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Backstage: Lemar
Article Post Date: Wednesday 03.10.2012

One of the first music stars to come out of the modern talent show format – in his case the BBC’s short lived ‘Fame Academy’ – Lemar has enjoyed a decade of success. He released four albums and a greatest hits with his original label Sony Music, but has decided to go it alone for his new fifth studio long player, ‘Invincible’, which is released this month. In Conversation at City Showcase: London 2012, Lemar will discuss his decision to go this route, and the challenges and thrills it brings with it. And that conversation starts here…
TW: You are releasing your new material through your own label AMP, what motivated that move?
 L: After ten years in the music business it felt like the right move. It’s something I wanted to experience, and which I see as a big part of my development as an artist.
TW: What are the biggest challenges of setting up your own record company?
 L: There is a lot of unknown. But I guess that’s what makes it interesting. Learning to go with your gut and learning that there is no right or wrong. It’s still very important to have a great team and people that you trust in.
TW: AMP is working with EMI on the new LP, why not go completely DIY?
 L: You need someone to distribute the record. And you can never have enough expertise in anything you are doing. They don’t make the decisions, they consult with me and give me their suggestions so I can make the most educated choice. They have a wealth of knowledge and contacts and are a great team – that’s something that’s not to be sniffed at at all.
TW: What can we expect from the new record musically speaking?
 L: Growth and good music. I feel it’s my best work lyrically and I’ve had a lot of fun making it.

TW: This is album number five, does it get easier or harder writing and making each record?
 L: It gets a bit harder. Harder to find interesting ways of expressing yourself. But ultimately if you take your time you can deliver quality.
TW: You were one of the first successful artists to come out of one of the modern pop talent shows. What are the pros and cons of launching your career via TV shows like that?
L: The pros. You have an immediate awareness and fanbase that love you. The cons. You have to go the extra mile to prove yourself as an ‘artist’ and you’re immediately in the deep end. And it’s very deep indeed. And very fast, which means you have to learn really quickly.
TW: With both ‘X-Factor’ and new BBC show ‘The Voice’ having less-than-expected ratings this year, do you think the big TV talent shows are losing their appeal?
L: Maybe slightly. But ultimately I don’t think they’re going anywhere for a while. They still have their viewers and Joe Blogs still gets an opportunity to change his life so… someone’s gonna watch every year for sure.
TW: What advice would you have for any aspiring new artists in 2012?
L: Spend time developing your craft. I think that’s what separates the men from the boys in the long term.
TW: And what specific advice would you have for any artist planning on self-releasing their work?
L: I don’t think self releasing is the route for everyone. If you’re starting off… then gigging and practising is most important. If that leads to self releasing then by all means go for it. But working on building a fanbase and a good collection of material is the most important thing.
TW: Have you seen any changes in the music industry in the ten years since ‘Fame Academy’ – and are you optimistic or pessimistic about the industry’s future?
 L: I’ve seen a lot of change. The internet has had a massive impact on the industry and the way people listen to, interact with and purchase music. I think initially it was a negative thing because it wasn’t controlled. That was nobody’s fault, it was just a learning process. Now it’s a very positive thing. It’s still something that’s in the process of being understood – but ultimately, I think it will end up in a good place.
Lemar will be in conversation at the Gibson Guitar Showroom on Fri 12 Oct. His new album ‘Invincible’ is out on 8 Oct.

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