We had the good fortune of connecting with Jack & Benny Lipson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jack & Benny, how do you define success?
Benny and I have always believed if the songs we write turn one head, change one heart, we’ve succeeded. We sing a comedic number that follows an eventually lucky romantic who always “start[s] with consent,” and after one show a patron enthusiastically greeted, “That was so great…can I give you a hug?” Sure, it was cheeky but we knew that she had listened to the lyrics, and may very well exercise consent next date.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At a mere 7 weeks old, Benny and I were baptized in the music of the Lord—Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, as we embarked on the second national tour of EVITA, which starred our mother. Ever since we’ve become particularly reverent and insatiable purveyors of not just musical theater, but also notably classical, jazz, and traditional pop. We believe to root ourselves in the formal traditions we admire not only honors that rich canon of art, but also grounds and enables Benny and I to explore the metrical and harmonic idiosyncrasies that unmistakably stamp our individual sound. But we’re proud not to take ourselves so seriously, and the often comedic lyrics we pen wryly examine everything from queer identity and consensual conduct to healthcare bureaucracy. This marriage of music and words challenges the listener to lean in a bit closer than usual, but along the way Benny and I’ve discovered if we write exactly the songs we want, the unbridled authenticity will always compel audiences.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would encourage this friend to visit the first week of the month. We’d christen this trip with Learn The Words, Bitch!, Akbar’s monthly amateur lip-sync battle, and afterwards hop to Short Stop—where Jack and I used to host a bimonthly party—to dance at their weekly Motown Monday. We love the breakfast burrito at El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights, Nats Early Bite’s brunch in Van Nuys, burgers at West LA’s Apple Pan, and late-night red-booth dining at Torung in Thai Town. The trip would certainly culminate with a rousing house party at our home, where a diverse and artistic crowd are bound to mingle, jam, and boogie to Jack’s double-turntable DJ’ing with our 800+ vinyl collection. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We shout out singular composer-lyricist, pianist-vocalist Dave Frishberg. Dave structures his humorous, trenchant songs with a deep reverence for songwriting tradition—in fact on a live album from San Francisco, Frishberg sings a Frank Loesser medley, and just before the button salutes, “Frank Loesser: my hero.” Every time Benny and I listen we cry a little, admiring the lineage of great tunesmiths; we hope one day a young musician will salute us.