Band of the Day

2013.06.22

Lenox

On a quest for the ultimate groove, a Belgian artist mixes reggae, soul, and American hip hop
Seems like now is my turn, now is my time. Now if I learn, I will never be blind, never go mad, doesn't mean I never go sad.
lyrics from Colorblind

Lenox’s first album, Opening Act, is a hip-hop-reggae-soul bomb with US accents. From powerful rhythms in the chorus, we go from the ruthless flow of a rapper to the sweet voice of a woman. Energy, harmony and powerful sound are the stellar qualities of this album, in particular the featured collaborators: Akil The Mc (Jurassic 5), Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Bessa, P.A., Igit, The Spectre and Ben Mazué. Lenox’s universe likes to mix genres. It also shows on stage, where surrounded by a drummer, a guitarist and a singer, Lenox masters the bass on a background of samples and videos. They filmed a video clip for each single to be shown live in order to take the public from one atmosphere to the next. Lenox is backed by POP (Pour Oublier Production), which also takes care of artists such as Melissmell and Shaka Ponk.

Lenox was born in Brussels and discovered the scene at age 14. His older brother took him to the Werchter festival in Belgium where the biggest rock bands of that time were playing: Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Björk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sepultura, to name a few. Hooked, he went to Holland from one reggae festival to the next and, fascinated by the powerful Jamaican rhythm section, he formed his first band in junior high. Amazed by those shows, he secretly started to dream of doing the same. During a trip to New York, his parents bought him a bass. It symbolically followed him up until his studies at the Anvers Jazz Studio and then to Boston’s Berklee College of Music. He went to Paris after graduation, where after years of playing for other groups, it was time for him to make his own sound and to be on the other side of the studio glass. Demanding artistically and on the stage, he looks for equilibrium between the genres and atmospheres that he likes. The idea is to produce a hip-hop reggae mix that one can dance to! He discovered the production world during his time at Berklee so he knew that he needed a computer, a pre-amp, a guitar, a keyboard and….patience. After three years of trial and error, computer troubles and dozens of drafts, he quit all the other groups he took part in to completely focus on this sound, on this quest of the absolute groove.

It was within the confines of his garret that he had his friend Ben Mazué listen to some bars of his instrumentals. The beat is groovy and the bassline really funky. Ben started writing and came back a week later with the whole text of what was about to become “French Coast”: a parody of themselves, francophone US hip-hop fans. As soon as the voice was ready, some friends came to his home studio to record and that’s how the first title finally became true.

Just like Danger Mouse or Mark Ronson, Lenox surrounds himself with voices from different and diverse backgrounds. After the songs with Ben Mazué, Lenox met Akil from Jurassic 5 while touring in London. They got along right away. He was looking for someone who’s mature and authentic for featuring on the song“Why”. Akil is the father of a family, he grew up in South Central, one of the worst neighborhoods in Los Angeles, eroded by gang wars. As soon as he heard the sound and the theme, he was immediately captivated and that’s how it all began. Then, thanks to the artist called Vanupié, Lenox discovered the duet: P.A. and Igit. He was thrilled by their complementary voices. Very quickly they began collaborating and several songs were recorded. Then came the encounter with Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, in Paris. He’s the gruff MC voice on “Lenox Party”. The Spectre also features, alongside Akil the MC, on “American Blast.” It was such a big hit that Lenox asked Akil to come back for “Toy Boy,” with female vocalist Bessa. Opening Act was released in March 2012, and Lenox continues to record and tour around the world.