New York-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, and producer Lew Mckenzie releases a soulful and groovy R&B hit with, "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)."
Lew Mckenzie has seen many successful gigs amongst his musical journey, lending his talents wherever they're needed. Being a passionate performer and technical session musician-led Mckenzie to pursue a solo career of his own.
His debut single "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)" takes the audience on a sweet and soulful ride through the vast production skills of Lew Mckenzie and EREMETA's charming and melodic vocals. With whole-sounding production backed up by live band instrumentals, the track gives this lively aspect that fuels the listener's energy.
Lew Mckenzie opens "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)" with an R&B instrumental breakdown through the soulful electric guitar, warm brass, a steady bass line, and jazzy background keys. Once EREMETA's vocals kick in, he sets this sultry and alluring vibe to the track that naturally pulls us in wanting more.
Singing lyrics of wanting to get to know someone and enjoying the present moment, Lew Mckenzie and EREMETA have infused this track with the utmost passion and desire. The overall production brings nostalgic elements through funky synth use that reminds us of a modern-day Thundercat.
Lew Mckenzie shifted his incredibly heartfelt emotions into a soulful and jazzy swing with "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)." With the help of EREMETA's vibrant vocals, the track perfectly fulfills our desire for nostalgic R&B.
Hello Lew and welcome to BuzzMusic. Why did you choose to release "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)" as your debut single, seeing as it's been locked away since 2016?
Retwizt was originally recorded back in 2016, but it’s remained in the vault for years thanks in part to my debilitating creative paralysis and my inability to simply let go. A lot of people asked me, “Why now?” 2020 has been an extremely unprecedented year. We are presently in the midst of a global pandemic and massive racial uprising throughout the country. I witnessed black men, women and children marching together in solidarity against police brutality and years of systemic oppression. Before anything else, I am a black man. It’s been an extremely difficult time throughout our country, but I am still very proud to wear this skin that I am in. I was fortunate enough to be nurtured in an environment that celebrated black accomplishments, contributions and our culture. Black music and the artists who create it are my bedrock. I recognize my responsibility as an artist and I understand that my impact extends beyond just one song. I have the lasting ability to inspire and change our world. All that we accomplish today will bear fruit for future generations to enjoy. I am so thankful for the players that contributed to the conception and realization of this record and to every recording studio and engineer that expertly provided a hand during this laborious delivery into our upside-down world.
Could you take us back to your creative process during "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)," how did you and EREMETA split the process? What was your collaboration like?
The music for Retwizt was conceptualized many years before its actual release. The melody came to me first, but I didn’t know where I wanted to take the song lyrically. I knew I wanted it to contain elements of funk, R&B, and rock music. It wasn’t until I began to workshop the song during jam sessions and I became captivated by an unbelievably gorgeous afro that entered the studio. The lyrics began to take form and flow through my being as I became more and more enamored with the woman’s hair. I constantly tweak and make adjustments so I didn’t finalize the lyrics up until I day I went into the studio to record vocals. EREMETA was a 13 piece band that I founded and was working closely with at the time. We were a group of friends that consisted of talented men and women from various parts of New York City. Some attended school together and others met along the way through the live scene in the city. We had a deep admiration for classic music and wanted to pay our respects the best way we knew how; through music. We found great success playing a number of sold-out tribute performances for both Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson at the renowned B.B. King Blues Club in the heart of New York City's Times Square. It was an enjoyable experience for all involved, but we wanted to finally showcase our ability as songwriters and create and share our own original music. My good friend and fellow bandmate, Ron Smith, arranged the horns which really reinvigorated the music and gave it new life. We would rehearse somewhere in the city for several hours a day, sometimes very late in the morning. I wasn’t always the easiest to work with but I only simply wanted to make sure that we were at our best. Through it all, there were a lot of jokes and even more laughs. I will always remember that time together fondly.
During your recording process for "Retwizt (feat. EREMETA)," did you have any session musicians record sections of the track, or was all the instrumentation done through the production?
We recorded the music for Retwizt at Flux Studios in a span of two days. We didn’t have to hire any session musicians for the recording because we rehearsed our parts and played the song live numerous times prior to entering the studio. We wanted to record all of the music live as a band just like some of our favorite musicians had done before us. The first day was dedicated to the rhythm section so we tracked drums, bass, guitar, and all keyboard parts. When I am working on a song in the studio I like to be the last to lay down my piano, keyboard, or synth parts last because I am constantly listening to the track as a producer rather than a musician. As a musician, we tend to get excited and overplay and not leave enough room for other pivotal moments in the music to breathe. On the second day, our horn section recorded their parts and I continued to tweak and overdub certain parts of the song adding additional synth leads, claps, and cheers. This was my first time tracking such a large scale work so I exhausted every single idea I had and left nothing on the drawing board. I was seeking perfection, which I soon learned is almost improbable. Soon thereafter, for whatever reason, the band unfortunately disbanded and new opportunities had us all in separate directions. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do with the music. I would visit it again throughout the years, but I never felt compelled to finalize and release it up until early 2020.
What made you want to explore a solo music career after being in bands and serving as a session musician? What pushed you to take this step?
Due to COVID-19, my music career came to a complete stand-still. I was fortunate to still be working, but there were no opportunities for me to create and perform music so I was beginning to struggle both professionally and personally. I’m not the best presence on social media, so I find it hard to create compelling content for my followers. Prior to the pandemic, I was already worn out from moving from band to band and working for other artists while failing to nurture some of my own ideas that were beginning to fester and grow stale. I knew I had the talent and ability to do so, but something was still limiting me from taking that necessary leap for myself. I was forced to think outside of the box for my own self-preservation. Through much self-reflection, I decided that I wanted to create an extension of my person, that could serve as my creative catalyst. There’s a line that I was drawn to in the Elton John, biopic Rocketman, that said, “Sometimes you have to kill the person you were born to be, to be the person you wanna be.” Lew Mckenzie was born the day I visited Little Cheddar Studios, a boutique production facility in Brooklyn, and recorded the vocals for Retwizt. After a few final mixes and master, Retwizt was finally released on June 18th, 2020. I am very proud of the song but I am happy that it is finally behind me. It leaves room for the new and exciting music in my life that I am desperate to share. I guess what was stopping me before now, was the fear of failing. However, the horrors experienced in this year alone have shown me that there’s no time to wait. There’s a balance between taking your time, but also not wasting your time. Instead of questioning what may or may not be for me, I will continue to do my work. I am now recording consistently, working on my EP and my next single is expected to be released in early October. I am also engaging more and releasing more content to help promote both my work and my fellow collaborators.