Featured Photo Credit: Danielle Levitt
In 2014, Australian artist Ben Abraham released his debut album, Sirens to critical acclaim. Riding high on his professional success, Abraham was blissfully unaware of the impending heartbreak and faith crisis that would rock his personal life.
However, like a phoenix, he rose from the ashes and coped in the best way he knew how, music. Abraham began pouring some of his most personal thoughts over a baby grand piano.
In 2022, those honest lyrics and soulful melodies have culminated with his sophomore album, “Friendly Fire” via Atlantic Records.
We chatted with the award-winning singer-songwriter about the new album, how a conversation with Kesha inspired a lyric in his introspective new single “Another Falling Star,” and more!
Excerpt from the podcast:
This is a very personal record for you, and came about from some soul searching and a tumultuous period in your life. Can you share a little bit about how those experiences inspired this album?
I did a big Instagram post about this like a month before the album had come out, which was the first time that I’d talked so publicly about it all. Basically, I guess the cliff notes version of it is I have grown up in a very Christian family and my parents are church pastors, and I’m a Christian. Faith has just always been kind of an inseparable part of who I am and the way that I exist in the world. At the release of my last album, I just had hit this point, you know, getting closer and closer to like fully fledged, adulthood, whatever that means. I just, all these parts of my life that felt very ordered. And, you know, I was leading at my church and I was, I just had this album come out and, you know, it was kind of growing in my career and was in love with this woman that that I had met. We weren’t engaged, but we basically had every intention of getting married and things. There was just a particularly rough moment, but I ended up having this experience with a man, just kind of lit a fuse that became this kind of explosion in my life that derailed a lot of the things that I had built up around myself and, you know, led to the kind of end of that relationship with her and then led to years of me pulling away from my church community and really questioning like, who am I and what am I doing? And what do I believe? And in the midst of all that, I was just writing songs. It’s sort of weird now with this, like, it wasn’t I have a job to do, I’m a songwriter. I really was just writing songs to help me process some of the craziness of what was going on. Then, when I kind of got to the end of this crazy period, I reflected and was like, oh, this is what the new album is. This is this story.
Did you have any reservations in releasing certain songs or the album because it was so personal?
Yeah. It’s funny, when I was in the writing of them, and even when we were producing, the story was still raw enough for me that I was so in it, I was so compelled to do it, I just had to do it. The album starts with a song called “Runaway” and the lyrics of it are like “faith I let you down, I lost my way and put your body in the ground.” It’s just this like very tense or even the chorus of ”Boy in a Bubble,” which is like “now I just want to survive, I’m trying to stay alive.” There were these moments in this time period of my life, where it really felt that desperate. And I wasn’t even like aware of how people are going to hear these songs? What are we going to think about these songs? I just had to sing the songs. So the making of it and stuff was pretty easy. Funnily, once you get to kind of this partt, once it’s all packaged, then you’re like, okay, it’s time to like put this thing out. There was definitely, I wouldn’t say it was hesitation around it – the good thing about time is that, you know, when you, the more time passes, the more you’re able to kind of reflect on traumatic experiences and actually just talk about it and it doesn’t, you don’t have to relive it every time, but I was definitely curious around how much do you tell everyone exactly what the songs are about and how much do you allow people to form their own relationship with the music? And I really went back and forth about like, what’s the what’s the better thing to do as an artist. And I ultimately realized that because I had spent so many years not telling my story, hiding, isolating myself, and kind of keeping so much of this stuff private, I was like, I think the most powerful thing for me as a human being to do is just be that vulnerable and be that open. So yeah, it, even now like the story itself, I can now talk about and laugh about some of the crazy things that happened. There are also still moments on the record that feel vulnerable to me. The most vulnerable song is funnily like – I don’t know why I find it vulnerable, but it’s the “Love Myself” song, which is at the end of the record. I think it’s just quite ernest and there’s something about the way that it says what it says that every time I put it on, I’ll sing it I’m always a bit like, oh, I feel like people are seeing me in my underwear or something, but maybe that’s a good thing. I think it’s good to be that kind of vulnerable as an artist. And I’d rather be nervous about like, oh no, have I said too much, than the other things.
Listen to more of the interview on our podcast here!