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Lenny Kravitz on his new album, being a proud father, and his viral workout video

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Lenny Kravitz looks like a rock star wherever he goes. A video of Mr. Kravitz in a gym bench-pressing weights while sporting sunglasses, leather pants and boots went viral on social media. Naturally, I had to follow up.

Can I ask you one question about your workout videos?

LENNY KRAVITZ: (Laughter) Please do.

SIMON: Doesn't wearing all that leather make you overheat?

KRAVITZ: Well, it's just the pants. You know, if I got to run to the gym, coming from somewhere, going somewhere, whatever I got on, that's what I have on. I don't care. I get it done.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNY KRAVITZ SONG, "BLUE ELECTRIC LIGHT")

SIMON: Lenny Kravitz doesn't get ready to rock. He stays ready. The musician turns 60 years old this weekend, and he's just out with a new album. It's called "Blue Electric Light," and the music is a kaleidoscope of soaring rock, psychedelic funk, gentle soul and more.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLUE ELECTRIC LIGHT")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) Life would be so right, life could be so nice if we fell in love tonight. I tell you that life would be so right under blue electric light.

SIMON: Well, tell me about "Blue Electric Light." What's the blue light?

KRAVITZ: (Laughter) The blue light, man - that's positivity, vibrations, God, humanity, love, music. It's that frequency that I love and that I try my best to transmit.

SIMON: It's a feeling. It's a presence.

KRAVITZ: Exactly, exactly. You know, it became the title of the album, well, right after I wrote the song. The morning after I, you know, heard it in my head during my sleep, I went in the studio, played all the instruments, put it down, got the vocals on there. My lead guitarist - he said, you know, that's the title of the album. And I said, oh, wow, interesting.

SIMON: So you go to sleep and come up with your songs?

KRAVITZ: They come all sorts of ways. I'm just an antenna. I receive what's being sent to me or what's floating around in general. And then my job is to bring that to life. So, yes, a lot of songs come in my sleep. I wake up, grab my phone and start humming into it, singing into it. You know, I have a guitar near the bed, so I can get the chord structure down. And then I get up in the morning and go to the studio.

SIMON: There's a lot of - well, the opening of the spirit on this album. Let me ask you about "It's Just Another Fine Day." Is this a song of love or a song of longing?

KRAVITZ: Both. Both. This song actually was the first song that started the album. I was in the Bahamas. I've ran around this humongous field in the jungle for hours at a time, just listening to the track with my headphones until the melody and the words came.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S JUST ANOTHER FINE DAY")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) It's just another fine day in this universe. I can't count the ways that this really hurts. It's just another fine day in this universe of love.

Yeah, it's a song of longing, of love, of distance, of not being where you want to be at that moment, not being with the person that you want but having to carry on because in the scheme of the universe, you know, it's just another day.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S JUST ANOTHER FINE DAY")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) All our days...

SIMON: Let me ask you about another song, "Let It Ride," because there - you know, an infusion of techno into your usual sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT RIDE")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) Free your inhibitions, baby. Don't fall behind. I can see you're starving, sugar, and so am I. Don't misunderstand me. We can take our time. Just let me taste you. Can I eat your mind? I know we can do this, baby. So let it ride.

SIMON: Did you hear that? Did that come to you in a dream? What led you to branch off there?

KRAVITZ: This wasn't something that came to me by the antenna (laughter), as I was talking about earlier. I wanted there to be something on the album completely in another direction. And I was thinking about my days in New York City, in the very early '80s, where this type of groove was happening when I was going to the clubs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT RIDE")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) Come on, touch my body. Feel the rhythm. Pull me closer. Let it ride.

Yeah, I started playing around with some sounds and some keyboards and drum machines and, you know, was blasting it. And then I heard the melody and then just went from there. That track is sort of the palette cleanser.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT RIDE")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) Let it ride. Let it ride.

SIMON: What do you enjoy about making music?

KRAVITZ: I feel complete when I make music. The world goes away. It's just the creativity, the sound. Nothing else exists. It's oxygen.

SIMON: I gather it's been - what? - six years since your last album. How do you think you're different as an artist, as a human being? What have those six years meant to you?

KRAVITZ: I find that I'm more at peace, exercise even more faith, have increased gratitude. Time becomes more precious. And I just - you know, mentally, spiritually and physically, I'm in the best place I've ever been. And that's a wonderful gift to have. If somebody were to ask you, you know, when did you feel the best in life? - I wouldn't want my answer to be, well, you know, 20 years ago, I was...

SIMON: (Laughter).

KRAVITZ: No, today - right now. I don't have to think about it - right now. I'm just trying to continue on this journey of learning and getting better.

(SOUNDBITE OF LENNY KRAVITZ SONG, "LOVE IS MY RELIGION")

SIMON: You've got a song here in the end, "Love Is My Religion." Love is hard for some people.

KRAVITZ: Yes, it is. Some people are filled with all kinds of other emotions that make it difficult for them to love. I was blessed to have a mother, a grandfather and a grandmother that displayed that kind of unconditional love and love for humanity. That taught me a lot. So my instinct is to love and to try to find love, even if it's a complicated situation where love is not what's being thrown at you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE IS MY RELIGION")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) Love is my religion. Love is my religion. Love is my god. Love is my god. Love is my religion. Love is my religion. I'll keep believing, and I'll never stop.

It's about loving in every situation. When it's not easy, when it's not convenient to continue to love, that's where the work comes.

SIMON: Lenny Kravitz, thanks so much for being with us.

KRAVITZ: It's a pleasure. You have a very calming voice.

SIMON: Oh, thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVE IS MY RELIGION")

KRAVITZ: (Singing) And the conclusion's coming fast, so stay on your toes. I may sound crazy, and you're probably right. Oh, but you'll understand. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.