Jerome Lee is an R&B/Soul artist and veteran to the music industry. With other four decades of experience playing electric bass, singing, songwriting, recording, touring, and teaching, there is no doubt that he delivers a quality music experience. Jerome’s passion has taken his performances around the globe performing and recording in cities like Amsterdam, Brussels, Cagliari, Casablanca, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Salzburg and Tokyo. While living in the Netherlands, he recorded his own CD titled, ‘Life This Time,’ which featured a refreshing mix of soul, jazz, and r&b music. Now in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jerome has released a new single titled “Octobers Groove.”
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
My first song was an instrumental funk based groove. I wrote it while I was a young serviceman stationed in Japan. I didn’t have a name for it, so I titled it “Indecision”. The catalyst may have been listening to a good deal of jazz music before I wrote it. And I also believe that the great bassists who came before me who were unafraid to record their solo works and music from their core being set a standard for me. To find that their music was accepted by the public showed me that it was alright for me to compose songs in this manner as well. Vocal songwriting from me came a short time later in my life, but again, the catalyst was likely all of the great music of several genres that inspired me. But a lot of soul and r&b music came out of me when I began to write vocal songs.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I dunno, there have been a few crazy things that have happened after all these years! But I think a couple do stand out for me; a last minute band tour to Casablanca, Morocco while I was living in Holland that lasted an entire month. It happened fast, and when we got there, some people also worked fast to get us settled in so we could play the gigs. That was a crazy whirlwind time for sure.
The other was accepting my first tour of Sardinia Island, Italy. The tour promoter from Sardinia walked right up to me after a show that I did with my band while living in Amsterdam, Holland. He was straight to the point, and pulled no punches with me. A couple of months later, I found myself and my band on stage for at least a dozen shows that summer in Sardinia, all of them at outdoor venues. Lots of people at the shows, lots of travel around the island. It was fun, crazy and unforgettable.
What has been the high point of your music path?
While I have been thankful for the high points that I have experienced in my career, I think a real high point was releasing my first solo record. The idea that my own compositions were released to the world public for the first time probably remains a real high point for me.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I consider my approach to be twofold. There are songs that come to me in small sections at a time, where one section will prompt me to write another section. When that happens to me I allow the sections to guide me to where the song is going, and what it is trying to say.
Other times, the entire song will become completed inside my head before I ever record a single note of it. I like that when that happens to me, and I find it easier to record those kinds of songs.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The challenge to me is the sheer amount of fellow artists available on the internet that compete for what I call “earshare”. An independent artist today must also become their own digital startup; in order to run an online business the artist must wear several business and management hats at the same time, even as a band. By the year 2020 and beyond, this will be a day to day reality in the life of an independent artist. If I could ask the music industry to change one thing, then hopefully it would be a change that would affect independent artists in such a profoundly positive way that artists from around the world would want to come to the U.S. and make new music with the artists who live in the U.S.. And vice versa as well; a situation where it is made much easier for artists from the U S. to be able to go abroad and make music with artists residing in foreign lands and allow that newly created music to flourish. This would not only create new styles of music that would invariably be played in the world to the delight of music listeners, but a new paradigm indeed for the music industry worldwide.
Take a break to enjoy his latest track "Octobers Groove" !!
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
For the longest time in my life, I wanted to be the second bass player in Stanley Clarke’s great live show bands over the years; he is a terrific composer and bassist, and has been a huge inspiration to me. And I would have liked to have been in the Crusaders band in their heyday as a bassist. I loved the Crusaders and I loved what one music critic wrote about them -“they sound like they never listen to the radio”. Most of the members of the Crusaders have passed on now, but they remain close to my own heart.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearsal and show preparation mostly dovetail for me mentally at some point well before the show event. I practice alone, to work out every single bass part to every single song chosen for the event. Then at rehearsal, I find the levels and settings that I will need for the event on stage. If I am singing as well as playing bass, I find the final vocal places with other singers who may be in the band. If I am singing alone and playing bass in a band, then I try to have my vocal parts worked out at home before rehearsals begin. The dovetail comes for me mentally when I know every single song for the show by heart. Because when the show actually begins, I am fully ready to go and I can let my nervous energy flow freely and receive the spirit of every show start, every time. That’s a great feeling too.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
That’s probably my song titled “Monkey Slide” because it contained a lot of new elements for me to record with. Before writing and recording that song, I had been working from what I thought was a musical-instrument-only kind of approach. It was working for me up until that point. But when I began to work on “Monkey Slide”, I looked at using some exotic audio samples from a great world music sampling library that I had at the time. To incorporate the samples that I used was tricky; I wanted them to be placed a little bit out of the tempo of the song, and I had to work at it for a while to get them where I finally wanted them. It was also the first time that I used a piano keyboard sample-to-waveform bass sound in a recording to play a low or foundation bass part. It is the sound of the acoustic bass in that song, and I simply played the melody and solo sections of the song on my own bass. And to bring my thoughts home on this, was the fact that I wrote all of the digital keyboard parts and all of the digital drums and percussion parts for that song using only a computer mouse! Whew.
What's coming up in the future?
It is most likely that I will continue to write and release some more material for the public. A few more singles at least. My hope is that each single song that I release can gain some traction on its own with the music listeners out there. And then, over time, I would like to compile all of the singles and place them all on a single CD for release. If the singles have done well on their own, then I would think that it is better to release a CD of proven singles for brand new listeners of my music. We’ll see how it all works out.
Where can fans can access your music.