by: Kiva Johns-Adkins
(originally posted on Dreaming of Edward's blog in November, 2010)
For me, Twilight and Robert Pattinson have introduced me to a whole world of music I might not have ever listened to. I now find myself searching for the Indie musicians and the up and comers. I developed a friendship with Australian musician Lee Safar, who was considered for the New Moon soundtrack. Now her career is sky-rocketing. I went to my first concert since high school, when I went to see Kings of Leon last year. Since then I have gone to see Bobby Long and this weekend, Sam Bradley. And in the midst of all of this discovery another musician with ties to Robert Pattinson hit my radar – British musician Lee MacDougall.
MacDougall has just released a new song, ‘How to Be’, which he had originally written for the film by the same name, starring Rob. Because of the typical red tape associated with production companies the song didn’t make it on the soundtrack and Lee got to keep it for himself. In the first video he talks about ‘How To Be’ and how he went about writing it after talking to Rob about his character of Art. But how, you might ask, did MacDougall meet Rob in the first place.
“Rob is really great. I met him through his sister, Lizzie. I have been really good friends with her for quite a while. I really expect her (Lizzie) to do amazing things.”
(In case you didn’t know, Lizzie Pattinson is also a musician.)
TELL ME ABOUT WHERE YOU GREW UP IN ENGLAND AND HOW YOU CAME TO LONDON? DO YOU HAVE ANY BROTHERS OR SISTERS? ARE THEY ALSO PERFORMERS?
“I grew up in a small town in the north of England called Grimsby. My family live there and I have a younger sister who still lives there, but the music scene is non-existent and for as long as I can remember I knew I had to move to London if I wanted to succeed. And bizarrely I actually did it the old fashioned way of sending out demo tapes to labels.”
Lee talks about how music has always been an important part of his life and how he got his start. He recently moved to London to focus on the music and get his music out there.
“When I first started out, when I was fifteen, I thought this moment will dictate my life – it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. We played at a bar at Grimsby Town Center. I remember we were all sixteen and legally not supposed to be there). I came off the stage and this girl came over to me and I was just blown away. I thought, ‘this is such a good life, everyone’s buying me drinks.’ I ended up dating her for three or four years. It’s all been a rollercoaster. I have just always known what I wanted to do.”
One of the newest opportunities out there for musicians like MacDougall, especially in England, is a project called Songs from a Room. Marcus Foster and Rob have both performed in people’s living rooms and it seems like a perfect fit for MacDougall’s intimate style of music.
“I just spoke to the guy a couple of days ago who runs it (Songs from a Room). He sent me an email and said he wanted to come check me out live. I’m hoping we can do something. It looks really cool. It looks like they are doing a really good thing. I sent him a couple of dates in London so I’m hoping he can come down and he likes it.”
Lee hit the fandom’s radar with his song, “Falling in Love for the Last Time”, which was widely thought to have been written by Rob about Kristen. MacDougall sets the record straight on the inspiration for the song.
“I don't think people do anymore do they? I really don't know how that started in the first place - I thought I set the record straight a while ago. I started getting emails about who wrote it, and I answered the first 20 or so and then I just gave up as there were too many. But I didn't really mind too much as more and more people were listening and everyone was being so positive about the song. Rob has amazing fans who are really supportive of his friends and stuff, and in a world where tabloids etc are always dragging people down, I think that that kind of positivity is really refreshing. As a songwriter it's nice to keep a little mystery over what inspires your songs as I think it's nice for people to draw their own interpretations of the lyrics and relate to things in their own way. My lyrics are very literal anyway - but it was inspired by a girl with green eyes, and it is very much a true story. It’s the emotion of knowing you met your soul mate and it being an unrequited love.”
Lee, who is a “low-fi, acoustic musician” talks about the process of song-writing and what it means to him. Currently he performs with two mates in London as an acoustic trio. But the music is MacDougall’s.
“I pretty much write all my own stuff. The best music is honest music. People relate to honesty and my songs are very literal. It’s cool putting your feelings to music and finding how other people relate personally to what you have written. I don’t write music to be reviewed. I write because I like it.”
WHERE DOES YOUR INSPIRATION COME IN WRITING YOUR SONGS?
“Just real life really. Most of my songs are true stories. It's just what comes naturally to me - kinda like writing a diary. I think music that is honest has a really alluring quality to it that people can connect and relate to. Even a song like "How To Be" which was written about a character in a movie, if I look closely at the lyrics I can still see quite a lot of me in there.”
ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH BOBBY LONG, SAM BRADLEY AND MARCUS FOSTER AND DO YOU HOPE TO TAKE THE SAME PATH THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN?
“I used to see Marcus quite a lot with Rob. They are very talented guys and all achieving great things and it's definitely inspiring to see how their careers have developed. But I think that my music is very different to theirs stylistically. We all came out of the same scene around the same time but I think that each of us are treading quite different paths in what we're doing musically.”
In the next audio clip, Lee talks about Rob performing open-mic nights at a club called The Spice Of Life.
HAVE YOU SIGNED TO A LABEL? WHO IS SPONSORING YOUR TOUR? WHEN DO YOU PLAN TO RELEASE AN ALBUM?
“I am managed by Phil Taylor at Up All Night Music Management, who you may know as he also manages Bobby Long. I haven't even begun looking for a record deal yet. At the moment I'm funding my own tour of the US and Canada because I'm just desperate to get out there and play as soon as possible. The response from fans online has been incredible, and I've always wanted to tour, so to be able to go and play for everyone who has supported me so far is going to be a great feeling. I am actually going to put an album out whilst I'm touring that is only going to be available exclusively at gigs. In the meantime though, in order to help fund the tour I've released a download only version of "How to Be" here: http://leemacdougall.bandcamp.com/track/how-to-be and you can also find my debut EP on iTunes.”
Now that MacDougall is signed with Taylor they will be making some big announcements about a U.S. tour very soon. While the first gig for New York City has been announced, Lee also says he will be playing at one of the biggest music gigs in the U.S. – SXSW in Austin during the third week of March.
WHAT IS THE NEXT PROJECT YOU ARE WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
“My manager and I are finalizing a 35 date tour of the US/Canada, starting in New York City at The Bitter End on the 25th February. After making a name in London it was always important to me to take my music out to the states. I love the gig ethos out there. As well as doing shows in every major city I can't wait to do some intimate house concerts and stuff. That sort of thing is really cool at the moment and people don't tend to do it in England. I've already been communicating with lots of fans out there and they are being so supportive, offering their help and wanting to be involved with everything. It's going to be great, and if this tour goes well then I really hope to be able to come back and do some shows across Europe too, as the people there have also been incredibly supportive.”
To listen to and buy Lee’s music and support him so he can tour the US and we can all hear him live, check out his MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and iTunes. Of course, you can always follow him on Twitter as well @LeeMacDougall.