Lee Wilshier: The OUTmusic Interview

-by Jeremy Gloff
-appeared on OUTmusic’s Myspace Page
-May 2009

Well we made it through the April showers, now where the hell are the May flowers? lol. Well I don’t have any flowers for you but I do have Lee Adam Wilshier.

Lee is all the way from the land down under, and please keep your mind out of the gutter when you read this!!! It was a pleasure to interview Lee. find out more about him here:
http://www.myspace.com/leeadamwilshier

Onto the Q and A baby!!!

1) can you give us a brief overview of your music career?

My first professional gig was at age 11 as a choirboy in the Australian Opera’s 1974 season of Puccini’s ‘Tosca’. –Running around in red robes and singing in Latin. I got time-off school and bought my very first cassette recorder with the money I was paid. I made a couple of TV appearances as a vocalist when I was a teenager and then all through my 20’s worked as a pianist/vocalist in Melbourne piano bars. I lived in London during the 90’s and while there performed as a featured vocalist on a major Jazz/Swing/Big Band record project and also briefly fronted a New Age synth pop band called ‘Dolphins Can Swim’, we did a set in the cabaret tent for London Gay Pride 1992. I gave up music for many years after that until 2007, when I put together my own recording studio and began producing the ‘LOVER MAN’ album. It was a project I had wanted to do for so long and I just couldn’t get it out of my head – that gay men had so little in the way of normal everyday music to listen to with the right words and the right gender singing them. Music which sounded like it had always been there, because for generations it wasn’t, but it certainly should have and we’re all as deserving as anyone else. Those songs should belong to everyone, gay and straight. I was so massively driven to do that project that it forced me back into performing again and I’ve found I’m loving it.

2) what is your latest project?

…well I have a couple going, I’m doing some further covers with gender-specific lyrics to them, there’s just so many good classic songs around not normally sung by men, and I do think the world has a place in it for a ‘gay crooner’. I’m also in the first stages of production for an upcoming meditation music album to be released in about 12 months, and while all that’s going on I’m also working on a long-term project of all-original songs for an album based on my own experiences as a gay man. From growing up gay in a small country town to the seamier-sides of the gay scene, it should prove interesting.

3) how old were you when you started working on music?

Believe it or not, I was just three years old when I first played a piano. My mother used to take me with her while she cleaned a friend’s house, and to keep me out of the way she encouraged me to make up music for myself while she was busy. I’d make up all sorts of silly tunes and it fascinated me, though I was so small I had to sit on about 6 pillows to reach the keyboard! I started learning to play properly at age 7 and at 10 joined a major boy’s choir in Melbourne and started vocal training.

4) have you ever gotten discouraged and wanted to give up on the music?

Oh for sure! The worst time was when I was working the piano bars in Melbourne in my 20’s. I lacked so much confidence in those days and didn’t think that just sitting and playing standard tunes and singing simply was enough to entertain. Other performers at one venue I worked in were bringing-in drum machines and synths and were basically whole automated bands. In contrast I felt boring. I stopped performing out of sheer lack of confidence and didn’t perform for ages after. When I auditioned for and got the Jazz/Swing/Big Band gig in London I got a lot of confidence back and gave it another go for a bit, but again, my confidence let me down and I went on to do other things for many years. Wanting to record ‘LOVER MAN’ so much was what pushed me back into music again, and now I’m older and more in tune with what I personally have to offer, I’m finding that the confidence issues don’t bother me anymore.

5) what is the music scene like for out artists where you live?

Well Melbourne and Australia in general is incredibly tolerant of diversity and as a result I don’t think that being an out gay artist poses any real obstacle, but having said that I’m not aware of any major queer music scene here. One of the most important reasons for making ‘LOVER MAN’ for me was that I wanted to turn on a straight radio station and hear a gay-relevant song coming out of it, and to some extent I been successful in that area so far. My vision is all about integration and acceptance between gay and straight where we all fit into mainstream society equally, so my focus will always be on trying to entertain a gay audience within the mainstream arena and also increase our visibility in the process.

6) are you currently touring at all?

To be honest, I’m so happy sitting in the Ryjo studios and devising projects to work on that live performing is probably the last thing from my mind right now. I’m not saying I’m not open to performing live somewhere down the track, but seeing how happy I am right now as a studio singer and how many recording projects I have in the pipeline, performing live and touring is not one of my priorities. I feel I have so much more to offer people creatively in a studio, so that’s where I’ll stay for the time being.

7) any plans to come to the US?

You know, one day I’d love to visit New York and sing jazz in a smoky jazz club somewhere… It’s the romantic jazz singer in me I guess, but for the time being it’s not something I’m free to do. I’ve only ever been briefly to New York once but I’d really like to see the whole country properly, every time I watch an American road-trip movie it makes me want to buy a beaten-up car and drive from one coast to the other. I’m a fan of Stephen King and would love to visit New England, Anne Rice novels make me want to experience New Orleans and Bold and the Beautiful makes me want to see California. The United States are chock-full of amazing places and scenery and I’d need a couple of years solid to see everything I wanted to.

8) what is your favorite song you’ve ever written?

I wrote a song last year called ‘What’s in that sack of yours?!?’, a sleazy song about Santa. Every time I hear it I laugh my head off, that’s probably my favourite one.

9) any advice for other out artists?

Identify what stories you have to tell from your own unique standpoint and realise that there are so many gay men and women out there hungry to hear them. As we are so under-represented just know that there will always be a place for you out there somewhere, and that the world needs you. Be true to yourself and use your difference to your advantage.

10) favorite madonna song?

Gotta be ‘Beautiful Stranger’. Gets me up dancing every time.

Well see you guys all in June!!!! Thanks to JD Doyle of www.queermusicheritage.com for introducing me to such great artists all around the world!!!! And also find more queer artists at www.outmusic.com

til next time my loves,
Jeremy Gloff
www.myspace.com/jeremygloff

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