In just two years, multi-talented musician Labrinth has experienced an extraordinary career trajectory. The producer and writer behind some of the biggest songs of 2010 and 2011, he has taken Tinie Tempah to the top of the charts and orchestrated the triumphant return of Ms.Dynamite.
Labrinth signed to Syco (Simon Cowell's label) in June 2010, becoming the first act in six years to not join the label via a TV platform. Rather than signing him solely as a producer, Syco recognised Labrinth's prodigious talents as a vocalist, writer and musician, and his absolute ability to be a star in his own right.
Born Timothy McKenzie in Hackney in 1989, Labrinth is the youngest son from a family of nine gifted siblings. His brother Josh is a drummer and musical director for Tinie Tempah, his other brother Mac1 a producer, while his sisters, Sharrelle and Rachel are widely respected backing vocalists. The McKenzie children were brought up almost solely to the sounds of gospel music. The young progeny began making beats in his brother's home studio as a teen, before picking up the lead guitar at the age of 15. Entirely self-taught after studying musicians at his local church, and by listening to songs and "envisioning their mood", he is a naturally gifted, multi-talented instrumentalist who is as comfortable playing bass, drums and keyboards as he is working a studio desk. "I was actually a rapper first," Labrinth points out. "I had to make beats for myself because I needed something to compliment the lyrics. But I love every aspect of music and every aspect of making it. It doesn't matter which category I'm performing or playing, I'm ready for it."
Labrinth admits he struggled at school and was unsure how to channel his creative energies. It was meeting his manager, Marc Williams that solidified Labrinth's potential to turn professional when Williams gave the then 15 year-old the run of his North London studio. Labrinth spent four years studying, practicing and honing his craft, and, at the age of 19, after meeting each other at a house party, Labrinth began work on Master Shortie's critically acclaimed debut album, ADHD. The sound he created for ADHD was ahead of its time in many respects; other urban artists began to switch their sound in favour of a more rock-edged, 1980s tinged aesthetic. Shortie went on to sign a deal in the US, and Labrinth has been instrumental in the signing of a number of other artists to major labels, including Bluey Robinson, Loick Essien and Tanya Lacey.
Labrinth began concentrating on creating his own material. Although he was aware of secular artists like Michael Jackson and James Brown, his musical upbringing was steeped in the likes of Kim Burrell and Kirk Franklin. Under Williams's tutelage, Labrinth has spent the last six years intently studying sounds from The Beatles to Bob Dylan, T-Rex to Jungle, Drum & Bass and Grime. Like the compositions he crafts for others, Labrinth's solo material embodies a credible, commercial sound that retains a musically experimental edge.
Rarely do you see such an incredible amount of creative output emanate from one person. Gifted to the point of genius, Labrinth is also stylish, smart and, importantly, incredibly likeable. With an ability to think in a way that is truly, genuinely unique, his potential is limitless. He's already created hits in the past and has others out presently, but for the future, it's Labrinth the solo artist we should be most excited about. "I'm a perfectionist in every sense of the word, because I feel a responsibility to tell my story, and make it amazing. An amazing story is a real story, so I don't want to be fake with anything I do. The story is me and my life in music."