It has been almost 5 years since Lemar released his debut album Dedicated bringing forth his exciting sound to UK soul music. With his fourth studio album The Reason already riding the charts, Contactmusic.com caught up with Lemar before his UK tour.
Tell us about your new single 'Weight of the World'?
I did the video in Los Angeles. I was out there for about three weeks while we shoot the video on top of a mountain which I didn't enjoy doing as I am not a lover of heights. So I'm there standing at the edge of this cliff and while I lament, thinking about my lady [in the video] who unfortunately has passed away.
After three albums, how does The Reason fit into your progression as an artist?
Well, for me this album was all about being comfortable and celebrating where I am today. I didn't want to go into a studio and make an album where I thought 'this is exactly what I need to do', or because I had done the old skool stuff which people loved that I had to go back and do that again. I went into the studio and did what I would enjoy and made it the best album I could make it. I took a lot of time to doing the album and I think it's my best stuff.
Do you think that you are still relevant today?
(Laughs) 100% yes I do! As far as when I started up until now, it's been 7 years. Someone asked me earlier what sets me apart from other people? What makes me distinctive is my voice and I don't think that during this time anyone has come along and fitted into the slot that I have fitted into, so yes I feel that I am still very relevant.
With it being award season how do you feel at this point in your career about accolades, are they still important to you?
It is always nice to be recognised and obviously it helps you as an artist push your career, sales and public presence but what they mean to me in my mind has maybe changed now. Initially, you think about being on that podium and giving those exception speeches however after you have done exactly that a few times, you start to realise what it's all about and then you are less eager. It is nice to perform at awards and great to receive them, I just see it a lot differently now.
Still hopes of cracking the US?
Any artist, song writer, musician's objective is to get your music heard by as many people as possible, whether it be in Iceland, Scotland, American, where ever, if there is a stage and a great demand from people who want to hear me then I would love to go where ever and perform.
You recently featured on Sways Saturday Night Hustle track. Why do you think UK artists do not collaborate as much?
I don't know. It really needs to happen so much more here. Me getting on that track was so great, I owed Sway a favour because he did something for an artist that we're working with called Sean Anthony. Sway called me and told me he was working on his album and there was a track that needs a male vocalist so was calling in that favour. You look at some artist in American using Busta Rhymes as an example, who may not have an album out for ages but you think that he has an album out because of all the features he does and then when he does release his album it is more of a continuation as appose to going away and calling it a comeback. Lil Wayne also does the same and when he comes with his album it still does millions. I think these guest appearances are important in keeping your presence.
Have you ever been intimidated working with an artist?
Working with the songwriter Lamont Dozier and Brian McKnight was real daunting. I used to listen to McKnight when I was young and just thought that his voice was ridiculous. With Lamont Dozier, just knowing that he wrote all those Motown classics, working with the likes of The Supremes and Marvin Gaye, I was just like 'wow'. We did some good stuff.
When you're young, hungry and arriving at doors, that is supposed to keep you satiated but what's the biggest letdown about success?
I feel that as long as you keep yourself realist about things there isn't too much of a letdown. I do think that success doesn't solve anything in your life. If you think that money is going to solve something that's missing in your life it doesn't. If you think that fame in going to solve something it really doesn't. It is important to keep the people around you that keep your mind in the right place, it would be very easy to start thinking that 'oh everyone loves me, these women love me' and get a bit above yourself but as long as your head is in the right place and you remember that it may not be everything that it is crack up to be.
It seems quite apt that JLS (from last year's Xfactor) will be your support. Would you agree however, that these 'talent' shows are giving young people a false sense of reality, perpetuating how easy it seems to become famous but not how to stay there?
I think the talent show is one thing and the person entering is another. The audience now don't have any misconceptions about what these shows are about, it does what it says on the can but I think that if the person entering hasn't done their groundwork and are just getting up off their sofa thinking I want to be famous then go on the show and then happen to win, I think that would be a bad thing for them (JLS). However if you have done your ground work by singing at clubs, pub etc, you are talented and you don't have any other route of getting into the industry, that mind will be in a better place to deal with what those shows bring. Someone is always going to try and cheat you and give you less than you are meant to get, there's corruption, but it's really up to you and how you deal with it.
If you had to pick any of your tracks that represent you the most, what would they be?
On my last album a track called 'Your Face', is about my mum and it explains the emotional side of me. And the whole of 'The Reason' sums up where my head was at.
The Reason is already out and Lemar's tour kicks off Monday 16th March 2009
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