Earlier this week we featured a review of musician Lee Michael Walton’s latest single ‘Photographs From Mars’ that is the lead single from his forthcoming album ‘The Beginning Is Here’. Lee has been releasing music for several years and is a multi talent who besides being a composer masters vocals, piano and the organ. He is influenced by Karl Jenkins, Kate Bush and Elton John but have created his very own unique sound that combines classical music with indie/pop, ambient and world music. Today we are happy to feature an interview we did with the Welsh musician. Here is what we learned.
YMX: Hey Lee Michael Walton, thanks for sitting down with us. What would you say to all our readers new to your project?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: It’s been a five year journey, with guests artists from diverse backgrounds. The album is a real fusion of genres and tells a story in chronological order, like chapters of a book. The single Photographs From Mars reflects my first couple of years in London, when I lived a hedonistic life, coming from the Swansea valley, I really was in awe of the vastness of the city and was really in the throes of the nightlife. I was ‘on another planet’ so to speak. The grandmother makes an appearance in the video/song calling me back to Wales! There is a lot of humour in the song. Many of us go through a similar time period. I’ve calmed down a bit now, thankfully!
YMX: When did you know that music was something you wanted to pursue at an artistic level?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: I remember being mesmerised by the beautiful, majestic pipe organ in the chapel which I used to attend as a four year old child. The vibration of the base organ pipes reverberated in the pew and the singing of the hymns really thrilled me. Rock, pop, classical or traditional Welsh songs, if I liked the melody, I would go to the piano and play it, by ear. I would be completely engulfed in the music. Some of my earliest memories are of hearing particular songs for the first time . I knew at the age of fourteen when I was deciding on my GCSE’s that I would be a musician. I never really debated it.
YMX: You recently released single ‘Photographs From Mars‘. Can you tell us how that project came about?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: The single Photographs From Mars is from the album The Beginning Is Here. The idea came to me five years ago, and tells the story of my breakdown, which was also a breakthrough. As horrendous as it was to fragment in much a profound way, it was the only way that I could be released from the trauma in my past. The sheer force of the breakdown has the effect of flushing away the experiences that had a powerful grip on me. It’s been an unfolding process since then. It’s been as though life has been revealing itself to me in new ways since then. There’s more of the real, authentic me here to experience it. Writing the music on the album has been a matter of listening to what wants to come through and following that guidance. In the years afymy breakdown, there was an explosion of creativity and I was having ideas that I’d never had before.Surviving radical cancer treatment to remove the entire roof of my mouth and surviving the breakdown was not a matter of drawing on my own strength. It was possible through the kindness of beautiful people and the expertise of the most amazing surgeons . I had friends from practically every spiritual tradition on the planet who we’re praying that I would survive and showering me with love. The album reflects this diversity in the fusion of genres and it celebrates the huge potential we have to impact each other’s lives.We all carry within us a spark of the Divine and the album celebrates the universal themes inherent in our lives. We are all on a journey and we walk this path together. I want to celebrate this sacred journey we are on.
YMX: What is the one thing you would like people to feel while listening to the single?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: I hope that people will see that their experiences are of value. The tough times, when we feel as though we are falling apart reveal the strength of our soul. They enable us to reach out to each other and cause us to tap into the love we have to share. I am intrigued by the multifaceted nature of the human spirit. We are literally living in a miraculous thing called ‘life’ and I hope people will feel inspired to celebrate it all!
YMX: How did the recent pandemic influence your creative process? is remote collaboration easy for you?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: Thank God for technology at this time! Where would we be without it?! It’s great to have the ability to collaborate online but nothing can beat being in a room with someone. I’m quite a tactile person and can’t wait to get back to the pubs in Wales and have a good sing -song! I love Bryon the recording studio and in stage with other musicians.
YMX: Do you feel more confident writing music alone, or within a team?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: I am currently working on an exciting project with Steve Balsamo. Wow, that guy has a fabulous voice. It’s great to work with such wonderfully creative people. I love working with people. It’s vastly different to writing alone but I enjoy both.
YMX: Can you name the last gig you played? Would you consider doing a livestream concert?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: I did a concert in January 2020, with a fabulous saxophonist Ffion Dafis -Clode at the Mansion House in Swansea. It was an event hosted by the Mayor of Swansea and I performed Welsh songs. In the audience was the amazing vocalist Mandy Taylor-Haynes. I hadn’t seen her for 29 years! I invited her to the stage and we sang a few songs together. She ended up singing on the single Photographs From Mars! It was meant to be. I also did a short livestream in April 2020. But nothing can beat a ‘real’ concert.
YMX: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
LEE MICHAEL WALTON: I would love to take the album on tour. It is a very theatrical album. Let’s hope we can move forward from this pandemic and get start performing again.