Musician Reid Lee has scaled many a mountain in his lifetime. Originally from a small conservative town in Texas, Reid Lee dedicated his life to music after coming out as a teen and moving to California. After graduating from UCLA's prestigious music school, he moved to New York on a whim and landed the lead role on an off-broadway show. Following years of performing in plays, a drunken talk with his normally stoic father encouraged him to branch out and start writing some original music. After his father's passing, he found his voice. Taking inspiration from country, jazz, classical, opera, soul and the warm intimacy of the Laurel Canyon 1970's singer-songwriter tradition.
"Hi Reid, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey there! I’ve been well, thanks for asking!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Arrowheads”?
My newest single, “Arrowheads”, is loosely based on the story of my grandfather surviving WW2. It’s about his love affair with music (and my grandmother) and how that saved his life during the war, but also the high emotional cost of losing so many of his friends while he survived.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Well, when I found the melody it felt like a storytelling song, and that same week, maybe a day later, I found an arrowhead that my grandfather had purchased so I could “find” it on the trail as we visited a Native American reservation when I was maybe 7 or 8. When I held it in my hand and thought about him, the story just seemed to come out and fall into line with the melody.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Yes! The song has already been approached by the WebSeries “Bloomers”, and they’ve asked if they could use it as the closer to a pivotal scene. So I am anxiously awaiting that footage to cross cut it into the music video we’ll be shooting in June.
How was the recording and writing process?
This song particularly was quite fast. We found the song and then put it together and recorded it within the week. I think it helped to have a full story fleshed out and to have it come from such a personal place.
How did your musical studies have influence your music?
Well my music in general has a lot of vocal harmonies, which are important to me. I grew up performing in choirs and choruses and then as a classical music major in college again learning the theory behind the music, those layers of harmony and chord building really help me shape a song to showcase the emotion in the story.
Drawing inspiration from different styles – how do you tend to balance them together?
Well, I grew up on pure classic country, from Hank Williams to Don Williams to Patsy Cline, so it all starts with that kind of storytelling, and the truth is, it isn’t a far leap from country to classical, both have roots in religion and both rely heavily on storytelling and harmony. As I grew up my tastes expanded into jazz and it’s rhythm and swing and then even further into pop and folk music, where again it all came back around to telling an emotional story arc.
At the end of the day it all comes down to evoking those honest emotions and telling a true story. As my grandfather would say, “There’s a million ways to skin a cat, and all of them are right”, so for me that’s storytelling, instrument choice, and harmony, but that doesn’t make it better or worse than any other way. Truth be told, each song will have a different ratio of all the things I’ve pulled from my musical tastes. Some will be more pop, others folk or country, and some will lean more jazz and classical, it’s all about which ratio of ingredients tells the story with the most truth.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
It does! This is the 3rd single off of my upcoming album “Broken Arrows”. The album itself is just about done, and I’m thrilled with it. We’re working on the album art now. It was definitely a learning curve; and like any good artist, I now know what I want to do even better on the next album, but I’m immensely proud of what I’ve made.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Thanks for asking! Yes, the album, as I just mentioned, is titled “Broken Arrows”, and we plan on releasing it June 23rd. Mark your calendars! Haha.
Any plans to hit the road?
I definitely have plans to perform on the road. I’d love to jump on a larger tour to open for someone else, or even just do a small West Coast tour on my own, but that’s a ways off just yet, right now I’m just trying to get the album done and finish these music videos.
What else is happening next in Reid Lee’s world?
Well, I’ve just done a cover of an incredible Ingrid Michaelson song with a good friend of mine that we’ll be putting out shortly as a single, and I’m headed back into the studio next week to record a few more covers. I’m filming Music Videos for each of my singles, and doing the corresponding editing and cutting, and lastly I’m doing my best to prep for a small concert I’ll be singing in just after the album drops. So, you know, one or two things. Hahaha."
"Reid Lee - “Arrowheads”
May 5th, 2017
Los Angeles crooner Reid Lee has just dropped his new single “Arrowheads!” The classically sweet Americana track tells the tale of a man dealing with being in love while he’s away at war. Lee grew up on classic country artists like Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, thanks to his grandfather’s love of their music. Their clear influence, paired with Lee’s soulful vocals, make for a truly one-of-a-kind track that is the perfect first taste of his forthcoming full-length album “Broken Arrows.” Stay tuned for more from Reid Lee!