Interview with Mister Lees

On Monday 11th July Sessions58 presents a special performance by funk-pop artist and producer Mister Lees.

Mister Lees is a recording artist and music producer from East London with a sound like no other. His style is heavily influenced by the 80's and 90's and drawn together by a sprinkling of modern pop. It's like Bastille met Evelyn Champagne King and they had a baby called Bruno Mars : ) Mister Lees spent years of his early life sleeping on the streets of London and Essex and refined his performance skills by busking through his darkest times. He was then given the break he so desperately needed through The Amy Winehouse Foundation and has since gone on to perform at some of London’s most iconic venues including The Jazz Cafe, The Borderline and The Roundhouse including a special performance in London’s very own, not so hidden gem, Camden Market. Check out his debut 'Where I found you from' ft. Pimms Brooke, and look out for more releases due this year on all music platforms. A  character oozing with charm and an artist more than worthy of a spot on your playlists!

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We caught up for a chat to get to know him a bit more.

LookingGlass: Hi Joel, thank you for catching up with us. Can you briefly introduce yourself and your music journey?

Mister Lees: Yes I can! I am Mister Lees, a 28 year old recording artist/music producer from London. I create Funk/pop music as an artist, however I double up as a pop/house producer also. I have been a musician for as long as I can remember. From singing to my mum’s friends when I was younger to busking on the streets of London when I was a rough sleeper. Music is the only thing that I have always had by my side. I have now been off the streets for a few years, and I am currently doing a music production degree at ICMP in London. Life is better than it’s ever been and my music is a reflection of that.

LG: Your debut single “Where I Found You From” is out. What can you tell us about it and the collaboration with Pimms Brooke? 

ML: “Where I Found You From” is the story of a relationship break with a twist. When you leave someone but then you can’t stop seeing them or things that remind you of them. Also visiting places where you met or dated and the in-and-out period when you just don't know what is going on?!

It features Pimms Brooke who is a UK singer that lives and works in Dubai. We started recording the song years ago in a free studio session at the roundhouse in Camden. We released the video last year after a couple of years of hard work. I think we did well with this one considering that neither of us were in the position that the song states.

Some good songwriting! : ) 

LG: You spent years sleeping on the streets.. that’s a rather rough beginning. How did you cope with your personal struggle and the determination to break through in the industry?

ML: Well, sometimes I don't even know myself. I look back and wonder how I got through it. Those times taught me a lot about how tough I am. Also how determined I have always been to succeed in the music industry. I used to hug a borrowed guitar when I slept rough. Now I own a few guitars and it’s nice to think that they are safe under a roof and inside of walls. My times of struggle really give me more drive to succeed than the better times in life… We all fall down from time to time. It’s about how you stand and rebuild yourself and that’s what really matters.

LG: You are a youth worker and brand ambassador for RoundTable Global, can you introduce us to what you do together? What does it mean to you to work and inspire younger people? 

ML: Roundtable Global is an amazing organisation that does amazing things for the world we live in and the people who live here. I have aims to work closely with the organisation finding amazing young people who are doing amazing things and letting them know how amazing they are. Look out for the Global Youth Awards across the world this year. An amazing ceremony of thanks and praise to our young people.

It is extremely important to me that we as "adults" recognise the amazing potential that our young people possess. Most of them don't know how amazing they are, nor do they realise the power that they hold inside them just by being themselves. It is our job to let them know that. To teach and inspire them to realise their greatness and learn from them along the way. Young people are the answer to some of the world’s problems. They are the future. The next generation.

I also work with a company called The Young Urban Arts Foundation. We drive a recording studio bus around the country and teach young people music production, DJing, street dance and much more. Letting young people find something they're good at from a young age and teaching them how to enjoy doing it and use it as a release from life. I believe we all need that!! 

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LG: Talking inspiration, what/whom was yours, and how do you embody values for the kids you work with?

ML: Musically, I was first inspired by my dad who is a singer and songwriter. I have also been influenced by artists such as MJ, Plan B, Dr Dre, Chase and Status and Bruno Mars. (There are many more) I take a lot of inspiration from life and what get on around me, and as I previously stated, the harder times inspire me to be better. 

In terms of my youth work I was inspired by The Amy Winehouse Foundation who helped me to see my potential when I needed it the most. They helped me to see how amazing I am and what I have to offer the world. Now I do that for others : )

LG: Between your 80s’-90s’ influences and pop-funk Bruno Mars style, if you could have a baby with any artist, whom would you pick and what music would it be making?

ML: Well......
If I could have a BABY with any artist it would be Rita Ora with no hesitation. If I could make a MUSIC BABY with any artist I would choose to work with Chase and Status. I listened to them a lot when I grew up and it would confirm to me just how far I have come. Bit of a self pleaser that one. We would mix their dance music style with some old school funk and maybe some 90's garage or house at the same time. I LOVE to mix it up like that. To me that’s what music is all about.

LG: If your sound was a flavour what would that be?

ML: OOOOhhhhhh!! tough one! Seen as you didn't ask for a type of flavour I would say Vanilla. It’s plain and simple with a hint of something else. Everyone thinks that vanilla is ordinary or normal until they really know vanilla. Vanilla tastes SO GOOD. Vanilla is amazing. My sound is also : )

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