It’s been almost 20 years since Lemar captured the hearts of music lovers with his soulful debut Dedicated. 2023 shows no signs of Lemar slowing down with new music, movies, and performances up his sleeve.

We spoke to Lemar about his new album Page In My Heart and what he’s been up to during his musical absence.

Hey Lemar! How are you doing?

I’m good. I can’t complain! The sun is shining where I am right now and it’s a bit warmer than it was so it’s all good.

Your new album Page In My Heart is your first in 8 years. Can you tell us where have you been and why is now the perfect time for a comeback?

Where have I been? I’ve been doing stuff! You know I’ve just been working on a few other projects. I’ve been doing some family stuff swell. Just living life! You know, getting experiences and writing songs obviously as well. I just thought now is a good time because this year is obviously 20 years since my first album Dedicated and I want to celebrate and bring some stage presence back to the people. I didn’t want to do that without saying there was new music so I finished the album off and I thought now is a good time to announce.

What inspired you during the recording of the new album? What music were you listening to during the process?

I always try and cut myself off a little bit from music because I get a bit over-influenced. Luckily with this album, because it’s been written over 11 years or so, I’ve been able to pick moments of what I really wanted to say and not necessarily to influence the genre-wise. I would say just life and relationships always influence me on this album. I think my voice lends itself well to speaking to people’s emotions and that whole relationship side of things so that’s what I focused on and that’s what I usually end up writing about anyway. Some highs, some lows, and some between.

This year marks 20 years since the release of your debut album Dedicated! Congratulations! What would you say has been the key to your longevity? 

I’m not sure there’s a key. I think in life we all just do our best right? Try and put your best foot forward. You hope it’s the right decision, you hope that someone likes it.  Me, I have been doing that and what I have been putting out there, people have been liking, people have been connecting with. Obviously, after this musical break that I’ve taken, I’m stepping in daintily trying to get back in there but so far the reception has been good so I’m going to keep on putting that good for in front of the other one and hopefully keep building.

Do you have any key memories from the release of your first album?

There are loads that come to mind! I remember when I first came out of the studio. For 8 years I’d been trying to get a music deal and been trying to get into the music industry and finally, it was happening. My first session was with a guy named Fitzgerald Scott – bless him RIP and another guy named Craig Hardy who’s also written on this album with me and we did that first session and it went to the record company and they were immediately like “Oh my gosh this is your single!”

Everything moved so quickly from that first session. To go to your first session, write your first song and then 2/3 weeks I remember it was like 1 am or something like that, in a pool with some mates and we’d just finished doing the vid for “Dance (With U) ” and I was thinking “This kid from Tottenham man, what am I doing here in LA with this whole thing?” We just did a video, people came up dancing, there were like owls in the video, like what’s going on? It was pretty cool.

You’re performing in April in celebration of your debut. What can fans expect from these shows?

These shows are a reminder, a shots-fired kinda thing! I haven’t been on stage with a live band in a while so I want to give people a reminder of what I’m about, a reminder of what the 20 years have been about, and obviously a couple of songs from the new one swell. Really it’s a celebration of all the songs I think have meant things to my fans over the years. It’s going to be jam-packed, with energy, with reminiscing and hopefully, everyone leaves with a full belly.

You recently performed at the Room 187 event in London. How was it seeing the crowd’s reaction to your performance, and them reciting every word?

That was nice for the ego, I can’t lie! The team that put that together are extremely great, professional, young Black entrepreneurs and went in there and thought “This is run so well, I really want to give whatever I can.”I went there thinking it was just another gig but when I got there and when I saw the energy and the environment I was just like wow. It reminded me of Choice FM jams back in the day, I was just like ”wow, energy!”

So I came out and you never know what the reception is going to be but they went nuts! They knew the songs, they sang along at the top of their voice, and the cameras were going! I was like, “Okay, I’m ready for April 28th now, let’s go!”

What do you think of the current UK R&B Scene?

I think it’s good! I think music always evolves! Sometimes people can get hooked up on things not sounding like they did in 1982 or whatever it is but I don’t think things are meant to. Everything is meant to be an evolution of what came before it and hopefully whoever takes on that new torch then runs it in their own direction however the people at that time connect with it and I think that’s what’s going on. It’s a very healthy scene. Nathan Bryon, he wrote the film that I did last year with Sky Cinema Little Darlings and he’s also done another one called Rye Lane. In there I think it was Sampha who has a few tunes in his film so it was cool bumping into him and hearing that music there. It’s just nice to see a fresh set of faces doing their thing and like I say I think it’s evolving in its own right direction.

You starred in the Sky comedy Little Darlings alongside Jamelia. How did you find that, and is acting something more you’d like to do more of?

I loved doing that! I always love a challenge, a new challenge and that was a real challenge. It was lovely hooking up with Jamelia again and catching up and having a good chat. She’s always a good laugh so we rekindled our friendship and got much closer, that was nice. The talented kids in there were great as well, the whole cast, Kindle Entertainment too – just had a lot of fun! Yes, that’s something I want to do more of. I’m appearing in something that’s coming out this year on Netflix and also another thing on the BBC so hopefully, those two things go well and lead to other things.

How did you find appearing on BBC talent show Fame Academy? Is it something you would do again?

Back then the TV and all that was a whole other world and there was reality.  I was thing young guy growing up in Tottenham, I’d been doing music for 8 years, I’d toured up and down the country, opened on tour for Destiny’s Child, Usher Raymond, who was also 17/18 at the time. I’d gone on tour with Trevor Nelson and we’d been trying to get a deal on the table but there’s no deal on the table. I was just about to go to uni and go do Pharmacy and call it quits. My parents, both Nigerian were a bit disappointed I took that year off college and 8 years later I was still trying to do the music. So Fame Academy was this last roll of the dice, just to see before I go back to Uni and it turned out to change my life so I’m very very happy I did it.  I think if I was in a similar situation and the opportunity presented itself, you have to be confident in my own ability, you have to be confident in what I’d learned as a performer, as a writer, as whatever you’re doing, and put that foot forward and just know that regardless what happens you’re going to try and show people your standard, your level and hope that’s enough.

What one piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

There are probably three bits of advice I’d give but let me say don’t stress!

Do you have a message for your supporters?

Thank you so much! Over the years a few closer fans have brought to attention some of my material and what I’ve been putting out into the world has given them power. I’d say that over the past 11 years, it has been the reverse. The love that they’ve shown and even the love they show now is what gives me strength to overcome hurdles in my life. I’d say thank you to them and hope you like what I’m about to give you.

What more can we expect from you in 2023?

I’m just going to be around. I’m going to be ABOUT! Performances – April 27th and 28th we’ve touched on. The two things I’m appearing in as well which I’ll be able to shout about closer to the time on Netflix and BBC. I’ve done some masterclasses as well for any up-and-coming musicians that want to grab a bit of knowledge. There will be more of that also along the way. So yeah I’m just going to be about, be present. I’m going to turn left when I need to turn left and turn right when I need to turn right.  I’m just going to stay agile, let’s do this!