Look who it is. Lemar had all-but slipped into memories of Top Ten singles of the past, but the Fame Academy star is back for 2012 with a new single 'Invincible' - and a new guitar-based sound.
Ahead of the release of his first single in two years, we caught up with the singer to discuss new influences, how the music landscape has changed in his absence and what he really thinks of Fame Academy's 2012 counterpart, The Voice...
Hi Lemar. It's been a while. Where's you been?
Yeah it's been a while, I've just been doing a lot of writing, a little bit of travelling and and taking some good family time. I went to L.A., France, Spain, Miami. It was good stuff!
Your new single has a Coldplay / Take That sound to it. What made you go for a more guitar-influenced direction?
Well the album as a whole doesn't all sound like the new single, but there are elements of it throughout. In general, I write songs and tracks around the piano, but this time I picked up the guitar quite a bit more, and it affected my writing in a different way which I think is a good thing. It's just a natural progression from my fourth album, and I just want that big sound, I want the fields, the people. I see big open spaces with loads of people singing!
Below: Lemar 'Invincible'
Will you be heading to any festivals this year?
Yeah if I get a minute, I was gutted that I missed Wireless. I know it was muddy and that but I would have been rolling VIP all the way.
Why have you decided to make your comeback now?
I feel the music's right, and I've got 11 or 12 of the best tracks out of about 150 that I've written in the last few years. And also, I miss the stage man, I love performing.
Have you taken more alternative influences on the new album?
I've just tried to be not generic, you know, typically R&B, typically soul, typically pop. It's more singer songwriter stuff, more about the song itself. I just wanted to say, what I wanted to say in the best way I can say it, and then make that be the core, and let everything else build around it.
Did you want to make the move away from your typical soul sound to let people know what you could really do?
You always want to show versatility, and progress and become better at what you do. On my album there are definitely soulful moments, but I wanted to dabble a bit as well. Like I say, I want that big sound, so even where there is soul on the album, it's a bit... bigger.
With the new material, did you want to make sure you didn't sound like the high energy R&B stuff that's so popular at the moment?
Yeah, I wanted to make sure my first statement coming back was that I'm not following anything or anyone. For me, this is about the song; lyrical depth is key. I appreciate dance music, I've got my own tunes like that which I would love people to hear, but the statement I want to make on this album doesn't involve that.
How do you think the industry has changed in the years you've been away?
It's changed massively. When I ws releasing 'Dance With You' or '50/50', the charts weren't predominantly urban or younger sounding, but now that's exactly how it is. It's cool though, artists are expressing their opinions, and it's influencing things.
The music scene has changed hugely in your time away. Who's your biggest competition in the charts now?
Someone who's done stuff that I think overall is really good is Tinie Tempah. I like his music, but I think his persona and how he carries himself is really impressive.
As a former TV talent show contestant, what are your opinions on 'The Voice'?
Well I haven't payed loads of attention... but I think 'The Voice' is good platform for people who sing. There's a bit of a way to go yet, I'm not sure if the show is directly correct yet, but the beginning bit's cool.
Since your time on Fame Academy, how do you feel the TV talent show genre has changed? Are those shows as valuable as they were when you you were involved?
I think they're more valuable now. After Fame Academy Simon Cowell really developed that genre into its niche and made it a proper entertainment event. Whereas back then there was more of a stigma attached to the shows, I think now it's more accepted. People expect someone to have an oppurtunity at the end of the year and release something, and it's just a given. Back then the public were much more wary. Of course, a lot of people watch the new shows, but that doesn't mean the winners are going to be successful. The public aren't stupid, if they're going to part with their money for something, it has to be good.
Would you do a spot as guest judge on any of the TV talent shows?
I wouldn't mind! I've got a lot to say, a lot to give, a lot of advise for these people! I've been in it, worn the T shirt, bought a new T shirt, been out the other end and deisgned my own T shirt!
Thank you very much, Lemar. 'Invincible' is released 12 August, 2012.