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 fairytale 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 smash as well as album of the year for his many contributions to Nas’ “Montero.”
“It’s surreal,” Lenzo says of his Grammy noms. “It’s the highest honor in music, and proof that you can do anything if you put enough time and effort into it.” The producer was introduced to Nas by Denzel Baptiste and David Biral — otherwise known as production duo Take a Daytrip –who met while studying at Five Towns College in New York. When he graduated, they asked if he would be interested in engineering their sessions.
“They let me sleep at the recording studio because I lived on Long Island,” Lenzo says. “Manhattan was a two-hour commute and I had no money. I had to drive my car and parking was expensive.” Lenzo would work with them during the day and then focus on his own clients at night. The budding producer then moved to Los Angeles in March 2020. Not long after, the world shut down, but a major door opened up.
“Lil Nas X put me and Take a Daytrip in a group chat and said, ‘We’re about to be locked down. Would you guys want to start working on my album?’” What followed was months of hard, intensely rewarding creative toil. “It was Monday through Friday, sometimes seven days a week, being together in a studio space,” he remembers. “A lot of times we would rent AirBnBs for a month-and-a-half, and get different vibes from the location. … We became very close, and got to know each other super well.”
An example is knowing Nas’ penchant to riff. “Sometimes he will go off on a tangent and start doing different melodies,” Lenzo says. That’s exactly how “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” came into being. “We were in the studio working on a different song,” Lenzo says. “He just started singing, ‘Call me when you want, call me when you need.’”
Needless to say, they quickly changed focus.
“Nas recorded the hook and over time, we perfected it,” he says. “It was a very long process, maybe nine or 10 months.” They knew they had something special. “After a session of working on totally different songs, we would bump ‘Call Me’ 50 times at the end of the day.”
Now with Grammy recognition and hits, they are still working hard. “We’re always creating,” Lenzo says. “Even after the album came out, we were in the studio the next week.”
Ultimately, Lenzo hopes his story encourages creatives. “From my experience of sleeping on the couch to being in the position I’m in today, that allows me to inspire other people,” he says. “I love developing young producers and writers. That’s what I get the most joy out of.” There’s another benefit of success. “Now I have the freedom to work on music that I absolutely love. Before I would just say yes because I had to.”