Lenny Kravitz Press Conference, Mawazine Festival, Morocco
Press Conference, Mawazine Festival, Morocco
reviewer: Alasdair Byers
Last week (18th-26th May) saw Morocco host it’s 11th annual Mawazine Music Festival, held in capital city Rabat. International artists played to crowds of over 40,000 people across 5 stages. the Moroccan Royal Family backed event aims to promote both Moroccan artists and Morocco itself as a destination.
The latter has seen a long list of Western performers headline over the years. This year saw Lenny Kravitz play a main stage to a packed crowd on the penultimate event. Music News caught up with him at a press conference where Lenny discussed both his new album and themes of racial unity prevalent in his music:
Q: You’re music is known as having big messages against racism, What are you thoughts on racism in the US?
The Us is a great place – its the only country in the world that the election of a figure such as Obama, and what he represents, could have happened. But like any place, you have opposition, thats life. You have people that are for progress, evolution, then you have people that are stuck in their own ways, so there is always a tug of war between people that want to move forward and people that want to stay still or in effect move backwards. My last album and it’s title song Black and White America was influenced by a documentary I watched about a group of Americans who were completely disgusted about there being a African American Commander in Chief and were saying very hateful things. That was the influence for the album because i had no idea of prejudice growing up – my parents backgrounds meant i grew up with 2 completely different cultures and my house was always full of people from different religions and cultures. So when I got to school as a young boy people and started to make comments and i began hearing things in the street about how people really react to these things it made no sense to me as i wasnt really taught it, so it’s an exploration of that.
Q: You are performing Mawazine in Rabat tomorrow. Are you using Moroccan musicians / singers?
Ive never actually been here before and im only here for 48hrs – so i need to come back! I have Many friends including Robert Plant – He and led Zeppelin were very influenced by moroccan music. Im viewing this trip as my introduction to Morocco. I’m around a lot of these people who have been influenced by Moroccan culture and I plan to learn more about it for myself during and after this trip.
Q: Your new album features tracks with Drake, Jay Z, and others. What can we expect from your next collaboration?
I never know what I’m going to do until I do it. You will know as soon as I know!
Q: Your music is often emotive – you describe feeling both very high and very low. Is your new Album going to follow the same themes?
I think that when you go through something traumatic like a break up, then music is a great remedy for pain . Its a great remedy for the person that writes it, and its a great remedy for the person that hears it. Music is great medicine. I think that since people are going through these things at all times, its something people can relate too when they’re feeling down. With the last album, Black and White America, my music in general is very up and happy and positive but on each album there’s also usually been something introspective or emotional or moody. However my new album , Negrophilia, was the first album that didnt have anything unhappy at all. I finally got to a place when I was completely happy. First time in 23 years as a musician that’s happened!
Q: You are preparing a new album called Negrophillia. Are you going to continue and promote the ideals of the Negratude movement that other artists like Rosa Parker and James Brown began?
Its an album that ive been working on for many years. It started in New Orleans, inspired by the albums of Alan Toussaud, whose a great writer and producer and legend in New Orleans and around the world. For lack of a better term its a very black album. It is in the tradition of those peoples and its something along those lines.
Q: You’ve never really shied away from music in politics. What would your advice be to artists in other countries like here in Morocco when sometimes artists have run into problems when they’ve expressed challenging ideas in their music?
Well thats happened all over the world. They should say how they feel. Everybody has the right to speak their mind and in places where people were condemned, things are changing. But an artist needs to say whatever it is they neeed to say.
Q: Are you confident in the Obama reelection?
On Obama, who knows at this point? (Manager interrupts, no questions on politics)
Q: How do you see the evolution of your music over the past 23 years?
I dont often listen to my old records, but if im getting ready to go on tour with new musicians, i’ll go back and refresh my memory. I’d like to say i’ve become a better musician, a better player, a better singer throughout the years, more comfortable with it than i was before. But then i listen back to something like Let Love Rule and theres a magic about it – i think as you’re growing theres something to be said about all the times you’ve gone through as you grow, because something magical happens each time w you dive into the studio to make a record, so although i feel ive gotten better and my best work is yet to come, i look back on all the old records with great fondness
Q: Who do you listen to at present?
I listen to so much music, I like the Little Dragons, from Sweden i think, I do listen to a lot of old music. Lately ive been listening to a lot of Miles Davis and Fair la couitre. Santogold too.
Q: Your not only an artist and musician but also a screenplay writer – who is more like Lenny Kravitz – his lyrics or his scenes?
Its all the same, its all expression and their all my stories in one way or another. I have 3 movies planned for this year. Im enjoying acting as well As its oppposite to music. In music its about me, my expression, and i do everything. Whereas in a movie its about the directors vision and its a character, so i like being in that position. But its all the same voice.
Q: Your daughter is an established actress. Any chance of seeing Father and Daughter on screen?
So many people bring that up. We’re not going to do something just to do it. But…I remember when i was young I saw Paper Moon – an amazing film with an interesting father-daughter role. if something like that comes up then I yes, I will.
Lenny Kravitz releases Negrophilia this coming Autumn
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