Ben Lee - self realisation is not a dirty word

He has called himself Australia's best song writer and sees himself as a "professional adventurer", Australia's "precocious cunt", Ben Lee is all grown up and he's back with a new album


From freckle faced big eared teenager to er…freckle faced big eared adult, Australia has grown up with Ben Lee. A hapless outsider and ADHD kid made good, who has dated a megastar and hung out with has-been 90s pop front men - Lee says he has finally found his place in the world, on his latest album "Awake is the New Sleep".


"The most significant shift for me was a growing sense of interconnectedness between myself and the world around me.


"I used to feel so isolated from everything. Maybe every adolescent feels that way. But something changed and I started looking at music as my way of connecting to people, of uniting people, rather than increasing division," Lee says.


So his quirky pop tunes strengthen their positive ilk and he's away.


And in finding his new sense of self, he has returned to producer Brad Wood.


"There was always something really fun and beautiful about the way we worked together. We seem to have similar values in music. I felt ready to go back and re-claim some of the things that I felt had been missing in my music over the last few years," says Lee.


So what were some of these things?


Critics have said it's an "album dedicated to the waking of the worlds inhabitants"* and have seen it as a sign that Mr Lee is "getting in touch with his emotions."**


Ben, himself, says the album is about "the importance of this moment in the arc of my life. This record feels pivotal. It's the start of a new era for me. I've never been more certain of my mission - and I won't fail."


And therein lies the man's contradictive nature; swinging between self-confident statements designed to convince you he could take over the universe to flippant comments ("I write pop songs") that bring you back to the real world. – I mean, it's just music after all, right?


Nope. This pop music is a peaceful weapon, a tool of religion.


"I started to think a lot about what I was using music for," says Lee.


"Like anyone, I want to do whatever I can in my life to help others and make the world a better, friendlier place. I started realizing music was my most potent tool for doing that. To me, the word 'spiritual' has a lot of baggage. Spirituality is just doing whatever you can do have more real joy in your life. I think I have found that - more joy. Music and prayer [are] pretty much the same thing to me. Everything is connected."


Awake is the New Sleep has been out since February this year and is available through his record label Ten Fingers.


*Chris Hislop, the New Hampshire, 18/02/2005 ** Triple J, 25/02/2005

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