Lee Bailey is an indie folk singer-songwriter hailing from South Yorkshire (UK). He made his debut with the single ‘Dry’ and has released five singles in total since. His latest release ‘Closer To You’ is in our Cool Top 20 chart. Time to ask Lee some questions about his influences and creative process.
So Lee, tell me about yourself. Where do you live?
“I currently live in a town called Barnsley in South Yorkshire. I was born here and for better or worse, I’ve spent most of my life here too. Originally a mining town, it’s now famed for its local music scene, friendly atmosphere and being the setting of the film ‘KES’. I could have grown up in worse places.”
How did you get into music or how did it get into you?
“I took an interest in playing an instrument at school, I took music as a GCSE subject with piano and drums but failed. Then just before my 21st birthday, after being inspired by a gent I worked with at the time, I bought an acoustic guitar and since then I haven’t looked back.”
What role did music play in your life as a child?
“Music was a massive part of my childhood, mainly listening to it. My brother had a large collection of CD’s and would let me listen to them. He would make me mix tapes for my walkman – it was rare I didn’t have headphones on. I remember listening to the chart show every Sunday evening and recording the latest songs.”
“I’ve always enjoyed finding new bands or discovering older artsits. Looking back now it’s rare a memory doesn’t have a soundtrack to it. My music taste is now very ecclectic.”
Who are your main musical influences?
“The biggest influence for music would be Noel Gallagher, Richard Ashcroft, Paul Weller. Very Much the Britpop / Indie side. Also The Tallest Man On Earth, that guy is just truly phenominal.”
Do you have any influences outside music?
“Influences outside are the wonderful people I surround myself with like my friends and family. Reading is a big influence also, always good to expand the mind with literature.”
What’s a typical day for you? Do you work on your music every day?
“Sadly I don’t at the moment. Life is pretty busy right now with a new job and shortly moving house. But usually my day to day is 8 hours work in finance. Once my day job is done, depending on the day of the week, I’ll either see my son, my girlfriend, practice on my guitar or see my friends. Although it doesn’t sound it, it is rather hectic.”
For those that are unfamiliar with your music, please sum it up with three words.
“Emotional, mellow, honest.”
When was your very first recording and release?
“My first single released was ‘Dry’. It came out on 19th June 2020, right in the middle of the first lockdown.”
What song represents who you are best?
“I would say ‘Smile’. Most of my songs are moody and emotional but ‘Smile’ is about being happy with what you have during hard times. Someone told me at a recent gig that I “lit up” when I began to play it… So I’d say ‘Smile’. It’s a little light in the dark of the world.”
What inspires you to write songs and what is your creative process?
“For me it is usually experiences or events in life that inspire me to write and create. Sometimes it could be a line in a film or a sentence in a book. Once an idea is there I can’t let it go until its put on paper. I find it easier to get the structure of the song first and then move onto lyrics, but sometimes the lyrics can come first.”
“I’d record myself using a little Scarlett focus rite set up and then send the raw idea out to friends, my producer and other musicians I know to gauge what they thin. I’ll then listen to the rough recording over and over to pick out any slips or errors and note where the changes can be made. Once I’ve practiced and I’m happy that the song would be ‘gig ready’ I go to my producer and we get to work making it into a release.”
Let’s talk about the new single ‘Closer To You’? What inspired this song?
“It was written around 8 years ago about my muse at the time. I was enamoured by her and wanted to start a relationship, but she was unsure. At the time I was in emotional limbo and the best way for me to deal with it was to write about it. It’s about the trials of a budding new relationship that is inevitably doomed to fail.”
What should we expect from your next release?
“My next release is a song called ‘Morning Rain’ and will be a bit more upbeat that ‘Closer to you’. I’m currently arranging dates for studio time with my producer. Im excited to get it up to release standard, it’s one of my favourite songs to play.”
What are your plans for 2022?
“I have a lot of plans in 2022. Lots of music and gigs hopefully. I’m playing at a few Festivals in Yorkshire in the UK and I’m going to watch some amazing artists too. Definitely more releases, I’m hoping to release four songs this year and possibly get a music video done too. Just need a little bit of funding (laughs). Perhaps a holiday somewhere warm too, that would be amazing.”
Where would you like to be in five years?
“In five years I would still like to be making music, I’d love to be performing my music to intimate little gigs dotted about the country. Sing, tour, family, friends and be happy. That’s the goal for five years time.”
What’s your favourite song from the Cool Top 20 and why?
“My favourite song is ‘The Wheel’ by Jack Francis. It hits me right in the folky feels, the lyrics are beautiful an honest, I guess I’m just a sucker for a folorn cowboy style. It just gives me a vision of a wanderer taking stock of his life as he wanders on, I love it. This was a hard choice as the playlist is full of amazing artists and music. I really am honoured to be placed alongside such talent.”
What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?
“The song I’d choose for the playlist is ‘Feelings’ by Isaac Jensen. The mans voice is amazing. Soulful and heart wrenching. It’s a beautiful song.”
(All photos by Mark Tighe Photography)