Timothy McKenzie (born 1 April 1989, Hackney, London), better known by his stage name Labrinth, is an English singer-songwriter and record producer. McKenzie is signed to Simon Cowell's record label Syco, becoming the first non-talent show signing in six years. Initially, he was tipped to work as a producer, but Cowell signed him as a solo act.
Labrinth made his debut appearance on the UK Singles Chart in March 2010, when his collaboration with British rapper Tinie Tempah "Pass Out" reached number one. His first solo single "Let the Sun Shine" was released in September 2010, reaching number three in the same chart. His debut album Electronic Earth was released on 2 April 2012, having been preceded by the singles "Earthquake" featuring Tinie Tempah and "Last Time", which peaked at number two and number four respectively.
1989–2010: Early life and career beginnings
McKenzie attended Stoke Newington School and became interested in a musical career during his school years. He comes from a music family consisting of nine siblings and grew up at home surrounded almost exclusively by the sound of American gospel music. His brother, Mac.1, is also a producer, and introduced McKenzie to the art of creating music in his studio, at the age of 15. Labrinth initially started his career by producing the track "Dead End" for British recording artist Master Shortie from the album A.D.H.D. (2009). The track generated interest in McKenzie as a producer and songwriter, entailing Guy Moot of EMI Music Publishing to offer the artist a publishing deal.
On 28 February 2010, McKenzie appeared as an uncredited guest artist on British rapper Tinie Tempah's debut single, "Pass Out" - having also produced and co-written the track. The single debuted at number-one on the UK Singles Chart, number seventy in Australia and number six on the Irish Singles Chart. Having spent two weeks at the summit in the United Kingdom, "Pass Out" was awarded Best British Single at the 2011 BRIT Awards and Best Contemporary Song at the 2011 Ivor Novello Awards, also achieving platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry for surpassing sales of 600,000 copies. Several months later saw the two artists collaborate for a second time with the release of Tempah's second single, "Frisky" - again co-written and produced by McKenzie. The single debuted at number-two in the United Kingdom, beaten only by the charity single "Shout" featuring Dizzee Rascal and James Corden. The track saw chart success in Scotland, where it became the duo's second consecutive number-one single, also peaking at number three in Ireland.
Throughout 2010, McKenzie continued writing material for a number of high-profile artists, including Professor Green for the track "Oh My God" (Alive Till I'm Dead), Ola Svensson for the track "Let It Hit You" (Ola) and Loick Essien for "Love Drunk" (Identity).
2010–present: Signing to Syco and Electronic Earth
Following chart success as a writer and producer, Labrinth was approached in June 2010 and signed to Simon Cowell's record label, Syco. The signing marked a milestone for the label, with McKenzie becoming the first signing in six years to have not arisen from one of Cowell's reality shows. Through Syco, Labrinth released his debut single "Let the Sun Shine" on 27 September 2010 in the United Kingdom. The track debuted at number three in the UK, also reaching number thirty-two in Ireland. 3 January 2011 saw the artist appear as a featured artist for a third time, credited to British rapper Devlin's single "Let It Go" - which saw limited chart success, peaking at number fifty-nine in the UK.
Whilst beginning work on his debut studio album in early 2011, Labrinth assisted several artists as a producer, including: Yasmin and the single "Finish Line" and Ms. Dynamite and her comeback single "Neva Soft". It was revealed in September 2011 that Labrinth was to appear on the Children in Need 2011 charity single, "Teardrop", a cover of the Massive Attack song by the same name. Under the name 'The Collective', Labrinth appeared as one of many artists assembled by Take That member Gary Barlow, which included Chipmunk, Wretch 32, Mz. Bratt, Dot Rotten, Rizzle Kicks, Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite and Tulisa Contostavlos. The single, which was performed both at Children in Need 2011 and Children in Need Rocks Manchester on 17 November 2011 debuted at number twenty-four on the UK Singles Chart.
Labrinth released his second single, "Earthquake" on 23 October 2011 - featuring long-term collaborator Tinie Tempah. The single debuted at number two on the UK chart with first week sales of 115,530 copies - the second highest selling number-two behind X Factor winners Little Mix and their cover of Damien Rice's "Cannonball". The track also saw international chart success, peaking at number twelve in Ireland, number five in New Zealand and number twenty-one in Australia; achieving gold certification from the Australian Recording Industry Association and platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. In December 2011, Labrinth confirmed the release date of his debut studio album, Electronic Earth, which having originally been 12 March 2012 was pushed back until 2 April 2012. The album was preceded by a third single, "Last Time", which was released on 18 March 2012 as a four-track digital EP alongside remixes from Knife Party and Gareth Emery.