Vocalist, songwriter, arranger, and producer Johan Lenox is an artist who started out in the world of classical music before finding a new venue for his talents in contemporary pop and hip-hop. Behind the scenes, Lenox had written and arranged material for a number of major artists, including Kanye West, Selena Gomez, and Vic Mensa. As a solo artist, Lenox crafts moody soundscapes from electronic and acoustic elements, lyrically focusing on downbeat, introspective stories of failed relationships and distorted self-image. Lenox's debut album, 2019's Everybody's Cool But Me, was a formative statement, with the title track becoming one of his signature songs, and 2020's Cancel the Party was thematically similar while revealing creative growth.
Johan Lenox grew up in Boston. When he was in first grade, he began fooling with the family's piano just for fun, and his folks responded by signing him up for piano lessons. He quit after a year, but when Lenox's dad got him an album of music from the Indiana Jones movies, that led him to see composer John Williams lead the Boston Pops Orchestra, and he became fascinated with symphonic music. Lenox took up studying composition, and won several awards in competitions for young writers. His exposure to contemporary pop music was minimal, but his perspective changed when he heard Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at a party while tripping on LSD. Lenox was impressed that music as bold and challenging could appeal to a mainstream audience, and he started to stage performances that blended string sections with pop instrumentation and dancers. In 2016, a friend who led an orchestra approached Lenox about creating an orchestral piece that combined Kanye West's music with that of Ludwig van Beethoven. The program, Yeethoven, was a major popular success that received extensive coverage in the music press.
Having made a name in the music business, Lenox took his first steps as a solo artist, writing, producing, and singing songs under his own name. His 2017 EP Wilds found Lenox filtering his compositional ideas through electronic-based production informed by adventurous pop and hip-hop frameworks. His 2019 single "Everybody's Cool But Me" was released in several versions, most of them using electronic instrumentation, while one was arranged for an eight-piece cello section. The song would become the title track on Lenox's first full-length album, released in 2019, earning enthusiastic reviews. Lenox's second LP, Cancel the Party, followed in 2020, and included the track "No One Wants to Dance." ~ Mark Deming