New Music: Throwback Thursday – Johan Lenox ft Lil Keed + Kota The Friend

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For those who don’t know you, state who you are.

My name is Johan Lenox. I’m from Boston, MA originally but I work out of LA a lot. I’m a singer, producer, and a composer. 

Tell me about you new song, Throwback Thursday?

Well, like a lot of my songs its inspired by a nostalgia for growing up in the suburbs, and wanting to get back to that, but also knowing its impossible. Maybe there’s a youthful optimism  associated with that mindset which is kind of impossible now given the state of the world. Not only do you want to get back to this thing you remember, but also maybe it didn’t really exist because you were a kid. Then I’ve got Kota the Friend, and Lil Need on it, and they have different takes on it. Kota’s is more nostalgic and Lil Need is less nostalgic but definitely thoughtful. What I was excited about with Keed is having him over these orchestral strings and there’s hardly any drums over his part at all. Most of what he’s doing is this big wash of orchestral glory and I think its awesome that nobody has heard him that way. 

Why did you choose Kota and Keed?

I had Kota first and he was the more obvious fit. Kids who grow up in the suburbs, running around with a backpack on, which is pretty much what he rapped about. It was very much amplifying what I brought to it. Then Keed, having something to really contrast that. 

Do you think you’re going to do any visuals for this?

I have a video that had been shot way before we had any features on it, so they’re not even in the video, but I’m excited for that. It’s got me getting into a coffin made out of red solo cups. 

You’re a classically trained musician. Whats it like having that background and how do you incorporate into new tracks you’re making today with big rappers and singers?

Theres a lot of stuff that I think the classical background prepares you for, like musically. Deep senses of how keys work, and how chords and melodies fit together. I’m really good at piano which is nice. Structural stuff in music. But there’s also a lot that just doesn’t apply at all. I had to learn producing software from scratch. My ears were really well trained in terms of harmony and melody, but they weren’t trained in terms of mixing and EQ, and frequencies, and that’s still a thing I’m working on. It defiantly just helps being different. Like the fact that I’m the string arranging guy for a lot of the bigger artists, when they need me they’ll call me. Theres nobody else I’m competing with. I can be apart of these big records without having to necessarily be in the studio for months on end. For the most part I like to be able to work on my own shit. Being able to slide in when Its appropriate  

Are there any new artists that you’re looking at right now?

I always try to keep track of people out of Boston. No name really comes to mind, but I’m obviously a big fan of Cousin Stizz. A lot of folks don’t know him still so I would say definitely check him out if you’re into rap. I did a song with this random kid I met on instagram named Johnny Vice that I’m really excited for. It’s cool, its kind of  Trippie Redd related but darker and weirder than that. 

Are there any artists that you looked up to as a kid that you’ve been able to work with?

I mean, Kanye West is the best example of that. I was a fan of Mr. Hudson, now I know him really well. Vic Mensa I know extremely well, I remember referencing his Down On My Luck music video a bunch when I was trying to figure out my own videos. It’s just funny years later to be like, Oh here we are. Lil Nas X obviously not when I was younger but that was a very quick process. Went from “Oh who is this kid he’s awesome” to being in the studio with him a month later, I love when that happens. 

Do you mix and master your own stuff?

No, I finish everything with this dude named Nate Donmoyer who’s a producer. He’s done a lot with Gesaffelstein and The Weekend, he was in the band Passion Pit. So he’s a good mixer and he’ll usually retrack my vocals. All the stuff that’s related to gear. I’m more of produce in the box or like classical instruments, but idk that much about analog gear and that type of shit. 

What’s next for you?

So I have an album that’s pretty much done. I dropped an EP a few months ago. It feels like it just happened, but obviously the covid shit slowed things down. By now I think in another scenario, I would be releasing album tracks by now. The first single on the album I believe will have Cousin Stizz. Thats ready and I’m also trying to lock in some other features. Still finessing stuff on my vocals a bit, but basically the albums done. It’s completely produced and written. That’ll probably be out in the winter. Then in a couple months I’m going to start releasing music for this album I’m doing that’s a classical album, but it has rap and vocal features on parts of it, drums in some spots. It’s very eclectic and chaotic. I’m super excited for that its one of my main focuses right now. Zacari from TDE is on it, and Masego who’s album I’ve also been working on. That will probably be out October-November, then singles for my album. Hopefully by the time the albums out we’ll be able to do a show.