Exclusive: Lenny Kravitz On His Grand Collab, New Book, and That Abs-olutely Perfect Men’s Health Cover
Lenny Kravitz has been everywhere lately and we’re not complaining. His latest project is the release of the “Kravitz Grand” in partnership with Steinways & Sons, the world-renowned piano maker. Kravitz worked with Steinway to design a limited edition of 10 Model B pianos to retail at $500,000. “The Kravitz Grand is one of the most interesting takes on a 167-year-old classic design,” Ron Losby, CEO of Steinway Musical Instruments says. The piano is compromised of 15 layers of hard rock maple and rare Macassar ebony personally selected by the music icon for the exteriors. It’s a true work of art. The Daily recently got on the phone with Kravitz to discuss this unique project, his personal new book, and all the well-deserved buzz around his abs on the cover of Men’s Health.
The piano looks incredible. How did this all come together with Steinway?
They called my company and obviously I play music and design and thought it would be a challenging project to transform a piano into my personal aesthetic. I love how a classic piano looks, of course. Steinway is iconic and classic. I’ve been playing on Steinway pianos my whole career. Vintage Steinway pianos have been on every album of mine, from the first one up to the one I’m making right now.
How did you approach the design?
My aesthetic over the past couple of years has been leaning towards brutalist style and African influence so when this came to me, that’s where my head was. I had this idea from these carvings that I had seen and African sculptures. I got the idea for the piano and mocked together an idea. I took it in and they were intrigued. They allowed me to have my vision and supported me beautifully. They took me to the factory and I met the crafts people. We did some tests on the carvings and the legs and looked at wood types. The piano came out exactly how I envisioned it and even better. That’s rare. It’s not often that things exceed your expectations in life. You’re extremely blessed if you get it close or right on the money. I’m extremely happy!
How long has this been in the works for?
A couple of years now. These things take time, but here we are. We’re going to make several of them and I look forward to seeing them in people’s surroundings or homes or studios.
I assume you are going to keep one for yourself.
Absolutely. It was designed for my entry way where I have my house in Paris. I use that area of as chamber. The sound is incredible.
I went to the Steinway factory last year in Astoria and it’s so cool there.
It’s like going back in time. Last night I watched [the 1984 film] Once Upon A Time In America with DeNiro and James Woods, and they were showing old New York with all these old factory buildings. It gives you that vibe and I love that. They’ve been around for so long making pianos. What I also find wonderful are the different generations of families who have worked there. I was talking with people who worked there whose great grandparents had worked there. Apparently it’s not an easy gig to get, but the craft gets passed down. I think that’s wonderful and very old world.
We understand a portion of sales will be going to the Harlem School of the Arts.
When I was a young boy in New York City in first or second grade, my mother sent me to the Harlem School of the Arts uptown to take classes where I learned some basic chords. I wanted to tie this [project] into that institution.
Do you have a go-to song when you sit down and start playing the piano?
No. Usually when I sit at the piano, I end up writing something. It’s a mood. I sit down and just start to find the colors that I’m feeling, which is nice. Even if it’s something I don’t record. I like to sit and find the current mood.
Your memoir, Let Love Rule, came out earlier this month. What has it been like to work on a book so personal and then release it to the world?
I have no ego when it comes to any of this stuff. It’s not something I ever thought I would do. I’m quite shocked at the incredibly positive reaction of the story. It’s been really humbling for me. People are taking away all kinds of things. It’s really about a person finding their voice and walking the journey to their destiny and having foresight to know what their path is. I think because that applies to anybody in their life that people are taking that to heart. There’s an interesting story between myself and my father that’s very dynamic. We had a very challenging relationship. The love and understanding found through writing the book for my father, despite our differences. Of course, people have all different sorts of relationships with people in their family that perhaps need mending and peace. I’m humbled that people are even reading the book.
What made it time for you to write your story?
I have to admit I was convinced by [writer] David Ritz, who I met through a mutual friend at a dinner in New York City. I knew his books. He’s written biographies on Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles. He said I should write a book. By the end of the dinner, he had convinced me to take on the challenge. I’m so glad that I did. It was the best therapy I’ve ever had in my life. I found peace and healing in writing the book. It wasn’t something I planned to do or wanted to do, but it fell into my lap. It proved to be a very positive experience for me.
Your Men’s Health cover caused a lot of excitement on the Internet. Everyone was in awe of your abs. Have you been enjoying the response to that cover?
I find it very interesting and funny! The breaking of the Internet stories and people reposting and calling. I think it’s so funny. The best reaction I had was Lionel Richie FaceTimed me with his shirt off to let me know that he too was extremely sexy! And he is! I’m happy and grateful that I’m healthy and not let time take advantage of me. I can use time to my advantage to stay young and healthy so I can live life.