To infinity, and beyond! Buzz Lightyear’s famous catchphrase from the Toy Story franchise seems tailor-made for young Lenni-Kim’s ascension to the stars, a totally lit teenager who nonetheless has both feet firmly on the ground.
“I have three great passions in life: singing, the movies, and dance,” he says. “But singing is by far the greatest revelation to me. Cinema is secondary, but I do like the cinematography that can be included in my videos.” Lenni-Kim is part of the movie Le pacte des anges and also plays a young Martin Matte in the TV sitcom Les beaux malaises.
Before the worldwide release of his first album, Les autres, on June 30, 2017, the table was, as the saying goes, already set: nearly two million views for the “Pourquoi tout perdre,” a video created for World Suicide Prevention Day, and directed by Antoine-Olivier Pilon (Mommy). The song dominated Francophone sales charts for weeks.
“It’s a song that helps and soothes people,” says Lenni-Kim. “I can tell just by reading the comments and testimonies on Facebook. Some people even say I saved their lives! That’s a lot of pressure for a 15-year-old kid!” he says from Paris, where he’s currently developing his career.
“I don’t do this for fame, I do this for the music.”
And his online presence doesn’t stop there: a millions views for “Yolo,” and another million for his latest single, “Don’t Stop.” Lenni-Kim’s pop songs are more than a little reminiscent of one Justin Bieber. “Since him, we don’t really count the number of musicians who got a break thanks to YouTube,” he says wisely.
“I don’t dislike the comparison, but I’m still Lenni-Kim, I have my own personality. I do get the association, though: we started at the same age, we’re both pop signers, we’re both popular on YouTube (in his case thanks to covers of Shawn Mendes and Elli Goulding); I like his musical career path, but I can’t say I agree with all of his personal choices.”
“Music is a gateway to the soul,” one reads in bold characters on his website. But how does one open that door to the countless viewers of The Voice Kids, which airs on TF1, in France? Here’s Lenni-Kim’s take on that: “It never crossed my mind to sign up for The Voice Kids. It’s the show’s producers who contacted my singing school to search for candidates for their second season. First, I recorded a demo and the second step was auditioning via Skype.”
Jean-Yves Sénéchal, his agent and manager, jumped on that showcase – Lenni-Kim made it all the way to the face-offs – to have his protégé signed by Warner France and TF1 Music. “I knew right from the start that he has a dazzling personality,” says Sénéchal. “He has an aura and undeniable charisma. But that he’d become a teen idol? That wasn’t our plan, but in light of the public reception and enthusiasm, one might think he was destined for that. For the time being, my role is to manage supply and demand for the Québec and France markets.”
“How do I describe my music?” wonders the young artist. “Well, during the creative process with Louis Côté (K-Maro), who produced the album, we tried all kinds of things with snippets of various styles and sounds, just to see where that would take us. Sometimes it would be darker, so we’d go in that direction. Other times it was sunny and light; nothing was pre-meditated, we were just exploring. There are some darker places in the moods, there are some sad songs. What’s important is to properly latch on to an emotion, the lyrics come after. When you do music, it’s important to carry a message and even help people. I wrote the lyrics to “I Want This,” but all the other songs were written by a team of writers whom I guided for certain passages to make sure that the words fit. It is my first album, after all!”
“I don’t do this for fame,” he says. “I do this for the music.”