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10 Labrinth, Euphoria, Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Cartier, Compositeur, Interview

Labrinth, le producteur star derrière la BO d'Euphoria : “L'industrie musicale fabrique du divertissement et se fiche souvent de l‘art.”


The man who wrote the soundtrack to the cult series Euphoria, which won him the 2020 Emmy Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics, is today one of the most sought-after producers in the music business. After working for Rihanna, The Weeknd, and Billie Eilish, to name just a few, he has now become a Cartier Global Ambassador.

Labrinth par Nathaniel Goldberg & Cartier.

Labrinth, one of the most sought-after producers in the music business.


If he could represent music on a blank canvas, Timothy McKenzie would use turquoise and violet, with finishing splashes of dark blood red. In his native United Kingdom, the man known as Labrinth has been mesmerizing audiences ever since Pass Out, his 2010 collaboration with the British rapper Tinie Tempah. A mix of ragga and electro R’n’B, the track is generously sprinkled with synthetic sounds straight out of an arcade game. Fourteen years later, Labrinth has become one of the most sought-after producers in the music business, solicited by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Eminem, The Weeknd, and Billie Eilish, to name just a few. While the AngloSaxon press has described his music as “a pirate space radio’s magic or perhaps psychotic programming,” his tour de force remains the soundtrack to the series Euphoria, which he composed for its director, Sam Levinson, in 2019. 


Programmed by HBO, the show, which stars Zendaya and Hunter Schafer, recounts the Technicolor commotions of a group of high-school kids finding their way through sex, drink, and drugs in search of their true identity – an adolescent hell that Labrinth illustrated with a fiery mix of classical, ambient, and trap sounds. A year after the first season was aired, he won the Emmy Award for Out-standing Music and Lyrics for the track All for Us. Numéro met up with the 400-million-stream producer who recently joined the exceedingly exclusive club of Cartier Global Ambassadors.

Labrinth – Still Don't Know My Name, (bande originale de la série Euphoria).

Interview with Labrinth


Numéro: Where did you grow up?

Labrinth: In the dirty streets of Hackney, a London borough on the north bank of the Thames. I particularly remember kids in the road at ungodly hours, even though they weren’t supposed to be out. But evenings carried on long into the night there. And we laughed a lot. 


How would you explain your job to the kids in Hackney?

I’d tell them I compose colourful, multidimensional music that’s full of surprises. I’ve always been attracted to science fiction, particularly the animated film Ghost in the Shell [Mamoru Oshii, 1997]. I like it as much for its cyberpunk atmosphere as for its metaphorical ideas. As for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968], I think it has inspired almost all of my concerts and visual creations… 


What do you think the music of the future be like?

Maybe we won’t listen to anything anymore. Maybe music will have been reduced to a simple sound excerpt that you swallow. That would be funny, wouldn’t it?


It seems a rather improbable evolution for the music business. Has the industry disappointed you in the past?

Of course... The music industry is an entertainment factory, it doesn’t care much about art. Spending time in the business, I discovered that music wasn’t really what anyone talked about. Instead they discussed fame, money, and status.


Should we blame social media? Have the apps ruined music?

And the blues killed jazz. And jazz killed classical music... Every era has its fears. We need a visceral evolution, but we’re far too attached to our habits for that. It’s all a question of comfort, you know. Not long ago, the musician James Blake was complaining that Spotify, like a lot of other streaming platforms, wasn’t supporting artists enough. And he’s right! Even with millions of streams, most of them don’t manage to develop their careers properly. So then they decide to go on tour with a loop pedal, which is supposed to replace a whole band, because they don’t have the cash to do otherwise. In fact it’s like they had an orchestra in mind without being able to bring it on stage with them. But that’ll never stop people from being creative. Social media affect the experience of music more than the music itself. 


You seem very cool and collected. Anxiety has no place in your life?

I’m only scared of being scared, because fear is stronger than anything. Believe me, it’s crucial to take risks

Labrinth – “Kill For Your Love”

Many musicians say that melancholy is their main source of inspiration. Do you feel the need to experience sadness in order to compose?

No, simply to be at peace. I don’t think sadness allows you to compose good music. Most people become prisoners of their feelings rather than being able to contemplate them, accept them, and then transcribe them in a healthy way. 


You were recently made a Cartier Global Ambassador. How does the brand reflect your values?

It’s first and foremost a question of creativity as well as of details. Just like me, the Cartier teams take inspiration from different cultures. That’s what I’ve always sought to do in music. Right from the start, Cartier has done the same thing, with a sense of detail and respect that is totally extraordinary. I like simplicity in music. Not that I’m especially gifted where that’s concerned, but I like the idea of being able to create an amazing experience with just four elements at my disposal. My track Still Don’t Know My Name [2019], which remains one of my favourites, comprises a bass line, drums, a few chords, and my voice. Nothing else. 


Do you always use the same method to compose?

I change every two weeks! One day I’ll start a song with my acoustic guitar, the next with a synthesizer… One day I think I’m Joni Mitchell, the next the electro-producer Aphex Twin. It all depends on my mood.


I suppose you didn’t mention those names by accident?

Aphex Twin’s career is extraordinary. I’m not in the least bit jealous of him, but I’d like to have had the guts to do what he did – being in your own world without ever following trends. As for Joni Mitchell, she’s just a brilliant writer. Most of her songs are simply amazing. I could list a lot of musicians I admire: Stevie Wonder, the rapper J. Cole, Erykah Badu, the Wu-Tang Clan, and the composer Burt Bacharach. 


What made you want to compose the soundtrack for the series Euphoria? I immediately loved what I saw. The photography, the directing, and the raw side of the series really inspired me. Sam Levinson, the director, agreed with me that, generally, the soundtracks to TV series are pretty banal. With most of them you have the impression they’re not really part of the programme. So we tried to do something that would make Euphoria even more interesting. I’d never taken up a challenge like that. The series is so oppressive and intense that, ultimately, it really makes you appreciate your own life.