Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Black Music Month Special Feature: LT's Jazzy Radio Loft & Lounge 'Follow Your Dreams' Guest #10: Levphonic

Velvet Music Group: velvetmusicgroup.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Levphonic
Amazon: www.amazon.com
Last FM: www.last.fm/music/Levphonic
Podmatic: levphonic.podomatic.com
Indabamusic Music: www.indabamusic.com

June is Black Music Month. Black Music Month was started in 1979 to celebrate the significance, artistry, and contributions of Black Musicians. We must honor them not only this month but every month. As we know, Black Music is really World Music because of it's global impact over the years and how it spans the globe, crossing and influencing cultures and crossing and erasing previously held barriers and boundaries.

One such artist that has this talent and ability has caught my attention. I would describe his music as a touch of Art of Noise, a dash of St. Germain, mixed with elements of Deep Forest. Levphonic's music has been described as "Electronic Instrumental with a touch of NuJazz and Down Tempo." He calls it "Cosmic Fusion."

I've mentioned before that back in the 80s, I used to sit around with friends and we would try to imagine what music would sound like in the year 2000 and beyond. Levphonic's music to me are those ideas manifested. There are only a handful of artists out here today that I can put in that category. They are truly Beyond Category. Lev took time out of his burgeoning career to swing through The Lounge for his first ever interview! I am honored! Enjoy! ~LT

LT: Thanks for swinging through the Lounge, Levphonic! It's an honor to interview you. I am digging your music! Is this your first album?

Levphonic: Thanks for having me, LT! Yes, this album is the first in a long line of many!

LT: What was the inspiration for The Urban Jungle?

Levphonic: The Urban Jungle was inspired by life in general. I knew that I wanted to create a work of musical art. Something that was more than just some sounds thrown together in order to make a quick dollar. I wanted to create a soundtrack to my life. Music filled with emotion and that would move the listener and send them on a journey.

LT: Tell us a little about yourself - Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

Levphonic: I was born and raised in the High Desert in Southern California until I was about 10. After that, we moved to San Antonio Texas. That is where I spent most of my adolescence. Since moving from TX. I have bounced back and forth between Atlanta and Cali.

LT: How long have you been playing music?

Levphonic: Since the age of 2.

LT: What kind of an artist/musician would you consider yourself as?

Levphonic: I'm very introverted when I work on music because it is like spending time with the love of my life. When it comes to my music I like to experiment and tend to fall away from the norm. I am an artist that creates from life's experience.

LT: Describe your music.

Levphonic: 2 simple words! Cosmic Fusion.

LT: Cosmic Fusion! I like that! What inspires you? What inspires your music? What inspires the songs you create?

Levphonic: Water! HA! My thoughts just flow when I am in the shower or by the ocean. Other musicians inspire my creativity but I often get inspiration from everyday encounters with people. I used to work at Lenox Mall in Atlanta and I would sit in the food court on my breaks and just watch people and think of theme music for them. It sounds funny but it's true.

LT: Great story. How old were you when you got your first synthesizer/keyboard/instrument?

Levphonic: My Mom bought me my first Casio at the age of 2. I used to play on it for hours! She also bought my first professional one when I was about 15 going on 16. (A Technics KN 1200) She said, "I could have bought you a car but with this you can get any car that you want."

LT: Nice! What was it about the keys that attracted you?

Levphonic: As long as I remember I was just always intrigued by the keys. I can't even explain it. We are partners for life. I have struggled throughout my life teaching myself how to play. When I was younger I tried to have people teach me but I they always said I didn't play the "Right Way". I'm hard headed though so I just learned on my own. LOL!

LT: Self taught! Lovin it! Do you consider yourself a producer/writer/director, all of the above?

Levphonic: I consider myself to be a music creator and writer. I think that the term producer has been overused in this day and age to describe what beat makers want to be. I associate the word producer with people like Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Issac Hayes, Willie Hutch, Prince, Berry Gordy and so on. Those guys are music producers in every sense of the word. Right now I am a music creator that is working my way up to being a producer.

LT: What do you think of music today? Indie? Commercial? Videos?

Levphonic: WOW! Good one. I will start by saying this. I respect the fact that the commercial artists are out there doing their thing but I will also say that most of it is not for me. With that being said, the Indie music scene is much more artistic and expressive of real emotion because majority of the artists are making what is in their heart, mind and soul. As far as videos go, I am glad that edgy thought provoking videos are still around. We as people need to be visually stimulated with a variety of sights not just the same old Rock-Hip-Pop scenes we've been seeing since the 90's. My main thing...BE CREATIVE!

LT: Is Electronic music your #1 forte?

Levphonic: By default, yes. I say that because I feel that is my "Foster-Genre" It has adopted my music for now but I will be grown soon and I can move out and create my own home.

LT: Before you sit down at the keyboard, do you dream of the music? Does it just come to you as you are playing on the keys?

Levphonic: For sure. I dream of it. I will hear faint voices and tunes in my sleep that give me goose bumps and wake me up sending me running for my keyboard. When I am sitting at my keyboard I will hear something in my head and I will try to recreate it as best as possible. Heavenly Bodies, the first track from The Urban Jungle was one of those songs I heard in my dreams. I actually have stripped it down quite a bit from what I had in my head though. The one in my dream had horns and voices on top of harps and many other sounds that would probably give the average listener a migraine trying to take it all in. LOL! Most of my songs are a stripped down version of what I hear in my head.

LT: That's amazing. What is your goal right now for your music?

Levphonic: For now I just want to be involved with as many projects and opportunities as possible. I want to be on the shows and movies that you watch. I want to be involved in selling you your favorite clothes and goods in commercials. All without the listener realizing it is me that they are hearing.

LT: What are your long term goals for your music?

Levphonic: As long as I can wake up at the age of 60 and still have music as a career that is all I need. Longevity!

LT: I understand you have done some scoring for TV? What shows? Channels? Interested in scoring films? Plays, etc.?

Levphonic: I have had my music placed on Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I have done various newscasts from CNN to local news as well as many websites including Blood Sweat and Tears Clothing. You can hear some songs of mine on Breakroom's last album. They are a great group out of Atlanta that deals with some soulful Hip Hop vibes. I hope to work with them again soon. See more at wwww.cdbaby.com/breakroom.

LT: Where can folks listen to and buy your music?

Levphonic: I have a list of sites. The Velvet Music Group Website, iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, Last Fm has some good free songs from me and one collabo with my label mate DJ Unwind, I have a podcast that I do periodically on PodOMatic. My Raheem DeVaughn remix is on Indaba.

LT: What is it like making music in this age with the technology, Internet, etc.?

Levphonic: To be honest I am still learning new things about it everyday. I read a ton of books in the 90's about how to "Get On" and none of that applies anymore so it is really a new adventure for me each day. As far as the creation goes it is great, because whatever you want to put in your composition its at your fingertips. There are still certain elements that will not be able to be as organic or as real as you want them but if you know someone that record that element live and send you a Pro Tools file of it. That part is great!

LT: What are the upsides and downsides of being an Indie artist trying to get heard today?

Levphonic: Upsides: Freedom! You can do what you want to do sonically without anyone telling you its not commercial enough or you need a radio hit. Downsides: Promotion! Coming up with the right avenue to get yourself heard without the help of a major label is hard mentally, physically, and especially financially. It can be a strain on the old wallet! LOL!

LT: Do you prefer the spotlight, limelight or do you prefer to stay behind the scenes when it comes to your music? To getting your recognition, etc?

Levphonic: I will put it this way, I would love the limelight if it was given to me in another country and I can come home and be just some normal dude on the train. I'd be like, "Who the heck is Levphonic?" LOL!

LT: Lol! How important is it to own your work? To own your master recordings?

Levphonic: I can't stress how important it is! If that didn't matter I would have about 20 songs on your favorite radio station by now. I always hear about the people in the past that gave up their rights to ownership of their songs and just shake my head in disbelief. I could never do that! I made this. Nobody else!

LT: Any goodies in your vault you'd like to share? lol!

Levphonic: Sure I have 2! They are both remixes that I did in the past but never was able to get them to the proper outlet. One is a remix of of a song called Six Feet Under by Liquid Spy Network. It is a song that was straight Hardcore Electro Funk but I just put some Levphonic on it. The second song is my remix of Shakedown's "At Night" I heard the Accapella and just fell in love with the girls voice. I knew it was a song for me to lay hands on! LOL!

LT: Will each of your albums have a different theme?

Levphonic: Yes. I have to constantly evolve or I won't be able to make it as far as I want to. Each theme will just be another extension of my true self though.

LT: What was the inspiration for Time For Love?

Levphonic: There is a woman from my past that I was thinking of when I made that song. She knows who she is. LOL! We will leave it at that!

LT: How do you know when an album you make is complete? What tells you - this is it for now? 12 songs, 17 songs etc? Describe your decision process - how you know how many to include on each album

Levphonic: Like most true artists I am never satisfied with my work so this is the hardest process. I will toss this around about 30 songs and try to narrow it down until it feels right. I have taken enough songs off of The Urban Jungle to make part 2 and 3. Just to let you know I started this album in 2003. It was a long process but I think the first one is always the hardest.

LT: What advice do you have for any kids just getting into music? Artists trying to get signed or going the Independent route?

Levphonic: Be original! Love what you do and be willing to take some harsh realities head on. You must love this to do this. If you don't you are wasting your time. Always have a back-up plan! Meaning if you have to work some crazy jobs don't be afraid to do that. You can't just live life thinking that your break is around the corner so you shouldn't have to have a 9 to 5! That's just not being realistic. Practice your craft as much as possible learn the history of your music and other music as well. If you want to rap and old skool to you is 24's by T.I. then you need to learn about your music's history. Finally, if there is an opportunity that seems just too good to be true, it probably is. Go with your gut feeling and stay true to THYSELF!

LT: Great advice. Thanks for swinging through the Lounge, Lev! All the best to you! I know we will be hearing and seeing big things from you, brotha! Come back through anytime! Peace and Continued Blessings!

Levphonic: Thanks, LT! Peace!

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