Russell Lee is a Canadian Country/Rock musician that has had a busy year with album releases, major events played, and a recent thoughtful music video called “Picture”.
For the multi talented and accomplished Russell Lee, music is a true calling and a fundamental way of life. Embracing the power found when honest song writing meets professional musicianship; this hard working musician has released three well-received albums, along with a new music video…and all this while entertaining Canadian audiences with the help of some very talented band mates during Russell Lee’s live shows.
While living in Nova Scotia back in 2005, Russell wrote and recorded his first album titled “In The Night”. While receiving some serious radio airplay, it wasn’t only the music that found itself wanting to travel much further, and in 2008 Russell moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he continues to write and play music today.
In September 2014, he released his second album titled “What Do I Do”, and has been busy promoting this emotionally charged and beautifully honest album.
Not one to rest too long on his previous projects, Russell Lee went back into the recording studio in 2015 and came out with a brand new Christmas album titled “Songs Of Christmas”
A current career highlight, Russell recently performed a full set-list at the world-renowned Dauphin, Manitoba CountryFest, an honor not many musicians get to share. This diverse country/folk/rock musician has been keeping busy reaching out to his fans by playing a multitude of live shows, which include venues such as Park Theater, the Lyric Stage Assiniboine Park, Fabulous 50’s Car show, and many others.
Looking forward into 2017, Russell Lee and his skilled band are looking to widen their audience even more by playing many more shows in even further destinations. Enjoy our interview with Russell below!
When did you begin writing and performing music? I think as with any song writer, we all probably started just learning to play a musical instrument first and then learned some songs that we enjoyed. I would say this happened in my 20’s and didn’t start performing until my early 30’s. My instrument is the guitar, which I have a few of them now. My first few songs that I wrote were really not that good, but did give me an idea and an appreciation of the hard work that can go into writing a good song. Although in saying that, many years later I did record a song called Heartache on this CD which was one of my first songs that I wrote. However, I might have had to make a few changes to the words.
Who are some of your influences when it comes to writing and performing? Why?That is an interesting question that I get alot! I am not sure how influenced I have been my just one person or genre. I really enjoy the folk music by artists like James Taylor, Harry Chapin, Neil Young, Country music by artists like Alabama, Garth Brooks, and Pop/rock music like the Doobie Brothers, America, Three Dog Night, Green Day, Eagles, Bob Seger, Elton John. I am a fan of most music. The folk type of music is interesting to me as you can perform these songs as a soloist with just your acoustic guitar and get the song and message across to the audience. I learned to play the harmonica as well because of this. For the country and pop/rock bands, their music has a nice flow to it as well as a nice message. I feel that my interest in all the different types of genre of music that I have listed has given me the opportunity to write songs that blend in with many genres of music.
Tell us a bit about your most recent music video for your single, “Picture”. What went into the making of this video? Once I had the CD released I envisioned on making a video of one of the songs. Was tough to decide, because I believe there a few songs that would blend itself to a video. The song Picture was my first choice as I believed that I could make a video that would represent the song quite well. Once again I put a deadline on wanting to get this done. And once again someone came into my life. I met John Kristolovich at a photoshoot and found out he was also a videographer and has produced videos. When I explained that I wanted to do a video, he listened to the song, and agreed to help me. We brainstormed over a few meetings and came up with the idea of how we wanted to shoot the video. John and I acted as the producer, director, casting agent etc. John had a good friend Damon Surzyshyn that did our camera work he is very talented and was fantastic to work with. We did have a few challenges during the shoots, however, we had fun working through the concerns that would pop up. Finding the footage and images and the timing for these on the back screen at the theater took a bit of work. The outdoor shoot was a concern for a couple of reasons. You never know if the weather will cooperate. And, trying to organize the shoot and the people to ensure I got the correct message across that I was looking for in this video was somewhat stressful and fun at the same time. I have to say that everyone that was involved in this video was fantastic to work with. The editing took a long time as we had hours of video and had to condense this to just over three minutes. One of the indoor shoots was done on the stage at the Metropolitan Theater in Winnipeg , which is a wonderful older building that had been renovated to its original state. This whole process was a lot of fun, and was great to do have the guys in the band involved. All in all, were are very pleased how the video turned out!
Tell us a bit about your most recent release, “What Do I Do”. What was the idea behind this album? Over the past few years, I had written a few songs and wanted to start the process of doing another CD. My last CD In the Night was about 7 years ago. I put a deadline to myself and pushed my self to polish the songs that I had written and to act on the ideas that I had for some other songs. I always find in amazing that when you want to get something done, and you have a passion and enthusiasm, events will happen to help you towards your goals. While I was in the “writing/composing” zone, I met Tom Koroluk who has a great recording studio and is an guru in recording music as well as a gifted keyboard player. We hit it off and over the next few months he helped me produce this CD. Most of the songs that I wrote for this CD have some sort of experience in my life. I also wanted to record Amazing Grace because when I do perform this song, it brings me back a memory of my mom.
What was the recording process like? This was a fascinating experience and was different from what I previously had done. For this CD, I would sit in the studio, play the song on my acoustic, then I would discuss the song with Tom and give him my perspective of it. Then we would experiment with what style/type of drum , bass, piano tracks as well as the arrangement of the song. Once we kind of figured that out, we would go to the next song. After all the songs were done on the first draft, we would then critique and fine tune, until we were happy with the arrangements. Tom, through his network of musical friends found some top notch musicians to help us record the tracks for the songs. These guys were really motivated and passionate about their contribution. We became good friends and decided that we should perform together. The band was formed.
Do you have a favorite song? Maybe one you are most excited to perform live?
Man , that is a tough question. There are a few that stand out for me
I was going through some trauma in my life and maybe started worrying too much about what is going to happen with my life got to a point that I felt I needed to change some of my poor habits and poor choices, and concentrate on been internally happy. I picked up my guitar and started singing about finding myself and the words and music came out. This song really helped me to understand that you can enjoy life and feel comfortable about yourself.
Piece of this Earth
Most singer song writers write a song that they feel can make a difference. The song Piece of This Earth has a message that we all need to do our part to enjoy our life with ourselves and with the people around us. Gives me a “warm fuzzy feeling” when I perform this song.
Never Know Your Name
When I perform this song, I usually try to explain what this song is about to ensure the audience can understand the message. Years ago I had a close family member diagnosed with dementia/Alzheimer. If any one has had the experience seeing a person close to them fall to this disease, they can understand the frustration and sadness during this time. The song is what I believe is the perspective of someone diagnosed at the early stages where they are experience the symptoms but can still somewhat understand what is going on.
This is just a fun song to sing and to perform live with a nice message that I believe people can identify with. We get a lot of great comments from our audiences.
When you aren’t writing, recording, or performing, what takes up your free time? I am an owner/operator of a business, that can keep my quite busy. I am also active in sports playing baseball, golf, and working out.
What was it like to play Dauphin Manitoba’s Countryfest? That was an absolute blast! We had a great time performing there and just t recently got asked to perform for 2017. We are really looking forward to this event again!
What is next for you for the rest of 2016/2017? We have one show that is confirmed in December, Dauphin Countryfest in July long weekend., and are reviewing and going through our options for the 2017 year.
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