How Ben Folds Catches Inspiration

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Ben Folds, formerly of the Ben Folds Five, launched a new podcast called Lightning Bugs with Ben Folds about finding inspiration. Each week he interviews a guest about their creative process in the arts, science, medicine, politics, technology, and more.

The title of the podcast refers to how he feels that finding inspiration is like catching a lightning bug in a bottle when he says in the trailer “find what it takes to spot and bottle those flickers of inspiration.” Additionally, he had a 2019 talk similarly titled A Dream About Lightning Bugs.

He spoke to Rolling Stone about the new podcast. “I’m curious about what makes other people’s creativity tick,” Folds said. “I cast a wide net with guests. Some theorize and concentrate on creativity in general. Some create and don’t know why. In addition to our conversation, I want each guest to make something with me — a song — so that we can walk the walk as well. Nothing big. They give me an idea, a phrase, anything, and I finish it up, putting it at the end of the podcast for fun.”

At the end of each conversation, he’s going to try and write a song about what he and the guest talked about.

“My guiding light is that I’m trying to find the song in the guest, the subject, in the interview,” he said. “I’m finding my way in that way. What is the song of my talk with Josh Groban? Or with Marianne Williamson? How do I boil it down? Is it possible to do so? Or will it just be a fun ditty? Each song is different, but my personal observation skills are sharper when I’m considering what nugget makes a song. That makes me appreciate my skill as a songwriter. And that creative skill is becoming my main tool to becoming an interviewer.”

He also recorded a live episode of his podcast at On Air Fest on April 9 with guest Derek Waters of Drunk History that ended with Ben Folds on the keyboard singing the lyrics “Derek Waters wants you to care” as Waters played a slide whistle.

The first episode with Agustin Fuentes is available now.

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