I first interviewed Lee Lessack, Mac and Bistro Award Winner and founder of LML Music, in 2010 as he was departing on his European tour of "Chanteur: an homage to the Great French Songbook with an American Perspective." After the success of his tour and a year later, Lee decided to take his love of the French Songbook one step further and release a whole album. So, on August 9, Lee's new album "Chanteur" was released to the world! I had the honor of interviewing Lee again to discuss his new album, having his own record label which houses such Broadway favorites as Stephen Schwartz, Lea Salonga, Jim Caruso, Leslie Uggams, Lucie Arnaz, Susan Egan, David Burnham, and Kathie Lee Gifford, as well as other everyday details of his life and career!
1. What made you decide to start LML Music and what do you like best about having your own label? I honestly started LML Music because I needed a label for my debut recording back in 1995 (I'm aging myself). I love being able to provide a home for independent artists.
2. What have you learned about the music business from having your own record label? To not quit your day job. LOL! The music business is changing so rapidly it's often hard to keep up. I'm very grateful to have a fabulous distributor, The Allegro Corporation, and they have guided me and LML for the past 10 years.
3. If you could sign anyone to your label, who would it be? How do you decide which artists to sign? From an artistic standpoint, I'd love to sign k.d. lang because her voice just makes me melt. From a business standpoint how about Susan Boyle a couple of years ago? Artists generally seek me out and if it feels right and I think we can move some product then we proceed.
4. How did you come up with the title and concept for your new album "Chanteur"? My dear friend and colleague, Brian Lane Green, actually came up with the concept and wrote and directed a concert for me which then became the basis for the new album. I had mentioned to Brian that I felt I was ready to create a new concert and since Brian and I have shared the stage with "3 Men and a Baby…Grand!" for many years, he knows where I live vocally and as an actor and he thought of this idea and I loved everything about it.
5. Why did you want to focus on the Great French Songbook? What do you love about that music so much? Well as I said above, the concept was brought to me, and I loved the idea. Most French songwriters were poets and so I find that each song has the depth of a one act play. The material is so rich and haunting.
6. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? The most joyous element for me, is that I am able to touch the audience's heart and take them on a journey with me. Perhaps for the time that we are together, they forget what may be troubling them and perhaps find a moment of healing.
7. What advice do you give to the artists you sign? Don't skimp on the marketing and promotion of your recording. It's all too common to leave that element out of your budget and it's really the most important. You may have a wonderful album, but if nobody knows about it then how do we sell CDs?
8. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting an album together? Recording the vocals is always magical for me. Capturing that moment in time. The first time my engineer sends me the rough mix of a song is always very exciting.
9. Favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I have a beautiful office in our home that my partner designed for me. I love to close all the doors and dim the lights and rehearse.
10. "Mary" or "Rhoda"? So not fair!!! I never thought I'd have to choose and since you didn't give me the option of Phyllis I'm gonna have to go with Mary :)
11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Well my husband of course…but if he wasn't available perhaps it would be Ryan Kwanten.
12. Favorite way to spend your day off? That's easy! An early morning hike with my 2 gorgeous pups. Brunch and a movie.