Hello and welcome to One on One in 10, where we pick the brains of some of the most talented Indie artists in the Tri state area with 10 questions. It’s your girl Mai Mazzi reporting live on the scene, bringing you the real with todays’ movers and shakers and allowing you to meet them, one on one.

April showers bring May flowers! I hope that saying holds true as the summertime is only around the corner. For us New Jerseyians, this week we saw a little bit of snow/hail….in April though? Yes Mother Nature is tripping; that or the world is on its way to coming to an end! Either way, I have a feeling that the summer months are going to bring even more confusing weather to us, only in the form of pure hotness!

For our April one on one interview, I have the pleasure of chopping it up with the very talented singer/songwriter Lenny Harold, repping Plainfield, NJ. Lenny is also the latest member of the revised R&B group Blackstreet, now known as BS2.

 Mazzi: Thank you so much for taking the time out to sit and speak with me.

Lenny: Thank you for having me!

Mazzi: So for our first question, what made you first realize that you wanted to pursue a career in music?

Lenny: Well to start off, I really didn’t even like to sing. I liked music but I didn’t really care for singing. I saw Brandy on the Apollo and she was performing one of her 90s hits at the time and I got drawn into it; I was like wow I think I could do this. What really truly made want to start my career was actually my first time in the studio; I wrote and arranged a song that I just kind of wrote off of a whim. When I listened back to it I was amazed at what I had done. I felt very good about it and decided then that it was something for me. It came easy for me; it was the easiest form of expression for me.

Mazzi: How would you describe your music/movement for the public audience if they have never seen or heard you before? I know that you are a part of a group, but outside of the group would you consider yourself a solo artist?

Lenny: Yes I definitely do [consider myself a solo artist]. I like this question! I call my fans “The Wonders”. I started this concept with my first Indie album called ‘The Journal of Wonders: Tale of the Phoenix in the Moon Labyrinth’. ‘The Journal of Wonders’ is just my life and everything that goes on [in life]; it exemplifies the things that I have experienced, lived through, what my friends or close loved ones have gone through. Things that I have seen or stories that I may have heard also inspired the music on this album. My movement encompasses honest, heartfelt music. I am also a part of a group of artists called ‘Reckless Abandon’; the existence of this group of artists is centered around our love for real music; we are a unit that are very compassionate about it [real music].

Mazzi: If you had to categorize your music, what genre would it best fit?

Lenny: I call my genre of music Hybrid Soul. My music has a soul base, but it could be a techno feel with the soul vibe to it, it could be an alternative feel with a soul vibe to it, it could be a hip hop feel, etc. I never want to pigeon hold myself to just one type of genre because sometimes what I need to express may not come across well in R&B but it may come across better in a pop song, for example.

Mazzi: How does your style differ from other artists in the same genre?

Lenny: Honestly, I do not think that it would differ as long as the artist is about creating real music about different stuff. All songs do not have to be about sex or something ratchet; it’s easy to make songs about that stuff. It’s harder and it’s more sincere when you write something from the heart and when it is expressed in such a beautiful way that could really make people cry, or that can inspire them and move them to smile and make their whole day different. I guess that is my separation from it because I respect music so much.

Mazzi: Are you familiar with the term “starving artist”?

Lenny: Yes Jesus (laughing).

Mazzi: How do you cope with major obstacles as they relate to the term?

Lenny: You just keep moving forward. I am still not where I would like to be, so I still consider myself a “starving artist” until I get  that point and I think I would still consider myself a “starving artist” because the more you consider yourself a “starving artist”, the more you are open to grow, you are more open to take criticism. It makes you thirstier for working hard for what you want in life. For people out there who think that they are “starving artist” just keep pushing regardless of what people say and what people show you; you can’t believe everything you see. Just keep pushing forward.

Mazzi: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?

Lenny: I wouldn’t say that it is so much of a break, but being respected by the legends before me; when Stevie Wonder told me, “Boy you can sing,” I took that to heart. When Patti LaBelle kissed me on my cheek and said, “Boy you betta sang,” I took that to heart. When Eddie Levert said, “I think that you are the voice of tomorrow,” I took that to heart. When Teddy Riley looks at me and goes, “I think that you have the power to change music,” that’s what I take to heart; these are the things that I keep in my back pocket and when I need it I pull it out to remind myself to keep this going.

Mazzi: What image do you think your music conveys and why did you choose this type of image for your music?

Lenny: Ha you got some questions I love this interview (laughing)! It’s cool, it’s honest, and it’s real; that’s the image. I love fashion and I am one for a little rebellious nature. Yes there’s sexuality that’s there, but it is sexuality in opposed to being sexual. I may wear a pair of ripped up jeans with a fedora and people will be all types of confused (laughing). My image is whatever you would think Hybrid Soul is, a good ol’ gumbo of different styles and different sounds, different looks and different feels all coinciding and becoming one.

Mazzi: Art and music has an impact on both the young and the old; sometimes the older generation loses respect for the music we listen to today because they cannot comprehend the value of it. What advice can you give to the youth of today looking to enter the industry in regards to being able to stay relevant for every generation and for any audience?

Lenny: I would say study the past. It is cool to stay commercial; I understand that everyone has to get their bread at the end of the day. Everybody wants to be seen, everybody wants to be heard. But you still have to study the past; a lot of people spend so much time in the studio and that they forget about how they appear or what they look like on stage. Right now we don’t have those artists who respect the stage enough as much as they respect the studio. They hit the stage and their performance lacks luster; you want people to experience all of who you are as an artist so that they would want to and feel good about purchasing your album. That means spending time in that mirror, dancing to yourself, getting with that choreographer that’s going to show you some type of signature moves, understanding mic precision and mic ethics, understanding how to walk a stage and not pace a stage constantly where you make people dizzy. There’s so much that goes into it and those artists of the past would put on a killer show because they had to keep up with that record that was spinning on the radio. When it came down to their shows they were sliding down into splits and coming back up again, not to say that all artist need to do that, but it has to be that same energy to where people are excited to want to come to your show. So far like all we have is Beyoncé, Miguel does a little bit, and then we have people like Luke James who will put his heart and soul into a performance. That’s what we are missing; the performance side versus the time that people are putting into the studio.

Mazzi: What are your immediate music career goals (1 to 3 years)?

Lenny: My goals are to branch out of BS2, which is actually going through revisions and branding and the group may even be separated from Blackstreet but still under the unit of Teddy Riley. The group is comprised out of solo artists so the ultimate goal is to branch us out as solo acts, eventually. Creating this Wonder movement, making it out of this world, so that people can feel inspired to put on shows and be inspired to sing again and inspired to take that book of heartfelt songs and poems that they just threw to the side because they thought no body was actually going to listen to them because they would rather listen to some ratchet shit that’s on the radio. I want them to feel empowered to take that book into the studio and be like all I need is a guitar player let’s do this. I truly want to be an inspiration; I want to create that Michael Jackson movement again where people are back to loving each other and the music just feels so great that all they want to do is love.

Mazzi: Do you have other interests or talents that you would like to share with us? How do you like to enjoy your relaxation time away from the music?

Lenny: Relaxation what is that? I love cinematography, I love videography, I love photography, and I love video editing. I guess I am really a nerd and a geek when it comes to this. Usually in my free time I am learning something else that I can take on and be more hands on with that can help benefit me in my own career. Even with the Reckless Abandon we are all artists; we have bloggers, we have models, we have song writers, we have everything and it is a big conglomerate of art, talent, and gifts. We all teach and learn from each other. I am always learning something new and I have to force myself to rest!

And to you, the readers thank you for tuning in. Make sure you stay tuned for more NMNJ One on One in 10!


1 on 1 original Twitter: @MaiMazzi    Facebook: Mai Mazerati   Email: mmazerati@urbansocialitesnj.com




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