Lenny Kravitz | Audacy Check In | 3.22.24

Audacy Check-In

22-03-2024 • 12 minutos

Joining host Mike Adam today for a special Audacy Check In is the one and only Lenny Kravitz, here to discuss brand new music, his lasting musical legacy, and much more.

Music and fashion icon Lenny Kravitz has just offered fans more music from his forthcoming 12th studio album --Blue Electric Light -- set for release on May 24, debuting the inspiring new single "Human" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on March 20. Kravitz's new track was preceded by the album's lead single "TK421" back in October of 2023.

“I always wonder why they say 12,” Lenny says addressing his upcoming studio release, “because there's actually 13,” he reminds us. “But they never count the ‘Greatest Hits,’ right? Because there is one new song on that album again, which what the song was called, ‘Again.’”

“Yeah, 12, 13… Whatever. It's been a minute,” he concedes.

Lenny’s forthcoming album title, Blue Electric Light, fans may notice is a bit of a throwback to his early stage name, Romeo Blue. “There's a little nod in that direction for sure,” he admits. “When I started making the record, I realized after I was cutting the first maybe two tracks that it was reminiscent of what I was doing in high school, which I thought was really interesting because what I was doing in high school, I threw away, and I never went back to celebrate that time.”

“I found my sound with my first album, ‘Let Love Rule,’” Kravitz continues, “and I never looked back. I think this all happened by virtue of, when the pandemic began, which is when I was doing all this recording. I had released a book called ‘Let Love Rule,’ which is about my life from birth to the first album coming out.”

“In that book, I spent a lot of time exploring my teenage years,” he explains, “which I hadn't really gone in depth in, in that area of my life in a while. So I think, because I had done that, it was in my spirit and it began to come out. After I cut the first couple of tracks, I started pulling out pieces of equipment that I used to use back then that I thought would be fun to explore. So the record is a bit of that time and, of course, the present.”

“I was in [the studio] for almost three years; I made like four albums worth of music,” he teases. “Some of it needs to sit and marinate, and this collection of songs on ‘Blue Electric Light’ felt like needed to come out first. It was immediate, it was ready now.”

“As far as the songwriting goes, the beautiful thing is I receive that. I'm just an antenna,” Lenny tells us of his process. "I hear what's out there and then the work comes in, when you're transcribing what you're hearing in your head to the tape… it's a beautiful part of the work. It's painting, it's sculpting, it's constant refining until it sounds like what you heard in your head.”

Three years of constant work certainly sounds like quite a schedule, but Kravitz also places a huge importance on stepping back to breathe and rejuvenate. “You have to chill,” he says. “I don't ever feel uninspired or dry… There's just breaks that need to happen where you need to have some recreation.”

“You know, Prince taught me a really interesting thing," Lenny remembers. "He used to like to play with words and he said, ‘The word ‘recreation’ is re-creation, but the way we say the word, we don't think of the words for what they are: Re-creation. So, you got to step away, chill, and then it comes again.”

Looking back on his prolific catalog of music, Lenny sees his 2004 album Baptism as “a really cool record,” that may have slipped under the radar for some. “It's got, I think, some really good songwriting on it. Songs like ‘The Other Side,’ and ‘What Did I Do with My Life?’ That record went quite deep regarding life and mortality, and destiny.” Although at first, he admits industry reviews at the time bothered him, he quickly realized, “I would read reviews about Led Zeppelin or Bob Marley or whomever… these s*** reviews, and I said, ‘OK, you know, not everybody gets everything at the time.’ It doesn't matter as long as you're doing creatively what is authentic to you, then great. People don't have to get it, or they can.”

Someone who definitely “gets it” but still chooses to roast him tremendously is his daughter, Zoë Kravitz, who was on hand at her dad’s Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony to talk about his see-through shirts during her touching speech. “You can't touch her,” he says. “She's sharp. She's quite amazing, but she calls it like it is and I love that and, that's the relationship we have -- and that's the relationship we should have.” Zoë’s approval of her father’s fashion aside, Lenny still dresses to impress, and shouts out his friend, actor and model Alton Mason, as someone who also steps up their game at every turn. “Incredible style,” says Kravitz, “and wears clothes very well.”

Throughout his career, Lenny has had the pleasure of working with superstars the likes of Aerosmith, Madonna, and David Bowie... and of them all, he looks back most fondly on singing beside The Rolling StonesMick Jagger on his solo record, producing and writing for Michael Jackson, and playing with the ‘Godfather of Soul,’ James Brown. “These are people that you grew up with, they're your teachers,” he explains. “I have so much respect for these folks, and then when you're working with them, it’s always amazing because I'm still that 12-year-old kid. You know, I was just in L A., in the studio with Stevie Wonder, and it's a trip. It's wonderful to be able to work with the people that taught you, and that mean so much in the world of music.”

Looking at the landscape of music as a prominent Black artist of the past 30+ years, Kravitz hopes to see others continue to break down stereotypes and break into different genres as he did before and as Pop queen Beyoncé is about to do with her Country era. Whether or not that has become an easier task today than when he was coming up, he admits he’d “like to think so,” while adding, “What's interesting is how all this color stuff gets filtered out. Because obviously, music is for everybody, right? There's no color when it comes to it.”

“Now, your history is your history,” he continues, “Black people invented Rock N’ Roll and had a great deal to do with Country music. It's funny, when I was younger and I'd be bringing these tapes to these record labels and they’d say, ‘This is a white genre…’ I never understood it. You have the people that work at the record label,  A&R -- Artists and Repertoire -- and you would have your Pop, which meant ‘white’ and you'd have the Black side, and I never understood it. But everybody should be crossing the lines, it’s beautiful and [Beyoncé’s] killing it…. Walls are always being moved.”

Pre-orders for Lenny Kravitz’s Blue Electric Light are available now. Lenny will also be hitting the road this year, with dates currently scheduled overseas.

Don’t miss Mike Adam's full Audacy Check In with Lenny Kravitz above -- and stay tuned for even more conversations with your favorite artists on Audacy.com/live.

Words by Joe Cingrana Interview by Mike Adam