Ben Folds has spent the past year in a Sydney apartment doing anything but working on a new album.
He knows he should be but he's just not feeling it. Besides, he hasn't had the time.
"The music business has been pretty well shut down and that's not good, but I'm in a nice safe place to wait that stuff out and take on some other projects," he said.
"I've ended up being so busy. My life has been a bit like my suitcase - I'll pack too much and then jump up and down on it like a monkey trying to fit everything in."
In Australia for his Symphonic tour when the pandemic hit in March last year, Folds stayed in Sydney and has been performing regular livestreams to fans around the world.
He released a single, an ode to the tumultuous year that was, called 2020 and has just completed all his remaining postponed tour dates.
Folds is often referred to as a "musical genius", and not just for his piano-playing skills. He has created an enormous body of genre-bending music that includes pop albums with Ben Folds Five, multiple solo albums, and numerous collaborative records.
The biggest hits in his heartfelt, quirky and passionate pop-song repertoire include Rockin' the Suburbs, Underground, Brick, The Luckiest, You Don't Know Me, Song For The Dumped and Adelaide.
His last album was a blend of pop songs and his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra that soared to the top of both the Billboard classical and classical crossover charts.
Folds is also an accomplished author, photographer, TV judge and podcaster, and regularly works with classical musicians to keep pushing his creative horizons, as well as some of the world's greatest symphony orchestras.
He is currently Artistic Adviser to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center and his first book, A Dream About Lightning Bugs, debuted as a New York Times best seller. It is "a collection of interrelated essays, anecdotes and lessons about art, life, and music".
One of the projects keeping Folds busy in recent months has been his podcast, Lightning Bugs: Conversations With Ben Folds.
"It's about people trading stories about how they got through everything from writer's block to an idea that didn't work and caused problems to an idea that changed their life for the better," he explained.
"I talk to anthropologists and inventors and music therapists and all walks of life to give people some tools to help them relax and get through what it is they want to achieve, be it developing their webpage or creating a kitchen."
Another handy excuse not to work on that album?
"I know, I know. Once the lockdown stuff started I was supposed to make an album and I tried really hard and got about halfway through and realised that I wasn't inspired to do exactly that," he said.
"So I thought 'What am I inspired to do? I'm going towards what's interesting'.
"With the album, I've amassed puzzle pieces but I need to have a party where my musician buddies all bring a drink and we spread out the puzzle pieces on a big table and wake up in the morning and it's done.
"To make an album in my cocoon wearing trackpants, I don't see that as an album I really feel like. So I am putting my energy into other things."
This month Folds is helping to launch new live music experience The Cellar Door Series at Bimbadgen in the Hunter Valley.
Developed by Roundhouse Entertainment as part of the popular A Day On The Green concert series, The Cellar Door Series will offer an up-close, acoustic and stripped-back experience with musicians held adjacent to the cellar doors of some of the most picturesque wineries across the country.
"I finished off this orchestral tour last month so I feel like I'm back in that groove, but it is psychologically pretty crazy when you're used to rockin' the trackpants at home and never seeing anybody and all of a sudden you're back on stage," he explained.
"The life of touring is all about the 30 people that you meet during the day before playing, from the person that picks you up at the airport to the hotel staff and every person in-between.
"It's a very social job so being in my own little cave has been kinda cool, in a way.
"I've toured my whole adult life. I've lived more nights in a hotel or a bus than I have in a normal bed.
"But yes, I'm ready. I can still play, it seems. I remember everything.
"We're good to go."
Ben Folds performs at The Cellar Door Series, Bimbadgen, on March 20. The support act is Gordi. Tickets are on sale now.
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