Roy Lenzo went from sleeping on a recording studio couch to co-producing Lil Nas X’s chart-topping Montero (Call Me By Your Name) in two years. The next chapter in this modern day fairy tale will be written on April 3 at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. Lenzo is in the running for song of the year and record of the year for the aforementioned hit, as well as album of the year for his many contributions to Nas’ “Montero.”
“It’s surreal,” Lenzo says of his Grammy names. “It’s the highest honor in music and a testament that if you put in enough time and effort, you can achieve anything.” Producer was Nas by Denzel Baptiste and David Biral – also known as the production duo Take a Daytrip – introduced, who had met while studying at Five Towns College in New York. When he graduated they asked him if he would be interested in developing their sessions.
“They let me sleep in the recording studio because I lived on Long Island,” says Lenzo. “Manhattan was a two hour drive and I had no money. I had to drive my car and parking was expensive.” Lenzo worked with them during the day and focused on his own clients at night. The aspiring producer then relocated to Los Angeles in March 2020. Not long after, the world closed, but a great door opened.
“Lil Nas X put me and Take a Daytrip in a group chat and said, ‘We’re about to be banned. Would you want to start working on my album?’” What followed were months of hard, extremely rewarding creative work. “It was Monday to Friday, sometimes seven days a week, together in a studio,” he recalls. “We often rented AirBnBs for a month and a half and got different vibes from the location. … We became very close and got to know each other really well.”
An example is Nas’ penchant for riffs. “Sometimes he’ll wander off and start playing different tunes,” says Lenzo. That’s exactly how “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” came about. “We were in the studio working on another song,” says Lenzo. “He just started singing, ‘Call me if you want, call me if you need.'”
Needless to say, they quickly changed focus.
“Nas recorded the hook line and over time we perfected it,” he says. “It was a very long process, maybe nine or ten months.” They knew they had something special. “After one session of working on completely different songs, we ended up pushing ‘Call Me’ 50 times at the end of the day.”
Now with Grammy recognition and hits, they’re still working hard. “We’re always busy,” says Lenzo. “Even after the album came out, we were in the studio for the next week.”
Ultimately, Lenzo hopes his story will encourage creative people. “From my experience of sleeping on the couch to the position I’m in today, it allows me to inspire other people,” he says. “I love developing young producers and writers. That’s what I enjoy the most.” There’s another benefit of success. “Now I have the freedom to work on music that I absolutely love. Before, I would have just said yes because I had to.”
https://variety.com/2022/music/awards/lil-nas-x-montero-producer-roy-lenzo-grammys-interview-1235218132/ Roy Lenzo on Producing Lil Nas X’s Grammy-nominated “Montero”