Labrinth In The UK Spotlight
(UK Spotlight is an ongoing column designed to introduce GRAMMY.com readers to artists making waves on the other side of the Atlantic. You'll learn about the artists, their music, where they came from, and where they are going.)
Labrinth has the X factor, but he is definitely not a one-hit wonder.
The 23-year-old Londoner — whose real name is Timothy McKenzie — was scouted by Simon Cowell in 2010, making him one of the only non-talent show signings on the music mogul's Sony RCA imprint, Syco. The singer/songwriter was initially signed as a producer, but he proved to have more than just beat-making skills under his sleeves, so Cowell took a chance on the musical mastermind and eventually signed him as a solo act.
In 2010 Labrinth teamed with rapper Tinie Tempah for the worldwide smash hit "Pass Out," providing vocals in addition to co-producing and co-writing the song. Unbeknownst to him at the time, the bass-heavy hip-hop track would help put him on the global music map.
"Winning a Brit Award and an Ivor Novello for 'Pass Out' was pretty special. It still amazes me how much the song has blown up," says Labrinth. "What started out as something so small, in the depths of my studio, suddenly became one of the most recognizable tracks of that year.
"It still seems to send the crowd into a frenzy whenever it gets played. I've gotta say that I feel pretty proud about that. As an artist, you want to produce and be part of a track that people immediately want to jump around to, and I think we did it with 'Pass Out.'"
Two years on, Labrinth has scored three additional Top 5 hits in the UK with "Let The Sun Shine," "Earthquake" and "Last Time," all of which are featured on his well-received debut album, Electronic Earth. Released in March, Electronic Earth features 10 tracks all written or co-written by Labrinth, reaching an impressive No. 2 on the UK album chart.
Meanwhile, it seems Cowell's executive flair has rubbed off on Labrinth. He now oversees Odd Child Recordings, a Syco imprint, which contains a growing roster that includes Etta Bond and Raf Riley — otherwise known as the exciting electronica/soul duo ExR.
Having already worked with some of the UK's top talents, Labrinth hopes to one day get in the studio with a certain GRAMMY winner.
"André 3000 is so different and always looking to do new things and discover new sounds, just like me," says Labrinth. "I think he's a bit of a musical genius. I would love to sit in a studio with him for one day and see what crazy things [come out]. Imagine being inside his head and seeing how he fuses everything together. All of those sounds and beats that are flying around in his head, it must be madness. I just respect him for going against the grain with his music."
Aside from wanting to work with one-half of OutKast, Labrinth has high hopes for his extremely bright future.
"There is so much that I want to do. I just want to keep on putting out good music that people want to listen to," he says. "I want to build the Labrinth empire and inspire other young musicians to do the same. You never know what can happen."
(At left, watch Labrinth perform "Treatment," his latest single due Aug. 26.)
(From grime and UK rap to bassline and house (and even a bit of pop), Joseph "JP" Patterson has played a vital part in promoting the UK's underground music scene over the years with his no fuss, straight-to-the-point writing style. He is a columnist for MTV RapFix, and a contributor to Interview Magazine, Billboard and NME magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Jpizzledizzle.)