As the British singer/songwriter verges on celebrating more than a decade of success in the music business - having notched up a staggering seven Top 10 singles and over two million album sales under his belt - he is looking forward rather than back... and like many modern established artists, he's thinking outside the box.
His brand new studio album will be released on October 8th 2012. This ushers Lemar into a new decade - 10 years after he first appeared on the UK music landscape via the TV show Fame Academy from which he went on to emerge as a pioneer, paving the way for many successful Pop/Soul & R'n'B artists which grace today's charts.
Given that for the first time the multi-Brit and MOBO Award winner is releasing music to the beat of his own drum, the 34-year-old is surprisingly relaxed about how it will be received. "Because I've released quite a few records now, I'm past the stage where I think, 'oh my God, what if they hate it when they hear it?' and I'm more so at a place where I strongly feel that this is really good music," he says confidently.
He is very enthusiastic about finally being able to deliver to the many fans he has amassed through his music and absorbing live shows which have seen him share the stage with everyone from Beyonce, Lionel Richie and Enrique Iglesias to Usher, Mary J Blige and Justin Timberlake over the years. "I wanted to make this album about the 'why' I want to do music, not 'who' I'm doing it for. I feel like the music is ready now. What it evolves into... who knows? But I'm not worried at all. It's just coming from a good place and it feels right," he asserts.
Having been one of the most successful British solo artists of the last decade, Lemar has also witnessed first-hand the fast moving changes it has endured, which he is keen to be able to take advantage of. "Its been ten years... I feel old!" he laughs. " The way people listen to, buy and interact with music has changed phenomenally, especially with the internet, the way the fans can now interact with you, how people see music and what the value of music is now... the value of good live performances. It's all been turned on its head. I think the scene's changed for the better, in that the fans have more of a voice now. If they like something, they've got a big forum where they can express their opinion - everything is a live commentary,... which means its much harder to blag it. If it's good, generally people will let you know that it's good, in the same way that if it's bad, they'll let you know! I think that's a positive thing. Fans can't be force fed so easily. Quality is king"
In many ways, it's because of these changes that Lemar decided to take time out to restock. "Everything just progressed naturally for me. I'd finished five albums with Sony, the option was then there to go and look around, or try to re-sign or do whatever you feel you need to do for you. I'd done eight or nine years of continuously being on the road, touring, performing, releasing album after album and I found it was pretty intense, so I naturally wanted to slow down for a second."
Not that he ever stopped writing,... in fact the last few years have been a period where he consciously wrote songs with other artists in mind. "I was doing that for a while and every so often, I'd write a song which didn't sound like it was for anyone else, it sounded like me. As time went on I think I'd written around about 150 songs.From those songs I'll pick about ten for the album (so they will definitely be ten of my best). Every so often you stumble across a song where you think, wow, that's pretty cool, that's a keeper,and after having about three or four of them, I thought... let me start having a few conversations with people close to me and see what they think of them, and the feeling was unanimous, this stuff is really good, maybe you should put out another record.
Which brings us to Lemar's sixth album, his first full-length featuring new material since his fourth album The Reason in 2008 (his fifth, in 2010, was a greatest hits package) and one, with it having been such a long-time in the making, for which his songwriting has distinctly evolved.
Expanding on the reasons behind the wait, Lemar says, "I just wanted a break, to step back. I've ticked off nearly everything on my music '- to do' list. I've won awards, I've performed on some incredible tours, played at all the big arenas, I've done almost everything I needed and wanted to do. I was just looking for that next step and I didn't want to be doing music just for doing its sake. If I had put out an album then, it would have been more to 'stay on the proverbial bike' so to speak. Maybe another good thing that taking a break allowed me to do is realise who I am and where I am. In that, I was 24 when I had my big shot so I'm writing music about girls, clubbing, the high life,... You can keep on doing that just because you're in it, you can start to write stuff that's quite generic rather than being about who you are and where you're at on your journey. I think that I was nearing that point and so a little break was in order. That break has allowed me to rediscover me, write some more and get back to a point where I believe this is really good music and I want people to hear it, as opposed to, 'I've finished an album, it's on schedule, let's get it out there'."
Indeed with no immediate pressure to meet deadlines, Lemar's been able to indulge his creative side like never before. "The main difference was that I didn't really put a time on things because I wasn't really recording to say I'm going to put out an album now or tomorrow. I mean I kept on getting pressure from my fans to hear new material... which is a great pressure to have! I think I've written probably three different types of albums while trying to make this one. Initially I started, and it was a bit more R'n'B, then it was a bit more pop, then a bit more dance and then eventually I've ended up where I am. I feel really comfortable here, it's more of a singer/songwriter vibe and it's me in its entirety," he explains.
Fans of his previous efforts are unlikely to be disappointed. "This record is a natural evolution from my fourth album. Anyone that has listened to me over the last ten years has grown with me and are probably at the same stage in their lives/relationships... they've evolved with me. We've evolved and this is where we are."