Music, for many, is a comfort in itself.
The sense of calm that comes with playing your favourite record or revisiting your first instrument is insurmountable to any other. It’s a sensation akin to a motherly hug or slipping on a warm knitted sweater, and one that many artists revel in.
However, striving for comfort and staying creative can often prove to be difficult for artists. Many struggle to break new ground when working within the confines of their own comfort zone. For others, it’s near impossible to create freely when stripped away from the familiarities of their safe space.
It’s a fickle yet crucial balance that local musician Ben Greasley knows better than most.
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“I do feel most comfortable when I go back to my roots – just playing acoustic guitar, or sitting at the piano. That’s where I feel the most comfortable,” he says.
“That being said, I do still try to test myself and branch out to try different genres or different writing techniques. I’m not just trying to stay in a box. I want to give everything a crack and see what resonates the most with me.”
A talented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Ben might be one of Melbourne’s most exciting emerging creatives.
As well as writing his own music, he dabbles in art, fashion and graphic design, and was recently selected by Converse to launch the new Converse Comfort Chucks range; a release that looks to make the era-defining Chuck Taylor sneaker more cozy and supportive than ever before.
“Converse is such an iconic brand,” Ben says. “It’s synonymous with rock and roll, and it’s so crazy to be in this campaign. Being into music, you see a lot of people express themselves – they’re not shy. Musicians are almost at the forefront of fashion.”
Although Ben appears confident and exuberant from the outset, he admits that it took him years to feel comfortable in his own skin. Early in his youth, he was diagnosed with a chronic illness that threatened to eat away at his identity and seriously impact his life, and reveals that it wasn’t until he took up music that he began to feel comfortable in his own skin.
“I was a very sporty kid, super into my footy, and I gave that away when I was about 10, so I had to find something else. That’s when I first picked up a guitar, which has been the one thing that helped me pass the time when I was in hospital,” Ben says.
“It something to focus on. It’s so much better than sitting in your bed dwelling on things. I know that even if I feel terrible, if I go and play guitar for an hour, it’s going to make my day better. It’s crazy how effective those outlets are.”
Despite his passion for the guitar, Ben didn’t begin to make music until his final years at high school, citing a lack of self-confidence and overwhelming doubt in his reasoning for making his passion so private.
“It took me until my late teens to start dabbling behind closed doors with writing music, but honestly, singing was the big thing that I never really made public until after leaving school,” he says, noting that as soon as he shared his first video, his confidence levels skyrocketed.
“It came a day when I thought ‘I’m just gonna put this little singing video up on Facebook and see what happens.’ It got a couple of thousand views and shared around a bit, which put a fair amount of confidence in me to go ‘Oh, maybe I can give this a crack’. That was the starting point of it all.”
As someone who has lived with a health condition for a large part of his life, Ben is all too aware of being defined by his illness. He makes it crystal clear that he doesn’t want his career to revolve around anything other than his own creative talents, and hates the notion of him being considered as a sob story by his listeners and peers.
“I know it fits into my story and it definitely has impacted my music, but I just want to be a musician; I don’t want to be that sick person that’s a musician and used for some sob story,” Ben says.
“I’ve been asked to go on The Voice three times, and I’ve declined every single time. You can get into the mindset of ‘Am I getting these opportunities because I’m getting the sympathy card?’. I’m on the fence about it, because I know it’s a big part of my story, but also, music is my way to escape all that. I don’t want to be defined by it.”
There’s no denying that Ben is a wildly talented artist; one peek at any of his many covers will reveal that clearly enough. However, Ben says that he’s yet to release any original music under his own name, revealing that he’s still yet to find the level of comfort needed to put his name out into the world.
“I’ve always struggled to find what I think is my sound. I have tonnes of demos, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist. It’s getting to the point where I’ve just got to put something out, or else you know you’re just going to work on it for too long and never get anywhere,” Ben admits.
“I know that I just have to do it, but I haven’t got there yet. But having Converse approach me has been a big inspiration to keep going.”
Ever since he became involved with the Converse All Stars campaign, Ben says that he’s never felt more at home within his own skin. He credits his relationship with Converse to finding comfort within himself, particularly after being featured on a massive billboard in the centre of Emporium.
“That was a huge moment for me, like, ‘Why am I on the front of this billboard?’,” Ben says with a grin.
“Converse could have gotten anyone that they wanted, and the fact that they’re choosing up and coming creatives is sick. I didn’t even ask to be a part of this campaign, but I really connect to it, particularly about being comfortable in your own skin. It’s a campaign I want to be a part of; I’m not just doing it just because it’s Converse.”
Find your comfortable with Converse here.