Let’s play a game. If you have a Spotify account, log in and search, “sad.” What do you see? My account suggests a myriad of playlists, such as “Sad Crying Mix,” “Lonely Sad Mix,” “Crying Myself To Sleep,” “Sad Bops'' and more—all of which, the streamer claims, were made specifically for me. If it weren't for the surplus of SZA and Frank Ocean music on each tracklist, I’d roll my eyes at the concept.

Alas, the algorithm is correct. It understands exactly what I want to listen to, and it knows what you want to hear, too. To make sure of it, Spotify observes trends in its user's listening habits. This year crying is all the rage—at least, among Gen Z users. According to Spotify’s data, Gen Z’s top searched term globally is simply... “sad.” As a fellow Zoomer, I’ll admit I’ve listened to “Sad Bops'" once or twice but haven’t we all? I thought that was a circumstantial experience, not a plague affecting my entire generation.

Naturally, I had to investigate. To my understanding, Gen Z is doing just fine. We’re tech-savvy, ambitious, politically involved, and frankly, very funny. So what gives? In an effort to understand our love for somber tunes, I spoke with Dr Michael Bonshor, a music psychology expert. This year, Dr Bonshor partnered with Spotify ahead of their Bummer Summer Playlist launch. After analysing their data, he determined that Gen Z often uses sad music to relax. It makes sense, given the general state of the world! Maybe a daily dose of Lana Del Rey can save us all.

Below, Dr Bonshor and I discuss the makings of a sad song, the psychological benefits of listening to sorrowful music, and why we shouldn’t fret over Gen Z’s music preferences.

ESQUIRE: What exactly classifies a song as sad?

Dr Michael Bonshor: The most obvious feature of a sad song is the tempo. It tends to be fairly slow, often between about 60 to 70 beats per minute—like a relaxed heartbeat. Sad songs also tend to be low-intensity. They don't have a lot of changes in volume. They also have a gentle—what I’d call melodic—profile. That means that the tune doesn’t suddenly go incredibly high or incredibly low. It tends to be nice and steady.

The other thing that we notice in sad songs is that the tone of the instruments and the voices tend to be more mellow. The whole effect is relaxing. Sometimes they’re [sung] in a minor key, which people often use when they’re writing sad songs. But the major key, which often sounds a bit brighter, can be used too. The interpretation of sad songs is based on the relationship between the lyrics and the music. The lyrics really make a big difference.

"All week I’ve had ’Someone Like You’ going round and round in my head," says Dr Michael Bonshor. "It just kind of keeps you calm, doesn’t it?"
Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

That makes sense. What sad songs are people resonating with right now?

There are quite a few at the moment. One of the people Spotify has introduced me to is D4VD. He's got a very reflective style. I’ve really enjoyed listening to his song, “Here With Me.” His lyrics speak to the softer feelings and more somber moods that we have from time to time. [He writes] very straightforward lyrics that people can identify with.

I'll have to check it out. Given Spotify’s research, Gen Z seems to be pretty sad—or, at least, unusually interested in sad music. Why?

Well, I don't necessarily think that searching for sad songs means that Gen Z is sad. There are other reasons for listening to sad music—like the beauty in sad songs. You know, the melodies, relaxing rhythm, and so on. But there are a few reasons why Gen Z does it more than any other generation.

First, they've grown up becoming expert users of technology. Their social lives have been created around that. They've used it to explore the world, sort out their problems, and get advice. I also think they’re more aware of their feelings. There seems to be a very empathic feeling amongst Gen Z. And they are, of course, used to customising their listening in a way that previous generations couldn’t. They can tailor their music to their mood, or to support whatever they're doing. That might allow them to be entertained while expressing or releasing their emotions. You can experience catharsis singing along to somebody.

Research shows that Gen Z tends to be very reflective. Like everybody, they want a sense of belonging, so listening to music that reflects their mood isn’t going to stop just because it’s summer.

The catharsis point is interesting. It does seem odd that Gen Z is looking for sad songs in the summer, though.

Research shows that Gen Z tends to be very reflective. Like everybody, they want a sense of belonging, so listening to music that reflects their mood isn’t going to stop just because it’s summer. It’s probably a habit that’s trending all year amongst that generation.

Year-round, we can use music to support what we're feeling. If we want to continue feeling a certain way, we can choose songs that reinforce it. If we want to change our mood, then we can use music to change it. too. Again, [listening to] sad songs doesn’t necessarily mean we’re sad. It could also mean that we’re in the mood to relax.

What makes sad music relaxing?

Their slow speed has an effect on our bodies. If we're breathing slowly and deeply, we start to relax. Also, our bodies and our minds are trained to respond to music tempo. We tune into that physically. [Our] breathing slows down, then our heart rate slows down, and we start to feel better. Listening to sad music also releases positive hormones. There’s also research that proves singing and listening to music together releases endorphins. On a streaming service like Spotify, people are aware of what everybody’s listening to and they start to feel part of a community. That adds to the sense of belonging that music can induce. And that in itself, can release oxytocin which is a bonding hormone.

The other thing sad songs can do is release a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin has a very comforting effect. Sometimes, listening to sad music can help our bodies repair themselves—not just emotionally, but physically and psychologically as well.

So, it’s like a form of self-soothing?

It is! It's the sort of thing we do all the time in a way, isn't it?

"There is a difference between listening to sad music because you want to express yourself, and spending too much time focusing on that emotion," says Dr Bonshor
Photo by Filmmagic/Getty Images

Even so, do you think we need to be worried at all about Gen Z’s love of sad music?

No, I don't think so. It shows that they’re reflective. They're using music to support that reflection. And because we know sad music can have positive effects—which most people would not expect—it can only be good for their emotional well-being.


Yeah, I mean as we know, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Gen Z is sad. But if you are sad and start releasing prolactin, it can help you have a good cry. The sort of cry that gets it all out so you can move on, you know? I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

Is there such thing as listening to too many sad songs?

There is a difference between listening to sad music because you want to express yourself, and spending too much time focusing on that emotion. But most research has shown that listening to sad music actually distracts you. The main research that supports this is a study on flow. Flow is like being in the zone. If you’re experiencing flow, you’re totally absorbed in whatever it is you’re doing.

Listening to music is a big flow activity. It can distract us from our feelings and create a slightly distorted sense of time. For example, if we’re bored and get immersed in music, time appears to move quickly. The more consumed we are by a song, the more focused we are on the musical element—perhaps more than our feelings.

Spotify's data found that people primarily search for sad songs on Wednesdays. Why is that? What's up with Wednesdays?

I suppose if we assume that a lot of people still work Monday through Friday, by the time you get to Wednesday it can feel like a long time [has passed] since the weekend—and you’ve got a long way to go until the next one. Going back to that idea of flow: immersing yourself in an activity, like listening to music, can make that time pass quickly.

What sad music do you listen to when you want to decompress?

I like a wide range of music styles. There are classical tracks that I go to. I’ve got a piece that’s in the middle of a Beethoven Symphony—"Symphony No. 7". [It] seems a bit highbrow, but it sounds like a funeral march. I could listen to it for hours, it’s just so soothing. It calms me right down. In terms of pop songs, it sounds cliché but my go-to is Adele.

Oh, of course!

All week I’ve had “Someone Like You” going round and round in my head. It just kind of keeps you calm, doesn’t it? Yeah I go to Adele, “Make You Feel My Love,” all those things.

Those are some solid scream-sing options.

Exactly. You just don’t get tired of them.

Originally published on Esquire US.

I'm not certain whether James Taylor meant to predict the takeover of artificial intelligence and the death of our collective imagination in his 1970 song “Fire and Rain.” Still, somewhere a music teacher is saying to herself: “Called it.”

That teacher is Miss Molloy—a bowl-cutted, crochet-sweatered, denim-skirted woman of 23 or 53—who taught our third-grade music class. One autumn morning, after we sang “Fire and Rain” off mimeographed lyric sheets, Miss Molloy taught us what the song was about, which was the robot apocalypse. “Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you” meant she had succumbed to the computer chip in her brain, as had all of humanity. This left Sweet Baby James the last remaining human, with the song he’d written her, but he “just can’t remember who to send it to,” because his own chip had been implanted and the surrender of his own consciousness had begun. Pretty chilling stuff for third graders, but we absorbed it, uncritically.

Fifteen years later, I was in a friend’s dorm room listening to “Fire and Rain,” and I said, “I love this song, as scary as it is.” My friend looked at me with concern. I continued, “With the robots and everything?” And then about four seconds later it hit me: I’m going to have to make up a pseudonym for that teacher, because she absolutely got high.

That assessment stands, but listen: It’s 2023, I have at least three pieces of wearable tech on my body at all times, and AI has come for my job. But the most insidious development is that robots that curate our choices, guiding us on what to read, watch, and listen to. When you open Spotify, dozens of playlists wait for you—none of which you or anyone you know created. We have surrendered our taste to the machine. And what’s worse, we’re starting to forget we lived a different way.

Miss Molloy’s interpretation of “Fire and Rain” is objectively bananapants. But was she wrong about the future?

There's a line in Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity in which the record-store-owning main character says, “What really matters is what you like, not what you are like.” Twenty-eight years after the release of the book, Spotify has prompted new questions: What do we lose when we stop making our own playlists? If the algorithm decides what we like, then what are we like?

“There’s no way a Spotify playlist is as good as a mixtape, or at least mine aren’t,” Hornby tells me. “Because you had to do things in real time, you had the opportunity to think and hear. You were reminded of a lyric, a beat, a sound that would lead you to the next song.” You had to think about who you were giving it to and how you could change their world. “There’s no construction now. In the digital era, it’s just: Here’s some songs you might like.” What I miss—just enough to remember it, for now—is a well-curated jukebox, the way a dollar-bill-huffing machine with a 100-compact-disc capacity could express the personality of a place. My favourite was at the Boiler Room, a friendly, scruffy gay bar in the East Village. This was the ’90s, and we East Village gays shunned the mainstream, so the selection was just slightly to the left of it: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Stereolab, Cibo Matto. The exact right soundtrack for a room packed with guys who could fit into X-girl T-shirts. A curatorial ear and a hive mind.

Without curation, everything is also nothing.

I returned to the Boiler Room recently, and as most places have, it’s adopted an Internet-enabled jukebox. Every song that exists on streaming, at your fingertips. But without curation, everything is also nothing. The hive mind breaks down into individual bees. A proper jukebox, like a homemade mixtape, is already largely a memory.

And soon enough it won’t be. It will be a thing you forgot even existed in the first place, like decent mass-produced chocolate, like a flight that doesn’t end with a pitch for a credit card. Like the Boiler Room itself, which is closing later this year.

"The absence of curveballs in algorithmic playlists is noticeable,” Hornby says. “I don’t want something that sounds exactly like what I usually listen to, just like I don’t want recommendations for books in a similar vein to the ones I write.” Right around the time Hornby was writing High Fidelity, the best mixtape I ever got came from a college friend named Brady. It arrived in my P. O. Box just before I graduated and moved to New York City. There were pop songs, left-field disco tracks, and at the end of side 1, “Being Alive,” from Stephen Sondheim’s Company. I’d never heard it and It was a gut punch: the precise sound of my soul as I prepared to start my life. A reminder to be less aloof in the real world than I had been in college. An I see you from someone I didn’t know was watching. A life changer.

The algorithm can’t be Brady. It can give you what it knows you want. But without human insight, it cannot give you what you need. It will not encourage you to evolve, because it cannot work as well if you do. The algorithm can know you. Scarily well. But it cannot love you. Commit an act of rebellion today: Make a playlist for someone. Assemble it with care. Throw in some curveballs. Choose a song or two that will make them feel seen, give it a clever name, text it to the person. Do it right now, before the chip takes hold of your brain.

I want to find Miss Molloy. I want to tell her I remember. All I have to do is find her. Anybody got an extra ticket to Burning Man?

Illustration By Matt Mahurin

Originally published on Esquire US

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, 52, is the cofounder and drummer of the Roots, the house band for The Tonight Show since 2014. But that's just one of his many jobs. He’s also a highly successful DJ, record producer, podcaster, author, and filmmaker—not to mention a walking encyclopedia of musical history. In 2022, the first movie he directed, Summer of Soul, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. "I'm a guy just living out his dreams, that's all," he says, speaking to us from his home in New York City. He is currently working on a documentary about funk pioneer Sly Stone and hosting an interview series on YouTube called "Quest for Craft." His eighth book, Hip-Hop is History, will be released in 2024.

The most Philadelphia thing about me is my entitled double-parking tendencies nationwide. To be from Philadelphia is to park where you want with absolutely no repercussions. You do that in Los Angeles and you’re instantly getting a ticket. I learned that quickly.

The blood in my veins
 and my DNA is made up of Soul Train. Even now I have all eleven hundred episodes of Soul Train, and I keep it on a twenty-four-hour loop on all televisions in my house.

My dad was a fifties doo-wop legend. His name was Lee Andrews. Lee Andrews & the Hearts was the name of his band.

My parents did not believe in babysitting. At no point did I feel like I was being tricked into the family business; it was just my everyday life. But I also realized, in that Michael Jackson way, I definitely missed out on a childhood.

I was a stage manager by the age of ten.

When you’re Black and living in America, you’re living in fight or flight.

Fun for me was binge-shopping for records with Dad every two weeks, We'd head to the King James record store and we’d buy about $200 worth of LPs and about US$100 worth of 45’s. We would give said 33’s and 45’s to my dad’s band to learn songs. My dad’s band would take the hits and I would get the leftovers.

My last non-showbiz job, when I graduated high school, was selling accidental death and dismemberment insurance. I’m very grateful those guys fired me on my birthday in 1992 when I wanted to take the day off. Five months later, we started busking and the Roots as you know it were born. Then we had a record deal a year later.

When you’re Black and living in America, you’re living in fight or flight. When you’re living in fight or flight, you’re living in fear. Safety and survival come first.

The best thing about my parents is they gave me the equipment to dream. The B side to that is that I don’t think I allowed myself to dream much. I heard a lot of “Get a backup plan.” Now I just realised, at this age, “Oh, I have dreams.”

The easiest part of making Summer of Soul was that I had those gifts in me all along. I was a natural-born storyteller, as I love both history and music. The hardest thing was discovering how easy it was. At first, I was like, “Why me?” I ran away from the prospect of even doing the movie, and it found me. It found and attacked me.

I’m a humongous fan of Rocky and Bullwinkle. People do not give kids enough credit for how smart they are. Rocky and Bullwinkle are not condescending at all.

Before the age of forty-six, I listened to only music. Now 80 percent of everything I listen to are tuning forks.

I also listen to a lot of binaural beats. It’s just the sound of a tone. It’s weird to say, “Yeah, 432 megahertz is my favourite song ever. That’s my favourite tone.” That’s what I wake up and sleep to.

I almost feel as though I could be the Drake of binaural beats.

Food is a social adhesive. If there’s a chef in the budget, you’ll really ensure that people are going to show up. Because starving artists like food.

Making French toast with croissants is my thing.

In the beginning, I enjoyed hip-hop because it challenged me. Suddenly I’m hearing my parents’ record collection inside of a Public Enemy album, inside of a Tribe Called Quest album. Once I heard that, then I’m like, “Oh, this is amazing.”

I have a life coach. A month after I won my Oscar, she was like, “All right, you’ve got to get in the big leagues now. Now you’re going to have to have a chief of staff.”

It’s one of the wisest things that I’ve ever done. I used to just stand in the eye of the storm and make decisions. I never allowed myself to have just time.

There are four things that I do every morning without fail or else my day is out of whack.

When I first wake up, I spend ten minutes in absolute gratitude. Sometimes it’s just saying thank you for the color red. Thank you for these socks on my feet. You have to be in a constant state of gratitude to the universe. The second thing is deep breath work. The third thing I do is stretch.

The fourth thing is affirmations. In the beginning, I felt stupid as hell, but I’m in a muscle-memory place with it now. You go to the mirror and start talking to yourself. You’ve got to go from a state of “Am I?” to “I am.” Usually I just say very short, simple mantras: I am worthy, I am loved, I am talented, I am smart.

On Saturday mornings, I write a complete 50-step dream goal—the 50 things that I want to achieve. And I have to say that my manifesting record is almost like 80 per cent.

Originally published on Esquire US

Getty Images

What could be more of a flex than performing at Lollapalooza while sporting an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak? Wearing a personalised, limited-edition Audemars Piguet Royal Oak for your performance at Lollapalooza. And it looks like that's exactly what Lil Yachty did this past weekend, strapping a version of the celebrity-beloved watch—reworked by the French operation MAD Paris—on his wrist for his headliner-worthy set (which actually took place a few hours before Lana Del Ray and the Red Hot Chili Peppers did their respective things on the main stages).

Want to throw another heavy-hitter name into the mix? Let's do it. MAD Paris didn't take on this project all by its own. Mathew Williams was also involved. If you need a refresher, Williams is the brains behind Givenchy as well as 1017 Alyx 9SM. This Royal Oak was customised for the latter brand and features a very clean dial that forgoes the customary tapisserie treatment in favour of a smooth, brushed finish. The clasp has also undergone a contemporary transformation, mirroring the industrial closure that Williams favours for belts, purses and various accessories.

Barry Brecheisen//Getty Images

The price to put your hands on something like the watch Mr Yachty is wearing? According to Hypebeast, the original iteration, which was produced in a series of 40, went for USD81,000—though there's no telling what kind of markup one might be looking at on the secondary market. If you ask us, that might deserve a little more main-stage time than Anthony Kiedis.

Originally published on Esquire US

It is the year 2051. It turns out that some of our needs haven’t changed: sodas, smokes, chips, and drugs. But the drugs have different names. Fancy any Tuner? Gunk? Maybe even some hard-to-find Panic? (Be careful with that one.) Well, Felix and Louie have you covered. It’s all available from a ramshackle wooden stand—located at a nondescript corner in Los Angeles—where the pair toil away. While the drugs fell into the guys’ laps, they may just provide enough of a monetary windfall for Louie to finally get a ticket to visit Mars. Oh, right—going to Mars will be a thing by 2051. Given how bleak things will be on Earth by then, who wouldn’t want to get away?

That’s the scenario envisioned in the short film Head High, from the absurdly creative minds behind Paris Texas—the experimental hip-hop duo of the pseudonymous Louie Pastel and Felix. Along with the film, the group has recently turned out a string of music videos: “PANIC!!!,” “BULLET MAN,” “Everybody’s Safe Until…” and the new “DnD,” which paint a backdrop of the dystopian world in which Mars takes place.

All of it has led up to last week’s release of the main event: one of the most anticipated records of the year. MID AIR, the first full-length album from Paris Texas, delivers 16 tracks that thrillingly throw genre caution to the wind, as astute rap bars meet electropunk, drum 'n' bass, hard rock riffage, buzzing synths, funky breaks, alt-rock melodics and more. Temperamentally, there’s a ton of angst, but also irony, laughs, sentiment, reflections on struggles and loss, wry takes on labels and guns, and occasionally, pure elation. It’s sharp, pummeling, irresistible, and insistent, even in its sweetest spots,. MID AIR is surely—we say this not even seven months into 2023—one of the year’s greatest albums.

Whatever you do, don’t call Paris Texas rap-rock. "If that’s your only focus point of who we are," Louie (below) says, "well you’re dumb as shit. I’ll die on that hill.”

None of this is a surprise to those who discovered Paris Texas two and a half years ago. They opened 2021 with a genre-blurring single, “HEAVY METAL,” followed by two breathtaking EPs, BOY ANONYMOUS and Red Hand Akimbo. Each drew critical and fan praise that recalled the late-aughts discovery of fellow rowdy Californians Odd Future and Death Grips. 

BOY ANONYMOUS was accompanied by its own short film, which cast the fellas as workaday employees of Ditch Maid, a “#1 Body Recovery Service.” Read: They make fresh corpses disappear. At the time, as press interest in the multimedia creatives ramped up, Felix and Louie were quick to remind interviewers that they were only getting started—and they weren’t kidding.

“It’s just more concise,” Louie tells me of MID AIR, when I catch up with the Paris Texas over Zoom. “I love this project. But there was so much going on, just in life, that we had to sort through. So it is a collection of really good songs again—it’s definitely more our first album. More concise ideas that we didn’t really do with the first one. With BOY ANONYMOUS, we like to put bits and pieces of our personalities in there, but with this one we got more into storytelling—and got in more tidbits about ourselves. So that’s something we figured out on this record: how to say more than we’ve ever done before.”

I remember being 14, seeing a beheading video, and showing my friends. We’d laugh 'cause it was fucking horrifying!

MID AIR’s most hard-hitting electro bangers—including “tenTHIRTYseven,” “BULLET MAN,” and “Earth-2” have more in common with The Prodigy than traditional hip-hop. Really, they may fuel the simplistic question that’s dogged the duo since their breakout: Are they rap? Are they rock? Or are they—wait for it—“rap-rock”? I'm old enough to remember when that hyphenate was used to refer to a certain era of rather numbskulled music (with which the guys having nothing in common).

But rap and rock have dovetailed in different iterations for decades, but rarely this inventively. Paris Texas are more than aware of the conversation. On 2021’s “Dr. Aco’s Miracle Bullets,” Louie concedes, “Can’t tell if it’s rap, can’t tell if it’s rock, I walk in between.” On “PANIC!!!” he offers, “I came into this bitch with no genre… why the fuck would I stop… fuck you think tryna put me in a box?”

“We just lean into what we know,” says Louie, who handles “85 percent” of Paris Texas’ production—and who, as a teenager, was a fan of post-hardcore. “Sometimes, after the first record, we didn’t know whether to continue down this path of like, rock shit. And then, our friend Kenny Beats [a co-producer on Red Hand Akimbo], was like, ‘Yo, don’t run from the thing that got you on.’ So we just decided to embrace it more. And it got funner. But it takes time. I mean, we were obviously not the biggest or the first persons to do this hip-hop-rock thing, at all. But it just felt like a lot of pressure, where everybody was suddenly just putting us in that same category. Then we just embraced it."


Louie laughs at the rap-rock question in his lyrics, but when it comes to reducing his multi-pronged artistic project to a simple genre binary, he goes off: “It’s just so crazy, with what Paris Texas really is? Visuals, movies, craziest videos, short stories, crazy album art, songs that don’t make any sense—that have 30 bridges and breaks like that? So anybody being like, 'rap-rock!' It’s like: you’re a fucking idiot. That’s all you see it as? I mean, to think that that is the focus point of Paris Texas? If that’s your only focus point of who we are, well you’re dumb as shit. I’ll die on that hill.”

Much of the default impulse in young hip-hop today is for turnt-up, rage music—you can hardly find an artist on a Rolling Loud bill that doesn’t want to open this shit up and form a mosh pit. Rock and rap have merged more than any time in history—and Louie gets it. “Life’s really hard right now,” he explains. “During quarantine, Black Mirror came out and said, ‘We’re not making another season in these times,’ just because everybody was so scared. In the real world right now, everybody is just really scared. We learn something new and tragic every day. And I don’t know if a rapper, or any musician’s take is any different from anybody else’s—and I don’t know if anybody wants to be reminded of that right now. So I don’t blame anybody for, like, duh. Nobody’s relaxed right now.”

“Obviously, any type of compliment is received and appreciated,” Felix (L) explains of Paris Texas’ popularity. “But we see also how it is when people try to make something way more extreme than what it is."

While conversing, Felix and Louie are both highly chatty, bursting with ideas and cultural reference points. Felix is the slightly more affable of the two, while Louie is more sharp-elbowed—a bit more wild-eyed and skeptical. He's perfectly friendly, but you get the slight feeling if you stepped in, he might take no prisoners. Their decade-long history is clear: they have that thing where they can finish each others' thoughts.

While conversing, Felix and Louie are both highly chatty, bursting with ideas and cultural reference points. Louie is more sharp-elbowed, a little more wild-eyed, and sceptical, whereas Felix is a little friendlier. Although he is really pleasant, you have the uneasy impression that if you approached him, he might take no prisoners. Their ten-year history makes it evident that they have the ability to complete one other's sentences.

MID AIR, the guys concede, is really an album of two halves, and the first half could not be more tightly wound with existential dread. Felix’s hook line from “Everybody’s Safe Until…” is an infectious singalong, rife with paranoia, as he riffs: “There’s people trying to kill me.” “tenTHIRTYseven” asks, “Who wanna die?” Meanwhile, “Closed Caption” delves into domestic strife. “PANIC!!!” is manic, and the lyrics of “BULLET MAN” blithely reference guns—“Shoot out the whip/shoot at the kids/shoot at the bitch”—while its video may be the most harrowing of the year. An AR-armed, old-white NRA type fires on a young Black man—and from the bullet’s POV, we see it relentlessly chase the kid all over town before eventually, inevitably, finding its mark. The victim collapses at a fast-food restaurant in front of Felix and Louie, who are getting takeout. “Ah, hell nah!” they exclaim, before moving along. It's a darkly funny ending to a grim, surreal-but-too-real video, and pure Paris Texas.

“I don’t know, anytime I see anything really fucked up, I laugh,” Louie admits. “It’s like, laughing is kind of a defense mechanism—at something you don’t understand. A lot of times, when you see something really crazy, you’re gonna laugh. Or after the fact. You know how much crazy shit I’ve seen in my life? You know how much crazy stuff I’ve been at? I remember being 14, seeing a beheading video, and showing my friends. We’d laugh 'cause it was fucking horrifying! All you can do is laugh it off. So we just always try and find some sense of humor or sense of fun.' Cause there’s nothing you can do about it. With gun violence, racism—I have nothing profound to say.”


There’s humor in Paris Texas’ inspired lyrics, with song titles like “Lana Del Rey,” which is a canny rejoinder to the pop star’s own song, “Paris, Texas.” Sometimes the fun comes in videos via famous friends. Wild man JPEGMAFIA makes an appearance in “PANIC!!!” and comedian Noel Miller features in a mind-blowing chapter of Head High. In the film series’ introduction—a faux ad for a “Ticket to Mars"—indie rock A-lister Mac DeMarco cameos as a pitch man hawking the chance to escape an Earth riddled with “racism, poverty, homophobia, arachnophobia.” Felix says of DeMarco, “That’s a funny guy. Mac was born in the wrong era!” But he says I need to ask Mac himself about how the link-up happened. So I did. Over email, DeMarco told me it was through their mutual friend Kenny Beats that he first met Paris Texas a couple of years ago. “Really love their tunes, and Louie and Felix are wonderful people as well,” he added. “They are truly gentlemen.”

Those gentlemen have traveled quite the journey to get to the place they are now. Seated next to Louie on our Zoom is Jesus, a friend who—in a story that’s now Paris Texas legend—first introduced Louie and Felix a decade ago, when they were in community college. The pair vibed immediately, having skills that complemented each other. Five long years passed: stops and starts, honing an idea into a sound and a reality, soul-crushing day jobs and sometimes no jobs. In 2018, Paris Texas dr0pped its first EP, the self-released I’ll get my revenge in hell. It was three more years, plus the hiring of a manager, and a distribution deal with Sony subsidiary The Orchard that things truly broke open. The guys are loathe to share too much about their personal lives, but their existence has clearly changed. “Life changed dramatically,” says Felix. “I don’t want to speak on all of it, but life changed immediately. We’re two totally different people, just two years later.”

"DnD (ft. Kenny Mason)"

At a time when 17-year-olds regularly blow up in hip-hop on the strength of one or two singles, it’s increasingly rare—and inspiring—to see that an artist can grind out a slow and steady path to success in their mid-to-late 20s, simply on the strength of jaw-dropping, undeniable music. “As for it being ten years, and it being hard—I feel like that process made it healthier. It got to the point where we grew up,” Louie concludes. “A lot of times when you ask somebody that’s younger, or someone that blows up in a short amount of time? Things can get very weird and blurry. By the time we blew up, we were already mature—and understood each other. It was still frustrating. Still hard. But I can’t imagine all this happening eight years ago. I mean, with the same problems I have now? I wouldn’t have been able to understand it.”

The two appear to have acquired a healthy skepticism of the business, the media, and even fan acclaim as a result of their experience. Paris Texas still don’t have a label deal and seem in no hurry to get one, preferring to see who really is committed to them. Attention can be intense and seductive, but also fleeting, and they take nothing for granted. On MID AIR’s penultimate track—part of the project’s more peaceful second half—they profess appreciation. “Ain’t No High,” an alt-rock ballad with Smashing Pumpkins/Nirvana-styled guitar, admits,“My brother has a bigger house than I do, a bigger yard and a swimming pool,” but concludes, “Ain’t no high like this one, ain’t no high like this.”

But even today, as ready as they are for the album to drop—and with their first proper U.S. tour set for this fall—Felix echoes something that he said two years ago, when Paris Texas found fame: we’ll see. “Obviously, any type of compliment is received and appreciated,” he explains. “But we see also how it is when people try to make something way more extreme than what it is. And then, it’s really not that. When everything really comes is with the test of time. People are fickle. And it’s like—let us earn that praise. And when you stand the test of time, people might say, ‘Oh that was a fun moment.’ But it can be more than a moment. Sometimes.”

Originally published on Esquire US

If you ever want the intelligentsia up in arms about aesthetics and the merits of conscious rap, bring up the subject over dinner. If you want to hear a Harlem barbershop hella vociferous with avowed expertise, mention some list compiled by a music mag. If you want to lose the lion’s share of a few nights’ sleep, pay serious consideration to rank one yourself. That was me over a few days in April as I prepared my list of the five all-time greatest rappers.

Rap music's origins trace back to the Bronx, where many of its pioneers were former members of crews or gangs and used battling as an alternative to actual violence as well as a way to foster esteem. Throughout its evolution, rap has retained its fiercely competitive nature, one whose artists tout themselves as the biggest, best, greatest. The “top five dead or alive”, that aggressive spirit makes it ripe for ranking. However, before delving into that realm, let's consider a few important points.

The criteria I use for my list are Skills, Content, Bona fides, and Impact. I must also disclose that I am quite critical of a significant portion of the new rap scene—the mumbling, the seeming de-emphasis on technical skills, and the mundane perspective that rap is merely a path to wealth. Furthermore, I don't advocate promoting obscure elements as a means to criticise the mainstream.

1. Jay-Z.


Jay's an exceptional storyteller and wordsmith, adept at creating powerful imagery, metaphors, and analogies. Moreover, he possesses a wide range of styles and is renowned for his insightful wisdom.


Jay has spent much time mining his backstory as a hustler and ascendance to rap’s first billionaire. He spoke his place in this pantheon into existence, rapping in hi-s “Grammy Family” freestyle, “Hov got flow though he’s no Big and Pac, but he’s close / How I’m ’posed to win? They got me fightin’ ghosts.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a better song about the hood than “Where I’m From.” His oeuvre also includes the daring 4:44, which plumbs his once-troubled marriage, and some of rap’s most memorable guest appearances, like his four- minute verse on DJ Khaled’s “God Did,” historicising America’s war on drugs.

Bona fides:

Jay holds prestigious spots in the Songwriters Hall of Fame (as the first rapper ever) and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He also holds the record for the most Billboard 200 No. 1 albums for solo acts and has won an impressive 24 Grammys in hip-hop, tying with Kanye for the most in the genre


The irrefutable successes of Roc-A-Fella Records, Rocawear, and Roc Nation have helped launch Kanye West and Rihanna into the stratosphere. His astronomical wealth in a genre born as an antidote to structural poverty—he proclaimed, “I’m out for presidents to represent me” on his first single—is an exemplar of manifesting a destiny.

2. Kendrick Lamar.


Another rapper sans technical weakness. He can rap fast or slow; create unforgettable metaphors, and analogies as great as “Swimming Pools”; rivet us with storytelling à la “DUCKWORTH.” Kendrick demonstrates his versatility by adjusting his tone, delivering a softer vibe in songs like 'Auntie Diaries' or going all-out incendiary on Big Sean's 'Control': 'I'm in destruction mode if the gold exists / I'm as important as the Pope, I'm a Muslim on pork / I'm Makaveli's offspring, I'm the king of New York.


Each album is a concept—a day in his young life in Compton (good kidm.A.A.d City), or a therapy session (Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers) exploring the uncommon territory of gender, toxic masculinity, and sexual abuse. He also spends as much time as any rapper inhabiting the interior lives of others. He rapped as a young woman on “Keisha’s Song” and was Nipsey Hussle on “The Heart Part 5.”

Bona fides:

DAMN. made Kendrick the first artist outside classical or jazz to win a Pulitzer Prize. He’s won 17 Grammys, including three for Best Rap Album.


Despite not making it his sole focus, Kendrick has achieved tremendous mainstream success, with tracks like "Humble," "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe," and "Love" immediately springing to mind, though his most significant song is “Alright,” the unofficial anthem of Black Lives Matter. After a cosign from Dr. Dre and a classic debut, Kendrick seized the crown of the West Coast and is the most laureled and important rapper of his generation.

3. Tupac.


While Tupac may be considered the least technically gifted among the top five MCs, his go-to delivery—a melodic singsong—is undeniably the most distinctive in all of hip-hop. What he lacked in varied rhyme patterns and tropes he compensated for with passion, charisma galore, and a knack for selling what he said as scripture.


Pac left an indelible mark on rap with some of its most timeless songs: the anthemic "Dear Mama," the poignant "Brenda's Got a Baby" and "Keep Ya Head Up," alongside commercial hits like "California Love" and "How Do U Want It." Not to mention, he stirred up intense controversy with the fiery "Hit 'Em Up." Pac broke through on Digital Underground’s posse hit “Same Song” in 1991. He was killed five years later. In between, he served nine months in prison for sexual abuse, a sentence cut short by Suge Knight paying his seven-figure bail. Pac signed to Knight’s Death Row Records and released two albums, the first being his diamond-selling magnum opus All Eyez on Me. On “California Love,” its first single, he announced, “Out on bail fresh outta jail, California dreamin’ / Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearin’ hoochies screamin’.”

Bona fides:

Pac has sold more than 75 million albums—four released while he was alive, eight posthumous—and became the first solo rap artist in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


Not only is Tupac one of the few figures known the world over by his first name, his lore seems eternal.

4. Biggie Smalls, 
a.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G.


Biggie had a preternatural gift for language. The opening of “Who Shot Ya”: “Who shot ya? Separate the weak from the obsolete / Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets / It’s on ni%%*, fuck all that bickerin’ beef / I can hear sweat tricklin’ down your cheek.” He was a consummate storyteller, as evidenced in the booty-call-gone-bad tale of “I Got a Story to Tell”; could go from bravado to the self- deprecating candor of “Heartthrob—never / Black and ugly as ever.” Notably, he displayed his versatility, mastering any style, as demonstrated when he skillfully outrapped Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in their own signature style on 'Notorious Thugs.'


Biggie favored hyperbolic street tales but was an astute chronicler of hood hardships. (See “Juicy.”) And on a posse cut, his verse was the best verse—period. “I been had skills, Cristal spills / Hide bills in Brazil, about a mil, the ice grill” began his incredible verses on Puffy’s “It’s All About the Benjamins (Remix).”

Bona fides:

He released just two albums—the ominous Ready to Die and the prophetic Life After Death (the latter a few weeks after his murder)—but each has sold more than 5 million. Add: First-ballot induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


Premature death amplified Biggie’s legacy, but his living impact was also significant. He helped herald Lil’ Kim, a future icon in her own right, and was the luminous nexus of the Junior M.A.F.I.A. crew, whose debut album went gold. Had Biggie not been killed so young, he might’ve become the incontrovertible GOAT.

5. Lil Wayne.


Wayne is a virtuosic wordsmith who began his career as an 11-year-old wunderkind on Cash Money Records. Like Biggie, there’s no style beyond his repertoire. He can sustain a narrative but seems more at home in the lyric—his verses luxuriate in image, metaphor, punchlines. On “A Milli” he raps, “A million here, a million there / Sicilian bitch with long hair, with coke in her derriere / Like smokin’ the thinnest air / I open the Lamborghini, hoping them crackers see me / Like, look at that bastard Weezy.” His drawl—made more pronounced in his syrup- sipping days—is inimitable.


Wayne has spent a helluva lot of his career boasting about his skills, threatening opps, testifying to the violence of his hometown, and boasting of his sexual prowess. He’s a notable contributor to some iconic Cash Money songs, including “Back That Thang Up” and “Bling, Bling.”

Bona fides:

Twenty-one million albums sold. Nine platinum. Five Grammys, including the coveted Best Rap Album for Tha Carter III.


Wayne had one of the most successful runs in the history of mixtapes. He’s credited with launching Nicki Minaj and Drake, major artists by any measure. As Wayne, the biggest artist from the South’s most storied label, rapped on “Mr. Carter”: “The next time you mention Pac, Biggie, or Jay-Z / Don’t forget Weezy.”

My list. Why does it, or any damn list, even matter? Because hip-hop was born as a way for Black and brown people to fight oppression. Because what better way to assert worth than to be judged excellent if not the most excellent in a given field? The list of the top five all-time MCs counts because hip-hop is American. And greatness, or so the propaganda goes, is the American way.

Originally published on Esquire US

I don’t know no shame,” Sinéad O’Connor sang in “Mandinka,” her first hit song, from her 1987 debut album The Lion and the Cobra, “I feel no pain.” If the first claim was true—which for anyone raised Catholic anywhere is a skyscraper-sized “if”—the second was demonstrably false. Sinéad O’Connor’s life and career and art were about pain: exorcising it, escaping it, endlessly searching for ways to transcend her own and to spare future generations theirs. Yet, relief and reprieve eluded her as loss and abuse repeatedly struck her life, persisting until the very end. The news of her passing today, at the remarkably young age of 56, just a year and a half after her son Shane's death, comes as both a shock and an inevitability."

As an artist, she was the voice of an Ireland summoning the power to shake off a theocracy. At the time of her birth in 1966, the Catholic Church maintained such sway over the Irish government that divorce and remarriage were forbidden (and remained so until 1995), so her father had to emigrate to America after leaving her mother. Such a thing as a “home for fallen women, operated by nuns” existed—a “Magdalene laundry,” as they were known—and Sinéad was sent to one at age 15 for shoplifting. It gave her a chance to work on her music, which is the bright side.

She made her American debut as a backup singer for World Party, a group that was formed by members of the renowned British-Irish band The Waterboys. She’s there in the video for their first single “Private Revolution,” and she steals the show with the shaved head and the joy she expresses. You can’t hear her exactly, but there is ecstatic release in the dancing.

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The next year saw the release of The Lion and the Cobra, and while "Mandinka" became the album's first big single, it wasn't the album's first single; instead, it was "Troy," whose video appeared on an early episode of MTV's 120 Minutes. It’s a six-and-a-half-minute song, one that has movements, none of which would have gotten played on the radio. “Troy” is a howl of a song, the arrival of a singular artist. A statement.

“When I moved to Dublin in the late ‘80s, Sinéad O’Connor was the only cool Irish person I could think of,” says Irish actor and writer Tara Flynn. “Maybe Phil Lynott, but that was it. She was the coolest, most outspoken, most beautiful person you could think of.” The Lion and the Cobra also contained “I Want Your (Hands On Me)” a song that speaks to her coolness, a song whose remix was way ahead of the “pop songs with rap breaks” curve.

She broke through globally with a cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” but you know that already. You have heard how she turns a breakup song into an expression of pure mourning, how she goes through all five Kubler-Ross stages of grief and then goes back and adds three more. It was huge in 1990, inescapable really, in a way no artist could replicate.

All but the very smartest artists would try anyway.

Sinéad didn't hold back. In 1992, she released "Am I Not Your Girl?," an album featuring jazz standards, and during its promotional tour, she appeared on Saturday Night Live where the unforgettable moment you're familiar with occurred. You’ve seen the big moment, the “fight the real enemy,” the ripping apart of the photograph of Pope John Paul II. But have you watched the performance? The pure, clear-eyed rage? The determination? The absolute bravery of going on SNL to do this song at all, much less a cappella? Legendary.

And as for the ripping of the picture: we knew she was right, even then. “When she got international fame, she spoke out against the Catholic Church,” Flynn says, “and that’s something not many of us were ready to do. I wasn’t.” The global press tortured her, Frank Sinatra said “For her sake, we’d better never meet.” You got the impression that was pretty much it for her commercially in the States and that it was perfect for her. She continued to put out albums, some of which combined catharsis with pop perfection, like "No Man's Woman" from the year 2000.

She also continued to look for relief from the pain of her abusive childhood and her perhaps more abusive relationship with fame. Though she was outspoken in her criticism of the Catholic Church, she never fully left faith behind. She was ordained a priest in the Irish Orthodox Catholic Church and called herself Mother Bernadette Mary for a time, before changing her name to Magda Davitt, then converting to Islam and changing her name yet again, to Shuhada Sadaqat. Ten years ago, having heard that Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video was inspired by her own “Nothing Compares 2 U,” O’Connor wrote Cyrus an open letter that deserves to be read in full. But here’s a representative sample:

None of the men ogling you give a shit about you, do not be fooled. Many's the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn't mean they give a fuck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don't give much of a fuck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don't give much of a fuck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped … and that includes you yourself. Yes, I'm suggesting you don't care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don't encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and its associated media.

She was candid and open about the impact the Pope incident had on her career. “People say ‘oh, you fucked up your career,’ but they’re talking about the career they had in mind for me. I fucked up the house in Antigua that the record company dudes wanted to buy. I fucked up their career, not mine. It meant I had to live my life playing, and I am born for live performance.”

Ireland on the day of Sinéad’s death is vastly different from the country she was born into. Abortion is legal, and gay marriage is the law of a land where homosexuality was illegal until 1993. A once-repressive country has become one of the world’s most progressive. “There is no Ireland moving away from the Church as we have without Sinéad,” says Flynn. “There is no me speaking out about abortion, there are none of the many ways legislation has changed in this country.”

O’Connor receives the Classic Irish Album award for "I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got" at the RTÉ Choice Music Prize at Vicar Street on March 9, 2023 in Dublin.

“It’s almost impossible to put into words what Sinéad meant to Ireland,” says Hugh O’Conor, who directed her 2015 video “8 Good Reasons.” “She was a true artist who sang from her raging soul, she was perhaps our most gifted songwriter and musician.” O’Conor recommends the recent O’Connor documentary Nothing Compares, directed by Kathryn Ferguson, streaming now on Hulu and Paramount+. “It’s worth seeking it out to witness her fierce strength and unforgettable fire. It’s such an immense loss.”

“The Church that she bucked against is still very vivid in this country, the secrecy and the control of it is still revealing itself in people’s family lives,” Flynn says. “The bullshit is still unfolding. She stood up square against it. People laughed, people ridiculed her because they weren’t ready to stand up to the misogyny of the Catholic Church. But everything she said about them, everything that she said about mental health, it was true. Everything.”

Tara Flynn and I get off the phone, and twenty minutes later, she sends me a WhatsApp.

A single word.


Originally published on Esquire US

Remember the highs at a concert? The exhilarating anticipation when the lights dim at a live music show? Especially after the lockdown, the yen for live entertainment exploded since the start of the year. Are ticket prices too high? Yeah. But we're making up for pandemic time. Our shores look like it will be graced with some choice acts. Here's a list of some of the upcoming acts that we've compiled.

The 1975

The 1975 will finally be performing in Singapore after four years. Despite recent controversy surrounding the lead singer’s problematic comments on a podcast, the concert announcement has been received well. They will be performing their latest record Being Funny in a Foreign Language as well as their hit songs like “Robbers” and many more.

The 1975 At Their Very Best Tour will be happening at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre on 18th July.


The Japanese-American Singer-songwriter will be making a stop by Singapore for their Asia tour for the first time. Their name quickly rose to fame in 2018 with their song "Remember Me" quickly making an impact in the R&B genre. Performing their debut album Forest in the City, they explore themes of self-discovery and relationship dynamics. All while experimenting with unique instrumentations that differentiate it from their previous work. Catch Umi at the Capitol Theatre on 26th August.

Peach Tree Rascals

If you're not familiar with Peach Tree Rascals, think of that TikTok dance to the popular song "Mariposa", Yep, that's them. Beyond their viral hit, The Peach Tree Rascals are also known for making music described as car-worthy tunes to listen to while the windows are down. Look forward to hearing their debut album Camp Nowhere where they blend different genres while singing about love and vulnerability live at the Hard Rock Singapore on 19th July.

The Strokes

The Grammy-winning quintet is set to showcase their new sound from their 2020 release, The New Abnormal which ventures away from their renowned rock style. With glitchy electronic synthesisers and expansive guitar riffs, the band will surely make an impactful first performance in Singapore. Don't miss the chance to rock out and headbang to their songs at the Capitol Theatre on 2nd August.

Daniel Caeser

Following the recent release of his latest album Never Enough, the self-made musician announced the Superpowers tour. Having recorded the album predominantly during the pandemic, it allowed him to take bold creative leaps with this new release, diverging from his usual R&B style. With auto-tuned pitched-down vocals that complement his heartfelt love songs, and heart-wrenching ballads that transport you back to past heartbreaks. Catch him live at the Star Theatre on July 17th.

Bruno Major

The songsmith well-known for making soul-soothing ballads like "Nothing" and "Easily" will be making his return to Singapore. Originally a Jazz musician, Major started a name for himself after his debut album A Song for Every Moon heavily focusing on the R&B genre. He will be performing his classic hits along with his 2023 releases, "We Were Never Really Friends" and "Tell Her". Don't miss the chance to sway along to his melodic voice at the Capitol Theatre on 17th August.


As part of their Asia tour, Kodaline will be stopping by Singapore to showcase their latest release Our Roots Run Deep. The live stripped-down album highlights that raw bond between their music and the listeners, a testament to their community. Alongside showcasing their new release, the Irish rock band will also be performing beloved classics from their discography. Experience their intimate and raw performance at the Star Theatre on 3rd September.

Rex Orange County

Rex Orange County, also known as Alex O'Connor will be returning on the road again marking his comeback after a period of controversy surrounding an alleged sexual assault case. Known for his viral hit "Television/So Far So Good" , the singer will be performing his latest release Who Cares filled with captivating hooks and guitar instrumentations. Despite the challenges faced due to the aforementioned allegations the singer is now making his first strides forward, embracing this opportunity to reconnect with his fans. He will be performing at the Star Theatre on 17th October.

Lenny Krevitz with his instruments

A veteran of rock, blues, funk and soul, singer and multi-instrumentalist Lenny Kravitz has been announced as the latest ambassador of Jaeger-LeCoultre. Tapped for his distinctive style, bold attitude and artistic flair, Kravitz and his approach to music mirror the spirit of excellence and innovation the manufacture strives for.

“With his artistry, inventiveness and ability to transcend genres, Lenny epitomises Jaeger-LeCoultre’s values and style,” says Catherine Rénier, CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre.

In this exclusive interview, the musician—and watch enthusiast since childhood—shares more about his creative process, his most revered mentor, and how he styles his beloved Reverso timepiece.


Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from life—every aspect of it. Life is continually feeding my creativity.

What sparks your creativity? Is it something that usually comes naturally to you, or do you have to work at it?
My creativity always comes naturally. I want to be as far away as possible from making conscious decisions in that area. I want it to flow, so most of the time I’m dreaming my music and my creations.

How long does it usually take you to write a song, and have you ever had writer’s block?
It can take from five minutes to five weeks. I never know what it’s going to be. I thought I had writer’s block once when I was making my first album—in the middle of that recording—but it wasn’t a block. It was time when, as I realised later, I needed to be quiet, to be still, so that I could hear what I was going to be given. Sometimes you have to be still and be quiet.

Lenny Kravitz playing the guitar

Have you ever had a mentor?
Yes. My grandfather, Albert Roker, was my mentor and he’s still within my heart.

Have you ever mentored anyone?
Yes, I’ve been mentoring younger musicians—kids, especially in The Bahamas where I live—and it’s really interesting and satisfying to come into that place.

You have managed to stay on top of your game through different decades and different fashion eras. What is your favourite one?
My favourite one is something that hasn’t happened yet.

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Of all the fantastic art you have made, what are you most proud of? Is there a song, a film or other creative project that you are most proud of?
I don’t put one thing on top of another in terms of what’s better, or whether they’re all what they should be, but there are definitely special days. As a musician, making your first album is always really, really special. The first album, Let Love Rule, was where I entered and set the tone.

Do you have a favourite song from your own repertoire?
A favourite song of my own? That’s a hard one. Thinking of You is one of them. It’s a song that I wrote for my mother after she passed, and it’s one of my songs that is very important to me.

Lenny Kravitz poses with his amplifiers

Is there anything that you find really hard and have to work at?
I have to work at patience—slowing down and waiting. I like to do so many things at once and I don’t want to stop, but that’s not reality. So, learning to be patient, to wait and stay centred in the middle of that patience is something that I continually work on.

Do you have any rituals before you go on stage?
Not really. My ritual is just to feel myself—to feel ready. When I’m ready, when my band is rehearsed, when I feel confident that we’ve done all that we can to make it the best that it can be, I’m ready. So usually, it’s just very quiet in those moments before I go on. Then I just walk through the tunnel and onto the stage and go.

How will you describe yourself?
I’m an artist.

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You’ve already achieved a huge amount as a musician, singer, actor, designer and photographer. Are there any hidden talents the world hasn’t seen yet?
I’m looking forward to painting. That’s my next creative outlet. And surfing.

What are you most looking forward to about the year ahead? New album, new tour?
Absolutely. It’s been a few years since I’ve been on the road. I’m looking forward to releasing the new music that I recorded over the last three years and getting out on the road and playing and celebrating music in life.

What are the most important values that you hope to teach to the next generation?
Love. Love and more love.

You are watch collector. When did that passion start?
I think it started well before I even realised I had it in me. I think I started with my father when I was a kid because he had these cool watches in the 70s that I loved to look at and hold and play with. I wasn’t allowed to, but I used to grab them and play with the stop and start buttons on the watch.

Watchmaking and music have a deep connection, such as the tick-tock of the hands, the chime of a minute repeater, the entire concept of timing and rhythm. What interests you the most about watchmaking?
The precision and the craftsmanship.

And what is most important to you about a watch?
Obviously the function, but also the style, the way it looks, the way it fits on your wrist—it’s important to really connect with it; it has to become one with you.

How do you wear your Reverso? On what occasions do you flip it?
The best way to explain it is that I wear it very naturally. It feels like it’s always been there. That’s one of the beautiful things—it blends with me. I flip it whenever I want to change. That’s another beauty of this watch. You change moods, you change vibe, so you flip it over and you’ve got a whole new thing happening.

On which occasions do you wear it?
Usually when I’m in cities. When I’m on the island I tend not even to think about time, but when I go to a city and I’m working, I’m touring, I have things to do, then I absolutely wear it.

What does Jaeger-LeCoultre represent to you?
It represents craftsmanship, design and function at its best.

From: Grazia SG