Today we continue our worship leader process series by interviewing Ben Cantelon!
Have you heard of Ben Cantelon? If not, today is your lucky day. Ben is an established worship leader and songwriter within the UK and beyond. In 2007, Kingsway released Ben’s first project, an EP titled Daylight Breaks Through. Then there was the co-write of “Happy Day” with Tim Hughes, a move from Soul Survivor to join Tim at Holy Trinity Brompton, London. Ben is now working with Worship Central, a worship training school under the auspices of Holy Trinity; and his songs continue to make an impact within the global church. In 2009, Kingsway released Ben’s debut, full-length solo album, Running After You. He was also featured on Worship Central’s debut live album, Spirit Break Out. Each project showcases Ben’s clear commitment to crafting great music without sacrificing accessibility. On Everything In Color(click to itunes) - his second full-length album – the Canadian-born worship leader and songwriter, draws worshippers to a fuller, brighter view of God.
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1. What does your creative process look like?
- It varies. For me most songs will start with a melody then I’ll craft and build the idea lyrically. Sometimes, I’ll see a phrase or a title that grabs my attention and I’ll start with the lyric and try and find a melody to fit that phase. For example, I had the phrase ‘Savior Of The World’ for a long time but it never felt right. I used it in the pre chorus of one idea but it didn’t have the impact that I felt it should. A few months later Worship Central were on tour and I was playing around and out came this melody and it fit perfectly with ‘Savior Of The World’ and that is now chorus for the song. Other times I’ll be talking with a friend about what God is doing in church or what He has been saying to us and out of that a song will come. I think it’s good to challenge ourselves as writers and try to write in different ways. If you’re a melody person, try starting with the lyrics or a theme and if you’re a lyrical person, try starting with a melody – to be honest, whichever one is not your strength, should be the one you focus on more to develop your craft.
2. When you write worship songs do you identify a target audience or focus on theme?
- I’ll focus on theme. I personally think getting the theme right is more important than trying to tailor a song to a target audience. As songwriters and worship leaders, it’s important that we are teaching our congregations with songs that have a strong theme, theologically sounds lyrics and that they also have a creative element that is fresh and inspiring. In today’s church, I think worship songs are what people remember, it’s the thing they go away with, often humming the tune of the worship song they just sang. So it’s important that they leaving sing songs that are God centered and God inspired.
3. Do you have a favorite place to write or create?
- Not really. I live in London, England and so space is not much of an option. But when I can, I’ll try and escape out into the country where I can get inspired and write. Usually, I’ll just write at home in my living room or at our church.
4. Whatinspires you the most?
- I’d say God and music. God is constantly inspiring me through his word, through creation or through someone’s life story. Music also has a huge part in my inspiration, whether it’s going to a concert or listening to a new band or just sitting down and playing around on the piano. Sometimes I’ll get a piano idea and the emotion of that idea will often trigger a new song or theme.
5. When you feel you have hit a creative block, how do you overcome that moment?
- I’ll usually stop working on that idea and come back to it after a few days. But I try not to worry about writer’s block. I think seasons are good, seasons of constant creativity and writing are amazing and a blessing but also seasons of just being in the moment and not worrying about where the next song is going to come from can also be amazing and a blessing.
6. Do you prefer to create in community or on your own?
- I love creating in community. I think it’s where I thrive the most. Most of the songs on my recent album are all co writes and I wouldn’t have it any way. Writing with other people who you trust is a true blessing. That idea of ‘iron sharpens iron’ is so true when writing in community. I still do write on my own from time to time which is still good to do. But I would probably prefer writing in community.
7. What is the hardest part of creating worship sets every week?
- I think the hardest part would be trying to keep each week fresh and creative. If we go through the motions of putting together our set lists, we can be in danger of becoming stale and tired. So it’s important that every week we are constantly on our knees asking God to inspire us with new and fresh ideas of how we can lead our congregations into times of worship that are passionate and full of life.
8. How do you balance original songs with songs that are leading the global church when you are creating a set?
- I try and keep it balanced. Normally 50/50 – I’m more interested in our congregation connecting with God in our times of worship than them hearing the new and latest song that I wrote. But I don’t let that stop me from introducing new songs that I have written. I believe that if you are a worship leader in your local church, you should be writing songs that will inspire your church. Something happens prophetically when we give our churches a song to sing out of response to what God is doing.
9. Who is the one writer you have not worked with that you would love to write a songwith?
- I wouldn’t say no to Chris Martin!!