Ben Lee opens up about his ‘formative experience’ with Zooey Deschanel

Ben Lee on collaborating with Zooey Deschanel.

Video transcript

BEN LEE: Zooey, I actually met-- she used to date Jason Schwartzman and he's an old friend of mine. This is before she was Zooey Deschanel. And I remember, we actually had quite a formative experience together because I was making this music at the time that was going to be a record that you can hear called "A Mixtape From Ben Lee", and I was just getting different singers. I was writing for different singers.

And I heard Zooey singing like around the house and I was like, oh my god, do you want to come and sing a song on this? And she said I was the first person to make her feel that she could be a singer too. And conversely, she said something to me that was like-- sometimes people say things and it stays with you forever.

Like, she always was a very unique person. Not someone you would think of as like your mainstream leading lady type actress or performer. You know what I mean? And she had this confidence and she said, I just think there's a lot of room at the top.

And I was like, wow. It was like it was like almost like Jay-Z level confidence that I was like, oh my god, this person is going to succeed in a major way, and also like, give me a hit of whatever you're smoking. You know what I mean? Like, it was the best attitude and I think it was revealed how accurate her attitude was, that she carved out a space for herself in show business that didn't exist before and I just find that really inspiring.

So we reconnected during 2020. Everyone was at home and just sitting on Instagram. We reconnected and we thanked each other for those moments because we both felt a kind of bond, and then I was making the record. I was like, you want to sing something on the new record? And just sent her over and she layered all these stacks of Nashville harmonies on this song called "Crooked Tree" and it's really cool.

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