Ben Lee is completely at ease when people ask him where he's been all these years.
As far as he's concerned, he's always been here, and never went away.
It's just others who have moved on, and are surprised to hear him suddenly popping up again on Australian airwaves.
And not just with a song from 2005 that became the unofficial COVID anthem - We're All In This Together.
He's also touring, recording a new album and presenting on Double J.
So, did he ever even go away in the first place?
"It's funny with careers, because if you're lucky enough to have a long career, you feel a lot of ebbing and flowing within culture," the Aussie rocker said.
"What you do becomes relevant and then less relevant and more relevant, and it goes like any conversation. It's an interesting journey."
But is he relevant right now, and does it even matter?
"I look at it in terms of like, the phone's either ringing or it isn't. At the moment, the phone's ringing a lot," he said.
Back in Australia after a 20-year stint overseas, Lee is touring with fellow musician Missy Higgins, and hosting a monthly event in a Sydney club with his wife, the actor Ione Skye.
The pair have settled in Sydney for the time being with their 11-year-old daughter, after seeing out the 2020 presidential election in the US.
Lee has been part of the Australian music scene since he was a teenager in the early 1990s, with his band Noise Addict and later as a solo artist.
But he has also moved in celebrity circles for almost as long; he dated actor Claire Danes for several years, has worked with artists like Sonic Youth and Rufus Wainwright, and regularly drops big names in everyday conversation.
Having organised this Zoom interview via his New York publicist, Lee was his usual relaxed Aussie self, eating hot chips and talking about the theme night he used to run in Los Angeles with actor Lena Dunham, one that involved the likes of Brad Pitt and Spike Jonze.
But ultimately, he said, he just loves playing music, meeting new fans and discovering new artists.
"You recognise kindred spirits in weirdos. You know how weirdos of all generations can relate to each other? I feel like there's a certain type of weirdo that seeks me out no matter what age they are. And they know that they are one of me, and I'm one of them."
- Ben Lee is playing at The Street Theatre on Friday April 30. thestreet.org.au.
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