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London born and bred superstar Labrinth, otherwise known as Timothy McKenzie, is not your average 23-year-old. Born into a large family, surrounded by music within London’s Hackney, Labrinth has been at the top of the game since his early teens.

Signed to Simon Cowell’s Syco label, he is the only artist without ‘talent-show winner’ status to be signed in the past six years. Originally a music producer, this singer-songwriter and rapper has produced some amazing tracks over the past three years of his career. Gaining ‘Best British Single’ at the 2011 BRIT Awards and ‘Best Contemporary Song’ at the 2011 Ivor Novello Awards, he has also achieved platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry for surpassing sales of 600,000 copies. Working alongside stars such as Professor Green and Tinie Tempah on tunes such as ‘Pass Out’, he has hit the top of the UK music charts and is now about to tour Australia and will be putting in an appearance at this year’s Parklife Festival. BBM’s Frankie Salt catches up with Labrinth to hear his epic tale about his path to success.

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Good morning Labs, how you doing mate?

I am good, good morning darling and how are you? I am in London and the sun is shining which is just so weird but it’s amazing and making me smile.

The last 12 months have been insane for you as an artist, tell me how it has been for you.

I’ve had a really good 12 months. A number three album, and I’m about to release my next single. Been touring, it’s been manic, but couldn’t have asked for a better 12 months really. We have had so many bookings, it’s been wild.

You have always been surrounded by music within your family, was music always going to be your life – or did you have something else in mind?

I actually wanted to be a builder… ha-ha, nah I’m chattin’ man – yeah music was always my life. Since the age of 13, I worked in a studio, working with people a lot older than me, and then it grew from there. My name got out there and got me to where I am today.

Did you enjoy school? Or was music your escape from education? How did you get noticed and what path did you take?

I got into a lot of trouble at school. I was a bit of a rebel and I didn’t want to do anything. So I just lost interest. Apart from music, I always enjoyed it and responded well. I always proper struggled in school, as I didn’t know I had learning difficulties. When I found it hard, I would lash out or leave. But now I know why. So yeah music was a kind of escape so I started to work, people saw my passion and it grew from there. I ended [up] working with Master Shorty, and after producing the album when I was 17 and releasing it when I was 18 – people really noticed the different sound- Tinie Tempah came to me and then it all fell into place.

You are signed to Simon Cowell’s label ‘Syco’, becoming the first non-talent show signing in six years. How did this come about?

At the time I released two records with Tinie – ‘Pass Out’ and ‘Frisky’, which reached the top of the charts, this then produced quite a buzz about me as a producer and an artist. Simon Cowell caught up with me and asked me to work with his artists, when he asked who was singing on the demos, which was me he said I had to get signed with him. Cowell put in an offer and it kicked off from there. It has been a riot so far.

I’ve got to admit, I do love the cheeky beat on your track ‘Earthquake’, what was your inspiration for this track? Who inspires you musically at the moment?

I am inspired by what is going on around me. There is so much down here in London and you always hear something that gets you. I was in the studio and I just went on a mad one in the studio and ‘Earthquake’ was created.

Speaking generally though, with the amazing music around at the moment, do you think that the average person’s listening tastes are broad enough?

Ok, erm, yeah I do I think people are a lot more open now. I look at some of my mate’s iPods, even my young nephews iPods and the music is vast. Very odd mixes from Kings of Leon to Chase & Status, to Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Ray mixed with Hip-Hop. Now we do have a very healthy music variety.

Do you think that music is being devalued buy the Internet and other easily accessible means of music production?

It is our gift and our curse. ‘Earthquake’ became a smash because of the Internet. You know to get 40 million views on the net with an artist that isn’t well known as such is crazy. On the other hand, people are using the net to free download, which doesn’t help. It puts more artists in the industry, but many people do lose business because of it. You still have to work hard, but not as hard as many years ago. As long as people still keep buying albums, not just the one track and then move on, then the music industry will still thrive.

Yeah of course, it’s so important to respect an artist fully with an album not just the odd track. Why do you go by the name Labrinth?

I had a lot of shit names before that and yeah, it just felt right. I saw it somewhere in London on a billboard and it definitely goes with the route my album takes and my journey.

What makes you smile everyday apart from the London sunshine?

It’s all about new music and sunshine!

How was it to carry the Olympic torch? An amazing experience I expect…

It was amazing. I was cynical before but it has changed my whole perception of the Olympics here in London and how it going to be great for the city.

How do you feel about performing at the epic Parklife Festival in Australia?

I’m expecting great things and I’m sure Australia will deliver as I will to them.

If you could go back and do it all again, what would you change? What is there in store for you and your fans in 2012? BBM is looking forward to the release of your new track ‘Treatment’.

I would love to work with Little Dragon, I haven’t seen them live yet but I have heard some amazing things. You can’t go back and change our lives and I appreciate the good and the bad. I love the journey I have taken so far.

Enjoy the Sunshine Labrinth, thanks for the chat.

You too darlin’, thanks!

Labrinth will be playing at Parklife Festival September 22nd 2012 – Riverstage Brisbane, Queensland.

By Frankie Salt

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