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Fame & Fortune
Lenny Kravitz
Musician has designs on a new artistic direction
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Lenny Kravitz

There aren't many musicians today who could get away with calling an album "It Is Time for a Love Revolution," but as a throwback to another generation in all the right ways, Lenny Kravitz pulls it off with aplomb.

The 44-year-old Kravitz has been drawing fans for almost two decades with a stripped-down style of straight-ahead rock 'n' roll that earned him Grammy awards four years in a row, from 1999 to 2002. His latest album, which features him on every instrument, gives back more of the same.

But music encompasses just one aspect of Kravitz's creative output, as he recently started Kravitz Design, a furniture and interior design firm that works on everything from hotels to residences to items such as chandeliers.

Bankrate spoke to Kravitz about these two beloved aspects of his life.

Bankrate: Rock 'n' roll seems really marginalized these days. How do you feel the music-loving public's hunger for the sort of straight-ahead rock 'n' roll you play compares with how it was when you started?

Lenny Kravitz: When I started, in 1989, when "Let Love Rule" came out, there was rock 'n' roll going off, but it wasn't presented or recorded the way I do it. It was very affected, because the technology at the time was moving in that direction. It wasn't a pure sound. So I came with a record at the time that was very in-your-face, recorded on tube equipment, very pure and raw, and that's what people started to like.

In the past few years it became a very manufactured world, the rock world, and rock 'n' roll took a back seat. But now it's coming back very strong. People realize that rock 'n' roll is something you just can't deny, with the power of the guitar, the drums and the bass.

Bankrate: Why do you choose to play every instrument on your albums?

Lenny Kravitz: It wasn't intended to be that way. When I made my first record, I didn't have any money. I had no musicians, no record deal. I made it on my own. I was auditioning some players, and my engineer, who has worked with me from before I got signed, was listening, and he kept saying, "You sound better than guys who have been here auditioning. Why don't you play the instruments? It'll have more personality -- more feel." I wanted to have a band experience, but I ended up doing it because I had to, and that became my sound. When you listen to certain records, like when Stevie Wonder plays all the instruments, or Prince, or Todd Rundgren, or Paul McCartney, they have a certain personality because it's unique.

Bankrate: Do you ever feel you're missing out on the collaborative element of creating music?

Lenny Kravitz: I do collaborate. Craig Ross, who's been my guitarist for years, he plays on the records as well. Some tracks are mostly me, with Craig playing guitar as well. I also have people come in, like horn players, and I get that from those players. But as far as the rhythm section, that's me. At some point, though, I would like to make a band record, and I will.

Bankrate: Has your enjoyment of what you do changed over time?

Lenny Kravitz: Being in the business and dealing with the business end of it -- the touring, all of the politics -- sometimes that can get a little tiresome. You gotta keep chasing that carrot stick, and that can be a little tiring ... well, maybe not tiring, but after a while you think, "Why am I doing this?" But I love making music, so everything comes from there.

Next: "I'm an artist before a businessman."
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