Ben Lee to take the Powerhouse Stage
Beloved Aussie singer-songwriter, activist and low-fi pop legend Ben Lee will be taking the stage of the Brisbane Powerhouse this June.
Kicking off his music career in the early 90’s, Ben has since produced many acoustic driven albums made up of nothing but catchy and melodic pop songs. Sourcing his lyrics from whatever path life chooses to take him, his songwriting is nothing short of complex, passionate and inspiring. Often relying on his search for adventure, love, and connection for lyrical inspiration, his music creates such a relatable yet uplifting sense, and one that we all desire.
We had the chance to chat with Ben about his journey through the Aussie music scene, the rollercoaster that is life throughout the pandemic, and his excitement to be returning to live shows.
The Creative Issue: How are you feeling about returning to live shows, and particularly your upcoming gig at the Brisbane Powerhouse?
Ben Lee: Playing live feels different now. I look out at the audience, and it doesn’t feel like a performer on a pedestal looking down at the audience. It’s a group of people in a room, all having experienced some very difficult times as a global community, we all feel like equals.
TCI: What is your favourite thing about playing live, and how do you typically navigate/plan a set?
BL: I don’t really plan it. I have a master list of songs. But I’m open to requests too. Sometimes I need the audience to google the lyrics for me. I reckon that’s fair game. If you’re gonna yell out a tune that is two decades old, the least you can do is help me remember the words.
TCI: Besides the obvious negativity of the COVID-19 pandemic, did you find anything positive came from this extensive period of isolation and change regarding your music?
BL: For me, my music being rediscovered and re-embraced during difficult times was very affirming. It was a reminder that you never know when your art will be “useful”. Ultimately all artists want to be useful. Sometimes the moment you release a song isn’t the moment it’s needed, sometimes it’s fifteen or 20 years later. That whole thing was just a reminder to be generous and selfless with what I make and let it find its place in the world.
TCI: You spent nearly the first year of the pandemic in the US, what did you get up to during lockdown over in the states?
BL: I had been living in the US since 1996 so we didn’t even consider leaving initially. You just want to get through things with your community and keep hoping for improvement. We also got very involved in getting Trump out of office. Lots of volunteering and phone banking etc. It was all hands-on deck. America felt like a bus going off a cliff and we all had to do our part to momentarily help out.
Oh, and I made an album. Sending files back and forth to people like Jon Brion, Shamir, Megan Washington, Christian Lee Hutson, Money Mark, Georgia Maq. That was a fun process of discovery.
TCI: What are your favourite themes, ideals or feelings to write about? Why?
BL: In some ways it evolves, with my interests or passions. I can see clear chapters in terms of my writing and what I was passionate about at that point of my life. On the other hand, there is definitely a through line. I generally seem to write about my search for adventure, for love, for connection.
TCI: Although life has been quite unpredictable lately, what does your typical songwriting process look like, and how has it changed over time?
BL: I write less often, but in quite a similar process. I try and fall in love with a vibe, then sit in it and let it become something. I also absolutely have to believe it has the chance of being the best song I’ve ever written, otherwise it’s not worth doing.
TCI: You have collaborated with so many creatives and artists throughout your career. What motivates you to do so? And what is it about collaborating that you enjoy so much?
BL: I think collaborating is essentially about experimentation. It’s about mixing different elements together, like a mad scientist, seeing what happens. Creativity is like sexuality. It’s energy that can make thing happen. I like testing out different combinations. And then I learn from each collaborator. All artists are like superheroes with different superpowers. Each collaborator is like a teacher to me in a way.
TCI: It seems that you are constantly evolving and growing as an artist, but do you ever experience creative ruts?
BL: The rut is part of the evolution too! Growth is dynamic and happens in fits and spurts. I try and relax into the process and let it be whatever it wants to be!
Stay tuned as Ben has a new single coming out this July, followed by his album I’m Fun! in August.
Playing in Brisbane for one night only on Saturday June 19th, so be sure to grab your tickets here!