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Lenny Kravitz: ‘I’ve never felt better in my life’

Ray-Ban! Working out in leather trousers! A new album! It's all happening in the world of Lenny Kravitz...

By Nick Reilly

Lenny Kravitz (Picture: Ray-Ban)

“At the moment I’m looking completely forward. I’ve never felt better in my life, mentally, spiritually or physically,” explains Lenny Kravitz as we talk just weeks before the rock icon hits the big 6-0. “It’s not just about years, it’s about your spirit.”

It’s fitting, then, that his latest album. Blue Electric Light, arrives on Kravitz’ 60th birthday itself and is described by the man himself as “a celebration of life, man”.

All this, and the small matter of an upcoming capsule collection with Ray-Ban too. Time waits for no man and, as Kravitz explains, he’s only too aware of that…

Hey Lenny! Are we doing Zoom cameras on for this chat? I don’t mind either way…

Ah, sorry. I’m in a sauna! I’ve just finished my training and had to jump in the sauna. Get up and hit it, man. Get to it, work out, breathe and move the blood, the body, and then I go straight to rehearsal.

A strong start to the day! It’s quite appropriate you’re talking about workouts. You recently attracted attention for wearing leather pants and boots during a gym session. What did you make of the viral reaction?

It was pretty funny, you know. I show up however I show up. A lot of times I have somewhere to go afterwards and if I’m doing cardio I’m not gonna wear that kind of thing if I’m just sweating all over the place. But if I’m doing weights, I can manage those in pretty much any clothes I’m wearing.

We’re talking about a month before the release of Blue Electric Light, your first album in six years. What’s the big story behind it?

It’s a celebration of life, man. It’s a really upbeat, celebratory, fun album. I had an amazing time making it because it brought back a lot of energy and feelings from high school. It’s sort of the album I didn’t make before Love Let Rule, my debut album, when I was in high school and didn’t have a record deal.

Why is now the right time to tell that particular story and have that celebration?

I’m not in control of these things or how they work, I just do what comes through me. But if I had to think about it, I released a book called Let Love Rule during the pandemic and it ended up being a New York Times bestseller and that was a big surprise to me. I’d never even thought about writing a book, but it focuses on birth till the first album, which is when I was about 24 years of age.

I spent a lot of time exploring my teenage years in that book. And those were some years that I hadn’t really thought about or really, you know, put a lot of energy into thinking about. I think that brought up the spirit of that time and somehow it was still in me and it came out in the music as well.

Your 60th birthday is just weeks away. Do you find yourself looking back as that milestone comes closer?

Not so much, but I have a newfound appreciation for my life in the past and what I’ve done and what I’ve experienced, I’m a person that is always looking forward and during these first, you know, 3o odd years of my career, I’ve always looked forward and not back. I can look back with newfound love and respect and appreciation, but at the moment I’m looking completely forward. I’ve never felt better in my life, mentally, spiritually or physically. I’ve never felt more youthful in my life than I do now. It’s not just about years, it’s about your spirit, how you think, how you feel, how you choose to live your life. That’s where I am.

Have you got any plans for a big party to celebrate it?

Well, the album comes out on that day so that’s the celebration. I’m gonna be in rehearsals, so we’ll celebrate the album release and my birthday at the same time.

Your last album, 2018’s Raise Vibration, tackled racism and social inequality. Has anything changed for the better since then?

Life is going to remain challenging no matter if we move forward, sometimes we stand still, sometimes we move backwards as the human race. During those challenges, I’m choosing to fill it with as much love as I always do and good spirit and gratitude regardless of the challenges.

I just wanna have a bit of fun, you know. I want to celebrate, I wake up every day, I open my eyes and I’m so thankful and grateful for another day of life and I’m gonna find something to celebrate that day.

Do you ever think of the friends who didn’t get this far? You previously worked with Michael Jackson, who was only 50 when he died.

I do, yes, and of the people that didn’t make it out of their teens too, and their twenties, their forties and their fifties. I marvel at the fact that I’m still here and, you know, it’s a blessing. I’m trying to do the best that I can with this experience and with this time for sure.

You famously worked with Mick Jagger on his solo albums too. Even in his eighties, he seems to have that same positive spirit as you. Were you kindred spirits?

Maybe. I know I learned a lot from Mick. Not only from the records and the music and the history and the performances, but in his discipline for ageing in a way where he can continue to do what he’s been doing at the same energy rate and the same energy level. He’s not 80 limping across the stage, he’s still running across that gigantic stage, singing and lifting people’s spirits.

You know, I’ve spent a lot of time with Mick. We’ve gone on holidays together and I think that’s when I learned the most, when I was having a holiday with him and I witnessed his discipline for taking care of himself, for keeping his body in shape, for eating right, for working out in the gym and stretching and singing to keep his voice together.

He had a cassette with the Stones playing without his vocal and he would go downstairs before dinner and sing that set to keep his voice together. I met Mick on my second album and we became friends and so he is a great inspiration.

And finally, you are working with Ray-Ban on the Aviator Reverse range. What does the brand mean to you?

I don’t do business just to do business. If I’m gonna do business, it has to be something that’s personal and that is organic to me or otherwise you’ll smell it. I don’t bullshit very well. But Ray-Ban I’ve been wearing since a teenager. They’ve been a staple in my eyeglass collection. I’m known for wearing a lot of glasses and when people get dressed as me for Halloween they’ll put on a wig and a pair of sunglasses. I got talking with Ray-Ban and they wanted me to come out with a new take on the Aviator and it had these inverted lenses which I’ve never seen before, I thought was an interesting take on the classic. It’s been a wonderful collaboration, because it’s so natural and Ray-Ban is past, present and future and I like that.