One of Australia’s most prolific singer-songwriters of the last 30 years, Ben Lee has continually reinvented himself creatively; as an punk rocker, indie-pop star, and half a folk duo with How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor.
Lee will perform at The Street, City West, 30 April 7.30pm; tickets here.
You returned to Australia from the USA last year with your family, what brought you back?
Ben Lee: Near the beginning of 2020 we already were planning it, but we got very involved in getting Trump out of office so it was important to us to stay through the election. Once that was done, it really felt like we kind of owed it to the kids for a better sense of safety.
How was the process of returning?
You’d hear people complaining about having to do hotel quarantine. Hotel quarantine was like the first time we felt really safe in a year; it was our best chance of not contracting COVID.
The feeling of having the opportunity to provide my family more safety; it’s bittersweet because you know all our family and friends are back there (in the USA).
How have you found living and performing in Australia since being back?
Ben Lee: It’s just been awesome; I’ve had immense gratitude for just getting back on stages. Also, it’s interesting being here during these early chapters of this massive boom in Australia in terms of like our industry, entertainment. Everyone in the world wants to be here making stuff. It’s quite an incredible experience.
With your extensive back catalogue, how do you decide what to play at your live shows?
I have a giant list of songs and I take them up on stage and sort of see what happens. I’ve got a cassette player with me with some backing tracks that I made. So that’s kind of my band, that’s Mr JVC. There’s a lot of rewinding … everyone should bring a pencil because if the tape gets stuck, I need to wind it back.
You’ve been making music professionally for close to 30 years; how do you reflect on your career?
The actual work that comes out, while hugely important, is like the second level of work. The most important level of work is the way someone lives their life and that’s where the real artistry is evident. I think of the actual works of art like footprints; it’s like I’m looking at a big mountain I’m climbing that I’m halfway up.
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