Musician and Actor Lenny Kravitz – Part 2 of 2

Hari Sreenivasan sits down with celebrated musician and actor Lenny Kravitz to discuss his three decades of touring, charity work and family.

Read Transcript EXPAND

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Now we continue our interview with the multi-talented rock star, Lenny Kravitz, sitting down with our Hari Sreenivasan — he talks about three decades of touring, charity work — and why he, his daughter, his ex-wife and her new husband are one, big happy family.


HARI SREENIVASAN: You’ve done this now — you’ve been touring 27, 28 years on the road?

LENNY KRAVITZ: Thirty, next.

SREENIVASAN: Third years.

KRAVITZ: Third this — year coming, yes.

SREENIVASAN: So is the music changing you, are you changing the music, I mean how does — how do you see that sort of evolution?

KRAVITZ: I do what comes through me. I’m open to everything, I listen to new things — I’m still listening to the classics and still discovering old music that I hadn’t discovered. But I don’t follow the trends, I don’t try to make hit records — I never have. Every hit record that I’ve had, has just been something that happened. For me it’s about being myself, and through the years that ride will be up and down, and up and down, and straight and — you know, I’m fine with that. Because here I am 30 years later, and the arenas are full and the records are being listened to, and the old fans are there — the new fans are there. I’m quite grateful that I get to live my life doing what I love, and that I can still be doing it with the best in front of me.

SREENIVASAN: You’re not one to chase trends, quite the contrary — you’re a trendsetter especially when it comes to fashion, a sense of style, I guess — where did you get that? How did you, was it watching your parents?

KRAVITZ: I really think a lot through my mother, and through growing up in New York City in those early `70s was really influential being around all these artists and these musicians, writers that had a flair, you know, style. That’s also what got me in to interior design and architecture. You know, being around all of these people that express themselves through their clothing, through their interiors and their art, yes.

SREENIVASAN: Your daughter recently said that that was actually part of what was tough growing up, knowing that you had such a cool dad and a cool mom, that they were such fashion plates. I think the quote she said like, “dude, can you just be low-key a little bit? Just a shirt that I can’t see your nipples through would be so dope.”

KRAVITZ: Yes we were, I think in Miami at the time — it was hot.

SREENIVASAN: I don’t think that explains the multiple times that you’ve had see-through shirts.

KRAVITZ: Yeah, no — I mean, you know, she had to grow up with that. And.

SREENIVASAN: What’s it like seeing your daughter now, flourish and become.

KRAVITZ: It’s the most beautiful thing ever. I mean, I had no idea which direction she was going to go in to and I — I thought she would not go in this direction. You know, when your parents are doing it you kind of, want to go the other way.


KRAVITZ: And then all of a sudden she started acting and auditioning, and getting parts. It was like, “where did this come from?” And now I look at her, and it’s just beautiful to see that she did it on her own. Did people know who she was because of her parents? Yes, but that lasts about five minutes.

SREENIVASAN: Ultimately it’s your skills that get the.

KRAVITZ: It comes down to your skills, and she kept us out of it. I didn’t want to be a part of it, and she has her own direction, and her own vision. And I watch her, and I learn — it’s really beautiful to see.

SREENIVASAN: One of the things that’s interesting, in the last few months what we’ve also seen is that you’re quite friendly with Jason Momoa whose married to Lisa Bonet, your ex-wife?

KRAVITZ: That’s my brother, absolutely.

SREENIVASAN: How do you pull that off, because most people can’t do that.

KRAVITZ: It’s funny, people — the reactions. I went to go see him host “Saturday Night Live”.

SREENIVASAN: You guys have matching rings.

KRAVITZ: Yeah, he — well he gave me one, after the show he gave me one of his rings. And — but it’s interesting to see the reactions from people, like “how do you do it?” And, “it’s so amazing,” and “what an example of blended families and love and respect.” And for us it’s just normal. And yes, I know it doesn’t have to be that way, and I know that so many people don’t go in that direction.


KRAVITZ: They can’t handle that. But we’re family, you know? Lisa and I were once together, and we had Zoe. And now we’re back to like a brother-sister kind of relationship, but we’re just as close and we love each other just as much as we did. It’s just a different dynamic, she’s now with Jason — they have their relationship. He respects me, I respect him. We like each other very much, we love each other. I now spend time with their kids, and I mean — we’re one family and that’s the way it should be — love is love. I’m not going to stop loving somebody because we’re not having that type of relationship, romantic relationship. When you say let love rule, you have to let love rule in all the categories, you know?

SREENIVASAN: You have been designing for quite some time. You’ve designed a farm in Brazil, you’ve designed homes — interior designed them. You’ve had a one-off Rolex, furniture for CB2. I mean, is this like making music?

KRAVITZ: Absolutely, it’s — for me it’s the same thing. I love making furniture, doing interiors, designing products. I’ve been fortunate to work with great brands like you just said the watch, I mean Leica Cameras, Steinway piano, creator-director right now for Dom Perignon for two years, doing hotels, doing condominiums, private homes. The creative process is the same — you start with nothing and you make something. And I love it, I was not educated in it formally. I didn’t go to school for it, it’s just something that I had within me and I’ve been working on that for years and I built this company Kravitz Design and we’re working all around the world doing different things, and it’s a lot of fun. And I get the same joy, the same buzz that I get from making music.

SREENIVASAN: Well why still make music?

KRAVITZ: Because I have no choice. I have to. I hear it still — I still hear it, it still comes out of me. And when I’m in the studio to this day, it’s the same as when I was in high school. The feeling I used to get going in to a studio — the studio was a magical place. You couldn’t just walk in to a studio — a studio was a place you had to be invited, or you had to have the money to go in. And when you got in there it was like, going behind the curtain, “Wizard of Oz”, you know? It’s like, “wow the mixing console, and the equipment, and the room.” It’s like a sacred temple, you know? And I’m still just as excited as I was then. I’m really grateful that I still have that, that I’m not jaded — that I’m not tired. That I’m still excited to make art, and to express myself. Otherwise I would not be doing it.

SREENIVASAN: The place you go back to, this tiny island in the Bahamas — Eleuthera, it’s a place that doesn’t have a lot. And you are also donating to a non-profit that’s working there to try to build medical clinics, to try to.

KRAVITZ: Absolutely.

SREENIVASAN: Bring dental care — why, what — why there?

KRAVITZ: Well, charity begins at home, as my mother always taught me as a child. And I was sitting at home one day and I had some friends that I had invited from New York, happened to be a dentist and his wife. And we just started talking, I said, “man, you should see what’s going on around here. There’s a lack of care, and there’s lack of education.” And he said, “that I can’t believe,” just like that (ph). Because I was describing how so many people had really bad oral health. So I took him around the neighborhood in my Jeep, and I started stopping people on the road, and said, “hey man, how you doing? Oh good, this is my friend Dr. So-and-So,” and I said, “how’s your mouth?” And the guy looked at me like, “what does that mean?” I said, “no, how’s your mouth? What’s going on in your mouth? Do you have a pain?” And we started — he started examining people on the hood of my Jeep, on this one road — he had his goggles and his thing, and all this stuff to look in there. He had his mask and he couldn’t believe what he found. I said, “You see, it’s a big problem.” People with their mouths just rotted out – infections, and I mean people with no teeth. And – and – and so, we just said, “You know what? Let’s help these folks, and purchase all of the mobile equipment – high-tech equipment.” He got his doctors to come down; he had like 35 doctors, and we set up a clinic in the middle of town, and worked for four or five days and helped 400-some- odd people the first time. And we’ve now being doing this – this is our fourth year coming up now, and it’s the Let Love Rule Foundation and the GLO Good Foundation that’s headed by Dr. Levine, my partner. And it’s beautiful; we’re about to have it again in a couple of weeks. The endgame is to have a freestanding medical – full medical clinic with all of the equipment that will be free to the island.

SREENIVASAN: And in order to help that, you’re also behind a toothpaste? I mean this is not a Lenny Kravitz toothpaste, but –

KRAVITZ: Well, that’s – that’s – that’s the newest component. So myself and the two sons of Dr. Levine, Julian and Cody, have started a toothpaste called Twice, which comes with two toothpastes – one for morning, one for night – two different flavors, two different dynamics – encouraging people to brush twice a day, because 100 million folks don’t brush twice a day – a fact. And part of the proceeds go back to this mission so that we can continue doing this – service the people in the island, and also take it to other places in the world in the future. So it’s a beautiful thing; and I get to do this in my backyard, at home. And it’s an honor to be able to provide this.

SREENIVASAN: You have gotten to play with everyone from Al Green to Jay-Z; you’ve performed at the Super Bowl. Rattle off a few moments that come to mind about music and your participation in it.

KRAVITZ: I mean I’ve had the opportunity to work with my heroes and the people that influence me and educated me – from Prince to David Bowie, to Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, to Robert Plant, to B.B. King, to –

SREENIVASAN: That’s incredible luck.

KRAVITZ: – Labelle – I mean – you know, Madonna, and – you know. I can’t think of anybody just right at this second, but –


KRAVITZ: – you know.

SREENIVASAN: What do you remember? I mean give me like – it might not be a moment that we witnessed, half a billion people watched at the Super Bowl, but what’s – what’s something that –

KRAVITZ: The quiet moments when you’re at home –


KRAVITZ: Like having Stevie Wonder in your living room, playing your piano, and just singing with you and having fun, you know – when nobody’s watching; the same thing when Mick Jagger is sitting at my piano, playing the blues, and those kind of moments when – when nobody’s looking and you’re just having fun. Sitting with Lionel Ritchie in the kitchen, writing a song, and my grandfather, who’s alive at the time, telling us, “Hey, could you guys take that somewhere else? I’m trying to watch the television.” Those are the moments, yes.

SREENIVASAN: Are you going to go on tour now, for this album?

KRAVITZ: Yes, I’ve been – I’ve been on tour for this album. We’ve already done Mexico, Europe and a small tour of America; and I’m getting ready to do South America – from Chile, all the way to up to Brazil and Argentina and Columbia and so forth. And then I’m going to do a full tour of Europe again, and then a full tour of the United States again, and that will go into the end of the summer –

SREENIVASAN: Are you already working –

KRAVITZ: – of 2019.

SREENIVASAN: Are you working on more music already?

KRAVITZ: Yes, I’m two albums ahead of myself – yes.

SREENIVASAN: Wow. Is that how it usually works?

KRAVITZ: No, I usually do one at a time, and then I take a break. But I’m committed for the next five years to keep working without break; I feel it’s a time for me to just continue on this journey with no break.

SREENIVASAN: That’s intense.

KRAVITZ: Yes, it’s beautiful.

SREENIVASAN: Lenny Kravitz, thanks so much.

KRAVITZ: It’s a pleasure to speak with you. Take care, man.

About This Episode EXPAND

Christiane Amanpour speaks with Lawrence Summers about President Trump’s proposed all and the government shutdown; and Katharine Hayhoe about the numerical facts of climate change. Hari Sreenivasan continues his conversation with actor and musician Lenny Kravitz.