This Boy’s In Love –
by Elize Strydom
Ben Lee is in a good place. Granted, he’s in the honeymoon phase. Literally. As 2008 drew to a close Lee married his sweetheart, Ione Skye, in a Hindu ceremony in India. Add to that a shiny new album (The Re-Birth of Venus due out February 7th), a pop song on the radio and a national university tour (The Big O Festival) and you’ll start to realise why he’s so damn smiley all the time. Oh yes, this boy’s in love.
“For me, being in a stable relationship has allowed me to relax in a way that I didn’t even realise I wasn’t relaxed before. Probably because I was just putting all of my energy into chasing chicks! When you find someone that you trust and you love and you’re inspired by and you’re attracted to there’s a kind of support that can allow you to go to a deeper level. So I think with my records there’s starting to be this sound of relaxation in the music which is really nice.”
Indeed. The Re-Birth of Venus is Lee’s seventh solo album and his fifth with Chicago based producer Brad Wood.
“I’ve tried other producers but working with Brad is like coming home. We trust each other and it’s hard to build that trust. It’s not intellectual which I like. You just get together with friends and you make music and that’s how it works.”
For someone who started making records when he was 14, Lee is showing no signs of hitting the brakes. In terms of commercial success, it’s been a slow burning career for the guy that some just love to hate (do I need to mention that song by the Ataris?). In 2005 Lee won an ARIA award for Best Male Artist and Catch My Disease was the most played song on Australian radio. Does the thought of offering yet another album daunt him?
“These last few years I’ve been so wrapped up in process of making records I’ve become quite divorced from the anticipation of sharing them. I’m constantly chasing this experience that I want out of making records and music and I’m getting less and less concerned with how they’re received. I don’t feel at all that I’m doing it for the sake of it.”
The first single lifted from the new album (I Love Pop Music) reads like a summary of Lee’s world view with lines like:
Global warming threatens life as we know it Our leaders have not committed to a plan of action on renewable energy
Religious intolerance creating geo-political instability.
Our lives are accelerating as we fall out of touch with nature and ancient myth.
Try singing along to that, kids! He rounds it out with the chorus:
I love pop music, sprinkle sugar through it Philosophy that you can dance to
Hmmm, please explain.
“One way or another I’ve always been interested in embracing the classic elements of a pop song which are about the bubblegum stuff that just make you feel good and at the same time tried to subvert it a little bit and add new left field twists to it. So I think that song just continues that idea.”
Catch Ben Lee at the Big O Festival touring universities around the country during Orientation Week.