Lenny Kravitz on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Music
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
In his debut memoir, Lenny Kravitz chronicles the first 25 years of his life and how he found his sound.
By Sean Braswell
Musician and actor Lenny Kravitz sat down with OZY’s co-founder and CEO on The Carlos Watson Show to talk about his life, career and new book Let Love Rule. Here are some of the best bites from their hourlong conversation, which can be found on The Carlos Watson Show podcast feed.
Growing Up Biracial
Carlos Watson: Talk to me a little bit, if you would, about race. … How do you see both your experience as a young person being a mixed-race child and where we are today?
Lenny Kravitz: In growing up, I was very fortunate that I wasn’t one of the mixed kids, biracial, that was confused. I saw a lot of confusion in people that were biracial. I didn’t think anything about it, I loved it. I embraced who I was on both sides. I was taught to do that. But what my mother did, which was very smart and interesting, was that when I was very young, she said, “OK, I am this, your father is that.” She explained it to me. “I want you to be just as proud of both sides. You are no more one than the other and that’s wonderful, but society is going to only see it in this way,” and taught me what that was like, that folks weren’t going to see the mix and admire that. She taught me that I was a young Black person and taught me about my culture, and we celebrated it and it was all good. I identified as Black, of course, but I knew who I was and who my father was and his history of being a Russian Jew and where they come from, but it was all good. It was just a rich, mixed bag, and I loved it.
On Turning Down Record Deals as a Teenager
CW: What made you decide to go and make music a career?
LK: I mean, I didn’t know I was making it my career. I was just doing it. I never thought about being famous and I was just playing. I was jamming with people. I was listening. In school, I was involved in the orchestra as the band, the marching band. I was living music and I was quite prepared, I think, to be a musician in any capacity. If I was playing in a club, if was backing somebody up, I never thought about being the star, being the guy in the front. I just wanted to play.
CW: What kind of advice do you give people when they ask you about how to dream fearlessly?
LK: You really have to be headstrong. You have to have a strong spirit, not only dreaming, but when the doors are open to your dream. Not every door that is open is the door that you should walk down, and that was something that I had to learn.I turned down four or five record deals as a teenager who was living in a car. … I had to know which doors not to walk through. I don’t quite know how I did that, but it was the spirit inside of me that led me.
On Love and Parenthood
CW: What have you learned about love over the course of your life?
LK: I mean, love is the most powerful energy that there is. Love is everything. Love is the answer to everything. Love is our purpose for being human beings. We are born out of love, we’re put here to love, and love is the highest of all highs. That’s it.
CW: How did you become such a good dad? Because I feel like you and Lisa [Bonet] did that conscious uncoupling thing before it was a phrase, do you know what I mean? It looked like you guys split in a way that ultimately was as good as it probably could be. I always felt like I was watching you guys be good with your daughter. Is that what was real and what was true, or did it take you a while to get to that place?
LK: Absolutely, what you see is what it is. We are one family. Yes, we split back then and we worked it out, because that is what you do, for us. There was no choice in that matter. It’s a blessing and it’s been wonderful for Zoe to be able to see her parents like that. I forget that people don’t operate that way in so many cases. People make all these comments and they’re so blown away by the fact that we all hang out together … and that we’re all so close, but we don’t think about it. It’s just normal and it’s real. Yeah, that’s what let love rule is, that’s what it’s about. We live that.