Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Labrinth: Deep, deep inside


Having initially attained his breakthrough success in 2010 as producer of rapper Tinie Tempah’s chart-topping, BRIT Award-winning “Pass Out” before coming of age as an artist in his own right via the 2012 release of his Platinum-selling debut album “Electronic Earth”, North London-based singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Labrinth will this December deliver his highly-anticipated sophomore set “Take Me To The Truth”. Whose ambitious “future soul” vibe is currently being pioneered on both charts and airwaves with the inescapably-melodic blend of Seventies R&B, crunchy guitar, thumping piano and space-age effects showcased on its distinctive-sounding first single “Let It Be.”.

Indeed, having again been almost entirely written, performed and produced by Labrinth himself (this time between studios in Hollywood and his home-studio in London’s Wood Green) “Take Me To The Truth” once more makes for a highly experimental, genre-defying set. Whose kaleidoscopic sonics range from the heart-wrenching, emotive balladry of “Jealous” and fizzy, quirky funk of “Missbehaving” to the live-brass-and-strings of “Mr Nobody” and electro-gospel throwdown of “Slipstream”.

Born Timothy McKenzie in Hackney, East London in 1989, Labrinth - alongside his nine talented elder siblings - grew up at home surrounded almost exclusively by the sounds of American gospel music. Becoming entirely self-taught after studying music at his local church, meanwhile, it was at the age of 13 that a naturally-gifted young Timothy would first begin making beats in his brother’s home studio before eventually going on to master bass, drums and keyboards.

Meanwhile, after spending four years studying music theory alongside practising and honing his craft in his manager’s studio, it was at 19 years old that the multi-talented Labrinth achieved his first taste of notoriety - following his experimental, rock-edged production work on South London rapper Master Shortie’s critically-acclaimed, independently-released debut LP “ADHD”.

as the charismatic 25-year-old musical maverick that is Labrinth reacquaints himself with “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis at Sony Music UK’s buzzing Kensington offices for a revealing in-depth chat prior to the release of his aforementioned new, second album.

PETE: Let’s start on obvious ground - the thinking behind titling your new, second album “Take Me To The Truth”

LABRINTH: “Yeah, “Take Me To The Truth” does actually have a strong significance to me as a title. In that, when I first started working on this album, I was finding that my work-in-progress was constantly being inspired and influenced by the way the INDUSTRY was thinking, in terms of making pop songs, hits, big melodies, auto-tune, soft synths - you know, it was very much about ‘I need to make sure I fit IN’. Whereas “Take Me To The Truth” basically represents me now finally finding the confidence to say ‘If people say they wanna hear the REAL Lab, then let me GIVE them it!’. You know, it’s all about the idea of taking people on journey to the real PERSON that’s behind the MUSIC.”
PETE: So what did you want to achieve musically this time round?

LABRINTH: “Well, while I do always want the stuff I’m making to be forward-thinking and fresh, for me the big, big aim this time round was really just to make something that I ENJOYED and something that I BELIEVED in. You know, I basically just wanted to make something where I could die and say ‘I’m so happy I DID this, it was WORTH it’! Because I’m constantly in that place where, instead of going ‘I’m trying to stay relevant so I can consistently make money and keep all these exciting things in my home’, I’d rather take a RISK and be like ‘I don’t know what tomorrow’s gonna bring but let’s DO it!’ I mean, even with the LAST album the stuff I did was very diverse in terms of SOUND. And though sometimes that can be detrimental, in my case I think it actually worked in my FAVOUR - to where I think now people kind of know what to expect from me in terms of NOT knowing what to expect, if you know what I mean!”

PETE: So can you name some of the tracks on this new album that particularly stand out to you and why?

LABRINTH: “Well, first I’d have to say “Let It BE”. Because - though even my MUM remarked how it had the same title as a famous Beatles song! - it’s basically about coming me coming out with this new record and just being a musical EXPLORER. You know, because I was going into untried territory I was like ‘This is exciting TIMES - let’s see what HAPPENS!’. Which is why the message of the song is basically ‘Just let go of your inhibitions and your fears of what’s going to happen, and just go with the FLOW!’… Then “Jealous” is a record that stands out on a more PERSONAL level, because it’s about how my father leaving my family when I was quite young actually resonated with ME - you know it’s basically about me seeing my father leaving his nine kids and having to DEAL with that… Then I guess another one that stands out - though on a totally different level - is “SLIPSTREAM”, which is dealing with the idea of a paranoid superstar wondering whether his fans and people he knows in the industry care about HIM or whether it’s all about what he has AROUND him - whether it’s his Twitter followers, his money, whatever. But then because it’s actually sung quite metaphorically people can also make their OWN interpretations of what it’s about - which is something that for me always makes a song really INTERESTING.”

The album “Take Me To The Truth” is released December 1. The single “Let It Be” is out now while the single “Jealous” follows in November, all through Syco Music.

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