So it was kind of a long process if you consider the first time I put the chords together to the time it was finished, but once I had a theme it went pretty quick.
Have you had any experience with writing, say poetry, or did you go straight into writing with music?
It was around the same time I started making music that I met a kid who wrote poetry, and he inspired me to give it a try. We became good friends and fell in love with the poet Jim Carroll together. In high school, we started a zine called Missing Link with our poetry and writing.
I noticed you have a couple of songs that you’ve released. Do you have a favorite?
I really like all the songs I did a few years ago with my friends Frank and Kevin in the band Pink Trilliums. It was really cool to take songs I had previously written and have them add their thing to it, completely changing them from the original versions.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice for the future, what would it be? Is this the same advice you would give to someone who is just starting out with writing and producing music?
I would say play out more. It’s great recording at home but go on tour, meet people, see things. I never did that with music and wish I had.
Benjamin Lipman was born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin in 1980. After attending university for almost a year he dropped out to pursue washing dishes professionally. Since then he’s moved on to other things. In 1994 he started his first band and has been making music ever since. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter and works nights as an elementary school janitor.