Recording artist (and MMA trainer!) Mike Lee has released his fifth studio project, Another Step. The new EP is a collection of singles released over the past two years. Unlike previous projects, which were co-written and produced in Nashville, Mike stayed at home in Indiana where he wrote and tracked with his childhood friend, Landon Bailey, and band members Chris Bellamy (sax, guitars, keys), Ian Dunno (drums) and Meesh Lee (bass, keys).
We are honored to be able to connect with Mike for this exclusive interview.
Q: Mike, thanks for doing this interview with us. You have just released your new EP. Did you approach the making of this album differently than your other releases?
A: Thanks so much for having me! This EP is a collection of songs I wrote or remade with good friend Landon Bailey at his home studio in Fort Wayne, IN. If there is any difference between my approach to this project and other projects it is probably highlighted in the previous sentence. I used to track all of my music in Franklin, TN. This project was special in that Landon is a childhood friend of mine. Our families are really close, so writing sessions were often intermixed with group hangs and nacho runs. And for this reason, the writing was very personal and sometimes emotional.
Q: I believe you got to work with your childhood friend Landon Bailey. Tell us about Landon and what he brings to this new record.
A: Landon is SOOO good! He is a great musician, writer, and producer. I think that like most great producers, he has a special sense of taste. He has a gift for taking an emotion that is inside of him and projecting it through music. And, at the end of the day, he is my friend. I think that everything that comes with that shows through the music.
Q: What were some of the highlights in the making of "Another Step"?
A: Writing this project was a process of growth and discovery. "I Belong" was the first song we wrote for the project. "Next2u" took the longest and was probably the most fun. We didn't take our time because we were perfecting it. We took our time because we were living with it and weren't in a rush to finish. So we hung out and snacked on the project and for that reason, I think we arrived at something special. "Now and Forever" was incredibly emotional. Just arriving at the ideas that we explored and shared in that song was incredibly healing and deeply meaningful.
Q: In terms of the songs, you have a mix of originals and covers. Why did you choose to do covers?
A: So we decided to track the "First Love" because it is a tune that I play a lot live, that means a lot to me. And I've had a number of requests for it. "New Year" is a track that we remade in 2018, but for a 2021 release - on the back of a year like 2020, I released it again; because it felt right.
Q: I must say I love your take of Hillsong Y&F's "First Love." Why did you decide to record this gem?
A: When I play "first love" live, I usually facilitate a time in prayer for friends and family. This song has worked on me as I've lead it. The unique flavor in the track stems from its feature with Landon and his wife Kellie. Her voice is sooo good! If you can't tell, I LOVE making music with my friends.
Q: You have just released a new single off the EP, named "Next2U." What's the story behind this song?
A: I wrote this for my wife. We met when we were seventeen. Now at 33, it's easy to be so where we are - doing what ever is in front of us as mom and dad, husband and wife, that we can forget the dream we had at first; just to be together. So "Next2U" really works unravels that thought process and gives a peak into our lives; with the personal references to driving west through the night. In short, this song is for any couple who didn't settle and kept riding together, chasing the dreams of their youth.
Q: How do you wish these songs would impact the lives and faith of your listeners?
A: I would like to imagine listeners, settling into these tunes on a night drive; and just feeling the nostalgia and emotion of the tracks. If nothing else, I'd like for my listeners to hear my music and somehow feel like they're not alone.
Q: Are you currently still coaching MMA and boxing? What do you enjoy most about MMA and boxing?
A: I own Lee Brothers MMA with my wife in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I love training MMA and coaching MMA because it inspires me and gives me the opportunity to inspire others. For more information about what we're doing at Lee Brothers MMA, follow us on Instagram @leebrothersmma or check out our fight promotion @artofscrap!
"Another Step" is available now at iTunes, Amazon and all major digital retailers.
For more information, visit www.mikeleemusic.com.