Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Labrinth: Deep, deep inside


Having initially attained his breakthrough success in 2010 as producer of rapper Tinie Tempahâs chart-topping, BRIT Award-winning âPass Outâ before coming of age as an artist in his own right via the 2012 release of his Platinum-selling debut album âElectronic Earthâ, North London-based singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Labrinth will this December deliver his highly-anticipated sophomore set âTake Me To The Truthâ. Whose ambitious âfuture soulâ 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 âLet It Be.â.

Indeed, having again been almost entirely written, performed and produced by Labrinth himself (this time between studios in Hollywood and his home-studio in Londonâs Wood Green) âTake Me To The Truthâ once more makes for a highly experimental, genre-defying set. Whose kaleidoscopic sonics range from the heart-wrenching, emotive balladry of âJealousâ and fizzy, quirky funk of âMissbehavingâ to the live-brass-and-strings of âMr Nobodyâ and electro-gospel throwdown of âSlipstreamâ.

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 brotherâs 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 managerâs 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 Shortieâs critically-acclaimed, independently-released debut LP âADHDâ.

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

PETE: Letâs start on obvious ground - the thinking behind titling your new, second album âTake Me To The Truthâ

LABRINTH: âYeah, âTake Me To The Truthâ 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 âI need to make sure I fit INâ. Whereas âTake Me To The Truthâ basically represents me now finally finding the confidence to say âIf people say they wanna hear the REAL Lab, then let me GIVE them it!â. You know, itâs all about the idea of taking people on journey to the real PERSON thatâs behind the MUSIC.â
PETE: So what did you want to achieve musically this time round?

LABRINTH: âWell, while I do always want the stuff Iâm 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 âIâm so happy I DID this, it was WORTH itâ! Because Iâm constantly in that place where, instead of going âIâm trying to stay relevant so I can consistently make money and keep all these exciting things in my homeâ, Iâd rather take a RISK and be like âI donât know what tomorrowâs gonna bring but letâs DO it!â 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!â

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

LABRINTH: âWell, first Iâd have to say âLet It BEâ. Because - though even my MUM remarked how it had the same title as a famous Beatles song! - itâs 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 âThis is exciting TIMES - letâs see what HAPPENS!â. Which is why the message of the song is basically âJust let go of your inhibitions and your fears of whatâs going to happen, and just go with the FLOW!â⦠Then âJealousâ is a record that stands out on a more PERSONAL level, because itâs about how my father leaving my family when I was quite young actually resonated with ME - you know itâs 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 âSLIPSTREAMâ, 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 itâs all about what he has AROUND him - whether itâs his Twitter followers, his money, whatever. But then because itâs actually sung quite metaphorically people can also make their OWN interpretations of what itâs about - which is something that for me always makes a song really INTERESTING.â

The album âTake Me To The Truthâ is released December 1. The single âLet It Beâ is out now while the single âJealousâ follows in November, all through Syco Music.

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To read more from our interview with Labrinth â¦pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere⦠if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.

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