An In-Depth Conversation with LENNY MAKES SOME-THING
LENNY MAKES SOME-THING breaks down his new album track by track, the detailed meaning within his album cover art, and the impact he hopes his music has.
For those who have not heard your music yet, how would you describe it to them? How would you finish the sentence “LENNY MAKES SOME-THING is ___” or “LENNY MAKES SOME-THING’s music is ___”?
“LENNY MAKES SOME-THING is a door.” A door distinguishes the inside [from the] outside. LENNY MAKES SOME-THING is a line that separates many features about myself. If I was an ordinary person who was timid and had many things I wanted to do but never achieved, now I am more confident and bold after performing in my “other form.” It actually feels like I opened a door and started walking on a road called “the life I want to live.” I [hope] everyone who listens to my music feels something similar. I want to be surprised and amazed by bumping into people who have felt something they do not feel often or [people who have felt inspired] to “make something.”
Why did you choose your stage name?
“Lenny” was the name I chose when they made me choose an English name during English class in middle school. I was pondering what to choose and saw Lenny Kravitz on my MP3 player. From then on, people started to call me “Lenny” as much as they called me “Byung-hyun.” Time passed, and I arrived at the moment when I had to choose an artist name for [the release of] my first single. The biggest reason I wanted to do music was to bring out the words I truly wanted to say and express myself in ways I could not express [myself through] living ordinary life. On top of that, I just wanted to create, no matter the method. With all of those things in mind, I came up with “LENNY MAKES SOME-THING,” which translates to “Lenny, a restless creator of catchy music and art content.” [This content] can stir up a feeling and create “something” in all of those who listen.
What three words best describe your new album, Mirror?
“Self-portrait,” “maze,” and “beyond.” We tend to head somewhere frantically and suddenly stop to look around for a moment. That’s when we start worrying if this is the right way, if we are lost, if we’re behind for going in circles. Sometimes, the constant momentum that has been pushing us forwards suddenly disappears. That’s when I look back at memories and look [at] my current self in the mirror. I imagine bright future times and often write them down, just like if I was drawing a self-portrait. According to those writings, life is like a maze full of mirrors. Instead of being trapped and going around the same places, I wish to discover what is beyond my reflection.
The cover art for Mirror is such a cool collage! Where did you come up with the idea for that design?
First of all, thank you for the compliment! I really like the album cover art too. It brilliantly portrays the various charming points of the album and LENNY MAKES SOME-THING. As I mentioned before, the album is a self-portrait reflected in a maze full of mirrors while reaching far beyond [them]. I [thought a lot about] how to express [this] visually. As I was contemplating which method would be best, I stood [at] the corner of the elevator to see my face overlap with several other faces of mine. That’s when I got the idea. I wanted to show the several sides of me on [a] single face. The album cover can be divided into nine sections. Most obviously, you can see the two different eyes in the middle. One side is my ordinary eye, while the other side shows LENNY MAKES SOME-THING’s eye. The other eight sections represent Mirror’s eight tracks. In the eight sections, you can see me wearing two types of outfits. The rather calm character [with] the white outfit symbolizes my realistic and serious side, while the colorful style represents the cheerful and challenging [dreamer].
Please share some information about each song on Mirror.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity. There are so many stories in each song, but I'll try to summarize:
“Hello”: This song is based on memories with my ex-girlfriend. Cliche warning: it was a rainy day. I arrived where we planned to meet a bit early and waited for her. As I was about to leave, the weather cleared and the sun started to shine. That’s when she appeared, making her way through the sunshine and green trees next to the street. It was an [awe-inspiring] moment. She looked so beautiful. I remember writing this in my diary that night: “After rain, freshness arrives. You arrive.” This song captures the merry and beautiful feelings of that moment. It is also my first greeting to those who listen to this album.
“Drive”: Life is often compared to a road. In a space called time, each person goes their own way on a path that is set toward a different destination. Oftentimes, we get lost, not knowing where we have to go. There are times when the road in front of us looks quite shabby, and there are times when we want to follow the paths of others. But now, I constantly promise myself to not care about others and go the path that lies ahead of me. Even though the road is not the biggest and widest, even if it goes in circles, even if it doesn’t look flamboyant, let's go our own ways. “Everybody ride your way. Who cares if you get lost? Who cares if you go around?”
“Mellow” (feat. A.eun): While writing the lyrics for “Drive,” I began to wonder how I could meet [someone] I could take on this road, someone who understands whether we get lost or take a detour and who is willing to encourage [me] to proceed. If that someone appears, it must be fate. I wrote this song about when I met such a person for the first time in my early twenties. I hope this song reminds everyone of their loved ones.
“Where Is the Love?”: As Covid-19 withered, many people held the weddings [that] had been postponed. Every time I attended a wedding, I questioned why I was alone and at times felt sad. However, when an attractive person appears, I often laugh at myself when I see [myself] expressing how cool and sexy I am.
“Let Me Go”: Life is always a series of choices. Oftentimes, we miss important chances while hiding behind the excuse of being considerate. As time passes, the burden of life adds numerous responsibilities, making us worry more about making the right choices. That is when I tell myself to not [have] any regrets and just do anything I want to do. This reminds me of the ladies I missed [approaching] just because I was hesitant.
“TURN ME ON” (ft. ARCX): Could there be anything more stimulating than sharing love with an attractive other? It’s like magic that solves the emptiness that could not be filled no matter how hard I tried [previously]. I wonder if there is anything else that makes [people] feel as alive as love.
“Mirror”: Sometimes the reflection in the mirror can look infinitely pitiful. [Daily] life is not as easy as one [might] think. Perhaps it is the frustration and fatigue [setting in] after trying hard at work and relationships to achieve something. There were many days when I just wanted to quit while blaming others. There were times when I just wanted to let go of everything and evade [all] trouble. However, in our hearts, we have that will to realize [the] dreams we have always dreamt of. Soon, we can see ourselves pushing our exhausted reflections to the side and taking another step toward the dreams we have postponed.
“Mayday”: Most of us look [at] our phones before going to bed after a tiresome day. One night, such a repeating phenomenon felt like an S.O.S signal, [a call] to be rescued from the ceaselessly exhaustive days. Everyone wants to be recognized for the value they bring to this world. Everyone wishes to be recognized for their sole existence. Isn’t that why we send signals to each other every night, even in dimmed lights and sinking beds?
Did you feel any pressure while making a full-length album, or was it not that different from releasing a single?
It was really different. While the single albums could be explained with a single emotion or story, this album combines several emotions and themes while requiring a central idea to connect all the dots. At first I didn’t feel much pressure, as the themes were very clear, but after recording the sixth track, my brain started to [raise] several questions while becoming exhausted: “Will I be able to finish the album?” “What if no one listens to my album?” I took a break for a week and separated myself from any thoughts about music. Thankfully, I [came] back with a refreshed mind and spirit and finished the album. If I hadn’t taken a break then, I’m not sure if I would have been able to finish the album.
What kinds of things do you keep in mind when filming your music videos? Are there certain characteristics you want to make sure each music video has?
LENNY MAKES SOME-THING is an alternate self that expresses a more honest side of me [that] I try to implicitly portray through my music videos. If you look closely, there are certain [consistencies] in all of my music videos. The main character, in a boring daily life, heads for the fantasy he dreams of due to an object or incident. While enjoying his fantasy, he suddenly snaps back to reality. However, the reality he returns to is always different from the previous one. It is a world where his fantasy has come true. It's somewhat like a time warp. While all this happens, the main character keeps his serious form but cannot stop his witty and joyful side from coming out. What I want to convey is my desire to realize what I have been dreaming of and bring something positive to the world with my honest, witty, and joyful energy.
What has the reaction been like to Mirror so far, or what do you hope the reaction is?
There is no doubt that I’m fully enjoying my musical life. But through Mirror, I want people around the world to share my music. I want people to recognize my music and my charm, [and] I hope it [makes] people know this style is LENNY MAKES SOME-THING’s. I also hope people can sympathize with the stories.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
The double single “TOMORROW X MY LADY” [is out now]. For the first time, I will present a dope R&B-style track. I hope [it] can reach many people around the world. In 2023, I hope to release an R&B-style single in March and an exciting, summer-themed EP with four tracks in June. Then, my goal is to hold my first solo concert in the second half of 2023. In the long term, my goal is to enter the Billboard charts [and] enjoy making music for a long time while touring around the world, especially [in] the US and Europe. If I can captivate the hearts of many people around the world with my stories, messages, and sophisticated music, wouldn't it be possible to win a Grammy someday? If many people around the world listen to and share my music, I think this dream can become reality sooner than I think!
Where can people follow you on social media and stay updated about your new music?
First of all, please make sure to follow my [Instagram]. I’m going to start posting in English so that everyone can communicate with me more intimately. And on Spotify, I will continue to create playlists consisting of my musical stories and my favorite songs. Also, if you follow [me] on YouTube, you will be able to see my music videos and daily life. I hope more people can find my account after this marvelous 17 Carat K-Pop interview!
Lastly, is there anything else you want to say about your music?
I’m very honored to have this interview with 17 Carat K-Pop. I think it's a marvelous opportunity to present my music to people outside of Korea. Whether you already know me or just got to know me, please remember LENNY MAKES SOME-THING and let people know! I will gently deliver my music into your ears, which I’m constantly developing and making more touching. I will do my best to see all of you soon in a concert near you!
Check out Mirror here!
Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity. Photos courtesy of LENNY MAKES SOME-THING.