Music Vice first came across Lee MacDougall last summer, when it was announced that he would be supporting ex-Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock, at London’s famed 100 Club. Less than two weeks after that performance, Lee was opening for Bon Jovi at Hard Rock Calling in London’s Hyde Park! Talk about a fast track break into the mainstream! A cross country tour of The United States ensued soon after, as well as stream of opening spots with Atlantic Music songstress Rumer [who Lee describes as “the most grounded and down to earth person I’ve ever met in the music industry”].
Every artist has a story to tell and Lee Macdougall’s biography reads almost like a Brothers Grimm tale! Growing up in the seaport village of Grimsby, Lee MacDougall seemed destined like most of his school friends for a small town life, working in the towns fish processing plants. However, Lee took off to the big smoke of London soon after University and worked hard at ‘lucking out’.
Wih his raw lyrics and charismatic personality, it didnt take Lee long to link up with a number of Londons top live promoters, and the twenty-something year old was soon playing the capitols live circuit. It seems that despite the inevitable ups and downs of the industry, Lee has managed to find his own niche, and if 2011 is anything to go by then 2012 looks to be an exciting year for the would-be factory worker from Grimsby.
Sounds Like: a cuppa with Tom Petty and Rod Stewart! Lee takes his inspiration from classic acts, The Beatles and The Kinks; but shows his age in musical moments that draw more from the Nirvana and Oasis sets.
INTERVIEW: Music Vice’s Ngawara caught up with Lee in London recently to discuss New Years Resolutions…
So! 2012! Happy New Year! How are you Lee? Any New Years Resolutions? What are the main things youre focusing on as an artist as you get the ball rolling with twenty twelve?
Lee: Happy New Year to you too! I asked my friend about resolutions the other day and she said “to drink less”, and I like to be different so I guess mine would be to drink more [laughs] Let’s not mess about! I don’t know, I always feel really positive with a new year, it always feels like a new beginning or a second chance… The first half of the year I will be constantly on tour in Europe and the USA, and then with the second half of the year ideally I am hoping to finish writing and recording a new record.
A lot ahead of you then! Sounds very productive. One thing that stood out to us at Music Vice about you as an artist, is the fact that for an English singer/songwriter, you have a suprisingly strong American fanbase. You have been on two tours there so far. Can you tell us a little bit about where youve been and how that situation came to be?
Lee: I just think that people in the US and Canada are intrigued a little by us Brits, just in the same way we are intrigued by them. Music is always a little more exotic when it has traveled 4000 miles to be heard and it is sung with a funny accent. I did two 35-date tours of the US and Canada last year and I’m about to start a third tour in March. Basically playing in everywhere. New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Vancouver… all the major cities. It all came about through the Internet and my online fan base who are absolutely amazing. Things can spread pretty fast these days and fortunately for me things seemed to spread really quickly online enabling me to jump on a plane and start touring.
…but you are also quite busy with your trips over to Germany and other places in the EU. Where would you say your strongest fanbase is thesedays?
Lee: Yeah the people in Germany have been really supportive too. I love playing out there, it’s a really great place. Though funnily enough i get tonnes of letters from Australia and Brazil. I definitely need to get out and visit those countries in the near future
The “singer/songwriter” niche is a heavily contested spot and there is quite a bit of competition in your field thesedays…
Lee: I don’t think being a singer songwriter is anymore contested than anything else to be honest. There are always going to be lots of singers and lots of bands, but it’s not a competition. There’s always room for a good song.
Do you have a thing that sets you apart from the regular crowd? A ‘thing’ as it were?
Lee: Well I’m not really into gimmicks and all that. I just sing the songs that I write, and don’t really pay much attention to what other people are doing. I’m from Grimsby: I don’t think that anyone from Grimsby has had a record out before, maybe that could be my thing!
You recently supported songstress Rumer on tour for her Northern English dates, how did those shows go?
Lee: Yeah those shows with Rumer were incredible, the best I’ve ever played. It’s a funny feeling walking out on your own each night to sing to 2,000 people in a huge concert hall. The venues were really beautiful and the acoustics in those places were awesome. I started unplugging my guitar after a while and singing without the mic, I don’t know if anyone has ever done that in venues that big before but it seemed to work really well. You could hear a pin drop.
Will you be doing any more with her and her camp this year?
Lee: Yes, well hopefully I can do some more shows with her this year, either in the UK or the US. She has a phenomenal voice and is probably the most grounded and down to earth person I’ve ever met in the music industry.
What other artists have you played alongside?
Lee: I’ve played alongside some really great artists in the last couple of years; Train, Paolo Nutini. I opened at the Hyde Park Calling Festival in London where Bon Jovi was headlining, and Glenn Matlock from the Sex Pistols asked me to open for him recently at the 100 Club in London, that was a really cool show.
Those are some pretty big names! Grimsby must seem very far away at times. Okay, so something i always like to ask, because it says a lot about an artist an their musical personality; if we were musically introducing somebody to ‘Lee Macdougall’, which song of yours should be played first?
Lee: I’d go with a song of mine called “She”.
When are your next shows coming up? Touring or showcase plans?
Lee: I start a 5 week tour of Germany and Austria on January 19th, and then it’s back to the USA for SXSW and a 2 month tour in March.
© Ngawara Madison, Music Vice
Lee MacDougall – “She”:
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