The ‘Lennaissance’ Continues: Lenny Kravitz Unpacks New ‘Blue Electric Light’ LP, Talks Fashion & Denzel Washington Friendship 

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Nearly 35 years after Lenny Kravitz made his Billboard Hot 100 debut with 1989’s timeless “Let Love Rule,” the iconic rocker’s star is blazing brighter than ever. 

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Already boasting 15.1 million albums sold in the U.S. during the Luminate era (since 1991) and 884.9 million official on-demand U.S. streams for his catalog, according to Luminate, Kravitz has spent the last two years collecting honors reserved for the entertainment industry’s uppermost echelon. In 2023, he penned “Road to Freedom” for the Academy Award-nominated film Rustin, an Obamas-produced biopic of gay Black civil rights icon Bayard Rustin, netting him a Golden Globe nomination. At the top of 2024, the four-time Grammy winner was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which gave way to a celebration that featured a tear-jerking tribute speech from longtime friend Denzel Washington. Of course, Kravitz also earned his very first nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year, cementing something of a re-peak and “Lennaissance” for the 59-year-old icon. 

“I’m so, so grateful. If you’re blessed and you live long enough, you get to see some of these things,” he reflects. “I’ve always kind of had blinders on and just been moving forward and never thought about these kinds of things — what kind of acceptance or what kind of flowers and whatnot. I’m just here to create and to keep creating.” 

Never one to spend too long reminiscing on what he’s already accomplished, Kravitz has spent the last four years preparing Blue Electric Light. Serving as his 12th studio album and first LP since 2018’s Raise Vibration, the new record was crafted in the Bahamas amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Peppered with influences ranging from Motown to gospel, every chord of Blue Electric Light rings with gratitude; odes to the innumerable intricacies of the universe, God and love in all of its variations comprise the succinct 12-song tracklist. 

Kravitz kicked off the LP’s campaign late last year with the release of the equal parts spunky and funky “TK421.” Assisted by a cheeky music video featuring a frequently nude Kravitz, the song wholly embodies the gloriously rambunctious feel of Blue Electric Light. The bare-bodied clip was a natural culmination of the rock legend’s commitment to flaunting his impressively maintained physique across social media. This is an album from an artist who intimately understands the virtues of continuing to grow up and remaining open to what life has to offer. 

In a revealing conversation with Billboard, Lenny Kravitz breaks down the making of Blue Electric Light, gushes over his friendship with Washington, reflects on the concept of genre and reminisces about how childhood trips to his mother’s closet influenced his iconic style and inimitable cool.

You recorded this album at home in the Bahamas. Do you find location impacts the recording process for you? 

My studio’s here. I’ve made the last few records here and it’s just a place where I really get grounded. The more grounded I am, the more in nature I am, the more quiet I am, the less people that are around — I hear more and more and more. I just get to a place where I’m just living in this universe of music. It doesn’t influence the kind of music. The type of music that comes, comes. The amount of music I hear and the clarity in this location is definitely intensified. 

You’ve received several incredible honors over the past two years. How does it feel to know that you’ve cultivated a career with so much longevity and respect? 

In my 20s, when all these things [were] starting to happen, I didn’t take the time to sit for a moment and say, Wow, this is wonderful. I’ve always been grateful, but I never took time to enjoy those moments. To smell the flowers, if you will. Some years ago, I said when this kind of energy is happening again, I’m going to stop and take the time and really smell the roses and acknowledge it because there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s 1716570626 an even higher level of gratitude. 

Do you think that just comes with you getting older and gaining more life experience? 

I’ve always been [a person] that never thinks he’s done anything. My daughter would say to me, “Dad, you’ve done so much!” And I’m like, “I haven’t done anything yet!” I still like that. I feel like the 35 years that I’ve had thus far in making records has been a great education, and I’m really about to do something now. That’s how I feel. 

I don’t take in all the stuff I’ve done and think, Oh, I’m so good, oh I’ve done this, look at me! I am the absolute opposite. It’s still a part of me, because of how much I hustled as a teenager in the streets. I’m still that teenager trying to get the record deal. There’s a part of me that’s still that kid trying to prove himself. I always feel that the best is yet to come — which is a virtue I learned from my grandfather, who repeatedly said that his entire life. No matter how good things are, the best is yet to come. It always can be better and get better, and you can be better and get better. I’m still the same, but I am taking the time to enjoy these moments because you don’t get these moments back. You get another one, a different one. But you don’t get these moments back. 

Even just moments in life — when I was in rehearsal the other day with my band, it was one of those moments in the afternoon where something felt magical. I made everybody stop rehearsing, and we all left the rehearsal room and jumped in the water at the beach. We laid around the water for two hours talking and it was just one of those moments where the sky was the right color, the wind was in the right place, the water was moving a certain way, etc. You got to savor these moments. 

Are there any specific values in your career or your life that shine through this particular album? 

Exercising and retaining my faith in God and God’s plan for me. Exercising faith, patience, all the things that I learned growing up. If [something is] really yours and meant to be yours, you will have it — that takes faith, you know. All these virtues that I learned growing up – building on a strong foundation, no shortcuts – ring true to this day. 

Blue Electric Light marks a follow up to 2018’s Raise Vibration. How do you compare the creative processes for those albums? 

[They have] nothing to do with each other. Once I do something, it’s over. I don’t think about it anymore. If you ask me to repeat it, I don’t have the ability. All my albums are in different directions — not only songwriting wise, but production-wise, sonically, etc. Raise Vibration was a wonderful album to make. I had a great time making it here and the same thing with this one. The difference with [Blue Electric Light] was that [it was made] during lockdown. 

I was stuck here, which was very interesting. I spent two and a half years here making a lot of music. I felt that this was the first one that needed to come out. All of [my] experiences in making records are equally [satisfying.] They’re all different. This one has probably been the most fun I’ve had in a while, just the spirit around the whole thing. I think that had a lot to do with the world being shut down and, for the first time in my life since being a small child, not having to be somewhere at a certain time. 

What does a blue electric light represent? 

Energy. God. Love. Humanity. Power. The song just came to me, I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I wrote [the] song “Blue Electric Light,” and after I’d recorded it, my guitarist Craig [Ross,] who plays on several [other] tracks and is also the engineer of the record, said, “You know, that’s the name of the album.” I already picked something else out – I can’t remember what it was – but I went home that night and kept listening to the record with that song now on it. I said, “You’re right, it is [the title.]” 

“Stuck in the Middle” really struck me, it’s just such a grand, funky, soulful ballad. Talk to me about how that particular song came together. 

Thank you. That’s a good description, it is grand. I went [into the studio, and] the first thing [I] programmed was the drum machine. I knew I wanted it to be drum machine and not acoustic drums. I just knew it felt I wanted it to feel more electronic in the groove. 

It all came together when I picked up the bass. I didn’t anticipate the baseline being as funky as it was on top of that sweet ballad. The bass had this sort of late ‘70s, early ‘80s Motown feel, like something that might be on a Diana Ross record. I love the sweetness of the background vocals and the harmonies, and then you’ve got that beautiful, big gospel bridge where I layer myself – I forget how many times – to create that choir. I knew [that I was] in the Bahamas during the pandemic, [so] there’s no gospel choir. I gotta be the gospel choir. I love that track, it’s one of my favorites. 

That’s also one of my favorites, as is “Spirit in My Heart,” which really evokes Stevie Wonder melodically and structurally. Tell me a bit about that one. 

I dreamt that. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, Wow, this chord progression is really beautiful. I felt like I was getting somebody else’s mail. It felt like something that I’ve already known and the chord progression was really striking to me. That’s a really special song, because it’s a love letter to God. It’s thanking God and giving [Him] all the due for everything in my life, acknowledging God’s presence in my life. 

It starts with, “You’re the one, you hold the key/ That unlocks the remedy/ You gave me life.” I thought it was a very different song for me. 

It’s gotta be exciting to still be recording things that feel new and different for you. 

It’s nice when you get jarred like that. [With] that song I was like, Whoa, I don’t know that I would come up with those chord changes. So you really appreciate it because it’s something you didn’t expect to do. I’m continually surprised. 

The concept of genre has dominated cultural discourse this year, what do you make of all that as an artist who has been tackling these conversations for decades now? 

That’s what I was dealing with coming up. They all want you in that box that they think you belong in. Music has no boundaries. Music is for everyone. I don’t care what you are. You want to make the music that you feel, that’s what you should do. If you’re Korean and you want to sing Appalachian Blues music, well, that’s what you feel. Go on and do it.  

But we have to also know our history, and know where it comes from and how it was invented. You have to pay respect to that also. When I was coming up, I remember young Black kids coming up to me and saying, How come you make that white music? I’m like, What do you mean? And they’re like, Yeah, you make that rock’n’roll with the loud guitars

Okay, hold on. Let’s talk about where it comes from. Have you heard of Chuck Berry? Have you heard of Little Richard? Have you heard of Bo Diddley? Have you heard of Big Mama Thornton? Have you heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe? Have you heard of Fats Domino? Let me explain to you where this comes from. 

In the respect of rock’n’roll, it is our music. It’s for everybody and everybody is open to use it, but let’s not throw away the history of where it comes from. In the case of Beyoncé and this country story we got going on now, I remember my grandmother telling me as a kid — she grew up in rural Georgia – about how country music came from Black music. It’s a matter of education and retaining our history. Don’t take it and say we didn’t invent it, or we weren’t in its development. 

Your fashion and aura are iconic – especially in the ways that you expand the scope of what Black masculinity can look like in those realms. Where do you think you developed your sense of style and cool? 

I think [it’s] my love for fashion. I grew up listening to a lot of ‘70s [music,] where people were very flamboyant and had a lot of flair. They used clothing to further embellish their art, their attitude, and their personality. The balance of masculine and feminine was always the best to me, whether it be Jimi Hendrix or Sly Stone or Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, or the men that would wear men’s [and] women’s garments [and] mix things. I was into that. 

Then, I had a mother who was just fierce. All her friends — my godmothers, Cicely Tyson and Diahann Carroll – were all about their art, but also all about that fashion. I [also] used to play in my mom’s closet. She’d leave the house and I’d go in her closet and start throwing stuff on — belts and scarves and boots. If you look at my [elementary school] class pictures, you’ll see I’m wearing the big collar and poofy sleeves and my mom’s necklace. She used to wear this peace sign necklace that I would take it and I’d borrow some of her bracelets [too.] I’m like, Damn, I was doing that s—t in the first grade! That’s just who I was. It’s really weird. I kind of forgot, but I felt that stuff as a child. 

Denzel Washington gave a very heartfelt and moving speech in your honor at the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony. What’s the impact of that brotherhood been in your life as a public figure? 

Man, it’s so important, and you never know who’s going to end up being your brother. We met in the early ‘90s and slowly kept building a relationship based on brotherhood and love and honesty and faithfulness. We are as close as you could be. 

Being that it was a public event and he spoke about me, I know he feels a certain way about me, but to hear him vocalize it was really moving. When he said, “I love Lenny Kravitz. I love Lenny Kravitz. I love Lenny Kravitz,” he said that three times, that hit me hard. I felt what those beats were. [He’s] not just saying something. He said he loved me like he never loved a brother. It was really heavy and beautiful for me, but that’s the relationship we have. As different as people might view us, in essence of what our makeup is and what’s inside of us and how we view and live life, we’re very similar. We are cut from the same cloth. I am honored and blessed to have that relationship in my life. We talk almost every day and we inspire each other. 

The other thing is, that’s my boy, right? Anytime a Denzel Washington movie comes on, I’ll watch it. On the tour bus, the hotel, wherever you are. As close as we are, when I see him work, I don’t see the guy I know. He’s so f—king brilliant. I admire him greatly, and our families are also intertwined. I couldn’t thank God enough for creating this in my life. I can’t say enough good things about the man. 

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