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Ben Lawrence’s musical journey through grief

Through our Patrons Scheme, we support Christians who are making engaging, powerful art or who are using their skills to serve their local communities. This term, we’re funding a very personal music project by songwriter and filmmaker Ben Lawrence.

Watch our interview with Ben below, or scroll further for a written Q&A. Why not join us in supporting engaging, talented artists like Ben, by joining our Patrons scheme for as little as £5 / month?

Hi Ben. Please introduce yourself.

Hi, I’m Ben a musician and filmmaker from Norwich. I’ve been creating since I was a teenager and love to communicate my journey through the films and songs I make. I’ve been married to Mel for seven years and spend my days working for Norwich Youth for Christ and St Thomas Norwich as a creative.

It’s a pleasure to be able to help fund your latest project. Can you talk us through it?

O Wide World is my first solo release, a collection of songs written about grief, hope and re-finding adventure. In 2016, my twin brother Dan passed away from a brain tumour and these songs are my story of journeying through the grief.

I started writing some of these songs only a month or so after Dan died, but it wasn’t until early 2021 that I thought about actually doing something with them. I felt the call to pursue them and started working on demos. The demos really helped me to develop my sound and after a few conversations with producers and friends, I decided that it was about time I made an album.

This album is set out in three acts that will take the listener on a journey through my story and the process of grief. Act One is all about memories, nostalgia and the longing to be back with the ones we’ve lost and in those places we treasured as kids. Act Two is an honest look at grief, anger, loss and abandonment. It’s the rawest section of the album. Act Three focuses on hope, moving forward and finding purpose in the wake of loss. 

I’m working with a great producer, Iain Hutchison, to fully realise the potential of these songs and a great team of musicians and creatives. It’s extremely exciting to bring so many great people together in this project.

My aim is that this album will really connect with those who’ve experienced something similar and anyone who needs some hope. The album will have 12-13 tracks and will be accompanied by a documentary and music videos.

So sorry to hear about your brother. How has the project helped you to process the grief that you’ve felt in your bereavement?

I’ve always written songs as a cathartic way to deal with what I’m going through. I never thought I’d be writing about this stuff, but in some ways I’m glad I have this creative outlet to help process. I’ve always wanted to help others, it’s why I’ve felt called to work in Christian ministry areas for the entirety of my career, and so this album is important to me for two reasons. Firstly, it’s a tribute to my brother, who was an inspiring passionate man of God and it’s a chance to help others on their journey too. It feels good to make something positive out of such hard circumstances. 

I take each day as it comes with grief. Some days you just carry on and other days you need a bit more time to gather yourself. These songs have been a soundtrack for me throughout all of those days and I hope they’ll be special to other people too.

You seem to have a very thought through plan for the project, including a very successful Kickstarter to help gather extra funding. Can you provide any tips on how to set up a successful Kickstarter?

This is my first crowdfunding campaign and I was adamant that to do it well, I needed to put the hard work in. Gladly my friend Pete McAllen (aka Pyramid Park) gave me lots of insight and helped me understand the best way to go about it. 

We knew it would be very important to tell the story as best as we could, so we spent a long time developing the main campaign video and filming several sections to it to really show the breadth of what we wanted to achieve. I am so appreciative of Sarah Ballard and Ben Lambert, who have both helped me out immensely in all of these areas.

I had a full marketing campaign ready to go to aid the 35 day Kicsktarter and this really helped to keep the project in people’s minds. I’ve never been so busy, but it was so rewarding as the total kept ticking up. There were a few moments where I was sceptical that we would reach our £10,000 target, but thankfully we made and exceeded it!

The total album project is actually more like £20,000, so I’m very grateful to Sputnik for their extra funding, which will really help us make this album the best it possibly can be.

To stay connected with Ben and his music, you can follow him on Instagram, or check out the album’s website.