London based Hip-Hop producer and performer Lekhem kindly agreed to complete a feature artist interview for Essential Pop. Read on to find out about his wide range of musical influences, his creative process for creating tracks, his successes to date and what he has in store for us throughout this year!
Q: Who are you called?
Hello there, my name is Lekhem. It’s a part of my real name which is Shem; Bayna-Lehkem is my middle name but as I was playing around with ideas for stage names and I found out the actual Hebrew meaning of Lekhem is Bread, out of that the Baker Boy was born.
Q: If you could classify your music in a genre or number of genres what would it be?
As an artist, I am heavily influenced by Hip Hop but I am also influenced by many other genres ranging from Reggae, Rock, Jazz, Soul, Funk just to name a few. In my music you will always hear that blend, which I think contributes to my very unique sound.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
“Music is the food of life, and I’d like to cook you a really good meal!”
Q: What is your musical background?
I’ve been surrounded by music basically from birth, as I literally grew up around musicians. I started making my own music properly at 15 with my dad (Junior Dan, veteran reggae musician) when I moved to England. I started out as a rapper and then found myself very drawn to the role of being a producer. I also have a history as a musician, playing the melodica and the keyboards for different bands for a period of years.
Q: How was 2010 for you?
2010 was the year that I decided to pursue my dream as an artist fully. I have always “dabbled” as an artist, but I had always felt that my most preferred role would be as a producer. I have a natural ability for listening to a song, envisioning the end product and understanding how to achieve that. Being that person who’s always in the studio creating has always appealed to me, 2010 didn’t take that away from me in the slightest but gave me an urge to want to bring the music to the people myself, in my own words.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
I draw for inspiration from many different artists, as you can imagine considering the types of genres I am influenced by. Some of the artists I’m influenced by are Junior Dan, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Herbie Hancock, Earth Wind & Fire, Eminem, Ludacris, Carlos Santana, Linkin Park, DMX. These names are really just a few, I’m influenced by just about anyone who expresses truth and talent through their music.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
I’ve never been the type to put anyone on a pedestal, so the term “look up to” is not how I would describe it, I call it influence. Modern day artists that do that for me are people like Devlin, J. Cole, Dwele, Slum Village, Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars, Calvin Richardson, Damien and Stephen Marley, Immortal Technique and again, that’s just to name a few.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
To be honest, just about any of my influences would be a blessing to work with. I just want to work with talented people who are passionate about their craft. There are so many artists that fill this category that it would take up most of the interview if I was to list them all! I’m a fan of good music and want to work with people who share the same talent and passion that I do.
Q: What songs are on your ipod at the moment?
Great question! At the moment, I am listening to a lot of underground acts. I’m listening to material from City Blox (my own collective), The Legionnaires, Rebels 2 Society, Shine Brightly, Firm Fusion. All the aforementioned are groups of artists all coming from West London. We are all playing a serious role in bringing that “feel-good” vibe back to hip hop in our own way and we should not be ignored! I’m also listening to established artists like Tinie Tempah, Devlin, Jae Millz, J. Cole, The Game, Drake and a couple others. I am very much engrossed in The West London hip hop movement right now and it’s only a matter of time before the spotlight is on us.
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
It varies with the song. Sometimes I will write a chorus and leave it for a while and then come back and complete the verses, bridges etc. Sometimes it’s the total opposite where the chorus is the last to be created. There are times when I just write a poem and then I formulate it into a song after. There are also times when I will just write and write and write to a beat, sometimes I’ll write a few songs to one instrumental and then choose what I prefer when I am out of that “zone”. The process also varies depending on whether I am writing for, or with someone else at the time. I believe that because I do not stick to one creative process, it allows me to capture the best content possible.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
They are both very, very important. I feel that melodies can be found in just about anything that is audible, even just regular speech. So in that aspect I would say lyrics are more important to create the overall impression that you as an artist want. Melodies are so natural and free, they just come to an artist naturally. Well, to me anyway.
Q: Where are you based?
I am based in Notting Hill, West London.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Seeing that I am from USA and Jamaica and now living in West London, I have a very vast cultural understanding which has helped me tremendously here in West London as it is a very diverse place. Just about any culture or nationality you can think of is just a stone’s throw away from me. Also, West London is very much entertainment-orientated so ironically, it slightly feels like London’s “Hollywood”.
Q: What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I am working on a few features for other artists while working on my second release. This will be another mixtape as I am still working on my promotion and developing a strong fanbase for the first (Str8 Out Da Oven, available via the sites mentioned below). I have a really good feeling about what I am working on! I haven’t seen an artist in the UK approach a project quite in the same way I am doing for this one, so I am confident and hopeful that it will be one that will go down in history, for the right reasons. With the material done so far, and with what is about to be completed, along with the features I am working on for it, I have strong confidence in its appeal.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
For me the highlights will always be performing my music and having the crowd sing along to my songs. Regardless of accolades that may or may not come along way, those moments when you feel at one with your audience and they feel at one with you are the moments that I will never forget. I’ve always read interviews where artists have said similar things and I didn’t quite understand it, until I became an artist myself.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in 2011?
I am hoping to achieve bigger shows, gaining a stronger fan base and move my career from strength to strength. My aim is to continue to make good music that my fans love. I have done that from the start and it has not failed me yet so I will continue and pray to God that everything else will fall into place.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
I have a team that handles all my bookings for me and they are working on a number of dates. As soon as they are confirmed, they will be publicized via my various fan pages.
Q: What do you do to relax?
It sounds very cliché but music is actually what helps me to relax. Music tends to be that one thing that I can do at any time and it will help, be it from a happy experience or a depressing one. Whether it is listening to or creating new music. Apart from that, I’m just a regular guy, I like to watch sports, play sports, catch up on a movie, play video games, hang out with my friends and family. I’m a regular person just like anyone else that’s reading this right now. Everyone has a talent, mine just happens to be in music.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
Ok, I’ll let you in on a little exclusive that not a lot of people know about me. I’m an aspiring author as well and I am currently writing my debut fiction novel. I’ve started well over a year ago but I am not rushing it at all, I am in no hurry to get it finished or published. I just work on it whenever I have the time or am in the mood to. I will let you know more about that as it becomes more relevant to my immediate work.
Editor’s Note: Lekhem is a really talented individual whom creates music that has both commercial appeal and a unique sound which draws on his musical inspirations. Lekhem is one of Essential Pop’s ‘Ones to Watch’ in 2011.
If you’d like to learn more about or contact Lekhem just follow the links below:
twitter link: twitter.com/Lekhemmusic
facebook link: facebook.com/LekhemOfficial
myspace link: myspace.com/lekhemproductions
soundcloud link: soundcloud.com/lekhem
reverbnation link: reverbnation.com/lekhem
Youtube embeds: http://www.youtube.com/LekhemMusic
http://twiturm.com/b0fea (you can also contact my Publicist via this link or the information below)
Thank you to Simply Elite for all they’re help in doing this!