Ipswich: Welcome back to the Regent Lemar
“Definitely man, it’s been too long,” says the multi-BRIT and MOBO award winner when I ask if he’s looking forward to going back out on tour.
His Ipswich Regent gig on Monday, December 10, is one of six warm-up shows before his 2013 UK live tour; his first in three years
“After releasing the hits album I took about a year and a half off; I spent a lot of time in America and Europe trying to find new inspiration to write more material, write the best songs I can write.
“It was [about] recharging with no deadline; I didn’t want to start rushing, trying to get stuff out just because I need stuff out. I wanted to take a little bit of time and think how do I approach it, what kind of songs would I write. When you approach it like that you can write a bit more freely.”
He admits it took a while.
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“I wrote quite a few songs,” 154 to be precise, he tells me. “After a while you get into a flow and it becomes about the song, not about the charts; which is why you start music in the first place because you love music, writing songs, performing - I wanted to get it back to that.”
If you’re in the business long enough, whether you like it or not, he says you start thinking your next release needs to be a hit if you’re going to continue.
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“I wanted to step back from that a bit. Obviously I want to write songs people are into and people like, but I wanted to step away from things for a bit and try to get back into the creative circle.”
It’s been ten years since he got his big shot courtesy of the BBC One talent show Fame Academy, which saw several aspiring singer-songwriters spend three months honing their skills with the help of industry experts and celebrities.
“It was a very educational process as well as entertainment. Since then these [music talent] shows have evolved. I guess nowadays it’s more a strictly entertainment thing. A handful have done well; it’s a different beast now,” says Lemar, who finished third behind Sinead Quinn and David Sneddon.
“I bump into them [former contestants] every so often. Sinead had a little one recently, David does a lot of writing for the likes of Lana Del Rey; everyone’s doing their thing.”
Lemar’s “thing” has included seven top ten singles, more than two million album sales and travelling the world performing with heavyweights like Justin Timberlake, Usher, Beyonce and Mary J Blige.
“You know, you can only ever hope to put out a single, then an album, that’s it really; you just hope it goes well. I’ve been really fortunate. It’s journey I couldn’t have dreamed for, I’m happy I’m still getting to release music and do the things I love.”
New album Invincible was out on October 8.
“I wouldn’t say it’s completely different [to previous releases], it’s definitely a progression. This record is a natural evolution, anyone who has listened to me over the last ten years has grown with me and is probably at the same stage in their lives.
“I’ve really dug deep on the song-writing on this one, I’ve realised who I am and where I am. Taking a break has allowed me to rediscover me and I’ve loved being able to communicate this in my music. I’ve just tried to put that into words and music and hopefully people will be able to really relate to it.”
Lemar feels performing live is the strongest part of his musical arsenal so can’t wait to get back on stage with a live band.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s going to be a lot of energy. People need to come ready to sing. I’ll be singing a few songs from the new album but this tour is more a celebration of the ten years, a celebration of being able to come out with new material. I’ll be singing the old stuff as well. Come along, have a sing-song and sweat a bit,” he laughs.