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Labrinth 'Electronic Earth' Interview: 'Simon Can't Tell Me Nothing'

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LABRINTH
Labrinth at his debut album launch |

"Simon can't tell me nothing man," says Labrinth, the only urban act signed to music mogul Simon Cowell's record label, and the X Factor boss's first signing in six years that hasn't come out of a reality TV show.

The 23-year-old singer-songwriter and producer from Hackney, London, is as he puts it "being silly", but he does have a serious point to stress: "I feel like I have creative freedom and I feel like I've learnt a lot while growing."

He's happy to praise the man who gave him his big break: "Simon's been supportive and he's kind of pushed me to be even more creative in my own right, so I respect someone like that."

And as for being Simon's only urban act, he says: "Simon doesn't believe I'm an urban act. I tell him I'm an urban act more than he believes it cause he's heard stuff that the public haven't heard yet. He kind of sees me more as a musician than as an urban popstar."

Two fingers up at one reviewer

I caught up with Labrinth - a HuffPost blogger - backstage at the launch of his highly-anticipated debut album, Electronic Earth. It's been two years since he made his first appearance on the UK Singles Chart, shooting straight to number one with Pass Out, a collaboration with British rapper Tinie Tempah, which reached number one. His first solo single Let the Sun Shine was released in September 2010, reaching number three.

For Labrinth the unveiling of his debut album feels "like the pressure's off", and his relief suggests the album has been well received - does that mean he's already read some reviews?

"I've read a few and so far it's been healthy. It's not good to read the bad ones but I have seen a bad one recently in the Guardian and I had to put my two fingers up at him because I kind of saw that he didn't really do his research. Anyone that does a write-up, if they haven't done their research, then they should shut up. But the reviews have been lovely so far, even on the live shows."

Labrinth is brimming with positivity and it's clear he won't suffer any fools. The second single from his album Earthquake features the lyrics "Hey Simon, we're fucking 'em up/ Sending 'em Syco", it's not how Cowell's acts - including One Direction and Leona Lewis - usually reference him. Nor can I imagine Susan Boyle gleefully shouting "f**k corporate bullshit", and throwing her mic stand, mic and guitar on the floor, as Labrinth did during his performance at the album launch.

However, we do see a soft side to the 'urban popstar' on his album. One track, Beneath Your Beautiful, sees Labrinth team up with Brit Award-winner Emeli Sande for a tender ballad, light years away from his feisty tracks.

Labrinth says he wrote "90 percent" of the songs on the album, teaming up with Claude Kelly, who wrote Bruno Mars's record Grenade and just two other writers.

He explains: "The overriding theme in general is to be as free musically as possible and that's why I want all my fans to know. A lot of people are put in boxes or are one dimension and I feel for me personally I want to do everything, man."

In the past year Labrinth has gone from the guy who worked on other people's tracks - Professor Green and Tinie Tempah just to name a couple - to the man people are coming to to work with.

"I've just finished working with Usher about two weeks ago on something very cool and there's a lot of artists lined up to work with me this year so it's going to be a cool year. It's scary, but it's amazing. I'm not scared anymore!"

Labrinth's album launch at One Mayfair in central London was in association with Sony Xperia™ and also saw an exclusive set performed by iLuminate™, the electrifying entertainers from America’s Got Talent.

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Around the Web

Labrinth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Labrinth — The official Labrinth website

Labrinth - Earthquake ft. Tinie Tempah - YouTube

Labrinth | Facebook

Labrinth (@Labrinthda1st) on Twitter