Ben Lee’s wisdoms were responsible for me deciding to be a part of a fantastic mental health documentary in the making called “The Stigma Film”. I just had to send him my Q&A!
Can’t wait to be teaming up with him this weekend at Caloundra Music Festival – keep up to date with our travels up from Sydney plus all of the festival fun via my Instagram stories.
Ben Lee – Q+A
In an industry where expression collides with business, how do you keep the passion to play/write music alive?
TO PLAY, LIKE A KID PLAYS IN DIRT, SEEMS TO BE THE MOST NATURAL THING IN THE WORLD. EVERYTHING ELSE IS UNNATURAL. AND BEING A PROFESSIONAL MEANS PLAYING, AND CONTINUING TO PLAY, DESPITE THE SHIFTING VIBES OF DAY TO DAY LIFE. IF YOURE A PRO, YOU NEVER LOSE CONNECTION TO THE KID IN YOU. ITS A BIT PARADOXICAL. BUT COMMITMENT HAS GOTTA BE PART OF IT.
Have you ever come close to leaving music? If so, what prompted it and what inspired you to stay?
OH YEAH. MUSIC IS A JEALOUS LOVER. SOMETIMES ITS GOOD TO THREATEN TO LEAVE YOUR MUSE SO THEY DONT GET TOO PRESUMPTUOUS. OF COURSE, THEY ULTIMATELY HAVE ALL THE POWER. BUT ITS LIKE RIDING A HORSE. YOU GOTTA KEEP THE CHARADE OF BEING IN CHARGE GOING. ITS A ROLE PLAYING EXERCISE.
How do you stay true to your creative vision, when “success” depends so heavily on how it’s received by the industry and public?
PERSONALLY, I HAVE NOT HAD MUCH SUCCESS WITH TRYING TO PREEMPT WHAT THE PUBLIC OR INDUSTRY WANTS. I HAVE BEEN MORE SUCCESSFUL WHEN IVE FOLLOWED MY OWN WILD IMPULSES. SO ODDLY, THAT MUST BE WHAT PEOPLE WANT FROM ME.
From the moment you wake till the moment you sleep, what does the day of a gig look like for you?
ITS LIKE A SECRET YOU ARE CARRYING AROUND ALL DAY. EXTERNALLY THINGS PROBABLY LOOK QUITE NORMAL AND UNREMARKABLE. NOTHING VERY SUPERSTITIOUS OR ANYTHING. BUT I LIKE TO FOCUS INSIDE ON THE TASK AT END. ITS LIKE GOING INTO BATTLE.
Life on the road can challenge us both mentally and physically. How do you stay anchored during times when you’re feeling emotionally or physically sub-par, or when your fundamental needs aren’t being met? E.g. sleep, food, schedule.
WELL, WHAT DO THEY SAY? “WHERE EVER YOU FIND YOURSELF, THERE YOU ARE”? I TRY NOT TO BE TOO IDEALISTIC ABOUT ROUTINE. “I CAN ONLY PERFORM IF THE CONDITIONS ARE PERFECT” – TOO MUCH CONTROL IS FOR WIMPS! THE WHOLE THING IS ABOUT FUNCTIONING IN SUB-PAR CONDITIONS. ANYONE CAN DO IT WHEN THINGS ARE PERFECT. SO I GUESS I JUST TRY TO KEEP FOCUSSED ON THE TASK AT HAND.
How much of an influence does money have over the means in which you create and release? Do you choose to invest as if it’s your last creation? Or do you invest in a way that is sustainable long term?
MONEY IS PART OF THE GAME. I TRY AND BE SMART WITH IT. I UNDERSTAND THAT ONCE YOU TAKE MONEY FROM SOMEONE, YOUR ACCOUNTABILITY TO THAT PERSON, OR COMPANY, RISES. SO IF YOU WANT THE FINAL SAY, YOU DONT TAKE MONEY UP FRONT. BUT SOMETIMES – STRATEGICALLY – MONEY IS NEEDED TO BRING PROJECTS TO FRUITION. THATS WHEN THE GAME BEGINS. THERE ARENT TOO MANY RULES FOR THIS SORT OF THING. ITS A TRAINING YOU DO ON THE BATTLEFIELD.
Have you ever experienced anxiety, depression or nervousness around a tour? If so, what were the triggers and how did you manage it?
LONELINESS, THE PERCEPTION OF FAILURE, ISOLATION, EXHAUSTION – THESE ARE ALL TRIGGERS. I TRY TO CONNECT WITH THOSE I LOVE AND TRUST EVEN WHILE ON THE ROAD. I LIKE TO TAKE TIME TO WALK IN NATURE. PLAY GUITAR. I DONT HAVE ANY GRAND STRATEGIES. BUT SOMETIMES ACCEPTING TIMES ARE HARD CAN MAKE THEM A BIT EASIER.
What is your philosophy on fear? How do you deal with it?
I DONT THINK I HAVE A PHILOSOPHY, BUT I CERTAINLY DONT ALLOW FEAR TO MAKE ANY BIG DECISIONS FOR ME.
Can you trace your current successes back to any big risks or leaps? If so, what were they?
DAILY. I THINK BEING AN ARTIST IS A CONSTANT PROCESS OF RISK TAKING. THERE IS NO NET. ITS NOT AN EASY JOURNEY. BUT ITS PRETTY FUN.
From a business point of view, today, what is the one thing that every independent artist needs in order to give their music the best chance of being heard? Assuming the artist and songs translate.
REMEMBER THAT THE PARTICULAR NARRATIVE OF YOUR OWN SUCCESS WILL BE COMPLETELY UNIQUE, SO DONT WASTE TIME TRYING TO EMULATE ANYONE ELSE’S PATH. ITS LIKE CLEARING YOUR WAY THROUGH A JUNGLE WITH A MACHETE. NOONE CAN FOLLOW YOU, AND YOU CANT FOLLOW ANYONE ELSE.
If you were to wave a magic wand, how would you like to spend your time in the future?
INVENTING A MAGIC WAND THAT WORKED WITHOUT WAVING IT.
Are there any other wisdoms you’d like to share?
RELAX. THE JOURNEY OF BEING AN ARTIST IS LONG AND BLOODY. THERE ARE CASUALTIES. THERE ARE LONG PERIODS OF DARKNESS. BUT IT CAN BE DONE. SO RELAX AND TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME.
On a light note… Can you name one guilty pleasure?
I ACTUALLY DONT FEEL TOO GUILTY ABOUT PLEASURE.
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