At just 16, Lee Ryan was catapulted into the limelight and onto a musical journey that hasn’t ended yet. As a member of Blue, one of the UK’s biggest boy bands, Lee had huge chart success with songs such as Too Close and If You Come Back. As a solo artist, Lee will be using his sultry voice for his latest album Confessions. His latest single Secret Love is destined to spring him into the charts again. Flavour caught up with him to find out if there really is life after a boy band.
Blue enjoyed massive success, and Lee speaks very positively about his time in the band. ‘I’m very blessed to have been put in that position. I think of good times, like when you’re having a laugh with your mates and it’s just fun.’ When asked about his fondest memory of the band Lee found it difficult to answer. ‘It’s very hard to break it down to one. I think of it as a whole. I was in the band from the age of 16, so I’ve grown up in the media. The only difference is I got to travel the world because of it.’
As fantastic as being a part of Blue was, Lee doesn’t deny that it has its disadvantages. ‘I find that people have this preconceived idea of me and I have to change that. People think that because I was in a boy band that I don’t know how to play an instrument or put a song together, which isn’t true.’ Lee still feels he is very much the same person he has always been, though things are very different in his life right now. ‘I don’t think much has changed about me, I’m still the same person I was before, but I think I’m just more mature.’ Whatever the common view is, Lee is definitely changing people’s perception of him with both his new material, and the producers and songwriters he’s been working with (Neyo, for example).
On being a dad
Perhaps the biggest change in Lee’s life, however, is becoming a father, though he’s careful to keep fatherhood separate from work. When asked if becoming a dad has changed how he relates to the industry, he states: ‘To be honest I don’t think it has anything to do with it. I always take this industry with a pinch of salt. I’d rather let my music do the talking.’
Perhaps the biggest change is that Lee isn’t the party boy he once was. ‘At the moment it’s mental as I not only have the single coming out, but a new movie too called The Heavy. So I’m either working or I’m at home. I know the record label would prefer me to be out but once you’ve done all of that when you’re younger, it doesn’t really interest you anymore.’ It seems he can be persuaded, though: ‘However, I like to go to bars and have dirty Martini.’ (Laughs)
The new album
When speaking about the new album Lee is keen to dispel the rumours about how it will sound. ‘In the papers it says it’s a dance album, but it’s really not! It’s an album that’s definitely fresh. I wanted to make an album that people would boogie to. Not put on while they do the washing-up unless you dance while you’re washing up.’
Since the demise of Blue, Lee’s been off the scene for over four years. He’s had some time to develop who he is as an artist, and see where changes needed to be made. ‘The last album I didn’t write it so I think that’s one of the reasons why it didn’t do so well – it wasn’t a representation of me. This is not the case with this album. Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on songs for this.’
Whether fans feel that his solo music is as infectious as Blue’s, only time can tell. With his growth in confidence as a solo artist and his firm commitment to fatherhood, Lee Ryan is most certainly not the same young man we saw step centre stage all those years ago.
Interview by Denise Kodia