Ben Lee at the 2008 Australia Day Live Concert in Canberra
|Birth name||Benjamin Michael Lee|
|Born||11 September 1978|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, piano|
|Labels||Ten Fingers/Inertia, Dangerbird, Modular, New West Records, Lojinx|
|Associated acts||Noise Addict, The Bens, Gerling, Jessica Chapnik|
Benjamin Michael "Ben" Lee (born 11 September 1978) is an Australian ARIA Award winning musician and actor. Lee began his career as a musician at the age of 14 with the Sydney band Noise Addict, but focused on his solo career when the band broke up in 1995. He appeared as the protagonist in the Australian film The Rage in Placid Lake (2003). Lee has released nine solo studio albums.
Lee's musical career began in 1993 with the band Noise Addict, who were signed to Steve Pavlovic's independent label Fellaheen Records, on the strength of a self-produced and distributed four-track demo recorded in Lee's bedroom. Pavlovic's connections brought the band to the attention of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Beastie Boys' Mike D, both of whom released the band's material in the US. The group put out several releases on the Beasties' Grand Royal Records. These including the acoustic Young and Jaded EP in 1994, which contained Lee's Evan Dando tribute, "I Wish I Was Him." In 1995, Grand Royal released the band's only full length, the Brad Wood produced Meet the Real You. Noise Addict made a music video for the song "16", toured with Sebadoh, but then broke up. Lee was also briefly a member of the alternative act Gerling. In 2009 Lee recorded a new Noise Addict album, It was Never about the Audience, with a new lineup; Lou Barlow and Lara Meyerratken.
Lee's solo career started at the age of 16, while he was still in Noise Addict. He began recording his first solo album, Grandpaw Would, in both Sydney and Chicago with producer Brad Wood. This was followed by the 1997 album, Something to Remember Me By, also produced by Wood. Lee was then featured on the There's Something About Mary soundtrack, with the song "How to Survive a Broken Heart". 1998's Breathing Tornados, released on Pavlovic's new label Modular, marked a new direction for Lee as he introduced synthesisers and increased instrumentation into his sound. The album was a success in Australia, earning Lee ARIA Award nominations for Best Male Artist and Album of the Year. The album's first single, "Cigarettes Will Kill You", was also nominated for Single of the Year and finished second in that year's Triple J Hottest 100. In 2001 Lee contributed a track ("Sweet Is the Night") to a Jeff Lynne tribute album Lynne Me Your Ears.
Lee's fourth album, hey you. yes you., was released in 2002. The first single from the album, "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", reached number 67 on the ARIA Charts and number 22 on the 2002's Triple J Hottest 100. The second single, "Running with Scissors", peaked at number 82 on the ARIA charts.
In late 2004, Lee left Steve Pavlovic's Modular Recordings and started up his own record label, Ten Fingers. The first release on the label was the single, "Gamble Everything for Love", followed by the album, Awake Is the New Sleep in February 2005, which went double platinum in Australia. A defining release in his career, the album showcased a much brighter, positive side of Lee's personality, in contrast to his previous darker musings. Awake Is the New Sleep received several nominations for the 2005 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards, and Lee won Best Male Artist, Best Independent Release, and Single of the Year for "Catch My Disease", which Lee wrote with Mcgowan Southworth. "Catch My Disease" also went to No.2 on the 2005 Triple J Hottest 100. In addition, the song was featured on the soundtracks to the 2005 films Just Friends and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, as well as the soundtracks to the television series, Grey's Anatomy, Hidden Palms and Scrubs. In 2006 it was used in a television commercial for Dell Computers. On 26 March 2006, Lee performed "We're All in This Together" from Awake Is the New Sleep at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The single for "We're All in This Together" was released on 8 April 2006. The CD includes cover versions of the song by Pony Up, Holidays on Ice and Gelbison. "We're All in This Together" is being used in commercials for Kohl's (2008), Coca Cola (Remixed Australian Summer Series Ads in 2007), the South Australian Government (2006), the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal (2007) and Telus Mobility's "My Faves" (2007).
Ben Lee released his sixth album, Ripe, on 18 September 2007 with Benji Madden and Mandy Moore making appearances. Mandy Moore sung a light-hearted, '50s style duet with Lee called "Birds and Bees". "Mandy was very sweet and did her best Olivia Newton-John for me. I'm really psyched about this recording," Lee says. Madden helped out with some backing vocals, along with US band Rooney and Sara Watkins from the band Nickel Creek. Benmont Tench, keyboardist from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers also contributed. The song "American Television" from the album was used in a VH1 advertisement for Flavor of Love 3 and the song "Ripe" appeared in an episode of One Tree Hill (Season 5, episode 2).
On 6 February 2009, Lee released his seventh studio album, The Rebirth of Venus, which received mixed reviews. It featured guest performances from the likes of Missy Higgins & Patience Hodgson and peaked at No.21 on the ARIA Charts.
Lee's eighth studio album, Deeper Into Dream, was released on 11 October 2011. It was Lee's first attempt at a concept album, basing the entire 12 tracks around the dream state. Despite not charting, it was received fairly favourably by critics.
In April 2013, Lee released his ninth and arguably his most experimental studio album entitled Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work, with collaboration from Jessica Chapnik. The album is based upon his personal experience with the psychoactive South American drug known as Ayahuasca.
Lee was born in Sydney and was raised in a Jewish household, but does not consider himself religious. He was educated at Moriah College, an independent, Modern Orthodox Jewish, co-educational, day school, located in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
Lee dated Claire Danes for several years; their relationship ended in 2003; and he later married actress Ione Skye on 28 December 2008, in a Hindu wedding ceremony in India. Their first child, Goldie Priya Lee, was born on 24 September 2009.
- Grandpaw Would (1995)
- Something to Remember Me By (1997)
- Breathing Tornados (1998) #13 Australia
- hey you. yes you. (2002) #45 Australia
- Awake Is the New Sleep (22 February 2005) #5 Australia (2x Platinum)
- Ben Lee Sings Against Me! New Wave (2007)
- Ripe (18 September 2007) #11 Australia
- The Rebirth of Venus (6 February 2009 Australia and 10 February 2009 US) #21 Australia
- Deeper Into Dream (October 2011)
- Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work (April 2013)
EPs and singles
- Pop Queen (1994)
- Away with the Pixies (1995)
- From Breathing Tornados:
- "Cigarettes Will Kill You" (1998) #46 Australia
- "Ship My Body Home" (1998)
- "Nothing Much Happens" (1999)
- "Tornados" (1999)
- "Freediving" (2000)
- From Dando Lee Petersson Schwartzman:
- "Dead or Anything" (2002)
- From hey you. yes you.:
- The Dirty Little Secret EP (2002)
- "Something Borrowed, Something Blue" (2002) #67 Australia
- "Running with Scissors" (2003) #82 Australia
- From Awake Is the New Sleep:
- From This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul:
- "In My Life" (2005)
- From Ripe
- "Love Me Like the World Is Ending" (2007) #18 Australia
- "Numb" (2007) #54 Australia
- "American Television" (April 2008 – radio promo)
- From The Rebirth of Venus
- "I Love Pop Music" (2009) #86 Australia
- "Rise Up" (2009)
- "Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe" (2010)
Awards and nominations
- 2005 ARIA Music Awards, Single Of The Year – "Catch My Disease"
- 2005 ARIA Music Awards, Best Male Artist for Awake Is the New Sleep
- 2005 ARIA Music Awards, Best Independent Release for Awake Is the New Sleep
- 2005 ARIA Music Awards, Best Cover Art for Awake Is the New Sleep
- 2006 APRA Music Awards, Song of the Year – "Catch My Disease"
- 2006 APRA Music Awards, Most Performed Australian Work – "Catch My Disease"
- 2008 ARIA Music Awards, Best Independent Release for Ripe
- 2006 ARIA Music Awards, Best Male Artist for We're All In This Together
- 2006 ARIA Music Awards, Best Pop Release for Into the Dark
- 2006 ARIA Music Awards, Best Independent Release for We're All In This Together
- 2005 ARIA Music Awards, Album Of The Year for Awake Is the New Sleep
- 2005 ARIA Music Awards, Best Pop Release for Awake Is the New Sleep
- 2005 Australian Music Prize, for Awake Is the New Sleep
- 2003 ARIA Music Awards, Best Male Artist for hey you. yes you.
- 1999 ARIA Music Awards, Album Of The Year for Breathing Tornados
- 1999 ARIA Music Awards, Single Of The Year for Cigarettes Will Kill You
- 1999 ARIA Music Awards, Best Male Artist for Breathing Tornados
The album Awake Is the New Sleep and a selection of other tracks are a feature of the iTunes Music Store Essentials with many singles featuring as a part of the AppleCare Technical Support music on hold.
- "The DL: Rock Landmarks Featuring Ben Lee". Spinner.com. 29 October 2007. Retrieved 6 February 2009.
- http://www.metacritic.com/music/the-rebirth-of-venus |accessdate = 20 February 2011
- http://australian-charts.com/search.asp?search=ben+lee&cat=a |title = Australian Charts: Ben Lee |accessdate = 15 September 2012
- http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/benlee/updates/20514 |title = PledgeMusic: Australia Release Date Today
- http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/music/the-voice-is-my-rebirth-20130404-2h7qy.html The Voice: Ben Lee
- Molitorisz, Sacha (9 November 2002). "The ballad of Ben Lee". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
- "The many layers of Mr. Lee". The Sun-Herald. 2 September 2007.
- "A Wedding in India for Actress Ione Skye". People.com. 11 January 2009.
- "The 2008 World's Sexiest Vegetarians Are...". Out There. PETA.
- Should Ben Lee Be De-Throned?
- "Previous Winners Song of the Year". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- "2006 Winners – APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- Official website
- Ben Lee - Dangerbird Records
- Ben Lee on Facebook
- Ben Lee on Twitter
- Ben Lee on Myspace
- New West Records Page
- Ben Lee at the Internet Movie Database
- Ben Lee discusses his favourite songs
- Concert photos by Laurent Orseau (Black Session)
- Ben Lee Interview
- Ben Lee Behind the Scenes video: Madison magazine Green Issue shoot
- Ben Lee collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
- Ben Lee talks about his album Ripe and life in New York City
- Interview with Ben Lee on TheWaster.com