Who needs Patti Stanger? When single rocker Lenny Kravitz, 47, needs to figure out how to woo a woman he looks no further than his movie star daughter Zoe, 23. After all, she’s recently been linked to actors Michael Fassbender and Penn Badgley so she must know something!
I recently chatted with her proud pop about his new album, Black Or White America (out now), and his close relationship with his scion – plus his crazy Christmas present for her!
UsMagazine.com: I've been listening to the album non-stop. I would say that it is one of your most diverse records yet. Agree?
Lenny Kravitz: I would agree with that! I think this one is because I gave myself the room with the amount of tracks because I never know what I am going to do before I make an album, I never have an idea before I step into the studio. The one thing that I was conscious of was that in my mind I wanted to make a double record and when I say double record, I'm thinking vinyl. I still think in that way, so 16 tracks in the old days would be 2 pieces of vinyl, 4 songs per side and I was thinking Electric Lady Land or The White Album or The Sign of the Times, and I wanted to have the room to really be able to have a large landscape, musically speaking.
Us: It's been a while since your last record too so you probably have a lot you've been saving up, am I right in saying that?
LK: No, it was all written for the album right on the spot.
US: How long was the process?
LK: It took two years, but in that two years, I would leave for three months to go on tour, two months here, doing this. It wasn't two years, but it was two years of time.
Us: What happened in that time to kind of influence all that stuff?
LK: Life — keeping myself secluded, living in my trailer for two years, on the beach, and just really being quiet. I wasn't doing that for the album, I was doing that for myself, for my life, because I needed time to just decompress and feel myself again. When you're traveling and working so hard and putting out so much energy and doing a lot of business and just a lot of your personal life gets put on the back burner and so I just needed to get away and so by getting away like that. The music just came out in such an easy way. I dreamt half the album. I would wake up with songs in my head or in the middle of the night, being out in the nature like that, you just hear music constantly.
Us: Where were you in the nature?
LK: I was in the Bahamas. That's where I live.
Us: You just bought Zoe a big parcel of land, like 16 acres, right by your place, right?
LK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Us: That was nice, a nice Christmas present!
LK: Yeah! You know, I love my kid. I want to enjoy being around her and for her to be near me.
Us: One thing I noticed was a strong funk influence, which has always been in your stuff, but it's like real and it's very deep, what is behind that choice?
LK: It's funny when you make certain records, different things come out from your influences, I guess psychologically what's going on inside you, and somehow I was just in junior high school when I made this record, somehow that part of my life was really coming out for what reason I don't know. In junior high school, I was listening to a lot of Earth, Wind, and Fire, Brother Johnson, Quincy Jones, all kinds of great R&B and funk, so that is what was coming up.
Us: And the political stuff too — is that just over the past two years? it's kind of a been a big element in your work, did anything stir that either?
LK: With "Black and White America," it was after watching a documentary about racist Americans and what America has become — that we are very angry and full of hate and really ignorant. I wrote that song as a rebuttal to their comment, basically saying I don't know what time you think it is, but this is where we're at and "Black and White America does not exclude anyone. When I say 'black and white America,' it's everything from black and white.
Us: One thing that has been interesting is that you're also an actor now. You made a big turn in Precious. Are you looking to go more into acting?
LK: I really like it, I have to say. I was an actor when I was a kid and I gave it up for music because music was just it for me and now it just feels right. I'm in North Carolina right now filming The Hunger Games. I love it. The reason I think I love it is because I love being directed. With my music, it is extremely self-indulgent — I write it, I play all the instruments, I arrange it, I do all the stuff and so it's all about me, which is fine, that's what it is. I love being on the other end. I show up and I'm there to help somebody to bring out their vision and I really like that.
US: How has it been working with Jennifer Lawrence?
LK: Oh man, I shot a scene with her yesterday and it was just the two of us, where our characters meet, and she is unbelievable. I hate comparisons, but she is a young Meryl Streep. This girl is for real and just acting with her, it just brought it to a level where she pulled me in so deeply, and the scene just became so real and at the end we had to pop out of it. It was someplace we had gone into and it was really beautiful. I learned actually a lot from her yesterday and she is fantastic.
US: You knew her through Zoe before you started filming, right?
LK: Yes, and that makes it even more odd. She is a family friend and all of the sudden you have to be serious because when we are all together we are all quite silly. My daughter, her friends…we are quite a silly bunch, but it was great.
Us: What has it been like shooting your scenes in the Capitol world?
LK: I am going to leave that to surprise, I am sure the director would want to talk about it himself but he is an amazing director, he really has a way of pulling things out of the actors, he is an actor himself, so he comes from that, he was trained by the best. He is director that knows how to do everyone else's job as well, so he knows what he is talking about and I like that because I identify with that. When it comes to music, I can get up on stage and play everyone's parts for them, well because I play it in the studio, I can just identify with getting a grip on what is happening.
Us: Has the movie stayed true to the book do you think?
LK: I've only seen my part, but I think it is great.
Us: Zoe has been blowing up into a movie star! How has that been to see that? Did that inspire you to get back into acting yourself?
LK: No, it just happened. I am so happy for her, and not just because she is successful but she is doing what she loves and she works hard. She has a fantastic work ethic, and to see it is wonderful. I know how it feels now, when I took my mom on tour for the Let Love Rule and she had no idea what was really happening, but here we are in a foreign country with people singing the lyrics, the show, the arena, I just remember how she couldn't believe it. I don't have the "I can't believe it" feeling, but it's just amazing to see her doing well.
Us: You've always been a trendsetter, what are your favorite vintage stores?
LK: My favorite vintage store right now is a place called Torso in San Francisco. Two friends of mine own it and my favorite take right now is a place in LA called Church.
US: I just want to set the record straight. You wanted to be celibate until you got married you said recently?
LK: I'm off that subject now, it's too much.
Us: Are you single now?
LK: Yes I am.
Us: Are you looking to get married again?
LK: I am just waiting for whatever is right; I don't know what that is. I am sure I will know when I see it.
Us: What inspired all the love songs on the record?
LK: You know me, I am always about love. That is just who I am and it's just such an amazing subject and I am a romantic, no doubt.
Us: Is it weird sort of advising your daughter on that?
LK: We talk about everything, but she is a very smart girl. She probably advises me way more than I advise her! She is very, very perceptive.
US: Tell me about “Boongie Drop” with Jay-Z. What was like working with him in the studio again?
LK: It was great, he is a constant professional. He is Jay-Z, what can you say? I heard his voice on the track and therefore I called him, I let the music tell me what to do. It wasn't to call him and be like "what's up Jay-Z?", I heard his tone on the song.
Us: Does he ever get style advice off you or anything?
LK: We don't talk fashion too much, we have two completely different styles. But I see he has gone more rock n roll with his vibe so maybe I’ve rubbed off, who knows?
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