Ben Lee


Using music to explore the world

Genre(s): contemporary, college
Artist Bio:

There’s a quote out there that says,  “Dreams are only thoughts you didn’t   have time to think about during the   day.”  Aussie born singer/songwriter   Ben Lee reaches beyond such a   notion and turns it upside down in   order to grab a hold of the unconscious.  And on Deeper Into Dream,  his Dangerbird Records debut,  he examines the intricate layers of   dreams,  looking to make sense out   of life’s most complex questions   and ideals. 

“I find dreams to be incredibly   honest despite the kind of world   we live in,”  Lee says.  “[Dreams   are] proof that every single person   on the planet is an artist and is   completely creative.  I   really don’t like that elitist attitude   to art – I like the idea that we   are all creative and dreams prove it because people create entire worlds every night.”
The ARIA award winning musician’s   fascination with dreams and the mysteries behind them has long been   a part of 20 plus years in the   music business.  But only now does the former Noise Addict singer,  whose early years saw releases on   the Beastie Boys’  Grand Royal label   and Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace     imprint, feel it’s the right time to explore that.  In the last several,  three of which were spent   working with the late therapist Jan   Lloyd,  Lee fell in love with the   mysteries that dreaming presents.   

And after he and his wife,  actress   Ione Skye,  welcomed their daughter,  Goldie Priya,  in 2009,  Lee thought   it was time to re examine things,  especially the hidden messages inside his own dreams. “After having   such a long career in music,  and   having had a baby,  I just felt   like music, in a way,  it’s sort of   become a job that I could have just maintained at a certain level   by doing it in a way that I knew   how to do it,”  he explains.  “And   that became sort of terrifying to   me. 

Music for me has always been a too for working out exploring myself and exploring the world.  It   literally took me out of Australia   onto a journey around the world.  Or internally,  it’s the creativity   – it unlocks things inside you and   the audience.  So I just wanted   go deeper with that and I found   working with the dream really   powerful for that.”

No longer interested in trying to   compete for a radio smash hit,  Lee   felt he was finally comfortable with the idea of producing this deeply personal set entirely on his   own. He already spent the last few years co writing and   producing with other artists such as comedienne Margaret Cho (his   first role as producer for her 2010 release, Cho Dependent,  earned a Grammy nomination). 

Additionally,  he’s collaborated   with Mozella,  Tim Myers,  The   Silver Lake Chorus and Appleonia.  So with that experience,  Lee decided it was time to give self   production a real shot.  However,  such a decision wasn’t met   without a little nervousness.  And   combining that with the whole dream   idea,  Lee says making Deeper Into   Dream was downright   terrifying. “The   making of the record was really scary,” he says.“For me,  that’s part   of what dreams show:  how innately   terrifying the experience of existence is.  In a way,  I’m not   sure I’ve ever made an album that   hangs together as well as this.  I think I’ve   made a   record that’s   honest to me   about where I’m at. “He continued:  “And with dreams,  we’re all hearing   the same message,  which is ‘listen to yourself.’  I just want to do that   more and more creatively.”

Joining Lee for this dozen song   set are   his longtime musical   collaborators Nic Johns,  Lara   Meyerratken, and Petra Haden, as well   as mixer Noah Georgeson (The Strokes,  Devendra Banhart,  Joanna Newsom). 

While recording at his Laurel Canyon home studio,  he also got   a little help from his friends and   family.  For the last year,  Lee has   been recording and collecting their   dreams,  all of which are spliced   into three mesmerizing dream collages.  “I felt like people reveal more than   they realize they’re revealing in   telling you a dream,”  Lee says.  “If you say to someone ‘Hey, how   are you doing?’ they’ll say ‘fine’  or ‘ok’ and not give much away. 

With a dream,  despite their greatest efforts to conceal all   their vulnerabilities,  it all comes   out in the mythology of their dream.”

From the earthy acoustics of “Glue”  and the celestial synth tinged “I   Want My Mind Back”  to the pop   grandeur of “Pointless Beauty,”  Deeper Into Dream comes at you   from all sides.  On the vibrant rush   that is “The Church of Everybody Else,”  Lee’s resistance against   conformity has his heart wide open,  and more than ever before.  “Get   Used to It,” a riff heavy surge   mixed with lush string arrangements, finds Lee contemplating   death,  particularly the death of   Jan Lloyd.  He ponders the moment of   leaving this world, and the fear   that must accompany that   transition.  “Once you jump in,”  he sings,  wondering if the journey   into the unknown might be easier   than you think.

“We think that life is simple and   or we may think that life is black   and white, and dreams often open up   the complexity and the ambiguity   and the uncertainty,”  Lee says.

Prior to bringing deeper Into Dream to life,  Lee also signed on as the band director and leader for   Barry Sobel and Fred Willard’s   Internet chat show, 3 Minute Talk   Show, which was produced by Tom   Hanks. 

“My job was to be the backing band   and write goofy little intros for   each celebrity guest or segment,”  Lee says. “I just loved it.”
8 years in the making feature length documentary – Catch My Disease – from   director Amiel Courtin Wilson,  premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August. The film captures Lee’s   life and career up until   his   daughter Goldie was born. “It’s been   very liberating [to see it]  because   it allowed me to put some things   into perspective that I couldn’t   see   before.  I   became   a   man.  A better Artist and a kinder person.  A warmer person.” 

Song List

"Cigarettes Will Kill You"
"Ship My Body Home"
"Nothing Much Happens"
"Gamble Everything for Love"
"Catch My Disease"
"We're All in This Together"
"Love Me Like the World Is Ending"
"I Love Pop Music"
"Rise Up"
"Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe"