Unlikely friendships are forged in Ibiza.

It’s something that the island is extremely adept at. From P. Diddy flying in from San Tropez to experience Space with Felix da Housecat to will.i.am jumping into the booth with David Guetta to feel the brute power of Pacha, Ibiza is a testing ground for new ideas and new relationships. That’s particularly true of 2012, when two of the biggest forces in music will be showcasing new projects at Ibiza’s 123 Rocktronic Festival from July 1st-July 3rd. On Monday 2nd, Elton John will be performing with Pnau (“it’s going to be great!” he told The Guardian last month, adding that he’s planning on wearing a fishtail dress for the occasion) and a second, equally intriguing collaboration between Luciano and Lenny Kravitz on Tuesday 3rd. Like Elton, Lenny’s never been to Ibiza before (“unbelievable!” he laughs) – but he HAS met Luciano and as a result will be bringing his band and a couple of friends to the Balearics for the first time ever. “I'm not great with categories or boxes,” he says. “But Rocktronic sounds fine to me!”

A little back story first. Wandering spirits both, Lenny and Luciano met backstage not long ago at a Kravitz concert. Both sensed a kindred spirit, bonded in the studio session that ensured and together they plan to unleash an electronic-rock sound that promises to be the best of both worlds. “We originally met backstage at one of my gigs,” says Lenny. “And I immediately saw that he was a very nice person who above all loves his family. As far as musically, we had a great time in the studio and did not step on each others toes.”

Of course, in 2012, the DJ has much of the same power that classic rock stars have channeled throughout the ages. And Lenny is very much part of that lineage. Born in New York in 1964, Lenny Kravitz has released ten albums to date (starting with ‘Let Love Rule’ in ’89 and leading up to ‘Black And White America’ in 2011) and scored a string of worldwide smashes in the 90s, from ‘It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over’ in 1991 and ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ to the UK number 1 ‘Fly Away’ in 1998. To date, he’s sold over 40 million albums worldwide and remains a global ambassador for UNICEF and Gucci alike. But given the current climate, does he see DJs as the new rock stars? “I suppose you could put it that way,” he shrugs. “Everyone is a rock star these days in whatever field they are in. The phrase is quite overused.” As for the nature of their Ibiza 123 collaboration, Kravitz remains tight-lipped. “My live performance is all about that moment. So you can expect something real based on the vibe that is happening at that moment. Luciano and I will definitely figure something out something interesting.” 

From Rihanna and Calvin to Kanye and Daft Punk, the kickdrum has never had so much currency as it does in pop right now. But does Lenny have any insight as to why so many artists are collaborating with dance stars? “Because it's fun music and of course hugely popular,” he says. Performing at Ibiza 123, he says, is a win on two counts. Not only does he get to perform with Luciano on stage for the first time but it also fulfils one other ambition: “I’m excited that I can finally come to Ibiza!”

Even though Lenny now spends much of his time in Europe, he still misses his main home in Florida. “Miami nightlife is great - I love the South American and European influences,” he nods. “It’s one of my favorite places to party.” Despite the lifestyle, he keeps his spirit level balanced and holy. “I thank God everyday for my life and I communicate with God on a daily basis. It is essential. Christ is my focus.”

As his extensive CV so scarily testifies, Lenny Kravitz is something of a renaissance man: a guitarist, producer, actor, father and philanthropist, UNICEF in particular remains close to his heart. “We are trying to provide as many people as possible with clean water. You would be shocked as to how many people do not have that,” he says gravely. He’s also found one further career strand to explore of late: that of an actor – and truth be told, he’s pretty damn good. Not only did he appear in 2009’s ‘Precious’, he was also a standout as the subdued character Cinna in ‘The Hunger Games’. How does acting compare to being a musician? “I cannot compare them. Firstly, music is the core of my life. So for me it's like breathing. What I like about acting is that it has nothing to do with me. It's about the directors vision and a character.”

Lenny’s personal life has also been pretty colourful over the years. His first marriage was to Cosby actress Lisa Bonet; they divorced in 1993 and he was then linked to Brazilian model Adrian Lima. But his professional relationships have been just as intriguing. In terms of collaboration, there are few A-listers who haven’t been touched by Lenny in some way: over the years, he’s recorded with Mick Jagger, Drake and Jay-Z with varying degrees of success. But coming from the rock world, his experience of remix culture is more unusual. “I'd have to say my favorite remix experience was when Outkast came to my studio house in Miami with a hundred people and we partied all night while they remixed "Again",” he remembers. The result was 2001’s Stankonia remix, an intriguing, guitar-flecked mix beamed in from the Dirty South. For once, even the rock overlord is lost for words. “It was epic, something out of a movie.” 

Of course, his best-known pop collaboration is the still-trancendental single ‘Justify My Love’, which kept Madonna firmly on top of the world in 1990. Lenny co-wrote, produced and sang backing vocals on the track and it’s a testament to his talent that the track feels as much a Kravitz creation as it does the work of Madonna. How will performing with Luciano compare this summer, we wonder? “There are things that I did with Madonna,” he smiles, “that I would not do with Luciano...”


Originally published in Pacha Magazine / July 2012