Sneddon, gone. Sinead, gone. Ainslie, missing in action. It's a symptom of the reality TV show phenomena that the contestants only have a shelf life of a year or so before disappearing off the face of the planet, but for Lemar it's been a very different story. Taking stock after the first series of Fame Academy, he kept his head low and quietly hunted out the right deal before recording over 30 songs, some of which would become his debut album "Dedicated". A few singles later and the future is looking very rosy with support slots with Justin Timberlake and 2 Brit Award nominations kicking off what looks to be a fantastic year for Lemar. Designer Magazine hooked up with the acceptable face of Reality TV pop to find out where it all went right.
Q: This year has started off well for you with the Brit Awards nominations. Good way to kick it off innit?
A: Yeah, this year has started off great. I've been out 7 months since my first release and this year has started off great. I did four nights at Earls Court with Justin Timberlake playing to 16,000 people and the day after that I got nominated for two Brits. Not a bad start at all!!!
Q: Last year you were doing you own thing. After Fame Academy the year before you'd kept it quiet and no-one knew exactly what was happening.
A: I was tucked away. I was trying to secure the right deal. Cos it's well enough getting a deal, but when you get a deal and they don't really understand what you're about or they don't really understand what you're trying to do then it can get a bit sour. But i've got a good deal with a company that I believe understands what i'm about and understands how to promote me. And I decided to take a bit of time, two months or so, and record as many songs as possible so that i'm not choosing the first song that i've done that is think is ok. I recorded 34 songs and short listed that down to what is my album.
Q: That's the thing with reality TV contests - they always rush release the album. Sneddons gone, Sinead's gone and even Ainslie which here at Designer we thought was really good.
A: The thing with Ainslie is he's great and he's recorded a really great album, but it's like I said - if the company doesn't get you or quite get you or doesn't have 100% believe in you, you're going to run into difficulty. Hopefully he'll be able to do something later, the others have had a shot and unfortunately their first shot wasn't as successful as I guess they'd have hoped. But I think they're fortunate, you have to deal with the hand that you get dealt and I was dealt with quite a good hand so i'm just trying to roll with the situation.
Q: It must feel strange that you're the only one around doing it?
A: They're cool. We chat once in a while. We text once in a while. But i'm just doing my thing, i'm just doing me, and as long as it's working i'm gonna be doing it.
Q: Starting this year it has really snowballed. The Brit Awards must have been something that you'd always wanted, but you must have never thought it would happen this quickly.
A: Yeah. I was thinking if I work hard this year, i'm gonna start recording my second album, maybe at the end of this year release the second and then maybe the year after be considered for a nomination if all had gone well. But 7 months into the game i'm in two categories - it's not bad you know. Not bad at all!!!
I'm up against some big names so i'm not expecting to walk away with them both. I'm up against Misteeq and Dizzee Rascal in Best Urban. And The Darkness, Busted and Dizzee in Best Breakthrough Artist.
Q: And the other big thing this year was the Timberlake dates?
A: The Justin Timberlake dates were amazing. I did four nights at Earls Court, 16000 people a night. It was absolutely amazing. I was expecting to come out a do a little support and go away, but they were really making noise. Some of the things I did went down really well. I was pleased, it only added to my confidence.
Q: The things about your tunes is that they are really infectious. They just get in your head, not really straight away, but after a few listens you can't forget them.
A: Sometimes a song can get you immediately and after 6 listens you're like gosh turn it off. When it takes a little time to get into it, it's not a bad thing. I'm just pleased that i'm being allowed to do the music that I like and so far so good. It's been enough for me to sustain a little bit of a career and give me a good start. Hopefully i'll be able to develop on that and keep on pushing myself as a writer and as a singer and get some better stuff out there as well.
Q: Musically where you're coming from is you're listening to old skool 60 / 70s soul and then mix it with contemporary sounds as well.
A: Most definitely. I like the old skool stuff like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Al Green, but also i'm living in a modern age so I feel people like Usher and R Kelly. People like Outkast, that song "Hey Ya" has got a really old feel but it's very present in it's sound. I'm gonna try and develop on that. I've done what I can on the first album and on the 2nd album were definitely working in that area already.
Q: Old skool soul, modern beats...and The Darkness. Where did the idea come for you do cover "I Believe In A Thing Called Love"?
A: I love that song. I think the Darkness are wicked and there's not too many songs you hear nowadays where you think "wow, what's that?". You can't deny a good song whether it be rock or whatever you're into. I just decided to do my own interpretation of it cos initially I had to do a show with Jo Whiley for Radio 1. I wanted to do a song that appealed to the rock audience and the urban audience so I did that with my own little bits in it, bits of Marvin Gaye and stuff. And also it's the last thing people would expect me to do, so that's why I had to do it.
Q: You're going out on the road this month with a small tour before the London shows.
A: I'm going to go out with a 10 piece band and it's going to be my first ever fully live performance with just me. I'm going to be doing the songs on the album, a couple of new ones and i'll probably stick the Darkness one in there. With dates like the Timberlake shows the only thing you've got to worry about it your voice cos it's still a CD, on this one everyone's live and that's how it should be. If you wanna jam a little longer at the end of a song you've got the option, if you wanna cut a song short you got the option. Anything you wanna do it's completely different, it's completely live. It should be a good thing. I'm hoping that in the summer i'll be able to do a short tour. Just 16 or 20 dates and then i'll tour the year after.
Q: So tell us a bit about the new tracks you're working on for the second album?
A: I've already started recording songs. I've told em I want to get in early. I never wanna rush an album, i'd rather not put one out than rush an album. I've come up with some really nice ones which I'm really excited about, but because i'm on the first album I can't really do much about it. I wanna record a good 40 or so songs and then pick 12 or 13 and hopefully at the end of this year or beginning of next year release this album
Q: As seen as you're writing so many songs you gonna start being a songwriter for hire as well?
A: That would be great. If there's anyone out there who needs a song or two I wouldn't mind putting it down. I want to do some collaborations as well. I saw Alicia Keys live and she was absolutely amazing, I wouldn't mind working with her but I suppose i've got establish myself before all that. And people over here like Jamelia and Craig David would be cool.
In the UK that's the problem, there's never any collaborations. No-one's in anyone else's video. Everyone's in their own video, in their own world, in their own movie. It should just be about celebrating music and enjoying it. In the states it's like a family - one person might not have released a record for a year and a half but it doesn't feel like it because they've been in every other persons video.
Q: Finally before we go - plug your new single "Another Day"?
A: I didn't write this one. I wrote the first single with this guy and I'd heard this song. Originally it didn't sound like what it sounds like now. As a song it was a song which I thought the topic was one that a lot of people could relate to. I've been through that kind of situation before so I thought i'd be able to do the song justice and I'm pleased with the way it turned out. It's cool.
"Another Day" is out Feb 23rd on Sony
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