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Benjamin Opipari
Kensington, Maryland
I am a writing instructor at a DC based international law firm.
Recent Activity
I've been fortunate to interview songwriters who achieved considerable success in the 1980s and beyond: Chris Difford (Squeeze), Neil Finn (Crowded House), Cy Curnin (The Fixx), Andy McCluskey (OMD). I figure all are worth listening to when they discuss the work ethic of the songwriter. That's the one common element... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
Thanks for that! I'll make the correction now. Ben
Toggle Commented Nov 6, 2014 on Rhett Miller, Old 97's at Songwriters on Process
1 reply
I started this site in 2010 as a way to give a voice to songwriters in the same way that interviewers give poets and prose writers. I wanted to treat songwriters as writers and to have an intelligent discussion about the writing process. A Paris Review of songwriting interviews. Rhett... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
Richard On, guitarist and songwriter for O.A.R, is a working man. He's up before sunrise to work out. He hears melodies all day that he's constantly recording to his phone. And he does most of his best writing at night, after he's put the kids to bed and is finally... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
For almost thirty years, Tom Keifer has had seeds rolling around in his head. All day long. They never stop. But Keifer wants it no other way. Keifer achieved tremendous success as the frontman for the 80s hard rock band Cinderella, selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Throughout his career,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
This site is woefully short of interviews with metal songwriters. I've been a Lamb of God fan for a while, but it was only recently that I watched the 2014 documentary about the band "As the Palaces Burn." No less a metal god than Slash calls them one of the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
Jay Gonzalez: Drive-By Trucker, Bay City Roller. Sure, Gonzalez is guitarist and keyboard player for the Truckers. But his solo stuff sounds nothing like his Truckers work. Gonzalez is an unabashed fan of 70s power pop, bands like The Sweet and The Bay City Rollers. In his own words, "I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
In the nearly 150 interviews I've done for this site, one thing stands out: songwriters are voracious readers, much more so that the general public. They read all the time. They read novels, they read short stories, they read non-fiction. But curiously, not nearly as many read poetry as I... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
Ray Benson is best known as the co-founder of the country music band Asleep at the Wheel. The band, founded in 1969, has won nine Grammy Awards. Asleep at the Wheel is a contemporary torchbearer for the subgenre of country music known as Western swing, a more danceable kind of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
You may not know that Matt Nathanson has a writing partner. The problem, though, is that Nathanson doesn't want this guy around. In fact, Nathanson told me, he'd love to "tape his mouth shut and stuff him in a trunk." And even worse: this guy is an assassin. This assassin... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
By his own admission, Johnathan Rice has a "mysterious" writing process. He doesn't think he's ever written the same way twice. Yet his best songs have always come fully formed; that is, they don't even appear until he sits down to play, when they pour out of him all at... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2014 at Songwriters on Process
Sometimes when I transcribe these interviews, one of the artist’s songs constantly loops through my head. That’s a testament, of course, to the powerful melody the songwriter has crafted. This happened as I transcribed my conversation with Cy Curnin of The Fixx, but it wasn’t just one song. It was... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
Before talking to Ryan Bingham, I watched some of his videos on his YouTube channel. Several of the commenters pointed out that his singing voice sounds nothing like his speaking voice. And it's true. I couldn't help but think about this when he talked about songwriting as a form of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
[Obligatory Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl reference] Chris Shiflett doesn't get to write as the guitarist in his other band, so his side project Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants allows him to showcase his songwriting and love of honky tonk. It's a good thing, because Shiflett knows what it... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
Much of Sara Watkins' songwriting process involves not writing songs. Her routine is filled with creative exercises that don't produce lyrics but still make her a better songwriter. Some of these exercises are, in her words, "silly and pointless," like when she creates Christmas cards or arts and crafts projects.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
I've interviewed close to 150 songwriters for this site, but no one has a songwriting approach quite like Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah. Once McEntire has a song topic, she researches it. That's right. She researches. Whereas many songwriters rely on the inspiration of the muse, her approach is methodical... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
Hayes Carll was a writer before he was ever a songwriter. In fact, before he even knew how to play the guitar, he loved to write. True story: his favorite part of junior high and high school was when his teacher told the students to freewrite for 20 minutes. Let... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
I normally use this space before my interview transcripts to tell you something I learned from my conversation with the featured songwriter. But I'm going to forego that for a minute and drop all objectivity to tell you that Sera Cahoone has one of my favorite voices in music. It's... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
What struck me most about my conversation with Ritzy Bryan--the lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter for The Joy Formidable--was the dichotomy of her creative process. On one hand, it's an abstract idea: she uses words like imagination, inspiration, and mind, all of which are channeled through her stream-of-consciousness writing process.... Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
Thanks! I've really enjoyed both my conversations with Paul (the other was in 2010, I think). I'd like to think of the lyrics as fun and carefree. But you know what? That's ok with me, and I suspect it is for you. The lyrics and music are perfect complements. My sense, talking to Paul twice and also in emails, is that he's just the kind of guy his lyrics reflect. He genuinely has that outlook on life. If you've seen them live--and you must, because they are FANTASTIC--you see that disposition in full effect. Ben SoP
1 reply
When I interviewed Paul Sprangers of Free Energy in 2010, he mentioned his affinity for psychologist Carl Jung. It's the only time I've ever heard a songwriter namecheck the father of the collective unconscious. Knowing this, then, you can read some context into our discussion about his creative process when... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
It wasn't easy to talk at first with Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen about his creative process. There was something else on our minds: we spoke on the phone the same day that RGIII, the quarterback of the Washington Redskins, had his reconstructive knee surgery. And since Leithauser and I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
"We like to say that Jesse [Cohen] brings the light and I bring the dark," Eric Emm of Tanlines told me, referring to the yin and yang of their creative output. What he means is that while the music sounds upbeat, the lyrics are dark. That's because in their songwriting... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2013 at Songwriters on Process
Tim Kasher of Cursive is a multidisciplinary writer: he writes songs, but he also writes screenplays and short stories. It's no surprise that the process of songwriting and the process of writing long form pieces influence each other. What does surprise me, though, is that the process of the former... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2012 at Songwriters on Process
"You asked me how I was doing at the beginning of the interview and I said I was good, so can I retract that and say that I'm well?" asked Derek Miller of Sleigh Bells when I told him that I used to be an English professor. He explained that... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2012 at Songwriters on Process